One Chance to Dance – Cabaret Law Hearing June 19 1pm at City Hall


For Immediate Release



Dance Advocates rally to reform the city’s antiquated no-dancing law

on the steps of City Hall before a hearing by those affected


Monday, June 19th at 10 Am on the Steps of NYC Hall

Monday, June 19th at 1 PM in City Hall Council Chambers


City Hall—On Monday June 19th at 10am NYC Council Member Rafael Espinal, Chair of the Committee on Consumer Affairs leads dance advocates in a Press Conference Rally to raise awareness for Cabaret Law reform and the creation of a nightlife taskforce. The hearing at 1pm held in City Hall Council Chambers is the first time the Council has held an oversight hearing on the 1926 Cabaret Law.

The law requires a cabaret license to dance at any venue selling food or drink. Beyond denying to all New Yorkers a fundamental right of cultural expression, this law also has become onerous on small businesses, who already have to secure several permits and licenses related to safety.

”It was clear that in the 1920’s the original intention of the law was to deter inter-racial mingling,” cites Dr. Sally Sommer, dance historian. “Subsequently, the law has been used to close down clubs in neighborhoods that were gentrifying which included LGBTQ clubs and racially mixed clubs. Today the mainstream clubs are crazy expensive which defacto makes them elitist.”

According to there were approximately 12,000 licenses in the 1960’s and 1970’s and today the city licenses only 97 venues city-wide. NYU Law Professor Paul Chevigny observes: “The Giuliani administration enforced every law on the books, causing the city to fine and shut down hundreds of venues for dancing.”

A handful of current dance venues enjoy limited competition with high prices unaffordable for most New Yorkers but specifically artists and already marginalized groups, including those who rely on dance for their cultural identity.

Rather than supporting small businesses in their efforts to increase safety at their establishments, the Cabaret Law deters investment into the essential culture. The law can be is used as an enforcement tool to arbitrarily fine or shut down venues, particularly hitting the smaller clubs, those in the outer boroughs and in lower-income neighborhoods.

The hearing that follows the press conference rally will feature dancers, musicians and other artists as well as bar owners and advocates that seek to loosen the restrictions on social dancing, and support our small businesses that are so vital to the cultural and social expression of our neighborhoods.

“We believe strongly that there is no place for such a law in a contemporary civil society.” Jamie Burkart, NYC Artist Coalition.

City Councilmember Rafael Espinal, who plans to introduce a Nightlife Taskforce bill to strengthen the nightlife industry, says “There has been a disconnect between what the cabaret law actually calls for and what is being enforced on the street by our city agencies. From the cobblestoned streets of the Meatpacking District to the warehouses of Bushwick, NYC’s nightlife scene should be accessible, fun, and safe for everyone and I look forward to working with all stakeholders to ensure these needs are met.”

Panelists for the hearing:

  • Frankie Hutchinson, Dance Liberation Network, a cabaret law reform advocate
  • Andrew Muchmore Esq., Owner of Muchmore Café, a bar in Williamsburg that was cited for dancing
  • Brandon Hoi, owner of Robertas Pizza in Bushwick, Brooklyn
  • Jerry S. Goldman Esq. – Dance Parade Emcee of 10,000+ dancers of over 80 unique styles of dance & culture
  • Chris Carroll, Musicians union, Local 802 AFM
  • Rachel Nelson (Owner of formerly DIY-now-licensed venue Secret Project Robot, and licensed bars Happy Fun Hideaway and Flowers For All Occasions


Public testimony:

  • Dominque Keegen, Owner of the East Village Plant Bar who got shut down for dancing violations
  • Sally Sommer PhD, Professor, dance historian and filmmaker
  • John Barclay, Bossa Nova Social Club, a bar in Bushwick that was cited for dancing
  • Olympia Kazi, NYC Artists Coalition
  • Jamie Burkart, NYC Artist Coalition
  • Ali Coleman – DJ and Co-Founder of House Coalition, an underground dance organization
  • Avram Turkel Esq. – Member of LegalizeDance.Org
  • Greg Miller – Executive Director of Dance Parade, a non-profit that promotes expressive dance
  • Alan J. Gerson Esq – Former City Council Member and member of LegalizeDance.Org
  • Brenda Neville – Artistic Director of the Contemporary Ballet, Neville Dance Theater
  • Liah Alonso – Artist and dancer impacted by the cabaret law
  • Akim Funk Buddha – Director Funk Buddha Productions
  • Jane Doe – Producer of a Tango community that got cited for dancing and now holds her events in unregulated venues in order to dance in the shadow of the Cabaret Law. Anonymous Testimony from owners of the popular nightclubs in NYC who do not have a cabaret licenses


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