The Cabaret Law and parallel provision in the City’s Zoning Resolution have evolved over time. This section provides pointers to the history from 1926 to present.
Historian Burton Perreti’s 2007 well researched history of New York City nightlife includes a detailed 10-page background of the 1926 Cabaret Law which refutes any claim that the law was directed at Harlem, jazz, and interracial nightclubs. For Mayor Walker, the Cabaret Law was intended primarily to provide a closing time of 3:00 AM and was intended to bring the new nightlife under effective government oversight.
A New York Times article from June 30, 1926 describes Mayor Walker’s debating the proposed Cabaret Law curfew and providing contemporary color as to “running wild” and “visitors from outside the city” creating disturbances. The contemporaneous account undermines the implied view that the preamble to the enacted law establishes racism.
Constitutional Law Attorney and Counsel for Plaintiffs in Chevigny and Festa Cases book on the Cabaret Law and litigation to eliminate restrictions against music.
Memorandum and Order of Judge Roslynn R. Mauskopf, United States District Court of the Eastern District of New York declining to dismiss the Muchmore complaint against the City, and, among other findings, declined to find that social dancing was unprotected expressive conduct. p 31.
Letter Motion to Intervene as Amicus Curiae,
Muchmore’s Amended Complaint – falsely represented that the thee musician and type of instrument limitations were in the original Cabaret Law.
in 2004, John Festa and other social dance teachers challenged the constitutionality of the zoning resolution restrictions against dancing, winning in the trial court (Supreme Court), but reversed on appeal “Recreational dancing is not a form of expression protected by the federal or state constitution ” Litigation brought by Paul Chevigny.
Those continuing to claim that he 1926 Cabaret Law was intended to target jazz, Harlem clubs, and interracial clubs evidence classic confirmation bias, and continue to maintain this belief despite evidence that the belief is false. An example is the interpretation of the reference to Runnin’ Wild in the comments prefacing the Council adoption of the Law.