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Cabaret law prohibiting unlicensed dancing moves toward repeal

A repeal of the so-called cabaret law from

A repeal of the so-called cabaret law from the 1920s was approved by the City Council's Committee on Consumer Affairs on Monday, Oct. 30, 2017, and will be sent to the City Council for a full vote. Photo Credit: Handout

New Yorkers are one step closer to unfettered dancing.

The City Council’s committee on consumer affairs voted unanimously on Monday to approve a bill aimed at repealing a cabaret law that dates back to the 1920s.

The law currently requires establishments to obtain a license to allow dancing. The repeal bill will be voted on by the entire City Council on Tuesday.

“Today is the first step to get this repealed,” said Council member Rafael Espinal, who sponsored the bill. “At the end of the day I think we produced a bill that repeals a century-old law that has unfairly targeted marginalized communities while also retaining the important qualities, which is safety.”

He said safety at bars “will still be a priority of the city.”

When first enacted, the cabaret law targeted jazz clubs and black-owned venues, closing down those that didn’t have proper permits. In the ’90s, former Mayor Rudy Giuliani used the law to close several independent music venues.

The mayor’s office said the there are currently 104 issued and valid cabaret licenses. As of October 2017, 43 of the licenses were for Manhattan venues.

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