First Amendment topicsAbout the First Amendment
News Story
Another N.Y. court finds no right to cut footloose in Gotham

By The Associated Press

NEW YORK — Come and meet those dancing feet, up on 42nd Street — but only in nightspots with special licenses.

The city's 80-year-old cabaret law banning social or recreational dancing by patrons in ordinary bars and restaurants is constitutional, the state Supreme Court's Appellate Division ruled 5-0 yesterday.

The Gotham West Coast Swing Club and several people filed a lawsuit complaining that because the law barred them from dancing with other people, it illegally infringed on their right of free expression.

The plaintiffs also contended that the city's application of zoning laws was arbitrary and capricious and deprived them of due process. They say they should be allowed to dance in any bar or restaurant they want to.

But the appeals court backed the law, which was enacted in the Prohibition era to crack down on speakeasies.

"Recreational dancing is not a form of expression protected by the federal or state constitutions," the court wrote in Festa v. New York City Dept. of Consumer Affairs.

City lawyer Norman Corenthal welcomed the court's decision, saying it upheld the city's right to enforce laws that protect residential areas from noise, congestion and safety hazards.

The plaintiffs claimed that in the 1960s, about 1,000 places legally allowed patrons to dance, but fewer than 300 such places exist now.

Norman Siegel, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said he was "very disappointed" by the decision and was considering an appeal to the state Court of Appeals.

Apparently life isn't a cabaret in NYC
State judge dismisses lawsuit seeking to allow social dancing in restaurants, clubs. 04.04.06


Utah county gets its groove back

Commissioners repeal obsolete laws including bans on 'immodest' dancing, bringing insane person into Washington County. 12.11.04

4th Circuit: Dancing for 'own enjoyment' isn't protected speech
Panel upholds lower court ruling that found North Carolina town could bar woman's dirty dancing from local hall. 10.10.05

Social dancing

News summary page
View the latest news stories throughout the First Amendment Center Online.

print this   Print

Last system update: Friday, July 25, 2008 | 00:35:10
About this site
About the First Amendment
About the First Amendment Center
First Amendment programs
State of the First Amendment

First Reports
Supreme Court
First Amendment publications
First Amendment Center history
Freedom Sings™
First Amendment

Congressional Research Service reports
Guest editorials
FOI material
The First Amendment

Lesson plans
Contact us
Privacy statement
Related links