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Rowdy protest by strippers, bar workers disrupts official update on Bourbon St. construction

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NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) -

A rowdy and vocal contingent of Bourbon Street workers, including dancers and bar workers made their presence known at a press conference held Wednesday by city officials to update the status of construction on the iconic stretch of the French Quarter.

The infrastructure project has been ongoing since April 2017, and has disrupted the operations of several businesses.

Entertainers from Bourbon Street strip clubs were already set up in the 300 block of Bourbon to spread the word about lost jobs, but when city officials took to the podium to talk about the construction, protesters stood behind them and started chanting.

"I think they were saying a lot about how Bourbon was going to be great and all these things, but we really couldn't hear them," said dancer Holly Tamale. "We were chanting things like, 'Let us dance' and 'Save our jobs.'"

As Dani Galloway with the Department of Public Works spoke about road and sidewalk improvements, she was nearly drowned out by the voices of several protesters chanting and holding signs that read “You can’t pave over our jobs,” “We are not victims,” and “Why the celebration??? Strippers are out of work.”

Dancers said the press conference gave them more attention than they expected. They said recent raids put hundreds of them out of a job right before prime money-making season. The law enforcement crackdown on alleged prostitution, drug dealing and “lewd acts” resulted in the pulling of liquor licenses from several clubs and the eventual closing of one – Temptations.

The conference continued, however, as multiple city leaders praised the efforts of construction crews and the improvements made to Bourbon - things like enhanced public safety with increased lighting and more cameras, fewer water service outages and better drainage.

But the construction has taken longer than expected. We asked about initially projected timelines. 

"We have a lot of lessons learned on this project, and I think we were a little ambitious when we gave those initial timelines and estimates," Galloway said. "But the reality is that we have done this job right. We have upgraded all the infrastructure, and for the long term for the city and for all the businesses in this area, I hope we maintain it and that it'll last a very long time."

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