Strippers halt traffic with march backing new licence for Spearmint Rhino

Strip club dancers have marched through a city centre to oppose moves to close a branch of Spearmint Rhino, to the bemusement of shoppers looking on.

The brightly dressed protesters halted traffic in Sheffield city centre, braving driving rain as they weaved from the Brown Street club to the Town Hall.

Demonstrators march through Sheffield city centre
Demonstrators march through Sheffield city centre

A row has developed in the city over whether to renew Spearmint Rhino's licence for the premises, which is next to Sheffield Hallam University's students union.

The debate deepened after reports that private investigators had filmed sex acts taking place in the club.

Protesters on the Town Hall steps
Protesters on the Town Hall steps

The dancers and their supporters – including the university's women's officer, Gabby Willis – told marchers any filming of this type should be classed as "revenge porn".

Miss Willis said she supported the dancers' right to earn money however they choose.

She said: "I think it's really important that we stand by women's choice to do that in a safe environment for their job, if they want to."

Asked about the secretly filmed videos, Miss Willis said: "We don't have any proof they even exist. If they do they are illegal. They constitute revenge porn.

"If something like that is happening, I strongly doubt it.

"I talk to so many girls from the club – I count them as friends. They're all professional, amazing women and, even if they weren't, that doesn't mean they should have their rights stripped away to be able to do what they want in peace."

She said she had been in the club and "felt completely safe".

Rachael McCoy protests with other demonstrators
Rachael McCoy protests with other demonstrators

Club worker Rachael McCoy, 37, told the protesters: "This is really important to us. This is our livelihoods.

"I'm a single mother. This job helps me feed my children. This job has actually changed my life for the better."