EDM.com Spotlight

EDM.com Spotlight

New York City’s Archaic “No Dancing” Law Could Soon be Behind Us

Imagine yourself walking into a club to listen and watch your favorite DJ, artist, or band to perform after a long work week. Now, when they begin to perform, you’re not allowed to dance because the establishment doesn’t have a “cabaret license.”


Originally instantiated back in 1926, the “Cabaret Law” does just that: no dancing for no more than three people if the establishment doesn’t have a license. If a club is caught allowing their patrons to dance, they could be fined or shut down.

In 1926, the Cabaret Law (aka the “no dancing” law) was originally enacted to restrict African-American jazz clubs from allowing more than three musicians to perform together or more than three people from dancing. Since its enactment, it has been amended time and time again. For example, safety regulations were added after numerous clubs had disasters, and requirements for club musicians needing to be of “good character” were removed.

On March 21st, the profound and triumphant New York City music promoters, Discwoman, shared an infographic on their Instagram account with some facts about the Cabaret Law and why it’s hurtful to New York City.

The Cabaret Law is one of those laws that is as crazy as it sounds. In the 1990s, as part of his “Quality of Life” campaign, the mayor of New York City, Rudy Giuliani, used this as a backboard to hone in on clubs that were unlicensed and regulate the amount of establishments that were permitted to authorize this form of leisure. Michael Bloomberg, NYC mayor from January 1st, 2002 - December 31st, 2013, further enforced this absurd and arcane law by subjecting the unlicensed bars and clubs to padlocks, police raids, fines, and shut downs if the clubs’ patrons were going to dance.

According to Thirteen, “[New York City’s Department of Consumer Affairs {DCA}] claim that the problem isn’t really dancing, but rather nuisances such as noise, violence, and filth caused by poorly managed nightclubs in residential neighborhoods, and would like to find an effective way to ameliorate these problems.” Business owners and other neighboring communities like them because it does cut down on noise. But the law states that the establishment must obtain a cabaret license if they’re going to allow their attendees to dance. Failing to do so is breaking the law, and could warrant the aforementioned retributions.

This arcane law, however, may come to a screeching halt soon. Activists in New York like Dance Liberation Network, Dance Parade New York, House Coalition, and the NYC Artist Coalition are pushing the community to “overflow the New York City Council Chambers to legalize dance.”

If you’re in New York, come together with the New York City community on June 19th at 1:00 PM at the New York City Hall, which is located at City Hall Park. You can RSVP via the event page here.


H/T: Mixmag