In Motion Indeed (Fred Askew)
During a let-up in Saturday’s cruel thunderstorms, a group of face-painted children, bubble-blowing adolescents, drum-thumping pot-bellied men and conga-lining women gathered at 79th and Fifth to protest the city’s 80-year-old cabaret laws.
It was a distinctly un-Manhattanish affair, with much more talk of making it to Burning Man than to the nightclubs these dancers were there to defend. Likewise the afternoon’s action was much about smiley, hands-in-the-air physical movement than the usual political fare–maybe on account of the nearby “Police Mobile Command Center” and the barricades of the Mayor’s nearby townhouse, target of the demonstration.
It was the first event organized by the Metropolis in Motion, which bills itself as an open-air dance movement. “We view this as a beginning,” said co-founder Julie Ziff Sint afterwards. “A great, positive, wonderful beginning.”
Last year, attorney Paul Chevigny and former ACLU executive Norm Siegel filed suit against the city’s harsh limitations on local dancing. Their argument–based on First Amendment rights–was thrown out early this year. (A Saturday handout said an appeal is pending.)
Flyers also had some choice quotes from Mayor Bloomberg: “We have dance police. This is craziness,” he had said at a 2004 press conference. More recently, according to Metropolis, the mayor has defended the laws. (A call to his office was not immediately returned.)
So the dance-filled protest was held just a waltz away from Mr. Bloomberg’s elegant townhouse, where surely children are not allowed to boogie barefoot with strangers. Police officers outside his door said the Mayor was not at home.
Luckily, Mr. Siegel was in attendance: he spoke to the crowd about his desire for dance, though left before showing off serious moves.
See also: Sunday’s NY Post.
– Max Abelson