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New York City Council to Hold Hearing About Law Banning Dancing

The meeting to discuss the Cabaret Law will take place Monday, June 19 at City Hall.
Photo of dancefloor by Flickr user Leigh Harries

The New York City Council is meeting next week to discuss repealing the Cabaret Law. According to the Council website, the meeting will take place on Monday, June 19 at 1 PM at City Hall.

The controversial ordinance, established in 1926, bans people from dancing in a club or bar unless the venue has a special license. Attaining that license, however, requires a number of steps for applicants, who must seek approval from the building and fire departments, install surveillance cameras, and pay expensive fees. Only 133 venues in New York City have Cabaret Licenses.

Council member Rafael L. Espinal, Jr., who previously advocated for repealing the law, is also proposing a Nightlife Task Force and Office of Night Life. The former would study local laws and policies to "make findings and recommendations that address common issues and trends in the nightlife industry," while the latter would act as a liaison between authorities, establishments, and residents, and also help establishments navigate licensing and permit processes.

A New York-based coalition of artists and DIY venue owners convened earlier this year following the Ghost Ship fire to discuss event safety, with the Cabaret Law topping the agenda. A petition by the Dance Liberation Network to repeal the Cabaret Law gained over 3,700 signatures, and the group also teamed up with Boiler Room to promote their "Let NYC Dance" campaign with DJ sets from Juliana Huxtable, Anané Vega, Jellybean Benitez, and others.

Read more about the Cabaret Law and its history as part of our Dancing vs. The State series.