I did my little bit for the cause of dancing today, heading out in the freezing cold to dance for an hour with a hardy dozen lindy hoppers in Madison Square Park this afternoon. The cause was an effort to fight the ridiculous Cabaret Laws in New York that restrict public dancing to only a few licensed venues in the city. Originally enacted in a not-so-thinly-veiled effort to keep Black musicians from Harlem from performing in White establishments downtown during the height of the jazz era, these anachronistic and racist laws remain on the books. The result during the Guiliani and Bloomberg administrations has been the fining and shutting down of a number of dance venues in the city for allowing "dancing without a license."
The group Metropolis In Motion has organized a 24-hour dance marathon starting at noon today (February 9) until tomorrow at noon to draw attention to the issue. Some friends have booked a few slots for swing dancers, the first of which was today from 1:30-3PM. I had a blast dancing in the chill winter air in Madison Square Park with 15 or so fellow swing dancers. It was fun seeing the confused passersby stop in their tracks, pull out cameras and cheer us on. A local city councilman came by to show solidarity, as well as some local press.
There’s several open dancing slots tomorrow afternoon, if you’d like to stop by. When else can you boogie for the cause of dancing? Footloose!