Strip club laws

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Strip clubs are run as for-profit businesses in the United States and often include bars. The Supreme Court cited the First Amendment when ruling that while communities can regulate the way their strip clubs and other adult businesses operate, they cannot ban them outright. Rules and laws pertaining to strip clubs are made mostly at the county and state levels, rather than at the federal level, so not all strip clubs operate under the same set of rules.

Age Restrictions

Strip clubs in the United States are required to bar anyone under the age of 18 from entering, and many communities have age requirements for strip-club workers, including both dancers and those working in other capacities. In the United States, it is illegal to serve alcohol to anyone under the age of 21.

Liquor Licenses

Not all strip clubs have alcohol licenses, however, and a strip club that serves alcohol must have a license to do so. Strip clubs can lose their alcohol license if they serve alcohol to a minor or if drug use on the premises is found. Some communities--like Shelby, Tennessee--have banned alcohol outright from strip clubs.

Contact with Patrons

Most strip clubs have rules in which dancers and patrons must be separated by 5 or 6 feet, and some communities have regulations as to how large a stage must be for adult-oriented performances.

In vicinities where dancers and patrons must remain separated, lap dances are not allowed, and lap dances are banned outright in many areas. Many strip clubs are forced to abide by a "no touch" policy. This "no touch" policy can extend to dancers onstage, who are--in some communities--banned from touching one another or simulating sexual acts.

Furthermore, in places such as Phoenix, patrons are forbidden from tipping strippers by placing paper money in the dancers' g-strings.

Nudity Rules

While some strip clubs allow strippers to be completely nude, many communities are increasingly passing restrictions requiring strippers to wear minimal covering, including pasties and g-strings. In Phoenix, legislation was passed that requires strippers to wear a layer of latex over their nipples at clubs where alcohol is served.

Hours of Operation

Hours of operation differ from town to town; in some areas, the clubs are allowed to operate 24 hours a day. In certain places, strip clubs are not allowed to be open on Sundays. In Missouri, for example, as of August 28, 2010, strip clubs are required to close by midnight.


In many communities, strip clubs and adult-related businesses aren't allowed to operate within a certain distance of schools, churches and residential areas. Strip clubs must be located in approved zones. Some strip clubs choose to locate themselves in small towns where zoning laws are not as strict.

Background Checks and Licensing

In some communities, such as Detroit, Michigan, strippers must pay an annual fee to be licensed and have to pass a background check. In some communities, legislation requiring strip club dancers to pass an HIV test has been passed, though this law has been quite controversial.


In some states or communities, strip clubs are forced to collect an entrance fee that is given back to the state. In Texas, for example, a £3 entrance fee goes to benefit a foundation for victims of rape. Some of the state's 100-plus strip-club owners say linking their businesses to sex crimes is wrong and unfair, however. A past attempt by the Texas legislature to have the £3 cover charge be applied to Texas state schools was squashed.

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