1926 Cabaret Law: A LOCAL LAW to regulate dance . halls and cabarets, and providing for licensing the same. Very many have opinions and views about the 1926 Cabaret Law, but never have read the law, since it is not available on databases such as Westlaw and Lexis. We obtained the text of the law here from the Archives of the City of New York. Many claim the law was racist and was aimed at black jazz venues was their mistaken belief that the 1926 Law supposedly included a restriction prohibiting drums and saxophones in cabarets. But, such a provision was not added until 1961, and was a relaxation of the law to allow stringed instruments including guitars and violins.
The other reason provided for the claim that the 1926 law targeted is the report prefacing the law. But, that claim is based upon contorted projective reading of the preface, ignoring the context.
Some base their claims of racism on the preface to Law with references by the alderman to “Running Wild” and “Natives” applying pre-conceived 100 year subsequent interpretation to language readily explained by this 1926 New York Times Article published shortly before the Cabaret Law was introduced. This language is readily explained by reading the contemporaneous account in the New York Times of June 30, 1926, month before this bill was introduced and by reviewing the discussion of the background of the law in Perretti’s book.
Does the 1926 Cabaret Law as enacted in any way concern the number of musicians and the types of musical instruments that my be played without requiring a Cabaret License? Read this for yourself.