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Judge Rules Pole Dancing Is Art Qualifying for Sales Tax Exemption

Posted Mar 27, 2009 10:51 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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After reviewing DVDs of exotic dancers, an administrative law judge has determined that pole dancing is "no small feat"—and it's also art qualifying for a tax exemption.

The judge, Catherine Bennett, ruled the Albany-area club Nite Moves was entitled to a “dramatic arts” tax exemption and did not have to pay $129,000 in sales taxes, the New York Law Journal reports. The state of New York had contended it was owed taxes on cover charges and dancer fees paid between 2002 and 2005.

Bennett ruled after hearing from a University of Maryland dance scholar and watching videos of dance routines at the club, the story said.

"The videos depicted dance routines that incorporated acrobatic pole maneuvers, splits and other patterned repetitions," Bennett said. "The pole maneuvers in particular are no small feat to accomplish, and attempting such a performance without the skill and a planned routine of steps could prove dangerous."

"The fact someone may believe that this entertainment is not appropriate for any audience is not the issue," she said.

Nite Moves' lawyer, Andrew McCullough, is a Mormon and a board member of the Utah chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. He told the New York Law Journal he sees similarities between objections to strip clubs and new Mormon temples.

“They say, 'It's lights, it's traffic, it's noise,' ” he said. “But what they really mean is, 'We don't like your kind.' ”

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