The infamous law has been on the books in the city since the 1920s.
New York City council members will meet next week to discuss the repeal of the city’s controversial Cabaret Law, often referred to as the “no dancing” law, DJ Mag points out.
The discussion comes after efforts from NYC dance groups including Discwoman to repeal the law and councilman Rafael Espinal who has proposed instating a “night mayor” to help work with DIY art spaces in the city.
Enacted in 1926, the law requires nightclubs and bars to purchase a specific license if they are hosting an event involving three or more people dancing. The license is notoriously difficult to obtain and was originally used to put pressure on Harlem jazz clubs to prevent interracial mingling.
The law has surfaced at other times particularly during the terms of former Mayor Rudy Guiliani who aggressively enforced it in the 1980s in his effort to “clean up” New York and again in the wake of 9/11. The law has often been described as a tool by police enforcement to find cause to enter a nightclub.
The issue was famously captured by 2000s dance-punk pioneers !!! in their breakthrough song ‘Me & Guiliani Down By The School Yard (A True Story)’.
“NYC is where the freaks come to be free and if I can’t get my freak on, see / I’ma hang up Giuliani, he can sic his lackeys on me,” frontman Nic Offer sings in the song. “But you can’t stop a new age dawning / So if you got hips then shake them.”
The hearing takes place Monday, June 19 at City Hall.