cabaret law

Get Ready to Shake It Tonight! NYC Repeals “No Dancing Law” Today

#LetNYCDance via Dance Liberation Network's Instagram
#LetNYCDance via Dance Liberation Network’s Instagram

The City Council is set to repeal New York’s “No Dancing” law today. Formally known as the “Cabaret Law,” the 1926 statute forbids dancing in bars without a cabaret license. The Law law is widely considered to be discriminatory since it was primarily used to police jazz clubs in Harlem during Prohibition, and has a broad history of violating New Yorkers’ civil liberties. According to the New York Times, music was not permitted in unlicensed bars at all until 1936, and from 1940-1967 the city required performers and employees in cabarets to be fingerprinted and cary “cabaret cards” which were denied to those with a police record. As a result, artists including Charlie Parker, Billie Holiday and Ray Charles could not work in New York. Frank Sinatra simply refused to sing in New York rather than be fingerprinted. The law showed its teeth again during the Giuliani Administration, when the city targeted gay bars and shut down clubs in response to ’90s rave culture.

Today, just 97 of New York’s 25,000 watering holes have cabaret licenses, which means that nearly all of the dancing that goes on in New York is illegal. Given that Mayor de Blasio established an Office of Nightlife on September 19th, and the city is on the hunt for its inaugural Night Mayor, City Hall is supportive of repeal.  Continue reading

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Cabaret, Cuomo and Climate Change — The Hook-up 9/22

Getting down at the House of Yes, where Mayor de Blasio announced an Office of Nightlife on Tuesday. Via House of Yes
Getting down at the House of Yes, where Mayor de Blasio announced an Office of Nightlife on Tuesday. Via House of Yes

A great New York Story occurred August 17th, 1858, when New Yorkers celebrated the first successful transatlantic cable between The United States and England with a party at City Hall. So thrilled were the New Yorkers of yore, that they decided to illuminate City Hall with torches, then set off fireworks over the building. City Hall caught fire, but nobody could alert the fire department, because the fire bell was on top of the burning City Hall. Ultimately, City Hall was saved, but the building lost its cupola, which has since been repaired. Undeterred, New Yorkers had another party at City Hall two weeks later, and they set off fireworks again. That is the city we live in. No matter what, New Yorkers just keep partying. And Mayor Bill de Blasio was at House of Yes in Bushwick on Tuesday to make it even easier to get down in the five boroughs. De Blasio established an Office of Nightlife, and a Nightlife Advisory Board. A Night Mayor will soon be appointed, although Gerard McNamee, former Director of Operations at Webster Hall, is running for the unelected position.  Continue reading

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