Washington strip clubs won't be selling alcohol anytime soon

SB 5614 was designed to improve working conditions for exotic dancers. Income from liquor sales would've paid for some of the changes.

Deja Vu Showgirls Seattle

Downtown's Deja Vu Showgirls Seattle on Monday, Jan. 7, 2019. (Photo by Matt M. McKnight/Crosscut)

Washington strip clubs are not going to be selling liquor anytime in the near future. 

A proposal designed to change the economic reality of strip clubs by allowing alcohol to be sold has failed to advance through the Legislature this year. Senate Bill 5614 was designed mostly to improve working conditions for exotic dancers, but the income from alcohol sales was supposed to pay for some of the changes. 

The bill passed the Senate on March 1 and the House Committee on Labor & Workplace Standards on March 17, but stalled in the House Committee on Regulated Substances & Gaming. 

Washington is one of a few states that do not allow liquor to be sold in strip clubs. Oregon allows the sale of liquor, and Portland has a thriving exotic-dancing industry supported by alcohol sales. The 11 clubs in Washington depend on getting a share of dancer tips, since most clubs do not pay dancers to perform, they pay the club to “rent” the stage for self-promotion. In testimony before the Legislature and in interviews with Crosscut, dancers said exploitative fees make it difficult for dancers to consistently make money in this industry. 

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