By Bob Barnett
In their rush to futher cultural development in the mountains, Whistler councillors have decided the Boot Ballet is okay; Exotic Nights at Capone’s are not.
Whistler council moved Monday to prohibit exotic dancing at C-licensed clubs in Whistler Village, just two weeks after Capone’s nightclub started bringing in dancers several nights a week.
Council acted after the chamber of commerce, the Whistler Resort Association and some councillors received complaints about the exotic dancing and out of concern that it may harm the resort’s image.
"My assumption is this started at one club and became a trend," said Councillor Kristi Wells.
"Based on the complaints I’ve received, I don’t think it’s appropriate. I don’t wish to impose my own morals on others, but I don’t think this is appropriate entertainment for the resort."
Councillor Dave Kirk agreed that public perception of the resort is important, "but we don’t have a market on that. I’m interested in hearing from the resort’s marketers and people affected by this."
A bylaw given first three readings by council prohibits exotic dancing in any establishment with a C liquor licence. It does not affect the Boot Pub, which holds an A licence, and wouldn’t apply to places such as Buffalo Bill’s and the Garibaldi Lift Company, which also hold A licences.
A public information session is scheduled for March 29 at 7 p.m. in council chambers at municipal hall. The bylaw is expected to be adopted at council’s April 6 meeting.
Exotic dancers have been brought in on occasion by other C-licensed clubs in the village, including Maxx Fish and Garfinkel’s, which is hosting Manpower March 21. Councillors indicated that occasional performances by exotic dancers have been and probably could continue to be tolerated in village clubs, but when they became regularly scheduled, weekly events the line was crossed.
"I’m disappointed to see this," acting mayor Ken Melamed said Monday night.
"I think there’s some partnership, some responsibility among businesses in the resort. I think there’s a lot of selfishness in this."
Capone’s owner Dan Richardson said following the council meeting that bringing exotic dancers in on a regular basis was a significant part of the business plan for the new nightclub. Capone’s opened in December.
In response to Wells’ comments, Councillor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden said that council legislates morals on a regular basis.
"If this were video lottery terminals there’d be no question, we’d just reject," Wilhelm-Morden said.
She agreed there should be an opportunity for public input before council adopts the bylaw, but added she was "not necessarily interested in listening to someone explain why they like to watch exotic dancers."
"We also know bar operators who use exotic dancers are going to say these are our statistics before and these are our statistics after we’ve had exotic dancers, so that’s got no value," Wilhelm-Morden said.
Several councillors were concerned the March 29 public information session may become a marathon meeting and sought ways to control the session. Wells suggested that "If we want public input I don’t think we have the discretion to say who we want to hear from and who we don’t."
Kirk, who raised the issue of public input before adoption of the bylaw, noted there would be a number of questions regarding the bylaw, including what makes the ban appropriate in some parts of Whistler but not in others.
Some bar and club managers promised to raise that and other issues.
Exotic Dancing Control Bylaw No. 1408, 1999
"‘Exotic Dancing’ means any dancing in which the pubic area, genitals, nipples or areola of the dancer is exposed to the view of another person."
"No erotic dancing is permitted in any establishment in respect of which a ‘C’ licence has been issued under the Liquor Control and Licencing Regulations."