Cabaret Law Dances Into Court


Dancing against the Cabaret Law outside Mayor Bloomberg’s house, 7.22.06

This just in: Paul Chevigny and Norman Siegel took their appeal of the original ixnay of Festa v. New York to court yesterday. Chevigny got seven minutes on behalf of the dancers who filed against the city and its cabaret law, arguing that social dancing is a form of free expression deserving of the same protection as stage dance. Stefanie Jones of Metropolis in Motion reports that Chevigny “reminded the court that New York is known for nightlife, and that people come here for social dancing, and find that it is restricted.”

The city attorney argued that because social dance doesn’t convey a particular message, Jones writes, “It is an activity and not expressive behavior. Then he argued that the city is allowed to regulate behavior to “avoid problems in the future” like clubs opening under or next to residential areas. He then argued that the dancers in the Festa case did not have standing to bring the suit.”

In his rebuttal, Chevigny said that dance didn’t have to have a message to warrant protection, since instrumental music and abstract art are also protected.

A written decision is due sometime in March. After which, the plaintiffs will either have won, lost, or gotten another round in State Supreme Court. Jones says it could take until early 2008 to get a final answer.

Fingers crossed that this grossly ridiculous law is finally overturned. Metropolis in Motion is hosting a 24-hour dance marathon at noon on Friday February 9, at the south side of Madison Square Park on 23rd and Broadway.

This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on February 2, 2007

— Tricia Romano

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