NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Mayor Bill de Blasio on Monday signed legislation repealing the city’s cabaret law, which has banned dancing at a majority of the city’s bars and restaurants for the past 91 years.
“It’s 2017, and this law just didn’t make sense. Nightlife is part of the New York melting pot that brings people together,” Mayor de Blasio said in a news release. “We want to be a city where people can work hard, and enjoy their city’s nightlife without arcane bans on dancing.”
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, only 104 actually have the license. Everywhere else, it’s illegal to dance – though the law has been rarely enforced in recent years.
Brooklyn City Councilman Rafael Espinal (D-37th) introduced the bill to repeal the law, saying dancing doesn’t need to be licensed.
“Artist, musicians, businesses owners, workers, and everyday New Yorkers looking to let loose will no longer have to fear the dance police will shut down their favorite venues,” Espinal said in the news release Monday. “We are doubling down on our commitment to keep New York as a true sanctuary city and we will not allow a law that has historically been used to suppress and oppress various groups, continue to stay in our books.”
The last time the cabaret laws were used to crack down on bars and restaurants was during the Giuliani era.
The repeal follows the creation of New York City’s first-ever Office of Nightlife.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)