By Jackie Galli, Mid-City Messenger
Club Pressure on Tulane Avenue has everything a strip club should: dancers, poles, lots of cash. The one thing it doesn’t have is a permit to operate as a strip club.
Pressure has been operating as a strip club since at least 2019, judging by the photos on their social media sites.
A city spokesperson said the property at 3940 Tulane Avenue was issued an occupational license as a nightclub, but that does not allow adult entertainment. Recently, the nightclub has been raising concerns among some residents — concerns that were heightened in June following a quadruple shooting in the club’s parking lot.
Commander of the Mid-City Security District Sgt. Alfred Russell said there aren’t a lot of shootings at Club Pressure, but the incident was cause for concern.
“The city can immediately, at the snap of their fingers, go there and not necessarily shut them down permanently, but can limit their hours indefinitely and shut them down from being a strip club,” Russell said. “We can only do that with the word of City Hall.”
Chair of Mid-City Security District Wendy Laker said she was surprised nothing has been done to correct the permitting issue. The club hasn’t been coy about the fact that it’s featuring exotic dancers. “If you go on their Instagram account — they have no shame in any of that. It’s all there,” she said.
One owner of a business near Club Pressure said the all-night club, which is open from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m., has caused issues with parking and trash in the area.
“It’s been nothing but catastrophic,” said the owner, who asked to remain anonymous to avoid neighborhood animosity. “I have to pay employees to help clean up trash after they have big events.”
Neighbors said all kinds of waste, including condoms and needles, is thrown everywhere. As people leave the club, they often throw away half-finished to-go containers of food from Pressure’s restaurant.
Several other clubs in the area also contribute to the problem, the business owner said. But when Club Pressure has a big event, neighbors notice a difference.
Club Pressure is owned by Sorelle LLC, which also owns Haifa Cuisine and Hookah Bar at 4740 Canal St. Mid-City Messenger made multiple attempts to contact the owner of Club Pressure but was unable to get a response.
District B City Councilwoman Lesli Harris said she has been working with the city to handle the situation.
“Quality of life and resident safety concerns are of the utmost importance to my office,” she said in an email. “I encourage the appropriate city departments to take any necessary steps to ensure this establishment is in full compliance.”
A litany of agencies — Alcohol and Tobacco Control, Safety and Permits, Code Enforcement, the city attorney’s office — are addressing the issue, said NOPD First District Community Liaison Officer Kristie M. Neveaux.
They are meeting regularly to discuss strategies to take in regards to Club Pressure, she said.
Once the appropriate agencies determine how they wish to handle the issue, the police will become involved as the manpower, First District Commander Capt. Terence St. Germain said.
Despite the quadruple shooting, an attempted arson of the club on July 18 that led to an arrest and the history of crime in the general area, St. Germain said there isn’t much crime directly related to the establishment. “We can’t attribute anything to the club itself for crime,” he said.
As to the complaints from residents, St. Germain said they typically have to do with permitting and the type of establishment. Neighbors don’t like having a strip club in their neighborhood, he said.
St. Germain said despite the club not being a hot spot for crime, it still needs to be operating in a legal capacity.
According to the Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance for New Orleans, businesses are prohibited from adult uses such as strip clubs within 1,000 feet of any residential district, place of worship, educational facility, or park or playground, unless they are within the Vieux Carré.
Club Pressure is within 400 feet of the Firehouse Full Gospel Ministries church, and less than 1,000 from rows of Craftsman cottages.
The sanitation and parking complaints for the area only add to the issue that the club has been operating illegally for several years.
St. Germain said, “If there’s a complaint and it’s not proper then it needs to be handled.”
Jackie Galli is a journalism student at Loyola University and a reporting intern at NOLA Messenger. She can be reached a firstname.lastname@example.org.