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Dance Free NYC

Racist era zoning laws still prohibit dancing in 80% of NYC! Mayor Adams' City of Yes land-use proposal needs your support to right this longstanding wrong!

Help us end racist era zoning laws! Our goal is to collect 10,000 signatures from New Yorkers in a petition to the Land Use Commission presented at the February 2024 hearing.

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Dance Police, Cabaret Law & Historic Injustice:


Media Coverage: 1987 - 2023

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Let's Dance Free in the City of Yes

Did you know that all New York City bars and restaurants are allowed to have live music but most do not allow dancing due to antiquated zoning laws? The history of regulating dance in New York City reflects the change in our culture over the past century. For decades, a number of advocacy groups have opposed racist era laws that have supressed dance and culture including the Dance Liberation Front, Legalize Dancing NYC, Metropolis in Motion, The Dance Liberation Network, The NYC Artists Coalition, Dance Parade New York, and The Dance Police (NYDP). Now that the Cabaret Law's administrative code was repealed on October 30, 2017 by Mayor de Blasio who signed City Council Member Raphael Espinol's bill, outdated land use laws still do not permit dancing in any New York City establishments with less than 200 patrons. This situation contrasts the zoning of live music as live musical entertainment can be conducted in any bar or restaurant throughout New York City.


Dance is an important form of expression and connection for many immigrant and marginalized communities and is a human right not subject to zoning or any form of regulation. In the Cabaret Law's 91 year history of the supression of dance and culture, it was found nearly impossible to define what consititues dancing--Rhythmic swaying, foot tapping or striking a pose as with "voguing" are movements and can represent even the absense of movement.

Dancing should not only be permited in Industrial and high density commercial districts. (Check out the NYC Department of Planning's ZoLa Tool to see how a particular building is currently zoned.) This outdated requirement unnecessarily affects small businesses and their patrons who want to dance.


Members of LegalizeDance.Org want the word "dance" removed from zoning codes of NYC law. We maintain that nightlife (and daylife) in "Entertainment establishments" should be regulated by venue capacity not whether or not people are dancing.  We maintain that social dancing is a healthy activity and a 1st Amendment Freedom. There is a long list of city and state ordinances that regulate "Entertainment establishments" and New York carries some of the strictess noise and fire safety laws in the country.  And as an activity, dancing contributes to a human communal spirit and has the capacity to create a more vibrant and equitable society.

Over the past two years, Mayor Eric Adams' Department of City Planning has put together a set of proposals called City of Yes that represents the first comprehensive land-use reform since 1961. Legalize Dance NYC has worked to advocate on the behalf of dancers and nightlife operators to fix zoning so that it effectively will end the prohibition on dancing. However, these measures, often misunderstood by adversaries to nightlife, threaten to sink the proposals. Join us to help create a modern city that legalizes dance and works for all New Yorkers!


From the Creative Protests of the 1990s...

...To the 2017 Repeal of the Cabaret Law

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© 2005-2023 Legalize Dance NYC | All rights reserved | a project by Dance Parade New York

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