NEW YORK CITY- Dance Revolution DANCING IN THE STREETS TO PROTEST CITY ANTI-DANCING LAW
New York is internationally renowned as the city that never sleeps, but visitors are surprised to learn that the Big Apple is not so hot on dancing.
Of the thousands of city bars, clubs and restaurants, only 275 hold cabaret licenses. Begin moving your hips in any of the others and chances are the staff will ask you to stop, for fear of a fine.
This weekend, a new activist group, Metropolis in Motion, plans to protest the laws by convening a dance party around the corner from Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Upper East Side townhouse Saturday afternoon.
”It’s about getting people to understand the whole bureaucratic mayhem that started in the 1920s. This is a dusty law where people keep trying to reform parts of it, over the course of the last 80 years but the entire law itself needs to be eliminated,” said Greg Miller of the group, which consists mostly of people with dance backgrounds.
Established in 1926, the cabaret laws were introduced to limit the opportunities for jazz musicians to play in places where people of different races might mingle and dance.
For many years, they sat largely unenforced, until the 1990s, when the Giuliani administration began using them in a quality-of-life crackdown.
One of the strongest advocates for change is former New York Civil Liberties Union chief Norman Siegel who, with New York University professor Paul Chevigny, is fighting to overturn the laws. After an April defeat in State Supreme Court in Manhattan, the group is planning to file an appeal in September, arguing the laws violate freedom of expression.
Siegel suggested that in recent years, dancing has become a scapegoat the city uses to address quality-of-life complaints.
”The Giuliani administration responded to neighborhoods concerned about quality of life for working people, who wouldn’t be able to sleep because there was a bar cross the street and people were noisy at two or three in the morning,” Siegel said. “Rather than deal with the real problem that was noise, they went after places that were not cabaret licensed. The Bloomberg administration is still making these quality-of-life arguments.”
The Department of Consumer Affairs, which issues cabaret licenses, sees them as a legitimate method of controlling entertainment venues around the city.
”The DCA works closely with city communities, and in conjunction with other city agencies, to use every tool at its disposal in addressing serious public safety and problem issues that may arise regarding cabarets,” said agency spokeswoman Dina Improta Roskin.
WHAT FREAKING PLANET ARE THESE IDIOT BUREAUCRATS ON? Dancers are too busy dancing to hurt anybody …