NYC dancers sue over cabaret law

Four New York City dancers and a social dance organization have filed suit in New York State Supreme Court calling for an immediate repeal of the city’s cabaret laws. The laws, which date to 1926, require establishments that serve food or beverages and have dancing to acquire a cabaret license.

Dancers Bryan Cox, Ian Dutton, John Festa, Meredith Stead and the Gotham West Coast Swing Club filed suit on the grounds that the laws “restrict the state’s guarantee of freedom of expression by legislating and limiting the act of social dancing at eating and drinking establishments.”

The plaintiffs are represented by a team of lawyers that includes NYU law professor Paul Chevigny and Norman Siegel, former executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union. Supporters who have filed affidavits for the plaintiffs include Peter Martins, New York City Ballet master in chief, and choreographer Lynne Taylor-Corbett. The next court date is Sept. 2, when the city will offer its initial response. On Oct. 18, the plaintiffs will file their response. The judge is Michael Stallman.


Chris Pasles