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Dance revolution: Mayor supports scrapping archaic law that bans boogieing without a license

Tuesday night fever: Mayor DeBlasio shows off his signature dance move, “The Smackdown,” at the Park Slope Armory after he won the Democratic nomination in 2013.
Brooklyn Paper
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He finally stopped dancing around the issue!

Mayor DeBlasio supports the repeal of an archaic law that bans dancing in establishments that do not have a special, hard-to-get license as long as those clubs and bars enact certain basic security measures, a rep announced at a Thursday City Hall hearing on the statute.

“The DeBlasio administration strongly supports repealing the current cabaret law,” said Lindsay Greene, a senior advisor for the Office of Housing and Economic Development. “There are better ways than the current law to create a strong and healthy nightlife economy.”

In June, Greene refused to say whether Hizzoner backed a bill by Councilman Rafael Espinal (D–Bushwick) that proposes abolishing the 1926 cabaret law, citing a pending lawsuit on its constitutionality. The pol introduced the measure that month, arguing the statute was put in place to target black jazz clubs and has been used as a way for police to discriminate against minority groups ever since.

But now DeBlasio will sign legislation to scrap the old law, on the condition it is replaced with one that requires nightlife businesses maintain surveillance cameras and ensure security personnel is properly licensed and registered.

Attendees erupted in a vigorous bout of “jazz hands” — raising their hands and wiggling them rapidly — in approval following the announcement, because clapping is not allowed in Council chambers.

The Department of Consumer Affairs currently enforces the cabaret law, but the police department will be in charge of ensuring haunts are up to code under the new legislation. Espinal worried this change will give cops free reign to target clubs and bars since they can use camera checks as a way to gain entry, but Greene claimed police will only investigate businesses when there is reason for concern.

Dance advocates spoke following Greene’s testimony, including one woman with plenty of experience getting down who suggested the “dance police” might lighten up if they tried cutting a rug themselves.

“Maybe they’ll feel a little better if they start swinging and swaying themselves,” said Mecedes Ellington, the granddaughter of jazz legend Duke Ellington and the first black dancer in the revered June Taylor Dancers troupe.

DeBlasio, despite his gangly 6-foot-5 frame, is somewhat of a dance pioneer himself, most famously creating “The Smackdown” in 2013, choreography in which Hizzoner licks his hand and bangs it on the ground.

But before the mayor can make busting the move legal for all, Espinal needs to amend the bill and then the Council has to vote on it, which is expected to happen in December.

Reach reporter Lauren Gill at lgill@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her on Twitter @laurenk_gill
Updated 5:55 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Stacey says:
That —— can't dance. What a d!
Sept. 14, 2017, 6:45 pm
Stacey says:
D o u c h e B a g
Sept. 14, 2017, 6:45 pm
Clarita from Sunset Park says:
Ha - look at big bird doing his pansy dance! Loca!!!
Sept. 15, 2017, 3:19 am
Jim from Cobble Hill says:
Yeah... I'll believe that when it happens. Might as well just have Hillary Clinton as mayor. Yuck.
Sept. 15, 2017, 8:57 am
Homey from Crooklyn says:
He's a mentally unhinged dork
Sept. 15, 2017, 1:35 pm
SCR from Realityville says:
Do any humankinds,brought into existence,circa 1993 or so;even care about traditional dancing? From my observations,all the latest generationis into,is GLEE-style dancing. This is dancing in-place,and the dancing is much less important;than the acoustics,or the music. I very deliberately placed it,in that order!!
Sept. 15, 2017, 2:54 pm
Dario from Sunset Park says:
Say it to his face. He's a giant.
Sept. 15, 2017, 4 pm
Gary from Fort Greene says:
This terrible decision could result in hundreds of "unlicensed dancing investigation & enforcement" personnel to lose their only opportunity to hang around nightclubs on the city's dime. Fortunately their jobs will be safe. Most will seamlessly be able to transition to the new "helping subway riders climb over the turnstiles" force.
Sept. 17, 2017, 12:23 pm
Hospitality Professional from Park slope says:
BDB has no clue to the ins and outs of the restaurant/hospitality business. From all the illegal hotels, air bnb's that he refuses to address. To the night life office that is not needed because if his tourism agency was running properly with people who had an idea how to market the small businesses and other tourism/hospitality venues another agency/dept would not be needed. So, look at the waste of salaries on a daily basis and please tell us all what exactly does Marty Markowitz do all day long at NYC & Company?
Sept. 17, 2017, 11:59 pm
Tammy Tam says:
It's just a trick, he's going to allow dancing but then you have to pay for a license to play music. The whole thing is just a money making scam!
Sept. 18, 2017, 3:46 am
TT NJ from Red Hook says:
I agree with the majority. Seems like BDB is not pulling the wool over anyone's eyes. There is something else coming down the pike after this idea is passed. Like additional funds for other "not yet named" licenses that this will create. Clubs serve liquor, as well as other venues that this will affect. Definitely will lead to problems somewhere. Doesn't he have some serious other business to take care of????
Sept. 18, 2017, 9:02 am
Catalana from Queens says:
If you didn't know for sure before that he's a dumpet, now you know that it's a dumpet!
Sept. 19, 2017, 1:47 am

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