New York City Changes Zoning Codes In Support Of Nightlife

The New York City Council has approved new legislation that will change the city’s zoning codes in support of nightlife businesses.

Dubbed “City of Yes for Economic Opportunity” by New York City Mayor Eric Adams, the bill, passed on June 6, removes early 1960s-era zoning codes that prohibited dancing in many bars and restaurants. These zoning codes were an outgrowth of New York City’s Footloose-esque Cabaret Law, a prohibition-era ruling that banned dancing in all public spaces without a special license. 

The Cabaret Law was periodically revised in the decades before its official repeal in 2017, most notably in the 1990s, banning nightclubs from opening in residential areas without a cabaret license and forcing them into manufacturing zones as a result, according to Resident Advisor.

In the years since the Cabaret Law repeal, RA reports that surviving zoning rules still designated businesses as “no-dancing zones,” hindering nightlife growth.

Now, the new legislation means dancing is legal in all commercially zoned eating and drinking businesses, as long as the bodies on the dancefloor don’t exceed venue capacity, making it easier for clubs to open in residential communities and neighborhoods.

“In our 24/7 city—the birthplace of hip-hop, salsa, and disco—the freedom to dance is essential,” Jeffery Garcia, executive director for New York City’s Office of Nightlife, said in a statement. “These changes overturn outdated rules from the 1960s and fulfill a key priority from ONL’s 2021 recommendations to finally repeal the last vestiges of the discriminatory Cabaret Laws.”

Learn more about New York City’s “City of Yes for Economic Opportunity” here.

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Written by
Peter Volpe

Journalism student at The Ohio State University with a passion for culture and fat basslines.

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