There’s potential good news for the nightlife industry of New York. The New York City Council voted on Wednesday, September 20, to support a measure to establish an official Nightlife Advisory Panel and Office of Nightlife. The new office will, among other issues, deal with the controversial “cabaret law,” in effect since 1926. The restrictive law, which has come under heavy fire recently, prohibits “musical entertainment, singing, dancing or other form of amusement,” in any “room, place or space” without a cabaret license. The new office will be a liaison between the city and the nightlife industry to review policies, procedures and regulation. Mayor Bill de Blasio, who supports the proposal, has two months to appoint a Director of Nightlife to head the new office, and to put together a 12-member Nightlife Advisory Panel to be comprised of City representatives and industry participants.
Brooklyn Councilman Rafael Espinal, who sponsored the bill, says smaller venues not only need help to fight punitive legislation (such as the cabaret law), but also need protections to compete with larger venues in order to remain viable. “New York City’s nightlife culture is an integral part of its identity,” Espinal said in a statement. “Yet, bureaucratic red tape, rising rents and lack of community planning has made it increasingly difficult for venues that contribute to our iconic nightlife to stay in business.” The Nightlife Advisory Panel and Office of Nightlife are charged with monitoring trends and changes within the industry and making recommendations to City Hall.