I could be off my rocker, but I was under the impression that the ... uh ... talent has always been obligated to maintain a four-foot clearance from the customer in Washington.Actually, it is determined entirely by local municipalities, subject to the usual First Amendment constraints. In California v. Larue the majority held that exotic dancing operates on the periphery of First amendment protections. Therefore any restrictions on it must satisfy strict scrutiny and be time, place, manner and content neutral. So how are buffer zones content neutral? I mean we don't require waitresses or hairstylists to maintain a buffer zone. Well the buffer zone ordinances have been found legal by the "Liberal" 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in their Colacurcio v. City of Kent decision where they found the bufferzones to be insignificant restrictions on speech, which do not fundamentally alter the message the dancer is trying to convey.
I'm from Spokane, and the sentiment there was that Washington strip clubs were lame because the girls always had to maintain that distance. Hence, everyone would flock to the Stateline strip club, situated just barely on the potato side of the Washington/Idaho border, where there was no such mandatory spacing.
They were merely following the lead of the Supreme Court who felt in Barnes v. Glenn Theatres that wearing G-strings and pasties did not alter the expressive content of the speech and therefore was a minimal intrusion on the First Amendment. But then what justifies the need for buffer zones? The municipalities interest in preventing secondary effects. Souter was the first to apply the doctrine to nude dancing in Barnes v. Glenn Theatres, but it was later extended by the rest of the court in City of Erie v Pap's A.M. , ironically much to the chagrin of a remorseful Justice Souter.
Keywords: Buffer Zones, Secondary Efects