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Party on! Council votes to scrap archaic law that bans dancing in unlicensed venues - Brooklyn Paper

Party on! Council votes to scrap archaic law that bans dancing in unlicensed venues

The story in brief: It’s a no-pants dance party at the House of Yes on Jan. 7!
Associated Press / Ringo Chiu

Everybody cut footloose!

Brooklynites are boogieing across the borough following Council’s Tuesday vote to repeal an archaic law that prohibited dancing in establishments without a special license. And opponents of the Prohibition-era statute said it’s about time the legislation — which many alleged is discriminatory — is abolished, so that they and other beat-lovers can get down in peace.

“The authoritarian and racist cabaret law has terrorized New York City culture for almost a century. Today, that comes to an end,” said representatives for Dance Liberation Network, an activist group that led the repeal effort. “See you on the dance floor.”

Councilman Rafael Espinal (D–Bushwick) introduced a bill to scrap the 1926 law in June, arguing officials put it in place to shut down black jazz clubs of that era and that the statute has been used as a way to discriminate minorities ever since.

Opponents also charged the legislation provided authorities with a way to unfairly target small businesses by conducting surprise raids, which resulted in fines that bled out the establishments’ finances.

Now that Council voted to abolish the law, the bill will go before Mayor DeBlasio, who upon signing it will do away with the legislation for good.

Hizzoner voiced his support for repealing the statute in September, on the conditions that nightlife businesses install surveillance cameras and ensure that security personnel is licensed.

And activists who fought to scrap the legislation cheered it’s imminent abolition, claiming the city’s after-hours industry will grow even more diverse when that the cabaret law is no more.

“This long-overdue repeal decriminalizes a fundamental cultural expression, and puts an end to the absurdity of an effective city ban on social dancing,” said reps for New York City Artists Coalition, another pro-repeal group. “It is a very positive step toward a vibrant, safer and more inclusive cultural nightlife.”

Reach reporter Lauren Gill at lgill@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her on Twitter @laurenk_gill

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