The New York City council has set a date for a meeting to review the outdated and controversial Cabaret (No Dancing) Law next week. The meeting will also consider a proposed bill by councilman Rafael L. Espinal Jr. to create a Nightlife Task Force and an Office of Nightlife or as it has been called, “mayor of nightlife.”
The Cabaret Law was first introduced in 1926 with heavy racial undertones to prevent black and white patrons from dancing in Harlem jazz clubs. For decades it was sporadically enforced until the 1990s when then-mayor Rudy Giuliani used it to close down clubs all across the city. It is still sometimes enforced today, though there has been some momentum to get the outmoded law repealed.
The Dance Liberation Network and NYC Artist Coalition are helping to lead the movement on this and held a meeting of their own in March to educate and help those fighting the law. A petition has been created as well to repeal the law, which you can sign here.
The idea for the nightlife mayor was floated back in May when the councilman spoke about the bill he was drafting and the need for someone to help protect the valuable art spaces that keep the city’s culture alive. According to the agenda summary, the task force will “study New York City laws, rules, regulations and policies to make findings and recommendations that address common issues and trends in the nightlife industry.”
The bill will be heard at the meeting, which will take place on June 19 at New York City Hall at 1 p.m. Find out more information on the New York City Council’s website here.