Controversial New York “no dancing” cabaret law to be struck down after 91 years

“It’s over,” says Brooklyn councilman Rafael Espinal.

New York City’s controversial cabaret law, often referred to as the “no dancing” law, is set to be struck down with a new bill tomorrow (October 31), the New York Times reports.

The bill was introduced by Brooklyn councilman Rafael Espinal, embracing activist efforts earlier this year from local organizations including Discwoman.

Espinal told the publication he has the 26 required votes to pass and said the controversial law is finally “over”. A spokesman for Mayor Bill de Blasio, Ben Sarle, said “the mayor strongly supports repealing the law.”

The cabaret law was enacted in 1926 and requires nightclubs and bars to purchase a specific (and notoriously difficult to obtain) license if they are hosting an event involving three or more people dancing. It’s better known for originally being used to put pressure on Harlem clubs to prevent interracial mingling and by former Mayor Rudy Guiliani in the 1980s and after 9/11 as a tool to give police cause to enter nightclubs.

The law (and protest of it) has been a theme throughout generations of New York music preventing artists such as Billie Holiday, Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monk and Ray Charles. Up until the 2000s clubs often resorted to flashing warning lights prior to police entry to signal dancers to stop moving.