You know what they say-- dance like nobody’s watching…except maybe in Brussels.
If you find yourself in the Belgian city, club owners might want you stop dancing altogether because it turns out your moves are costing them quite a bit of money.
Authorities in Belgium’s capital have now started to reinforce a tax on dancing. The tax, first introduced in 2014, requires cafes, bars and nightclubs to pay the government about 40 cents per every dancing customer-- each night. Though it's been two years since the law was enacted, it wasn’t strictly enforced. But now, Belgian authorities are now clamping down on unpaid fees in the lead-up to the busy Christmas season.
“The tax inspector explained that the tax is based on the number of people dancing,” Nicholas Boochie, the artistic director of club Bonnefooi, told website Bruzz. Boochie says his nightclub was recently hit with a $2,100 fine, which caught him off guard.
“I first thought it was a joke,” Boochie said, “but it really does turn out to be true.”
According to the city’s finance department, dancing in public can be costly for Brussels as the activity “entails additional expenditure, in particular in the field of safety, public peace and public order.” The “dancing tax” allows the government to pay for any damage control.
But it's not just Bonnefooi that has to pay up, of course.
Marc Van Muylders, of Horeca Bruxelle, said his establishment was also hit with the tax. “Sometimes taxes are applied, but there are not enough officials to collect them,” he said.
Boochie’s establishment has even asked patrons to refrain from dancing in humorous posters on its windows. The club is contemplating a peaceful “dance-protest” against the tax, reports the BBC.
This isn't the first time the city has penalized club owners for dancers. Brussels first introduced the dancing tax in the 1950s. Inits modern iteration, the tax is levied against establishments, not individual dancers. The city says numbers are estimated by tax assessors who visit the area, not by official bar head counts or receipts.
In a statement, Brussels's finance alderman, Philippe Close said that city inspectors have been patrolling the Rue des Pierres, the street Bonnefooi is on, to keep an eye on where people are going to dance. “No one is supposed to ignore the law,” he said.
Close said that 38 other establishments have been fined this year.