I have a hard time explaining to folks visiting New York City or residents unfamiliar with nightlife regulations how dancing is still illegal in most venues here and closing time is almost always 4am. Or earlier.
Today's New York Sun details the rising trend in restricting late night liquor operations by withholding liquor licenses from venues that will not promise to close up by 2am or even midnight or 1am on weekdays. Having traveled to party cities such as Barcelona and Berlin, where the party starts at these times and goes well into the following afternoon, I had hoped that a nightlife savior would materialize some time soon and repeal the laws created by these teetotalers. Sadly, that has yet to happen.
The Village Voice's nightlife columnist Tricia Romano has done some great coverage of the equally draconian cabaret laws, enacted in 1926, which forbid dancing in venues without cabaret licenses. Cabaret licenses are hella pricey and hard to obtain. A court case filed in 2005 suing the city for the right to dance only upheld the city's belief that New Yorkers are not entitled to dance. And yes, I've been told (at Happy Ending, in the Lower East Side) to stop dancing or I would be thrown out of the venue. WTF.
If you'd like to help change these laws, you can take action. Join your community board. Help lobby with the New York Nightlife Association. Or take part in the upcoming dance parade. Otherwise, you can move to Berlin. I think a club owner's quote was from Romano's 1999 article sums it up best: "[In 2000] the only places it was illegal to dance were Manhattan and Afghanistan. Now you can dance in Afghanistan."