Why Must We Cover Up Soho’s Rich (Somewhat Seedy) History?

One of London's top Mexican restaurants, La Bodega Negra, is currently locked in a legal battle with Westminster Council over its red-light-district light displays. The super-cool resto, situated in the heart of Soho, is famous for its tongue-in-cheek window signs, which refer to Soho's inglorious past as a sex district. Westminster Council have taken exception to this said references, and have issued a discontinuance notice to remove the signs. WTF?
What are we talking about here? Neon lights with the messaging "adult show" and "peep show." Hardly the stuff of nightmares, requiring the use of smelling salts. The council justifies its actions by stating, "The continued display of the neon advertisement is considered to constitute a substantial injury to the amenity of the area." Umm, if you walk 500 yards from where the restaurant is situated on Old Compton Street, you'll find the real-deal peep shows advertising their wares for all to see. Is that not a "substantial injury to the amenity of the area"?

Will Ricker, the restaurant's owner, is planning on putting up a fight. As Ricker explains to
The Evening Standard
, "They have completely failed to mention that it was the centre of the capital’s sex industry, which made Soho famous globally and a tourist attraction. And now as it slowly changes away from that, we wanted to make a statement that paid homage to the cultural importance of that epoch." Quite. This is a restaurant whose excellent cuisine, whizzing cocktails, and laid-back atmosphere attracts scores of locals and tourists alike, to the area. So, we have to ask: Are these lights really damaging the reputation of Soho? Come on, Westminster Council, it's time to lighten up. (The Evening Standard)

Photo: Via The Evening Standard.


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