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New York City to repeal controversial ‘No Dancing Law’

Coming off the books after 91 years…

New York City will be repealing its Cabaret Law (famously known as the ‘No Dancing Law’) as early as Tuesday October 31st. A bill to end the 91-year-old law is being presented by Brooklyn councilman Rafael Espinal.

The law passed in New York in 1926 and made it illegal to host “musical entertainment, singing, dancing or other form of amusement” without a license. Similar laws were enacted across the United States during the Prohibition-era (1920-1933) to control speakeasies and social dancing.  

As reported by the New York Times, “only 97 out of roughly 25,000 eating and drinking establishments have a cabaret license. Obtaining one is costly and time-consuming, requiring the approval of several agencies, and only businesses in areas zoned for commercial manufacturing are eligible.”

According to spokesperson, Ben Sarle, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio supports “repealing the law” but champions the retention of requirements like mandatory security cameras and certified guards at larger venues.  

NYC Artist CoalitionDance Liberation Network, and Legalize Dance NYC were all major advocates for the repeal of the Cabaret Law. Advocate John Barclay, of Bushwick’s Bossa Nova Civic Club, stating: “If people are concerned that it’s going to turn into Coachella in their neighborhood, there are departments that are already regulating noise, fire, everything. It’s hyper-regulated.”  

The repeal follows New York City’s creation of a “nightlife advisory board”.

Read the full report on the repeal here

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