The New York City Cabaret Law, passed in the 1920s, prohibits three or more people from dancing in a club or bar that does not have a proper license and is still actively enforced. The law was created to specifically target black jazz establishments, going so far as to limit permitted instruments to strings, keyboards, and electronic soundsystems, while leaving out the instruments that are a staple of the genre. This regulation, and other stipulations that specifically targeted black clubs and musicians, have since been repealed but the law still remains in the books. Out of more than 25,000 bars and restaurants in the city, only 118 have Cabaret licenses.
A petition created by the Dance Liberation Network is asking for the repeal of the law. "We believe the Cabaret Law criminalizes the act of dancing without providing meaningful additional safety or quality of life measures," the petition states. "This law doesn't belong in our city and we are asking our government to repeal it immediately."
The Let NYC Dance event will take place on March 30 at the Market Hotel in Brooklyn. Sign the Let NYC Dance petition and get more information here.