This group of strippers are fighting back against the stigma facing people working in the industry, and to help improve their working conditions.
The East London Strippers Collective are putting on a 10-day festival called the Art of Stripping. It will feature an exhibition, academic symposium, workshops, film screenings, talks, pole dance life drawing classes and a programme of performances, Vice reports.
The ELSC hope the festival will give the public a wider understanding of what they do. As the group says on their crowd-funding page for the event:
We are a group of striptease dancers based in East London who have come together due to a shared grievance we have about the poor working conditions and exploitative business practises within our industry. We also lament the stigma surrounding our job; the lack of wider public understanding about what we do, compounded by negative connotations created by poor representations in mainstream media, combined with “feminist” campaigns that seek to erase our industry and destroy their livelihoods.
It’s also a chance to take control over how they are represented by the media. Stacey Clare, a member of the collective, said: “Stigma is increased by all the incredibly damaging media representations of our world, which do us absolutely no favours and make our work lives even harder. I hope people go away from our festival realising that strippers are humans, with creativity and agency.”
The strip pubs of East London have also come under threat from Hackney Council, who’ve imposed a nil limit policy, which means no new sexual entertainment venues will be granted licences and existing ones might have their’s taken away when they come up for renewal.
A council source told Vice the stripping festival has been allowed to go ahead because it’s an ‘art event’.
Stacey questions the council’s policy on sexual entertainment, saying:
The nil policy pushes strip clubs further to the edges of social acceptability, leaving us more vulnerable and marginalised than before. I’d like the council to realise that and engage in genuine dialogue with us about how licensing could be improved to protect us, rather than creating a situation where strip clubs are a perceived hazard which the rest of society must be protected from.