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Best of Boston 2009

Quincy council plays with dolls

All they want to do is dance
By SARA FAITH ALTERMAN  |  April 22, 2009


Local burlesque group the Boston Babydolls are getting their tasseled titties twisted by Quincy Ward 6 City Councilor Brian McNamee. Okay, not literally. McNamee doesn't want to go anywhere near the ladies or their tassels; nor does he seem to want them anywhere near his district. The Dolls and McNamee are currently embroiled in an epic struggle over rehearsal space. Can't a girl even shimmy anymore?

"Back in September, we'd been looking around for a place where we could hold rehearsals and teach some classes," says Alex Newman, a/k/a Scratch, the Babydolls' manager, "and we found a great location in a [pre-existing] dance and fitness studio. I had to call the Ward 6 councilor to apply for a business permit, and he tried to convince me that I might be better served at some other neighborhood in Quincy — that we weren't appropriate for that neighborhood."

The vacant space in question is located at 37 Billings Road in North Quincy, in an area described by the Boston Globe as a "business district" that's "home to many Asian immigrants." McNamee has been quoted as saying he's trying to stop a downward spiral toward a South Shore Combat Zone. (As of press time, the councilor had not returned any of the Phoenix's phone calls.)

Now, it seems the city of Quincy is doing the dancing. Since that initial conversation, Newman says he's been told that in order to obtain a certificate of occupancy, he must file "change of use" papers with the city. "What I couldn't get from anyone was how switching from a dance studio to a dance studio was a change of use," he says.

He's also seen minor renovations — previously approved by city inspectional services — halted by a stop-work order; he's scheduled (and, subsequently, seen rescheduled) an appearance in front of the Zoning Board of Appeals, as well as a public forum for the Babydolls to discuss their intentions with McNamee and the local community out in the open.

Latest word is that the public meeting will take place on Wednesday, May 6, at 7 pm, in the cafeteria of the North Quincy High School (316 Hancock Street). The Zoning Board of Appeals hearing is currently scheduled for Tuesday, May 19, at 7:15 pm, in the second-floor council chambers of Quincy City Hall (1305 Hancock Street).

The whole thing is more exhausting than a fan dance.

A fundraising party to benefit the Babydolls will be held on May 15 at the Cambridge YMCA Theater, 820 Mass Ave, in Cambridge. Advance donations of $15 or more are strongly suggested. For more information, visit

  Topics: Lifestyle Features , Brian McNamee, Business, Dance,  More more >
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