Evan Haddad


The much-talked about Cabaret Law that has plagued many Bushwick bars and D.I.Y venues is finally set to be struck down.

The outdated anti-dancing law, established in Prohibition times to patrol speakeasies, is expected to end on Tuesday when Rafael Espinal’s bill comes before the City Council. Councilman Espinal, who reps parts of Bushwick, Brownsville, and East New York and who helped craft the legislation, says he has the 26 votes needed to pass it.

“It’s over,” he told the New York Times who first reported this story. 

Only 97 of roughly 25,000 eating and drinking establishments in New York City have a cabaret license. Getting one is a time-consuming bureaucratic process that many bars and clubs have chosen to ignore over the years. As a result, bar and club owners are “living in fear” of fines and being shut down, according to Mr. Espinal.

While Mayor de Blasio’s administration has issued relatively few citations, Espinal pushed for the bill’s repeal this year after an outcry of support.

At a townhall meeting about nightlife initiatives at Market Hotel this spring, the Cabaret Law dominated much of the conversation. “We came in sort of as a flash mob,” John Barclay, who runs Bossa Nova Civic Club in Bushwick, told the New York Times.

The repeal of the Cabaret Law coincides with another of Espinal’s recent policy victories, the creation of New York’s first Night Mayor.

Coverage image courtesy of Ardian Lumi on Unsplash