Think I better dance, now! Two Bushwick councilmen fight for your right to party!

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Let them dance: Hundreds of people packed into the Market Hotel on Thursday night for the meeting on efforts to repeal the cabaret law.

They can dance if they want to!

Two hard-partying Brooklyn councilmen are backing a bill that will free bars and restaurants to let patrons get their groove on without the threat of being targeted by the city’s dance police.

Councilmen Rafael Espinal (D–Bushwick) and Antonio Reynoso (D–Bushwick) say they are tired of an antiquated city law that bans dancing in bistros and dives without a hard-to-get cabaret license not the least of which because they are the ones cutting a rug.

“I’ve probably danced illegally more than anyone in this room, it’s what I do,” said Reynoso at a standing-room-only meeting on the law last Thursday at the Market Hotel in Bushwick. “It’s what I have a passion for so you’ll catch me dancing illegally in other places until we get this law gone from the book.”

Espinal added that he enjoys getting down too, telling the crowd that he went on an Ok Cupid date eight years ago during which he danced all night at the same hotel while drinking 40 oz. of malt liquor he bought at the bodega downstairs.

That isn’t allowed thanks to the controversial Prohibition-era Cabaret Law, which some say was put in place to target black jazz clubs, that sics cops on venues that allow people to boogie without a license. It was revved up back in the 1990s when then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani to put nightclubs out of business, and the pols say it has since wreaked havoc in Brooklyn, where inspectors cite people for not obeying the law frequently with fines up to $3,000 for the first offense.

Activists claim Brooklynites are going to get down no matter what, and the law is forcing them into unsafe spaces — like the Oakland, California warehouse that burnt down with dozens of revelers inside — so they can move freely.

Espinal said repealing the law is one of his top priorities right now, and he is trying to drum up support for the issue amongst his fellow Council members in the coming weeks.

But he thinks some pols might not get on board because they fear scrapping the law will impede on safety and serenity in the neighborhoods people are dancing.

“I think there’s a lot of hesitation because they believe the law is in place to protect public safety and improve quality of life in communities,” he said.

Espinal added he is in the process of crafting legislation that will repeal the law.

The move comes less than a week after members of the activist group the Dance Liberation Network went live with its petition to repeal the law, which now has nearly 3,000 signatures.

Reach reporter Lauren Gill at or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her on Twitter @laurenk_gill
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Mike from Williamsburg says:
I'm so happy to hear this.
April 4, 2017, 7:33 am
Jim from Cobble Hill says:
Just like the 5 cent bottle deposit, this antiquated useless regulation will stay on the books for as long as the crooked officials and politicians can skim money off the top of all those fines that business owners would rather pay than deal with in court. And if you're dancing to Spanish language music? You can expect a visit from ICE on top of all that now
April 4, 2017, 10:51 am
samir kabir from downtown says:
Gee, nothing like responsible Council members. A 40 oz. bottle of malt liquor? Impeach these guys along with Trump.
April 5, 2017, 5:13 am
Feminist from Bushwick says:
As a women I find this deeply offensive. Are we just expected dance for you? A woman's value is not measured by whether she can dance at a bar, we have brains too you know! In case you forgot, women are as much as half of the people in Brooklyn.
April 5, 2017, 6:36 am
maureen from cypress hills says:
This is NOT a Spanish language issue...this is a quality of life concern...which these 2 councilmen don't seem concerned with. Large illegal sized crowds, 40 oz bottles=people drunk in the streets, urinating, throwing up...but more important having large dance events in the wrong place could endanger the safety of those dancing. Look at the illegal dance clubs and you'll understand why these things need regulations. If you want to change the law to make it easier for bars to become dance clubs with safety regulations then work to that end...don't just arbitrarily eliminate a law to justify your own bad behavior. As legislators...grow up and realize it is not just about the right to dance.
April 5, 2017, 12:08 pm

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