NEW YORK (AP) – The city’s ban on social dancing in bars, restaurants and certain clubs is legal, a state appeals court said Thursday.

The state Supreme Court’s Appellate Division ruled 5-0 that the city’s Cabaret Law, which was enacted in the Prohibition era and prohibits social or recreational dancing in all but specially licensed venues, is constitutional.

The Gotham West Coast Swing Club and several people filed a lawsuit complaining that because the city’s 80-year-old Cabaret Law barred them from dancing with other people, it illegally infringed on their right of free expression.

The plaintiffs also contended that the city’s application of zoning laws was arbitrary and capricious and deprived them of due process. They said they should be allowed to dance in any bar or restaurant they want to.

The appeals court disagreed, saying, “Recreational dancing is not a form of expression protected by the federal or state constitutions.”

City lawyer Norman Corenthal said, “We welcome the court’s decision.” He said the court upheld the city’s right to enforce laws that protect residential areas from intrusive noise, congestion and safety hazards.

Plaintiffs lawyer Norman Siegel said he was “very disappointed” by the decision and was considering an appeal to the state Court of Appeals.

When the plaintiffs sued, they said that in the 1960s about 1,000 places legally allowed couples to dance but fewer than 300 such places exist now.

AP-ES-02-22-07 1831EST

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