The City Council passed a bill that will repeal the cabaret law. The bill will then be sent to Mayor de Blasio who is expected to sign the bill into law. Unfortunately, there have been a lot of misleading reports about what this bill actually does, and w
To be clear: Repealing the cabaret law does not automatically make it legal to allow customers to dance at your hospitality and nightlife establishments. If you do not have a cabaret license today, it will still be illegal to have dancing tomorrow.
Here’s why: A complex web of rules govern where customers can dance, including zoning laws, fire and safety regulations, the Building Code, Community Board stipulations, and your liquor license. A cabaret license just means that you have complied with all of these rules. But this bill does not repeal any of the rules. It just repeals the requirement that you get a license. That’s why the reports are so misleading, because the public and hospitality and nightlife establishments are being made to believe that removing the license requirement means that anyone can dance anywhere. If your building is not properly zoned, or you have the wrong Certificate of Occupancy, or if you do not have all of the fire safety equipment that you must have, or if dancing is not approved on your liquor license, or if you have Community Board stipulations that prohibit dancing, you will still get violations or be shut down if you allow dancing.
The NYC Hospitality Alliance is committed to the expansion of dancing in New York City. Repealing the cabaret license requirement is a positive development, but it is only a first step. There will not be true progress until there is repeal and reform of the complex web of rules that govern dancing, which is a perfect issue for the new Nightlife Task Force and Office of Nightlife to tackle in the careful, meaningful way that is needed to get this done right. In the meantime, do not be misled by reports claiming that dancing is now legal everywhere because of this bill.