By Douglas Stanglin, USA TODAY
Is nude lap dancing an art form or just an untrained club employee taking off her clothes for money?
The answer is critical as New York's highest court hears arguments today on whether Nite Moves, a strip club in suburban Albany, deserves a state tax exemption similar to that for theater or ballet.
At stake: $124,000 in taxes for 2005.
State tax officials say the club owes an 8% sales tax for admissions to the club and for so-called "couch sales," where patrons pay for private lap dances, the Associated Press reports.
Nite Moves claims the dances are exempt under state tax law as "live dramatic or musical arts performances," which applies to theater and ballet, the AP reports.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's office argues in its briefs, no pun intended, that pole-dancing tricks may be hard to do, but that some Nite Moves performers have no dance training and simple pick it up by watching, The Wall Street Journal reports.
Such a dancer isn't "engaged in a genuine choreographic dance performance when she removes her clothing," the brief says. "In fact," it adds, "some patrons paid the admission fee simply to come in and enjoy a conversation with the dancers."
But Stephen Dick, the club's CFO, scoffs at the notion that formal training should be any critera when its comes to entertainment, the Journal notes.
"Under their code," he argues, "Eric Clapton, who didn't go to school to learn guitar, his performances would be taxable."