As you may know, Dance Parade began as a protest: a response to NYC's 1926 racist Cabaret Law that restricted dancing to licensed venues. This year, Mayor Adams has introduced The City of Yes for Economic Opportunity, the first comprehensive land-use reform since 1961 which includes the removal of zoning prohibitions on dancing in the city. The proposals are now in front of community boards, where, unfortunately, some community members are giving in to "Not in my backyard" (NIMBY) arguments that could potentially jeopardize our right and freedom to dance.
I am asking for your help to sign our petition and - if you are able - to speak out for dance on social media, and say yes to the City of Yes at your local community board meeting -- many are happening TONIGHT.
Here are our arguments:
- Zoning is a manifestation of systemic racism. Community boards are unintentionally perpetuating systemic racism by resisting the Department of City Planning's efforts to eliminate barriers that disproportionately affect ethnic minorities. The consequences of historical injustices like slavery and Jim Crow laws, such as the Cabaret Law and current zoning regulations, continue to impact marginalized communities.
- Social dance is a powerful vehicle for connection and self-expression, allowing individuals to celebrate their cultural heritage and unique identities. It's a freedom protected under the First Amendment. In fact, live music venues sued for rezoning in 1988 and won under the First Amendment. Dance is no different.
- Community boards are currently considering quality of life concerns and worries over an influx of nightclubs. It's important for them to know that NYC has stringent noise and safety regulations already in place, whether for dancing, music, comedy, bars and restaurants, or any large gathering.
- The Department of City Planning rightly suggests allowing dancing as a right in commercial districts citywide, as part of its plan to support businesses, promote economic growth, revive communities and improve quality of life for all New Yorkers.
Let me tell you why this means so much to me. I identify as a dancer who communicates my true self through the language of movement. Whether I'm embodied in a cathartic release from my 5Rhythms practice, grooving to inspiring music or through spirited steps in Salsa, I come alive through dance, particularly as a social dancer.
At the time we organized the first Dance Parade 18 years ago, the cabaret law was being indiscriminately enforced by a Cabaret Task force (aka Dance Police) affecting marginalized communities in every borough of NYC. To address the claim that social dance is not a 1st Amendment freedom, we now showcase over 100 unique expressive styles of social dance in the Annual Parade and Festival. And our version of the Dance Police, the “NYDP” spread the joy of dance by ticketing venues for no-movement violations.
Our city thrives when all cultures can express their traditions. From hip-hop in the Bronx to swing dancing in Harlem, from Indian classical dances in Queens to Polka in Greenpoint, these gatherings are essential to our cultural fabric. While I am thrilled to say that the requirement for licensing was repealed in 2017, this has little or no effect without the zoning reform now being proposed.
Cultural dance should be celebrated and preserved. It is a truth I hold dear and work with other passionate advocates on every day. Please join us in this 60-day review period by taking action:
- Sign our petition to legalize dance.
- Join a Community Board Meeting and speak out against the suppression of our First Amendment rights. call me on 267-350-9213 or email me and I would be happy to help prep you for a Land Use Committee 3 minute max presentation (see below).
- Share these issues on Social media. Spread the word among friends, colleagues and our communities.
- Join our Dance Police (NYDP) force to spread the joy of dance.
- Ask supporting organizations and nightlife venues to join the cause to legalizedance.org by joining our advocacy efforts.
- Donate to the Dance Parade and its Education and Advocacy programs.
Together, we can ensure that dance remains an essential form of expression and cultural celebration for all New Yorkers.
11/08/2023 6:30 PM Manhattan Community Board 4 Land Use Committee
11/08/2023 6:30 PM Manhattan Community Board 8 Land Use Committee
Carnegie Hill, Lenox Hill, Roosevelt Island, Upper East Side, Yorkville Get more info here
11/08/2023 6:30 PM Manhattan Community Board 11 Land Use Committee
11/08/2023 7:30 PM Queens Community Board 5
11/13/2023 7:00 PM Bronx Community Board 12 Land Use Commitee
Baychester, Eastchester, Edenwald, Fishbay, Olinville, Wakefield, Williamsbridge
Share to Social Media.Sample tweet:
New York isn’t the town from Footloose — but you wouldn’t know it from our zoning laws! @nycplanning is finally proposing to change that and end outdated limits on dancing in our zoning. Get out and support #CityOfYes at your local community board: nyc.gov/YesEconomicOpportunity