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.