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Seattle nightclub to feature nude dancers, citing suspension of ‘lewd conduct’ law

Supernova Seattle said it will start featuring fully nude female dancers next weekend. But the Liquor & Cannabis Board said it “does not have provisions” to do that.

SEATTLE — A Seattle nightclub announced Monday it plans to become the first strip club in Washington state to serve alcohol after the Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB) suspended its regulation of the state’s Lewd Conduct Act, which banned nudity in establishments that serve alcohol. 

The LCB suspended enforcement after community concern following several gay bars in Capitol Hill being inspected and cited for lewd conduct violations. The LCB is waiting for the Governor to take action on a recently passed bill that is aimed at protecting the rights of strippers, which would also allow for alcohol to be served in strip clubs.

Supernova Seattle is located at 110 Horton Street in the SODO neighborhood. The owner said on March 22, they will start having fully nude female dancers and may add male nude dancers in the future. The nightclub’s pivot comes after the LCB moved to suspend its lewd conduct enforcement for businesses that distribute alcohol.

“We’re introducing Seattle’s first fully nude dance club with the repeal of the Lewd Conduct Act,” said Zac Levine, the owner of Supernova. 

The LCB said Monday all liquor licenses will need to be renewed by current holders. The licenses have their own criteria that businesses must meet before they can operate as a fully-fledged strip club that serves alcohol, according to the LCB. 

Right now, strip clubs in Washington cannot serve alcohol, but Levine said he believes he can add nude dancers to his nightclub that does serve alcohol since the state is no longer enforcing the Lewd Conduct Act. 

“This wasn’t even on our radar until the liquor board sent out an email saying that they’re no longer enforcing the Lewd Conduct Act,” said Levine. “And then I had the opportunity to read into exactly what that meant and said, ‘Wow, we have the opportunity to be the first fully nude dance club in Seattle, Washington.'”

Levine said he had checked with the LCB to ensure the club could do this, but KING 5 reached out to the LCB, which said:

Supernova has a nightclub license which does not have provisions for what Supernova has said publicly it wants to do.”

The actions planned at Supernova are not condoned in the law, WAC (Washington Administrative Code), or the spirit of the bill as passed by the Legislature (worker/workplace safety). There are no new rules that will protect the dancers who work there.”

The recent changes have been part of a statewide push to reform the industry in the 2024 legislative session. 

The House passed an amended version of what is called the “strippers’ bill of rights” 58-36 on Feb. 27. The Senate signed off on the legislation on March 7. The latest version of the bill is awaiting Gov. Jay Inslee’s approval before it becomes law in Washington state. 

Senate Bill 6105 includes requirements such as new safety training for all dancers and employees on sexual harassment and human trafficking, installation of panic buttons in private dance rooms and added security officers at each club, among other changes.

The legislation would require all adult entertainment venues to have written procedures for dealing with or ejecting violent or intoxicated customers. 

The bill seeks to repeal a current law prohibiting adult entertainment establishments from having liquor licenses at venues with full or partial nudity.

Four women spoke to KING 5 about their experiences working as strippers in Washington in February. They highlighted concerns for their safety and threats they often face in the workplace, how the sale of alcohol would change their work lives and how clubs could better provide financial security.  

“It is an avenue of self-expression and empowerment that could exist in a truly safe and inclusive manner,” said one dancer named Kasey. “And the only reason it does not is because of the regulations and the laws and the stigma around.”

Strippers are Workers (SAW), an organization of more than 300 women who fought to pass the “strippers bill of rights,” said in a post on Instagram that Supernova is unlicensed and not operating within the scope of the legislation.

“Operating a rogue ‘Strip Club’ puts the future of our bill at risk, threatening our goals to build a safe and viable industry,” SAW said in its statement.

Washington is the only state in the country that does not allow alcohol to be sold in strip clubs, which means all 11 clubs in the state depend solely on dancers for their income. 

The role the strip club plays in the community is vital,” Kasey said in an interview about protecting strippers’ rights with KING 5. Sex work has always played that role in the community. It taught me so much about myself and how to move through the world, who I wanted to be, and what type of boundaries I wanted to store. It made me who I am, and I’m so proud of it.

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