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Selfridges objects to ‘strip club’ bid

World-famous Oxford Street store opposes licence application for new venue in Mayfair that would feature table-dancing and ‘full nudity’

29 August, 2020 — By Tom Foot

The Selfridges department store in Oxford Street

WITH the West End still reeling from the Covid-19 crisis and footfall at a historic low, you would have thought the world-famous Selfridges store had enough to worry about.

But this week it hit out at an application to open a strip club opposite its recently remodelled en­trance in Duke Street, Mayfair.

Electshow, which until recently ran a similar establish­ment in Dover Street, has applied to convert its Blanca club into a new sex entertainment venue.

The new club would have striptease, pole-dancing, table-dancing and “full nudity” – between 9pm and 6am, Monday to Saturday – according to the licensing application.

Selfridges’ Duke Street entrance

An objection on behalf of Selfridges said: “Since the opening on Oxford Street in 1909, it has welcomed visitors from around the world.

“It has become an iconic destination, a destination and place for entertainment for all members of the family. Our client is deeply concerned about a sexual entertainment operation.”

The details of the objection is officially blanked-out but clearly comes from Selfridges – which opened to great fanfare in 1909 – and is signed by the firm’s lawyer, Poppleston Allen. The store’s early history was dramatised in a hit TV series, Mr Selfridge.

Objections include warnings about “severe damage to the residential character and family environment of the surrounding area” and the impact on property values.

One objector to Westminster Council said: “We are confident that if an organisation was requesting a strip club next door to your home you’d be objecting too.”

Another said: “We do not want our part of London becoming another Soho” with its “rowdiness and sleazy nature. Despite being in the West End this is quite a residential area and … we feel strongly that this is not an appropriate location for this type of establishment.”

Another objector suggested lap-dancing clubs should be restricted to Soho rather than Mayfair, adding: “Lap-dancing is an activity that glorifies the exploitation of women: it is out of date and inappropriate in the 21st century. I suggest the proposers look for a more suitable venue in Soho or preferably not at all.”

Backing the Selfridges objection, one resident said: “The Selfridge store opposite is a globally renowned luxury brand hub, that has undergone significant transformation in recent times. The area as a whole has benefited immeasurably from this, and been much improved. This application risks sending that positive momentum into reverse.”

Duke Street

Duke Street “is an important entrance to the store” and has been remodelled at a cost of £300million, it said, adding: “Selfridges is very concerned about the negative impact the presence of a sexual entertainment venue will have on this type of locality.”

According to documents in the application, the club’s staff would be told to wear “short elegant dresses” and suspenders, with hair that “must be down”. Dancers are paid £40 for a half-hour shift.

The application said: “We have significant experience of operating a venue of this type at the Mayfair Club in Dover Street for 10 years. Now that these premises are closed we seek to operate in an identical fashion from 37 Duke Street.”

The Met police have objected, arguing the club would “undermine licensing objectives”.

And there were concerns for services held at the nearby Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral.

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