A law created during the prohibition era is expected to be overturned soon in New York City. The so-called “Cabaret Law” was implemented in 1926 to make it easier for police to troll for speakeasies, outlawing dancing in bars.
For a time even musicians were disallowed from playing in bars, or were forced to submit their fingerprints and pass background checks. These hoops kept jazz greats like Billie Holiday and Ray Charles from performing in New York, according to The New York Times, and people like Frank Sinatra from essential boycotting the law by refusing to submit his fingerprints.
Now, nearly a century later, the law is expected to end thanks to Rafael Espinal, a councilman from Brooklyn whose district includes Bushwick. “It’s over,” Espinal said of the law. Constituents in Espinal’s district, where small bars continue to pop up, brought up concerns with the law at a recent meeting. Though it hasn’t been heavily enforced since the Giuliani era, as part of the city’s clean up attempts, it’s still a piece of law that owners worry will be randomly enforced.
Ben Sarle, a spokesperson for the mayor, said: “The mayor strongly supports repealing the law,” in an email to the Times, but emphasized the need for safety precautions and regulations to be followed at venues. One of the chief concerns people had about the law is that it drove patrons to unsafe locations to dance freely, like warehouses that are not up to code. The law is expected to repealed by Tuesday.