Incident occurs as Sociables applies for liquor license
By Scott Bellile
New London police learned an erotic dancer recently performed at a downtown bar that is applying for a liquor license.
A customer at Sociables, 309 S. Pearl St., hired a partially clothed male dancer to perform for a woman while the bar was closed for a private party, according to New London police. Sociables didn’t pay for the dancer but allowed him to perform there.
Dancing in a New London bar can be legal provided it’s not nude, but New London Police Chief Jeff Schlueter said city ordinance 12.02 forbids entertainment that is intended to provide sexual stimulation or gratification.
Police received word from an anonymous person on Feb. 26 after 9 a.m. stating Sociables had recently held a private party with a nude dancer. Police found an image posted to social media of the clothed dancer on the woman’s lap and upon further investigation determined the dancer wasn’t nude.
However, because the photo shows the dancer and woman making body-to-body contact, Schlueter said there is reason to believe the dancer was there to provide sexual stimulation or gratification.
Schlueter said Fahser was issued a written warning. Any business that violates ordinance 12.02 could face suspension, revocation or nonrenewal of its liquor license.
Schlueter brought up the violation before New London’s finance and personnel committee on Tuesday, March 1, because Sociables is currently applying for a liquor license. Sociables owner Michael Fahser, previously co-owner, became sole owner recently and had to apply for a new liquor license because the previous license wasn’t in his name.
Fahser applied for the license on Feb. 12 and in the meantime has a temporary license.
The finance and personnel committee approves liquor licenses and brings them before the city council for final vote. City Finance Director Judy Radke said the bar’s application would likely come before the city council in April.
“Before we went into the approval phase of this, I felt that it was important for you guys to be notified as to what’s gone on at this establishment and also the fact that this went on at a time that he was in the relicensing phase,” Schlueter told the committee.
Fahser said his customer hired the erotic dancer as a joke. He said his understanding had been it was legal, granted the dancer didn’t get nude, and pointed to a New London bar now out of business that he said hired dancers during deer hunting season. He apologized to Schlueter and the committee.
“I did not hire him, the bar did not hire the dancer, [the customer] paid for it,” Fahser said. “And all I can say is I’m sorry, and if I was to bring dancers in, I would probably not bring guys in.”
Police responded to about 30 incidents at Sociables in 2015, Schlueter said. An incidents list from New London police states 25 incidents in 2015, which range from parking violations to fights.
Committee chairman John Romberg asked Fahser how he accounts for the number of police calls last year.
“My opinion is the owner and the bartenders establish the crowd. They get what they cast for,” Romberg said.
Fahser agreed. But he told the committee he’s turned the establishment around in ways including banning problematic customers and helping patrons in emergencies. He said he cooperates with police officers when incidents arise and they’ve complimented his efforts.
“I’ve been working hard for it and I do want to succeed,” Fahser said about his business. “I don’t want to fail.”
City officials and committee members shared few opinions on the matter. But David Morack said it sounds like Fahser’s changed the environment at Sociables for the better, and Tom O’Connell said he’d like to keep a downtown business operating.