The Cabaret Law was put to action in the ’20s to crack down on black jazz clubs and it’s still on the books
Next week (30 March), the NYC Artist Coalition and activist organisation Dance Liberation Network will be meeting up with the city’s cultural commissioner, Tom Finkelpearl, to discuss the Cabaret Law and potential solutions for New York’s dance spaces.
The NYC Artist Coalition was formed in January this year, in response to the Oakland Ghost Ship fire. This meeting will follow up from one that was held by the Cultural Affairs Department at the town hall in January.
The Cabaret Law prohibits dancing in public venues that sell food and drink – save for those that have the cabaret license – thus strangling New York’s nightlife and effectively driving dance culture underground. These licenses are notoriously difficult to obtain and is an expensive process. Less than 0.1% of bars and restaurants in the city have a cabaret license; and out of over 25,000 venues, only 118 have acquired the license.
The law was first introduced to the city in 1926 to restrict African American jazz clubs. However, it remains on the books so the law is still being enforced to this day.
Dance Liberation Network has made a call for action via their Facebook event: “Please join us in collaboration with the New York City Artist Coalition and Commend in telling the Department of Cultural Affairs and thus the Government of NYC to repeal this antiquated, racist and hypocritical regulation once and for all at this historic Town Hall Meeting.”
The meeting will be taking place at Market Hotel in Brooklyn, NY. If you’re unable to join the meeting, you can add your voice to the petition here.