We Can Dance If We Want To: NYC Council To Vote To Repeal Cabaret Law That Bans Dancing At Many Bars, Restaurants

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The New York City Council is scheduled to vote to repeal the cabaret law that bans dancing at a majority of the city’s bars and restaurants.

Opponents have long argued that dancing is healthy and should be encouraged, not regulated.

The law went into effect in 1926 to patrol speakeasies during the Prohibition Era and makes dancing illegal without a cabaret license.

Out of more than 20,000 bars and restaurants in the city, fewer than 100 actually have the license. Everywhere else, it’s illegal to dance.

Councilman Rafael Espinal, D-Brooklyn, introduced the bill to repeal the law, saying dancing doesn’t need to be licensed.

“The bill that I have right now is pretty much clearly going to be a full repeal of the Cabaret Law, so that means all of the language has been in place for almost a hundred years now will be removed, completely removed off our books,” Espinal said in a video by the Dance Liberation Network, a grassroots group that calls the law outdated and racist.

Many believe the law was originally written as a way to prevent interracial dancing in the city’s clubs.

“It is time we right this historical wrong and remove New York City’s inappropriate, arbitrarily enforced dancing license,” Espinal said.

The last time the cabaret laws were used to crack down on bars and restaurants was during the Giuliani era.

The de Blasio administration said it strongly supports a repeal.

The repeal follows the creation of New York City’s first-ever Office of Nightlife.

Artists, dancers and council members will gather on the steps of City Hall to celebrate the occasion.

(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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