Residents, cultural figures and teachers at local schools rallied against the prevalence of strip clubs in Tallinn's Old Town on Tuesday evening. ETV reported that the several dozen demonstrators' main message was that the concentration of strip clubs - there are 12 in the 35-hectare historical district, according to an ETV estimate from 2012 - did not benefit the reputation of Tallinn or the nation.
A non-profit association - the Foundation for the Protection of Family Values and Tradition - is gathering signatures against such establishments. At the protest action, participants said the city should be barred from leasing space to clubs that do not fit in with the historical environment. Although gentlemen's amusements and bawdiness are not recent inventions, most of such clubs' signage clashes with the character of the Old Town.
"Anyone who finds themselves in the Old Town knows it is catastrophic in the cultural sense. This cheap entertainment business has attracted many people who can be called the bottom feeders, not just from Estonia but also from abroad," said the head of the foundation, Varro Vooglaid.
Currently most of the Old Town strip clubs are registered as restaurants. Vooglaid said a clause should be added to lease agreements to preclude providing adult entertainment. The perceived problem has seemed to escalate since 2012, when one such restaurant called Amsterdam Gentlemen's Club opened right next door to the Dominican Monastery.
Speaking on ETV, city center district elder Mihhail Korb said the city district sends any complaints about strip bars on to the police. He said the garish signage is something the city "is dealing with," with seven misdemeanor proceedings under way.
Korb called for a "broader discussion" of the problem, but Vooglaid was dismissive, saying that roundtables and the like would only put off solving the problem.