Judge rules pole dancing is ‘art’, lap dances are not; strip joint on hook for taxes on $3M in income

Jun 7, 2015
Dancing
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There’s no art in the champagne room.

Pole dancing is artistic expression — but lap dancing is not, an upstate New York administrative law judge has ruled.

That means a lot of dollars in the garter belt for Albany-area strip club Nite Moves — because it doesn’t have to pay sales tax on about $1 million it pocketed in entrance fees between 2005 and 2010.

In a ruling made public Friday, state Division of Tax Appeals ALJ Joseph Pinto found the on-stage pole dances count legally as “a place where a performance is given.”

In a ruling made public Friday, state Division of Tax Appeals ALJ Joseph Pinto found the on-stage pole dances count legally as “a place where a performance is given.” PHOTO: MICHAEL P. FARRELL/AP

In a ruling made public Friday, state Division of Tax Appeals ALJ Joseph Pinto found the on-stage pole dances count legally as “a place where a performance is given.”

“There is a stage for the performers illuminated by spotlights; a dressing room for the dancers, who, at times, wear an array of different costumes; (and) tables and seating that are oriented towards the stage to focus audience attention on the performances;” and featured “choreographed dances,” Pinto wrote.

He cited testimony from experts the club had hired, and the “very credible and candid testimony of Alize and Taylor, two of the dancers at Nite Moves.”

But the judge sided with an undercover tax auditor’s testimony that the more lucrative private dances were another story.

The auditor “credibly testified that in his 10 or 15 visits to Nite Moves over the course of years he purchased one or two private dances a night. He said the private dances were very similar. “He experienced back rubs from some performers and women massaging him with various body parts,” the judge wrote.

“He admitted he was not an expert in choreography but did not think what he experienced in the private dance was choreographed.”

The judge agreed, finding the club didn’t have a pole to stand on.

Strip performances featured 'choreographed dances' the judge wrote in his ruling.

Strip performances featured ‘choreographed dances’ the judge wrote in his ruling.

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