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Williston considers outlawing strip clubs downtown

WILLISTON, N.D. -- Exotic dancing at Main Street clubs may soon be a thing of the past. City commissioners have taken the first step toward clearing businesses off of Main Street that offer live adult entertainment, as well as restricting any str...

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WILLISTON, N.D.  - Exotic dancing at  Main Street clubs may soon be a thing of the past.

City commissioners have taken the first step toward clearing businesses off of Main Street that offer live adult entertainment, as well as restricting any strip clubs that might remain operating in the city from serving alcohol.

The council has approved a request for a public hearing on two amendments that will add restrictions to live adult entertainment venues.

The hearing will be at the Jan. 12 commission meeting.

Williston currently has two clubs on Main Street where “exotic” dancing has taken place -- Heartbreakers and Whispers. The clubs are among the first sight visitors to Williston see if they have taken the Amtrak train into town. They are also located within eyesight of the city’s Chamber of Commerce and Senior Citizen Center.

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With the oil boom, the two clubs have seen an influx of customers, mostly men, who came to the oil patch to work at high-paying jobs.

Articles written by or about dancers have appeared in several prominent national venues, including Mother Jones, CNN and the BBC. Some of the dancers have claimed to make as much as $3,000 a night dancing at the clubs, though others have said such claims are exaggerated. According to one dancer in a 2013 report, a slow night at such a club would bring in about $400.

In 2014, Whispers was the scene of a fatal beating, and in the same year, Heartbreakers was the scene of a fatal shooting. Both clubs have had liquor licenses suspended due to the number of disturbances requiring police presence.

City leaders, including Mayor Howard Klug, have said they’d like to rid their town of the two strip clubs.

While the amendments being brought forth Jan. 12 have not yet been written, Klug said the idea is that clubs could potentially have the option of continuing as bars at their present location. “Exotic” dancing or other such adult live entertainment, however, would only be allowed in an industrial-type zone.

Clubs offering such dancing would not be, in any case, allowed to offer alcohol any more, if the measures are approved as written.

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