New Yorkers are campaigning for the repeal of a rather miserable Cabaret Law was brought into limit illegal boozing. According to critics, it was used to target inter-racial mingling in Jazz Clubs way back and still comes down heavy on minorities.
The Dance Liberation Network, founded by one the Discwoman heads, is building a broad campaign to wipe the statute off the books. There are only 100 venues in the city licensed for dancing. Campaigners claim the law is racially charged and used to police minorities.
Speaking to the New Yorker, a venue owner commented that:
“Cabaret violations tend to be handed out not by local police but by a task force known by its acronym, march (Multi-Agency Response to Community Hot Spots). “I love my local police,” Nelson said. “They keep me safe. They look cute in their uniforms. I have a great relationship with all the precincts I’ve ever been in.” She said that march seems to be activated in two scenarios: when a venue is in a rapidly gentrifying neighborhood, or when it gets on some kind of “naughty list”—“sometimes for good reasons, like violence and drugs, and sometimes when, as in the case with art spaces, there’s a cultural misunderstanding.”
Before you fall over all aghast at this anachronism – the documentary above notes how both Japan and Sweden rescinded similar restrictive dancing laws recently.
Ireland too, of course, has its own miserable anti-dancing legislation called the Public Dance Halls Act of 1935 on the books with no one seeming to give a damn about it.
Give the mini-doc a watch and read about our own anti-Jazz Dancehall Act here.