The Nite Moves strip club/artists' collective in Albany made headlines Wednesday, as its owners took their argument that lap dancing qualifies as a tax-exempt "art" to the New York Court of Appeals.
Under New York law, "live dramatic or musical arts performances," such as theatre, ballet, and the rapid shaking of breastesses in the face of another, are exempt from state taxes.
If the court does not find it in the club's favor, Nite Moves will be forced to pay $124,000 in back taxes.
Perhaps the biggest bee in the taxman's bonnet is that Nite Moves, which has no liquor license, bills itself as "an upscale non-alcoholic juice bar," making it exempt from tax rules that apply to strip clubs/art houses where booze is sold.
When the Associated Press sent a staffer to conduct interviews at Nite Moves Wednesday afternoon, only one customer/art aficionado was present, because art is dead. This individual, though likely thrilled to have been approached by a reporter while at a strip club in the middle of the day on a Wednesday, declined to give an interview.
The AP did, however, manage to score an interview with an anonymous dancer who argued that stripping is an art because it's entertaining and you have to practice it.
"It's definitely a form of art. It's live entertainment. Some girls are up there practicing for hours when nobody's in here."
A mid-level court previously ruled that Nite Moves "failed to meet its burden of establishing that the private dances offered at its club were choreographed performances," adding that the dancers are not required to have formal dance training.
As anyone who has seen Step Up 2: The Streets can attest, though, some of the best dancers in the world/street have little to no formal training.
According to the AP, the club is hoping that testimony "from a cultural anthropologist who has studied exotic dance and visited Nite Moves" (AKA a random person wearing eyeglasses who walked in one day) will help convince the Court that its claims of artistry are legitimate.
Nite Moves, a "windowless building with a small stage and a pole" that is also "an upscale non-alcoholic juice bar" and independent artists collective, charges $20 for "a private minute" with a dancer but offers a coupon for a free couch dance with paid admission on its website.
Associated Press // Image via Chas Redmond/flickr