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'Erotic dance theatre' gets go-ahead despite opposition from residents
Despite an initial refusal of permission from the urban planning consultation committee in Brussels, the establishment of Chochotte, the proposed 'erotic dance theatre' situated in an old shoe shop in the Saint-Jacques neighbourhood, will now go ahead. A new application has been submitted which satisfies the zoning regulations of the city centre neighbourhood and it is now expected to be approved without opposition.
However, the residents and traders association which has been fighting the application continues to protest against the proposed venue. In October last year, about 20 traders and local residents submitted their objections to the change of the location from commercial premises to a café and theatre. The latest development, they claim, had not been revealed to them by the authorities and the association heard about the decision from other sources.
"Urban planning promised at the beginning of January to keep us informed, which did not happen," said Pascale De Jonckheere of the neighbourhood association.
The cabinet of Ans Persoons, the Brussels councillor responsible for urban planning and public space, later confirmed that Chochotte had filed a new, adapted dossier that no longer contained deviations from the urban planning regulations.
"Instead of applying as a new restaurant, which is prohibited under the zoning plan, they this time applied as a theatre and dance hall,” a spokesperson said. “As a result, no new public inquiry was necessary, and the case will be dealt with in a closed hearing on Wednesday. Local residents can always contact the government to report their concerns."
The neighbourhood association is concerned that an ‘erotic dance theatre’ on Rue du Marché au Charbon will cause an increase in late-night disturbances, attract undesirables to the area and lead to increasing numbers of residents leaving the area for quieter parts of the city.
"We have a nice and varied range of restaurants and other destinations in our district,” said Pascale De Jonckheere. “We already have dancing clubs that stay open until late which leads to some vandalism or public urination. But adding another which is open until late can upset the balance. We do not want what happened to Saint-Géry happening here, where many residents have left because of the excessive presence of the catering industry."
"Our main opposition is that we want to maintain the balance between the different functions of the district, something that the zoning plan was supposed to guarantee," said De Jonkheere. “This plan could jeopardise the fragile relationship between trade, residents and hospitality."
"Some restaurants in the neighbourhood do like the idea,” De Jonckheere added. “They hope Chochotte's customers will end the evening with them after going there. But most of the traders and residents I spoke to aren't in agreement with that. They do wonder what kind of audience it's going to attract to our neighbourhood."
The French entrepreneurs behind the ‘erotic dance theatre’ already operate one Chochotte in Paris where, among other attractions, the club offers the opportunity for visitors to spend time in a private room with their favourite dancer.
They have tried to placate the local residents and traders by posting an explanation of their activities in the window of the proposed club.
"At Theater Chochotte, the music is soft, and we consume nothing but the shows, which form a theatrical and aesthetic appreciation of the female body in motion in a bold, seductively elegant way,” the notice read. “The arrival of Chochotte will provide cultural activity and a more diverse clientele."
Some residents have since responded with their own posters: “Cabaret Chochotte? No, thank you!”