There will be a meeting on June 19th that could decide the fate of the controversial "no-dancing" law.
The controversial law requires nightclubs and bars to have a specific license if they intend to host three or more people dancing at the same time. The resulting fines for businesses found in violation of the law are significant enough to seriously endanger smaller establishments. Though the "no-dancing" law dates back to 1926, it wasn't enforced for decades until former mayor Rudy Giuliani resurrected it as part of his "quality of life" campaign to clean up the city in the '90s.
Since then, its enforcement has been irregular, and while certain dance spots operate openly without the license, many nightlife professionals maintain that it's used as an arbitrary pretext for the city to shut them down. "The dance law is used as a 'Trojan horse' to get enforcement through the door, giving vulnerable communities no safe spaces," say representatives from New York's Dance Liberation Network, who have been leading the campaign to strike the legislation down. "Blanket criminalization of community spaces for dancing breaks trust with city government, forcing communities 'underground,' and away from life-saving safety resources."
In April, a group called the New York City Artist Coalition published findings that showed only 88 active Cabaret Licenses of more than 12,000 bars and clubs in the city. Councilman Rafael Espinal has since signed on an as advocate for reforming nightlife laws in order to reduce bureaucratic issues that hinder New York's nighttime economy. He will sponsor the meeting on Monday, where they will discuss not only the enforcement of the Cabaret Law but the establishment of an "office of nightlife" and the creation of a "night mayor" position, similar to those that already exist in Amsterdam and London.
A coalition of activist groups is encouraging New York City residents to attend the meeting at 1 PM on Monday, June 19th, in the Council Chamber at City Hall. There's more information at the Facebook event page.
We discussed the Cabaret Law and other licensing issues in last year's feature about nightlife, real estate and gentrification in New York. Read that here.