Coney Island Dancers bristle at new permit policy

Let us dance!: Coney Island Dancers leader Rican Vargas told the 60th Precinct Community Council that it’s been harder for the long-standing group to get permits to dance in the neighborhood for the upcoming summer season at the June 19 meeting.
Photo by Steve Solomonson

All they wanna do is dance!

A group of dancers in Coney Island is upset with the police for changing the times they can boogie on the Boardwalk and making it harder for them to get permits. The leader of Coney Island Dancers told the 60th Precinct’s commanding officer that the they deserve more respect for their years of dancing in the iconic neighborhood without causing problems.

“We haven’t had an incident,” said Rican Vargas and the precinct’s community council meeting on June 19. “Don’t throw us under the bus.”

Vargas brought a group of around a dozen Coney Island Dancers to the public meeting, where he complained that they used to be allowed to dance 4 pm–8 pm for their summer weekend events, but this year the precinct moved them to 3 pm–7 pm, and will also require the group to apply for dance permits on a weekly basis, as opposed to all at once for the whole season.

The new time slot makes it harder for the dancers, many of whom work weekends, to get to the events on time, and is a far cry from the freedom the dancers enjoyed a few years ago when they danced late into the night, according to Vargas.

“You got everybody nervous,” he said. “We used to go until midnight.”

Coney Island Dancers began in 1996, and puts on dance performances and events throughout Coney Island, according to its Facebook page.

Vargas presented the Coney Island Dancers as a well-behaved bunch, and a positive influence in a neighborhood that has struggled with high crime.

“I don’t allow drugs or alcohol,” he said.

The 60th Precinct’s commanding officer, Deputy Inspector Joseph Hayward, said he would listen Vargas’ grievances and was willing to discuss solutions.

“Why don’t you come by, we’ll meet and talk,” he said.

After the meeting, Vargas said he would definitely meet with Hayward, and was somewhat encouraged by his response.

“We’ve done nothing wrong,” he said. “We’re gonna have a sit-down.”

Reach reporter Adam Lucente at alucente@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow him on Twitter @Adam_Lucente.

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