Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Report: Cabaret law to be repealed today; they'll be swinging, swaying, records playing

City Council today is expected to repeal the 91-year-old cabaret law that prevents people from dancing at the majority of city bars and restaurants.

City Councilmember Rafael Espinal from Brooklyn introduced the repeal bill earlier this year. "It’s over for the cabaret law," said Espinal, who also introduced the city's Office of Nightlife with a yet-to-be-appointed Night Mayor.

Some background via The New York Times:

In New York City, only 97 out of roughly 25,000 eating and drinking establishments have a cabaret license. Obtaining one is costly and time-consuming, requiring the approval of several agencies, and only businesses in areas zoned for commercial manufacturing are eligible.


The Cabaret Law was enacted in 1926. It made it illegal to host “musical entertainment, singing, dancing or other form of amusement” without a license. The law is widely believed to have originally been used to target racially mixed jazz clubs in Harlem, but it was broadly applied. Music was not permitted at unlicensed bars at all until 1936, when the law was amended to allow radio- and piano-playing. The same year, operators of a ship that had taken men from the Bowery Mission on a day cruise were fined for running an unlicensed cabaret because a tap dancer was on board.

Updated 6:30 a.m.

Unsolicited statement via the EVG inbox...

When asked about the repeal of the NYC Cabaret Law, Gerard McNamee, former executive vice president of community affairs and special operations at Webster Hall and now candidate for Senior Executive Director of Nightlife for New York City declared, "The cabaret laws have been the bane of Gotham proprietors and revelers alike since the days of prohibition. It's a long time coming, let’s dance! Congratulations New York City."


Pinch said...

I think what the gentleman MEANT to say was, "Hey, hey. What's this I see? I thought this was a party? LET'S DAAANCE?" (Sir Kevin Bacon)

KT said...

Just so everyone is clear, this isn't about repealing racist legislation (altho that was the original intent of the law) this is to make it easier for loud late night clubs to open in residential neighborhoods i.e. our East Village nabe. CM Espinal is the snake who sold out East New York and supported BdB's upzoning despite fierce opposition from the community (Espinal was one of the biggest recipients of REBNY $ in the '13 election) And it recently came out he got a boat load of $ from club owners and others who have a stake in this industry.
"Throughout the past year, as Espinal advocated for the nightlife-friendly legislation, some of the city’s biggest bar owners made hefty contributions to the lawmaker’s campaign, including TAO Group COO Bill Bonbrest and Mitchell Banchik, owner of Down the Hatch in the West Village and Jake’s Dilemma and the Gin Mill on the Upper West Side.
Donations from nine industry stakeholders totaled $10,000 and accounted for 9 percent of Espinal’s $108,290 re-election warchest, according to campaign finance records reviewed by the Post."


Anonymous said...

Cabaret is such a sweet, romantic word, one can imagine a small club in the village with couples dancing to 5 piece band. The soon to be reality expect a loud club near you soon. An invasion of big money establishments, tourists traps with long lines, loud drunks spilling out and fighting while you try to sleep. Your once quiet block now has a "cabaret" on it and money is coming in for the cabaret owners. The mayor and city council has sold what little quality of life we have left to the highest bidder once again. The glittering lights of Broadway will be on your doorstep and the city will rake in taxes at the expense of your sanity.

Anonymous said...

Don't worry about it. They obviously don't worry about you.

$$$ talks and these uncaring bar owners and legislators don't care one iota about the residents of our neighborhood.

So what else is new?

Anonymous said...

It IS pretty absurd that dancing is illegal. This isn't Footloose for fuck's sake.

Anonymous said...

Good riddance, always hated this law.

To everyone complaining, there are noise laws.

Anonymous said...

I’m all for abolishing the Cabaret law, but what I’m not for is every other bar hiring a DJ, turning into a nightclub, opening their windows and blasting music all night. How the so-called “night mayor” is going to stop this from happening is a mystery. Can you imagine how loud places like Poco and the 13th Step will be once they tun into nightclubs? Anyone who has ever gone to a Community Board meeting knows how many shady operators show up trying to get their hands on a liquor license by pretending to be a restaurant, when they really want to open a nightclub. This is what happened to the old Adriatic restaurant on 1st Ave. and 18th St, when Visage opened a “pizzeria” that turned into a nightclub and became a total shitshow. They finally closed down after many resident noise complaints and visits from the 13th Precinct Police Captain. That Mexican restaurant in Peter Cooper called Vamos on 20th Street and 1st Ave has DJs on the weekend with open doors and you can hear it a block away, 2 blocks during Cinco de Mayo. So if you have a quaint idea that this change in the law will lead to.a bunch of romantic little cabarets with people dancing cheek to cheek to Broadway show tunes, those days are over. Get ready to enjoy a heavy dose of EDM, Taylor Swift and Dominican rap music turned up to 11 all night long, 8 days a week.

Anonymous said...

You already pointed out what will stop "every other bar hiring a DJ, turning into a nightclub, opening their windows and blasting music all night"

It's the police and noise laws -- "They finally closed down after many resident noise complaints and visits from the 13th Precinct Police Captain."

Just like now.

It's the noise that's a problem, not people dancing.

cmarrtyy said...

The city is for sale. This is just another big purchase... ONE PARTY RULE HAS TO BE STOPPED. VOTE! BUT DON'T VOTE FOR DEMS.

Anonymous said...

AMEN! And to all the community boards out there...your nothing but ego driven puppets to elected officials!

Anonymous said...

Ditto to 11:44 am.

Open a "restaurant", apply for liquor license, get a liquor license, "restaurant" is now a bar, bar turns to a "cabaret", rinse and repeat.

Ever been to Meatpacking District lately on weekend brunch? Those "restaurants' serving unlimited boozy brunch have DJ's blasting EDM music, during the day. Next thing you know, every "restaurant" would be like the Hotel on Rivington.

Anonymous said...

What do you expect? This is a one party town and nobody is going to do anything to change that. It doesn't matter what the Democrats do- you will always vote for them. Always. Then you complain how they are unresponsive. Why should they respond? What are you going to do- vote Republican? Of course you won't. So this is what you get from politicians at all levels. When the mayor gets 80% of the vote in a low turnout election- which he will call a mandate- you can only blame yourselves.

Anonymous said...

@12;20 PM It’s not as simple as that and you know it. It took over a year and a half of hell to finally get the place closed down, and it’s not certain they won’t just reopen under another name. Do we really want the police spending more time on noise complaints, or would it be better for them to be chasing down terrorists, gang members and violent criminals? The community and the 13th Precinct spent a lot of time focussing on this single establishment. Now multiply that by dozens more of these problem spots in every neighborhood and lets see how everyone likes it then. Nightclubs belong in industrial or commercial areas, not in the middle of residential areas. You can't trust that bar and restaurant owners will do the right thing when there is so much money to be made.

The whole concept behind the Night Mayor is a joke. They should call it the Nightmare Mayor. The fact that they need to put someone in a new full time position to manage the problems to come is proof enough that the City iknows it is not ready to handle the shitshow that is to come.

Brian said...

Yes, extremely hard to enforce noise laws.

Anonymous said...

The repeal was passed. Those complaining, almost every real music/dance venue has already been forced out of manhattan to bushwick/greenpoint/etc. Manhattan is essentially dead for music, the rents are too high.