NORTHBOROUGH, Mass. — Zem Han, the new Mediterranean restaurant in downtown Northborough, will soon be able to put on belly dancing shows for its patrons following approval by the Board of Selectmen this week.
Though the board voted unanimously to amend Zem Han's entertainment license, Selectman Aaron Hutchins questioned whether such entertainment was appropriate for children.
Describing a video of a belly dancer that he was sent as an example prior to the meeting, Hutchins said, "I don't think I'd be eating if I was in the restaurant and this was going on."
"I certainly don't want kids exposed to this," he added. "I don't think it's appropriate."
Zem Han owner Yuri Krasnov defended belly dancing as a centuries-old aspect of Mediterranean culture.
"Mediterranean dance is an expression of that region," Krasnov said. "I believe the United States is the country where everyone can bring their culture."
Other selectmen suggested that Krasnov post notices and update Zem Han's website to let patrons know ahead of time when the belly dancing shows will occur. Krasnov said he planned to offer shows every other weekend, in two 15-minute segments that would occur between 7-9 p.m. on either Friday or Saturday night. He agreed to making this information available as a condition of the license.
"I look at this as no different than what kind of movie you'd take your child to," Selectman Jeff Amberson said. "As long as it's not a total surprise to people, really it comes down to what a parent thinks is appropriate for their child."
Hutchins said that he was not opposed to the arts or dancing. Rather, he said he was basing his comments on how the belly dancer in the video was dressed.
Krasnov said that he would be open to having the dancers change their costumes if patrons complained.