Published February 23, 2007
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 dancing by patrons in ordinary bars and restaurants is legal, the state Supreme Court's Appellate Division ruled Thursday.
The Gotham West Coast Swing Club and several people had sued, saying the law violated their constitutional right to free expression.
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.
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. They also had challenged the city's application of zoning laws, arguing it was arbitrary and capricious.
Norman Siegel, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said he was considering an appeal.