The law, established in 1926 during the Prohibition Era to patrol speakeasies, made dancing illegal in venues without a cabaret license. Only 104 out of more than 20,000 restaurants and bars in the city have the license, although in recent years the law has rarely been enforced.
The legislation repeals all aspects of the Cabaret Law except for two safety requirements for establishments previously required to obtain a cabaret license. Establishments must install and maintain security cameras, and if they employ security guards, guards must be licensed pursuant to state law.
“It’s 2017, and this law just didn’t make sense. Nightlife is part of the New York melting pot that brings people together,” said Mayor de Blasio in a statement. “We want to be a city where people can work hard, and enjoy their city’s nightlife without arcane bans on dancing. I thank Speaker Viverito, Council Member Espinal, and everyone who helped repeal this law, support businesses and keep our nightlife safe.”
“Artist, musicians, businesses owners, workers, and everyday New Yorkers looking to let loose will no longer have to fear the dance police will shut down their favorite venues,” added Council Member Rafael Espinal. “We are doubling down on our commitment to keep New York as a true sanctuary city and we will not allow a law that has historically been used to suppress and oppress various groups, continue to stay in our books. I am proud to champion this historic repeal, which will support our nightlife businesses and community, while maintaining the much-needed safety measures we already have in place.”
“The Cabaret Law is a backward rule of a backward era. It’s an overreaching and overbearing policy that has always been about targeting people, with moral, monetary or malicious intent. It’s nearly one century old, and has not once served a redeemable purpose other than being rolled-back bit by bit. We have laws on the books and enforcement in place to fulfill any safety and quality of life issues a venue may or may not present. Requiring a permit to dance, in this day and age, and in this city, is silly. I thank Mayor de Blasio and Councilmember Espinal for getting rid of it,” stated Senator Martin Malavé Dilan.
“The repeal of the unreasonable and damaging Cabaret Law was long overdue, and the musicians of New York City applaud the Mayor and New York City Council for bringing it to an end,” said Tino Gagliardi, President, Associated Musicians of Greater New York, Local 802 AFM. “This law, steeped in racism and bigotry, has long run contrary to values New Yorkers hold dear—inclusion, diversity and creative freedom and has limited performers' freedom of expression. Its repeal is an important part of the ongoing work to support our creative and nightlife community, making this is a great day for musicians and music lovers across the cultural capital of the world.”