Last week, the NY State Supreme Court upheld New York City’s outdated cabaret laws, which prohibit dancing in bars and restaurants, stating that they are not an infringement upon free expression.
A group calling itself the Gotham West Coast Swing Club and several people said that because the city’s cabaret law barred them from dancing with other people it unconstitutionally infringed on their right of free expression.
The plaintiffs also contended that the city’s application of zoning laws was arbitrary and capricious and deprived them of due process. They said they should be allowed to dance in any bar or restaurant they wanted to.
The judge disagreed. He said dancing is not constitutionally protected expression and the city has the right to regulate circumstances under which eating and drinking places can let patrons dance.
But he suggested the city should consider amending the 80-year-old Prohibition-era cabaret law in light of current social norms.
VH1 talking head Bex Schwartz, a spokesperson for the radical direct action group The Dance Liberation Front, (whose once-in-a-lifetime confrontation with Rudy Giuliani I was priveleged enough to witness) responds:
“New Yorkers live in a city where they work too hard, pay too much rent, cope with both rude locals and also annoying tourists, and continue to watch the skies for suspiciously low-flying airplanes. We’re stressed, we’re strung out, and all we want to do is let out a little steam — especially while we’re paying for overpriced mind-numbing substances to drown out all that anxiety and agita. Yet we’re still not allowed to legally shake our groove thangs. It’s injustice, pure and simple. Upholding the long-outdated and archaic cabaret laws in this day and age is ridiculous. Liberate the dance! We will continue to fight for our right to eventually enjoy a boogie wonderland.”
The group’s leader, Reverend Jen Miller, could not be reached for comment.
Ms. Schwartz, along with Heeb’s Joshua Newman, MoveOn.org’s Eli Parser, and a fistful of young comedians, will host a seder for the second night of Passover, at Mo Pitkin’s. Details here.