Controversy over Sheffield strip club’s location after “no touching rule” claims

A row over the location of a Sheffield strip club has been reignited over claims it failed to enforce a ‘no touching’ rule.

Sheffield Hallam University echoed some previous concerns after a women’s rights campaigner paid journalists to go undercover at Spearmint Rhino for two nights earlier this year.

Their findings were revealed in a report, part of which has been released in the Sunday Times and alleged that strippers at the club danced on the journalists’ laps, simulated foreplay, and touched each other in defiance of the club’s rules, which were said to not apply by one of the performers.

After a controversial re-licensing hearing in 2017, last year Sheffield Hallam University, which neighbours the club on Brown Street, argued having the club so close to university property was inappropriate.

Today, a spokesperson for the university said: “Sheffield Hallam University believes the location of the Spearmint Rhino is not in keeping with the wider purpose of the surrounding area, which is one of the City’s key cultural hubs.

“The university has made a highly positive and substantial investment in the wider area in recent years and as part of our ambitious campus masterplan, further developments are earmarked in the area which will include much enhanced public spaces.

“Our aim is to invest in developments that will allow the area to flourish as a social and cultural hub of the city where the university and its surrounding area can be enjoyed by all.”

However, Sheffield Students’ Union Labour group, who previously supported the club on feminist grounds, have continued to support the workers’ rights to employment at the premises.

“Last year we campaigned in support of workers at Spearmint Rhino in Sheffield. Sheffield Labour Students supported workers because they faced unemployment if Spearmint Rhino’s license was not renewed,” a spokesperson said.

“Under capitalism, sex work is work and we therefore support sex workers’ struggles for workers’ rights and unionisation in their workplaces.

“As with any other workplace, it is the responsibility of a worker’s employer to ensure they are working in a safe environment. We are clear that Spearmint Rhino should fulfil this obligation.”

Spearmint Rhino told the Sunday Times that the claims will be investigated internally.