Monday, 31 January 2011

Sexual Encounter Establishment consultation

I must apologise for the distinct lack of blogging recently but my timetable as been rather full! However I thought you may be interested in the current Plymouth City Council consultation regarding proposals for Sexual Encounter Establishments. In my opinion the new guidelines will close the 2 existing lap dancing clubs in Plymouth and merely encourage more underground sexual establishments resulting in more crime/abuse in the long term. I personally have always felt that brothels should be legalised so they can be monitored more fully by local services. Anyway, here is the letter I just submitted to the licensing department and I will let you know what response I get:

Dear David,

I am writing in reference to the Policing and Crime Bill and the new guidelines for 'Sexual Encounter Establishments' that relate to the white paper.

I have copied my local MP Oliver Colvile in on this e-mail as there are issues contained within this e-mail that I would like him to be aware of.

My comments relate to to following on-line document:

I should explain that I currently run a Pole Dance Community approved fitness pole dancing school (The art of dance). We already work with both the City Councils sports and development unit as well as the Governments change for life initiative. I want to ensure that people are educated about the differences between pole dancing as a fitness and exotic pole dancing that may be used as a pre-cursor to a sexual act.

I do not work at a lap dancing club but do work with some individuals who do and am very aware of the issues that concern these workers.

Firstly I must question how the proposals aim to achieve the following and to question the statistics surrounding crime linked to sexual encounter establishments. I would imagine, as with speed cameras, that crimes linked to such establishments are recorded and that this information is publicly available?

• The prevention of crime and disorder
• The protection of safety, health or public decency
• The prevention of nuisance
• The protection from children from harm
• Protecting the nature, amenity and character of a neighbourhood

With regards to the information below, these measures are already accounted for in the licensing application process so I am unsure how new legislation/guidelines will alter or improve the existing process?

• Use of appropriate numbers of security personal and stewards ensuring effective
controls at all times
• Training staff in crime prevention measures
• Membership requirements
• Use of CCTV inside and outside premises, ensuring digital systems comply with Home
Office guidance minimum requirements.
• Quality of supervision and surveillance in premises
• Regular checks by staff of all public areas including toilets
• Assessment of customer profile ensuring effective management of customers both
inside premises and in outside smoking / external seating areas
• Anti-discriminatory policies and practice covering e.g. homophobia and racism
• Awareness of drink spiking
• Zero tolerance drug policies including the appropriate use of searching/amnesty boxes
to combat drug crime
• Active participation in club/pub watch schemes

In particular there are several elements of the new guidelines that I must bring into question as they may have a knock on effect to my business:

• The external appearance and advertising of the business, e.g. no sexually explicit material

What will be classed as sexually explicit? The current policing and crime bill uses vague terms such as semi nudity. I am concerned that images of pole dancers that I use for promotional material may be restricted under the new guidelines and need to know how distinctions will be made.

“Any live performance or any live display of nudity which is of such a nature that, ignoring financial
gain, it must reasonably be assumed to be provided solely or principally for the purpose of sexually
stimulating any member of the audience (whether by verbal or other means). An audience includes
an audience of one”

I am concerned about this vague definition of what it is to sexually stimulate? As I carry out more than 12 pole dancing performances at my establishment and other venues during the year to a mixed audience of both men and women could my business fall under this restricted category?

Will the legislation extend to clubs/bars who have poles installed for customer use?

How will the rules apply to burlesque performances that include elements of striptease?

I do appreciate that the document does detail what it classes as nudity:

“A display of nudity” means:
(a) In the case of a woman, exposure of her nipples, pubic area, genitals or anus; and
(b) In the case of a man, exposure of his pubic area, genitals or anus;

However this wording would still allow an exotic dancer to perform wearing a string bikini and thong without the need for any restrictions?

The wording, I assume, may also restrict theatre performances where nudity may be involved such as the recent Theatre Royal performance 'Puppetry of the penis'?

Whilst I appreciate it is unlikely that any aspect of this process will negatively effect my business I am also worried that this process will effectively shut lap dancing clubs in Plymouth as the 2 existing clubs will not be able to afford the new, more expensive licenses and extensive conditions imposed upon them. I believe the resulting effect will be more girls pushed into the many illegal brothels operating within the city to replace their current revenue streams. As brothels are not monitored by the council the new licensing could actually see more incidences of crime and sexual abuse in the long term.

I look forward to hearing your response and would like to be kept informed of any decisions or updates regarding the current consultation.

Thank you for your time.

Sam Remmer

More news to follow on my attempts at aerial hoop, Becca Butcher master-class, Equity Pole Dancers working party, Art of dance student gradings and Pole Jam with PDC Level 3 pole dancing instructor Elena Gibson.

Stay Healthy,

Sam x

Sunday, 23 January 2011

NHS Care?

The last week has brought me to question again the care given at hospitals such as Derriford Hospital. My Nan has been in the Torcross unit at Derriford after suffering a heart attack last Sunday morning. I cannot question the medical staff, from the paramedics who dealt with her at home to the ward staff who have been marvellous, however there is something missing; the number of staff on this high dependency unit have had their number cut from 4 to 3 and with a larger ward and increasing patient numbers they are now working very long shifts with very little breaks.

The other problems seems to be the complete lack of a holistic care package, whilst the technology on the ward is high and their are bleeping nachines everywhere, the lack of staff means that the basic needs of a patient are perhaps not as thorough as they should be. In my opinion for a patient to get well as quickly as possible they need to be eating and drinking as soon as reasonably possible and this just doesn't seem to be high on the priority list. Add to that the fact that someone managed to lose my Nan's false teeth on her third day in hospital further restricting what she can consume.

Despite everything my Nan is slowly on the mend and is currently on Bickleigh ward, again the staff are lovely and are doing their absolute best despite limited staff numbers. I can't believe that once again the government are looking at cuts to these very front line services which will further impinge on the care levels available on these wards.

Add to the equation the many ridiculous health and safety protocols that staff have to follow. For example check out the hilarious health and safety policy implemented by Warrens bakery who have taken over the ground floor cafe at Derriford.

Then there was the laughable issue of me getting a cup of tea to takeaway, 'An Earl Grey' to take out please I asked, a fairly simple request you would think but apparently not, Earl Grey is not available to take away as the water may be a few degrees hotter than the pre made tea in the glass jar on the side. What I can do is buy an earl grey to drink in and then ask for a takeaway cup to pour my earl grey into. I also had to verbally disclaim that I would not burn anyone and would be careful, like I was about to run out of the cafe throwing hot water over the nearest patient! It all seemed a little mad.

Not only have Warrens got away with such ludaris policies they have also ensured that it is now very difficult to buy anything healthy to eat from their establishment, I watched as queues of people, some in hospital dressing gowns bought faux cream ├ęclairs, pasties and meat pies. One obese lady was talking to her partner about her Dad's heart attack whilst purchasing 2 doughnuts and a can of coke for her lunch, not the healthiest choice surely?

Anyway the main thing is that despite her unintended starvation, loss of teeth, heart attack and 2 infections (one being pnueumonia!) she is actually getting better and stronger each day, she is a born fighter and if anyone can get over this then she surely can. Get Well Soon Nan x x

Stay Healthy

Sam x

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Back on the pole!

So after a lovely Xmas break I am back on the pole. Lessons started last Tuesday and it has been lovely to see so many students, old and new, back in the studio.  Yesterday's 2 hour pole jam was a bit of a shock to the system and proved just how out of shape I was after the Xmas break, luckily I didn't overdo it and today I have that lovely feeling of burn throughout each muscle fibre, everything is tender to touch without being overly painful, it is what I call nice pain.I am sure some of my students and inductees will be sharing the pole burn today :)

I have a list of moves that I am determined to perfect within the next 2 months and no doubt once that list is achieved there will already be a new list waiting to be fulfilled. I am hoping that my training will be aided by a new piece of equipment that made its way into the art of dance studio yesterday; 2 aerial hoops! Resident Burlesque artiste Kitty Kane and her trainer, Helen, rigged the 2 hoops up yesterday and our cross training sessions commence next week with us sharing our skills and, no doubt sharing bruises too.

picture left courtesy of circus performers using an aerial hoop.

As well as training in Plymouth I have several exciting activities booked up over the next 6 weeks starting with a jam at PDC approved Emily's Pole Fitness in Swindon next Saturday, swimming with my Mum on Sunday, PDC approved Spin City's pole jam in Exeter on Sunday 23rd and a pole jam with former world champion and owner of PDC approved Pole Dancing School Elena Gibson (pictured right) in London on February 11th. So hopefully I will be fitter, stronger and more flexible very soon.

picture right courtesy of Daylight studios.
Aside from training I am looking forward to our burlesque social this Wednesday 12th January. The joint social between our very own Burlesque Belles and Kitty's Dolls is open to anyone so if you want to join us simply turn up just before 7pm at the Thistle Park Tavern, Coxside where will be having a drink before the 7.40pm showing of 'Burlesque'. It would be lovely to see some of you there.

The Burlesque social is a perfect pre-cursor to our weekly burlesque lessons that commence on Wednesday 19th January at 7.30pm and cost £8 for drop-ins and £6 for member (just £24 per month). Click here to book a place.

So more news to follow very soon, I do have some very exciting news that I should be able to divulge next week, fingers and toes crossed!

Stay Healthy,

Sam x

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Looking to the future.

So 2011 is now here and we have entered a new decade too, this year is not only a big year for me but also looks set to be a great year for the Pole Dance Community, the art of dance and the entire pole fitness industry.  With the future looking bright for me I wanted to blog about those with less to look forward to and decided to blog again about the fabulous Fresh air fund operated in the states to give under-privileged children the chance to enjoy the simple, yet most important, things in life; Fresh air, open space and a caring environment. As our population grows at an alarming rate the chances for the kids of the future to truly enjoy the outdoors will slowly diminish. Click here to read Roger Pepper's brilliant recent article on population growth which describes the problem far better than my words could manage, it is a must read.

As the population expands more and more kids are trapped in over-populated suburbs with little chance of getting a good education or job, even in the UK we see more and more kids stuck in their bedrooms watching computer games rather than getting opportunities to integrate with the outdoors. For these kids they often experience poor diet and poor health as a result of lack of exercise and stimulation. So what can you do to help? Why not start the new year with a really good deed and donate to the Fresh Air Fund or find another project or charity that you an either donate to even volunteer for.

The Fresh Air Fund, an independent, not-for-profit agency, has provided free summer vacations to more than 1.7 million New York City children from low-income communities since 1877.  Thanks to host families who open up their homes for up to two weeks each summer, children growing up in New York City’s toughest neighbourhoods have experienced the joys of Fresh Air vacations.

Fresh Air children are boys and girls, six to 12 years old, who reside in low-income communities in New York City and are eager to experience the simple pleasures of life outside the city.  More than 65% of all children are re invited to stay with their host family, year after year. The summer of 2010 was amazingly successful thanks to the generous support from all of The Fresh Air Fund volunteers and donors. With your help, next summer will be wonderful too.

For a more personal take on what a Fresh Air summer means to our campers and Friendly Town children, here are some heartwarming quotes:

“Many people will never truly understand how truly remarkable and critical this opportunity is for a child's development. By experiencing new things and different lifestyles and cultures it broadened my capacity to deal with life in and outside of NYC.” – Lee Coleman (visited Connie Beck and her daughter Laura in Painted Post, NY)

“I’m excited to be in another neighbourhood and family.  I am only in the Bronx all the time.  I’m so happy to go and see what another place feels like.”(Abdou Sarr, stays with Linda  and Edward Ryan )

“It’s really fun with my host brother, Trevor.  We talk during the year too.  I love going to BBQs with my family and meeting Trevor’s friends….they taught me how to swim.”

“Everyone knew me as Roberta and Butchie’s daughter. I was never the FAF kid!” - Toneicia Chisholm (visited Roberta and Butch Parker of Clinton, MA)

“They were always loved like they were our own!” – 88 year old host child Sophia Young reminiscing about her FAF summer sisters Sanny and Evelyn (daughter of Ernest & Margaret DeZallia of Crown Point, NY, who hosted Sanny and Evelyn)

-"I just wanted to say that having Justin stay with us is very enriching for our family," Louis said. "Every summer he comes, it's a seamless transition, like a member of our family." (Louis Terlizzi)

“He is an extension of our family; every year we grow along side of him and watch him grow into a young man”- Angelina Bagge (host Mom)

I hope that you can find the time to really start 2011 with a positive step towards making the world just a little bit brighter for those with little hope.  However small your efforts they will still make a difference. I am of to Women's refuge this week to donate some items that they desperately need, such as bedding and towels, and I have a few charity events coming up in the next few months too. Perhaps even those CEO's, EuroMP', MP's and bankers will find a way to see the error of their way and give something back rather than merely basking in greed but I won't hold my breath on that one for the moment.

I wish you all a fabulous, prosperous and happy 2011 and remember it is the little things that count.

Stay Healthy,

Sam x