I was wondering how to note this Belfast Telegraph report about a court case in North Carolina in which a judge appears to accept that there are parallels between Irish set dancing.. and lap-dancing. Thankfully the Irish Eagle, who adds his own reminiscences, spotted another article on the story in the Irish Examiner, which ends with an appropriate quote from the director of ethnochoreography at the University of Limerick’s Irish World Music Centre, Dr Catherine Foley – “People can take what they want from anything. People read sexiness into things.” Indeed.As the Irish Examiner’s Caroline O’Doherty reports –
The controversy began when a number of clubs challenged a state law that bans professional dancers from touching their bodies in an erotic fashion – effectively ruling out the dirtiest dirty dance routines and the up close and personal approach of lap dancers.
However, the clubs’ star witness, Dr Judith Hanna, a respected anthropologist and dance expert, argued that to criminalise erotic moves would mean banishing everything from ballet to belly-dancing. Even, she said to gasps, Irish dancing.
Dr Hanna’s argument was that Irish dance “involves a rigid upper body and a leg pounding upon the ground [which] can be associated with the phallus pounding the female.”
Judge Carlton Tilley was convinced and lifted the ban.
That’s one easily convinced judge.. or one who wanted to be convinced.
According to the Belfast Telegraph report, Judge Tilley ruled that –
“The prohibitions would likewise apply to fully clothed customers wishing to do the shag or other popular dances such as those seen on the TV show Soul Train or the movies Dirty Dancing or Saturday Night Fever”
However, “The state now plans to appeal to the federal courts which means the issue is be aired on a far bigger stage.”
At which point it’s worth reminding everyone of Dr Foley’s quote –
“People can take what they want from anything. People read sexiness into things.”