Cabaret Law Repealed in New York City After 91 Years

New York City’s controversial Cabaret Law has been officially repealed by the New York City Council. The law that was originally passed 91 years ago made it illegal to dance in a New York City bar unless the establishment cleared a lot of red tape and paid a $1,000 fee to the city. While New York City has more than 23,000 bars and nightclubs, less than 2,300 hold cabaret licenses.

The repeal that was first proposed by Brooklyn councilman Rafael Espinal whose district includes D.I.Y. and other establishments around the city must first be signed by the mayor who made it public last month that he supported revealing the law. Owners will still need to make sure that security is top-notch at these facilities including having security cameras and security officers.

Many musicians including Buddy Holiday and Frank Sinatra have complained that the law hurt their business. While largely ignored during certain parts of the city’s history, the law was originally passed to help police officers control speakeasies during Prohibition. The law also limited the number of musicians that could perform on stage at one time to one or two.

Espinal and others have supported the law’s repeal since he got in trouble with it in 2013 when the police went out to investigate a noise complaint at his business. While Espinal is still angry about having to pay a fine after that night, there is little doubt that one of the reasons he strongly supports passing the law now is the interest in electronic dance music.

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