"No Dancing" Cabaret Law REPEALED! 1926-2017

You #LetNYCDance! For almost a century NYC's Cabaret Law shut down NYC’s cultural spaces for social dancing. Era after era the "No Dancing" law was a tool of discrimination weaponized against particular groups and establishments.

NYC Artist Coalition members identified the city's "No Dancing" Cabaret Law as the number one issue that shuttered vital community spaces, reduced career chances, stifled creativity, and had no place in our civil society. A groundswell of support led by a coalition of advocates emerged to raise awareness of the issue and fight for the full repeal of the law. Now it is no more.

Cabaret Law Factsheet

Press Release

After 91 years, thanks to the tireless efforts of folks like you, Dance Liberation Network, Dance Parade New York, House Coalition, Andrew Muchmore,
The Floasis, People's Cultural Plan, Legalize Dance, political pioneers like NYC City Council Member Rafael L Espinal, David Mancuso, Frank Sinatra and so many others, this discriminatory law is finally repealed!

The Cabaret Law was first introduced in 1926 during the Prohibition era to prevent interracial mingling in Harlem jazz clubs. Mayor Giuliani used the Cabaret Law in the ‘90s to shutter LGBTQ spaces and decimate culture. Until 2017, it criminalized social dancing, put marginalized people at risk, and pushed dance communities “underground” away from safety resources. It was a law that shut down community spaces for dancing.

Over its almost century-long history, the law has been periodically used as a tool to target specific groups and establishments. Several iconic performers such as, Theolonious Monk, Charlie Parker, Billie Holiday, Ray Charles, David Mancuso, and Frank Sinatra had been negatively impacted by the Cabaret Law.

Cabaret Law repeal Mayoral bill signing at Elsewhere in Brooklyn. November 27, 2017. Photo by NYC Artist Coalition.

Spaces that Can Now Allow Social Dancing

Of the 23,075 public places where food or drink are served, only 7,697 (33%) are in Use Group 12 and therefore can allow dancing.

Social dancing is permitted only in areas zoned C4, C6, C7, C8, M1, M2, & M3 for Use Group 12, the same as for arenas.

67% of places in New York City can not allow social dancing because of zoning.

Sources: Zoning Resolution 32-31, DOHMH New York City Restaurant Inspection Results

Cover photo by John McCarten

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