Civil Liberties

Free Your Ass and Your Liquor License Will Follow

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Barbara Ehrenreich stands up for the right to dance:

Compared with most of the issues that the venerable American civil liberties lawyer Norman Siegel takes up, this one may seem like the ultimate in urban frivolity: Late last month, he joined hundreds of hip-hoppers, salsa dancers, Lindy Hoppers and techno-heads boogying along Fifth Avenue to protest New York City's 80-year-old restrictions on dancing in bars.

But disputes over who can dance, how and where, are at least as old as civilization, and arise from the longstanding conflict between the forces of order and hierarchy on the one hand, and the deep human craving for free-spirited joy on the other….

The whole column is here. Ehrenreich's book Dancing in the Streets is reviewed here. Pictures of the dance parade are here. George Clinton gets a Letterman audience to dance here. Learn to dance like Napoleon Dynamite here.

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  1. What the fuck? Are NYC concerts a staring contest?

  2. Maybe Ren McCormack needs to move to NYC and teach those uptight city elders a thing or two.

  3. It’s the legacy of St. Rudy, President of 9/11.

  4. Barbara Ehrenreich? Famed author who followed up her turgid Nickel and Dimed, with the delusional Bait and Switch? THAT Barbara Ehrenreich?

  5. Nobody puts Baby in a corner.

  6. And just think, last night I was talking about how perfect NYC is. If this is true, I really can’t live there.

  7. I managed to be inconvenienced by this parade while on vacation. In Washington Square Park, a guy up on the staged droned on and on about Rudy and the cabaret law and blah blah blah. Eventually a voice rang out from the crowd “Shut up and fucking DANCE!”

    It was also on that vacation I learned the most valuable lesson NYC ever taught me:

    There is nothing wrong with you that a Vicodin and a Red Bull can’t fix.

  8. vicodin and red bull? sleepy and jittery?

    the ban is heartily ignored in many places. there’s also just about every kind of club night you could want out there, and several you wouldn’t ever want. [insert culture club joke here]

    seriously, if you want to dance to german micro house on a tuesday night, you can probably pull it off with minimal effort.

  9. Ehrenreich, socialist swine daughter of a former Gillette executive. Feh!

  10. dhex,

    It works out to a nice balance for me of pain relief and wired energy. Perfect speedball fodder.

    In Libertopia, I’ll mix up my own special formula and sell it in gas stations. (I’d call it SugarFree but the diet version would end up being SugarFree SugarFree and that’s not good marketing, I think… Maybe I’ll make my dream of STFU Soda into a reality…)

    By the way, when you fly with a bunch of Vicodin and they search your bag, they look at the prescription label very closely. Three different people looked at mine. (I’m a traveling drugstore, I think Vicodin was the only thing the TSAtards recognized.)

  11. dhex,

    Now’s the time on Sprockets when we dance.

  12. SugarFree,
    If you put your Vicodin in a bottle with a label that reads ‘Ibuprofen’, they won’t give it a second look.

    Nine times out of ten that is.

  13. seriously, if you want to dance to german micro house on a tuesday night, you can probably pull it off with minimal effort.

    Minimal effort, maximal boredom. Whatever happened to good old disco-house???

  14. Warren,

    It’s all legal anyway, so that tenth time would be a killer. What is it, “Prescription medication not in labeled container”? Is that what that stupid law is called? Anyway, I end up flying with all my bottles, rather than pill packs I make up at the house.

  15. Warren,

    Can I touch your monkey?

  16. It’s the legacy of St. Rudy, President of 9/11.

    With enthusiastic support from the upper classes who followed Disney into Manhattan and didn’t want to deal with the drunken riff-raff. The process repeated itself a few years later re: smoking.

    Whatever happened to good old disco-house???

    Go to any club, on any night. There’s about a 95% chance that you’ll hear exactly that. (Yes, I despise house music.)

  17. On the bright side, this might put a stake in the heart of Leo Sayer.

  18. SxCx – What the fuck? Are NYC concerts a staring contest?

    Rick H. – It’s the legacy of St. Rudy, President of 9/11.

    Rhywun – With enthusiastic support from the upper classes who followed Disney into Manhattan and didn’t want to deal with the drunken riff-raff. The process repeated itself a few years later re: smoking.

    I’m not saying that you folks are lazy or anything, but a simple search would have found plenty of information regarding NYC’s cabaret laws, including the fact that they were originally enacted in 1926 as a racially motivated Jim Crow measure against jazz clubs, and thus predate Rudy by more than a few decades.

    I will concede, however, that Rudy was the asshole who, starting in 1997, chose to use the cabaret law as a cudgel in his war on “quality of life” offenses. That, and his porn zoning law, plus his grandstanding AUSA term, make it impossible for me to support Rudy for any office above dogcatcher.

  19. I’m not saying that you folks are lazy or anything, but a simple search would have found plenty of information regarding NYC’s cabaret laws

    Hey, I knew that. And if Koch or Dinkins had chosen to strap on the jackboots and enforce it, or any of these laws for that matter, my comment would apply to them as well.

    That whole anti-dancing crackdown is pure Rudy, and sums up his “values” better than anything else. What a fabulous human being.

  20. I did research it, and it said that the law was “unenforced” before Rudy.

    I moved to NYC in ’97 so I caught a few now mostly-forgotten years of Rudy; the more I’m reminded of it the less I like him. It makes me think he could get the social conservatives off his ass about the cross-dressing and the pro-abortion and the divorces by pointing out how much he hated dancing, criticism, and controversial art. They ought to lap that shit up.

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