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Exotic dancers at Norwich club earned up to £1,600 a night

Private "exotic" dancers can earn more than £1,500 a night. Photo: PA Images

Private "exotic" dancers performing "nude, semi-nude or bikini-clad" routines at an adult entertainment club in Norwich can earn more than £1,500 a night, a tribunal has heard.

Most dancers performing in private booths at the Sugar & Spice club in the city made at least £100 a night - and a successful dancer could earn up £1,600 a night, tribunal members were told.

Details of the amount of money generated has emerged after the club's owner lost a fight with the taxman, at a tax tribunal, over whether VAT should be added to money generated from the supply of private booths to dancers.

A tribunal judge has explained the operation of the club in a written ruling, published on a legal website, following a hearing in Norwich in December.

Club director Darren Crawford, who told the tribunal that he was a film actor and producer who spent significant spells of time on the west coast of America, had explained how dancers performed on a stage and in booths.

He said booths measured about six feet by nine feet, were dimly lit and had a curtain which may be drawn across the entrance. One booth had a "pole to dance around".

"Mr Crawford told us that the tips received by dancers dancing on the upstairs stage were not large: a dancer would be doing well if she received £20 a night from this source."

"The principal source of the dancers' income was from the private dances in the booths. Most dancers earned at least £100 a night from this source, and a successful dancer could earn up to £1,600 in a night. We accept this evidence."

– Charles Hellier, the ruling by tribunal judge

Mr Crawford had said the club had opened in 2010, between 100 and 300 dancers had performed over the years and only one of the initial cohort remained.

And he had said that "Sugar & Spice in Norwich was not Stringfellows in London".

Judge Hellier said "live nude, semi-nude or bikini-clad" dance entertainment was provided" at Sugar & Spice.

A "Dancers Pack" was provided which contained a "code of conduct" plus "tips, tricks and useful information for main floor".

Dancers received tips for performing on the dance floor and fees from patrons for private "exotic" performances in booths. In return dancers paid Sugar & Spice for use of facilities, including private booths.

The dispute centred on whether VAT should be added to money generated from the supply of private booths used by dancers.

HM Revenue and Customs said it should.

The company which owns Sugar & Spice, Dazmonda, said it should not.

Bosses argued that what was provided was an "exempt supply of land" for an agreed duration with the "right to occupy" and to exclude others from "enjoying that right".

The two-member tribunal panel headed by Judge Hellier ruled in the taxman's favour.