Personal & public expression in Speech - Topic FAQs

Social dancing

What are cabaret laws?

Cabaret laws were put into effect in 1926 to combat multiracial jazz clubs in Harlem. By law a cabaret is defined as "any room, place or space in the city in which any musical entertainment, singing, dancing or other form of amusement is permitted in connection with ... selling to the public food or drink, except eating or drinking places, which provide incidental musical entertainment, without dancing, either by mechanical devices, or by not more than three persons." In places where cabaret laws are in effect, bars and nightclubs need to obtain a permit for dancing just as one would obtain a permit for alcohol.

Why is social dancing not protected by the First Amendment?

In 1989 the Supreme Court removed social dancing from First Amendment protection in the case City of Dallas v. Stanglin, stating that social dancing is not defined as either association or as expression.