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Espinal Proposes Nightlife Task Force, Takes Aim At City's 'Racist' Cabaret Law

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- New York City Councilman Rafael Espinal (D-B) appeared with nightlife advocates, dancers, and employees to demand action on a cabaret law that he slammed as 'historically racist.'

"It is ridiculous that in NYC dancing is just as illegal as it was in the fictional movie Footlose," said Council Member Rafael Espinal. "While there is no Kevin Bacon here to take on the fictional City Council of Bomont, there are thousands of advocates here today trying to do away with this antiquated and discriminatory law in the name of social justice.

Espinal has proposed legislation that would create a nightlife taskforce and an office of nightlife which would be headed by the 'night mayor.'

"It is time NYC bring nightlife out of the bureaucratic shadows and start giving it the formal respect and attention it deserves; that starts by repealing the cabaret law and creating a system to support nightlife, rather than arbitrarily shut venues down," he said.

The 1926 New York City Cabaret Law – often referred to as the 'No Dancing Law' prohibits musical entertainment and dancing in businesses that don't have a cabaret license.

Espinal said business owners have complained that the law is used as a way into their establishments to issue other violations.

Bronx Councilman Richie Torres agreed, it's time to do away with the law.

"We have no business criminalizing dancing, and the puritanism of the cabaret law has no place in New York City. It's a law that's racist in its origins," he said.

The law was originally written in the prohibition era as a way to prevent interracial dancing in the city's clubs.


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