And as with so many of the racist measures of the 20th century, we’re still living with the very stupid consequences.
“Most people, even now, cannot believe that this was ever a law, let alone that it was still being actively enforced,” says Adam Snead of the Dance Liberation Network, a group formed, in part, with the goal of snuffing out the dancing ban.
Even years after the law was enacted, it targeted “marginalized groups under the pretense that somehow they were more dangerous than anyone else,” Snead says. “Basically anything the NYPD deemed dangerous, this law was used to get in those spaces and shut them down.”
Through its history, the ban was used to prey on vulnerable and disenfranchised communities. “During the Stonewall movement, the LGBT community was targeted,” Espinal, the council member, said. “On the Lower East Side, especially during the rock ‘n’ roll revival of the late ’90s and early 2000s, a lot of music venues were being shut down.”
At that time, bars citywide were padlocked when staff was caught allowing dancing, as The New York Times reported piecemeal.