La Covacha nightclub will reopen its doors Friday night after being ordered to close for more than two weeks following a scandal over a dance contest in which several women removed their clothes to win tickets for an upcoming concert.
The City of Sweetwater temporarily suspended the club’s operating license after a video showed three women dancing — two of them half-naked — during a competition for tickets the the Cuban reggaeton duo Yomil y El Dany concert. The club has a license to operate a club and restaurant, not for adult entertainment.
A Miami-Dade Civil Court judge on Thursday lifted the suspension, after the club filed a lawsuit against the city.
As part of a settlement reached by La Covacha and Sweetwater, the club pledged “not to allow ladies to expose their breasts again,” said the club’s attorney Louis J. Terminello. In return, the city reinstated the operating license.
Terminello told el Nuevo Herald that the order to revoke the license was “a little bit of an overkill”.
“The penalty did not match the offense,” he said. “[It] was like shooting a fly with an elephant gun.”
However, the attorney acknowledged that “it was wrong” to allow women to display their breasts at the club, although he clarified that the incident “lasted less than two minutes” and there was no sex or lasciviousness.
In the video, women are seen dancing, removing their clothes and showing their breasts, while the crowd and the club’s DJ yelled “Take it all off!”
The video was taken down from Facebook shortly after it went viral.
The scandal sparked complaints from Sweetwater commissioners like Manuel Duasso, who told el Nuevo Herald that the incident “made the city look bad.”
Sweetwater's attorney Guillermo Cuadra said municipal officials were satisfied with the settlement, since club owners pledged to take steps to prevent similar incidents.
“The city is not in the business of closing down establishments, it is in the business of compliance and quality of life,” Cuadra said. “The punishment was strong and we are satisfied with the club’s response. The city will be monitoring to ensure that they are complying with the law.”
La Covacha will not seek monetary compensation from the city, Terminello said.
“It’s more important for us to stay open and in good working relationship as we have for the past 25 years with the government than it is to try to get damages,” he said.