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New City Office Would Help Keep Bars Open

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It also may nix the “no dancing” Cabaret Law

Vandal’s 11-foot-tall breakdancing bunny
Nick Solares

NYC may soon officially have a group dedicated to helping keep bars open, with the Committee on Consumer Affairs passing a bill last week to create an “Office of Nightlife” focused on protecting the industry by doing things like helping navigate city permits.

The bill will go in front of the full City Council later this month and is expected to pass, with the new agency slotted to be up and running by late January next year.

The “Office of Nightlife” seems to have two interests at heart: bars and nearby residents. In addition to helping bars with permits, the board may advocate on behalf of DIY venues and nightclubs that have been closing, according to Rafael Espinal, the Bushwick and East New York councilman who introduced the bill. Dated regulations like the 1926 Cabaret Law which only allows dancing in venues that carry a difficult-to-obtain cabaret license, could also be nixed.

Yet the board would also handle conflicts like the Hell Square complaints about a nightlife-saturated neighborhood. The Daily News penned a critical editorial about the new office, taking the position that that bars have no problem helping themselves and public assistance from the city is unnecessary.

It’s not the first time city government has stepped in to help out bars. In 2015, Brooklyn borough president Eric Adams made a similar move, creating a coalition intended to help restaurants and nightlife in the borough. Though some locals approved, others said that it was proof the city prioritized bars over residents.

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