NYC Will Soon Resemble Town From Footloose Even Less

Council votes to repeal 1926 law banning dancing in bars
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 31, 2017 7:14 PM CDT
NYC Votes to Repeal 1926 Law Banning Dancing in Bars
Stock image   (Getty Images/Predrag Vuckovic)

Cut loose! New York City lawmakers voted Tuesday to legalize dancing in bars, repealing a 91-year-old law that banned boogieing at most city nightspots, the AP reports. The anti-dancing law was first enacted in 1926 and prohibited dancing in bars and restaurants that don't have a cabaret license. Critics said the so-called cabaret law originated as a racist attempt to police Harlem's 1920s jazz clubs and continued to be enforced unfairly. "If you're Latino, if you're black, if you're from the LGBTQ community, you all have been impacted by this law," said City Councilman Rafael Espinal, a Brooklyn Democrat, who introduce the legislation to repeal the law. "It is time we right this historical wrong and remove New York's inappropriate and arbitrarily enforced dancing licensing."

After the Council's 41-1 vote Tuesday to repeal the law, the measure will go to Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has said he supports it. Nightlife advocates hailed the repeal. "The Cabaret Law has decimated New York City culture for the past century and we are extremely pleased to celebrate its death," said John Barclay, a bar manager and a founder of the pro-repeal Dance Liberation Network. Fewer than 100 of the city's 25,000 eating and drinking establishments currently have a cabaret license, which requires approval from multiple city agencies. Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani used the law to crack down on rowdy nightclubs as part of a quality-of-life campaign 20 years ago. "New York should be the dance capital of the world," civil rights attorney Norman Siegel said. "Today is a giant step in the right direction."

(More dancing stories.)

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