Kudos to Rev Jen, Robert Prichard, Faceboy and everyone who contributed to this great act of civil disobedience in New York City!
Long Before Cabaret Law Repeal, ‘Dance Commandos’ Boogied for Justice
by Rev Jen
November 20, 2017
It’s time for a victory dance! After 91 years, New York’s archaic Cabaret Law has been repealed in a 41-to-1 vote. So put on your dancin’ shoes, wave your hands in the air like you just don’t care, head to your favorite watering hole, and shake your booty clean off. (We have to wait until 30 days until after de Blasio signs off on the legislation, but it’s never too early to practice your moves at home.)
This victory holds a special space in my heart, as I have been working on the law’s repeal since 1998 when I formed the Dance Liberation Front (DLF), along with fellow Art Stars Robert Prichard and Faceboy.
It all started one morning when I bumped into Robert Prichard, the proprietor of the now-defunct Surf Reality (172 Allen St., btw. Stanton & Rivington Sts.). He told me that the previous evening, Baby Jupiter, a nearby club where I performed every Monday, was busted because their customers had been dancing.
I wasn’t sure I’d heard him correctly.
“Dancing?” I asked.
Rob explained that in order to crack down on nightlife, Giuliani had dusted off a regulation from the 1920s called the “Cabaret Law,” which states that more than four people dancing in an unlicensed venue serving alcohol is illegal. Out of the thousands of bars in New York City, only a handful of the most well-financed clubs were able to obtain the dancing license.
It took a minute to process the Kafkaesque concept: Dancing was illegal in “Fun City.”
Rob suggested we create a group — the DLF — to bring to light the heinous crime Guiliani’s nightlife task force was perpetrating on the public. Read the rest of this story here.