‘Sexy Dancing’ Bar Closed; Culture Clash Cited Shuts

Police shut down the River Street Balcony bar on Sisowath Quay Tues­day because the erotic pole dancers featured as evening entertainment conflict with Cambodian tradition, Daun Penh district Gov­ernor Sok Sambath said Wednes­day.

Past the bar’s pool tables and dance floor, a dimly lit room with two stages had featured bikini-clad women gyrating to popular music in recent weeks.

“I closed it down [on Tuesday] be­­cause it caused a loss of tradition,” Sok Sambath said of the bar better known as RSB.

“It was sexy and nobody allows showing dancing like this,” he said.

With young women clad in bikinis and sequins, fake fur, high-heels, and stage props including flapping red cloth to simulate fire, RSB was one of the city’s closest approximations of a strip club, ex­cept that the women did not re­move their clothes, the owner claimed.

“[Sok Sambath] had no basis to close my place down,” RSB owner Keo Kosal said Wednesday.

“There was no naked dancing, just sexy dancing.”

But RSB manager Jose Miguel Gonzalez, a US national, said earlier this month that some of the wo­men had danced topless late at night.

Though dancing at RSB may be banned, brothels and massage parlors continue to abound.

“We know for sure there are hundreds [of brothels] in the city,” former minister of women’s affairs and opposition party member Mu Sochua said. “Local authorities know what goes on behind closed doors.”

Phnom Penh Governor Kep Chuk­tema, however, said he was not aware of any brothels in the city.

“Do you know where they are located?” he asked a reporter. “You have to know the exact places be­fore talking.”

Chea Vannath of the Center for So­cial Development said activities such as prostitution and go-go danc­ing should be recognized and regulated.

She added that during the 1960s, when then-prince Norodom Si­ha­nouk ruled Cambodia, prostitution was allowed, but only in certain districts, and sex workers were offered free medical checkups.

“In the good old days under the rule of the King Father, they did have prostitution, but the prostitutes had ID cards,” Chea Vannath said.

“Now it’s everywhere,” she said.


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