New York, United States | AFP | New York’s mayor on Monday signed into law the repeal of a 91-year-old piece of legislation that had technically banned dancing in thousands of bars, clubs and restaurants in the city.
The city council voted overwhelmingly on October 31 to axe the law, which had come into effect in 1926 during Prohibition and which campaigners decried as racist, saying it was used initially to crack down on Harlem’s jazz clubs, where blacks and whites mixed.
Campaigners say it was also used historically to target Hispanics and members of the LGBT community. In the 1990s, mayor Rudy Giuliani used the law to get tough on clubs in his fight against crime.
“It’s 2017 and this law just didn’t make sense. Nightlife is part of the New York melting pot that brings people together,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio.
“We want to be a city where people can work hard, and enjoy their city’s nightlife without arcane bans on dancing.”
Although the law was rarely enforced in recent years, it required public spaces that sell food and drink to acquire near impossible-to-obtain permits to authorize dancing indoors or risk a fine.
Yet only around 100 of New York’s more than 22,000 bars, restaurants and clubs had the elusive permit.
Brooklyn Democratic councilman Rafael Espinal led the charge to repeal the law, saying it unfairly discriminated against small businesses.
“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,” he said Monday.
A search is also now on for a “nightlife mayor” who can liaise between city hall, residents and the city’s multi-billion-dollar nightlife industry, in order to support a safe nightlife scene that supports 300,000 jobs and attracts tourists far and wide.
While venues will not need a special dancing permit, the city will still require security guards and surveillance cameras in many venues.