Prom, homecoming, and other formal dances are rites of passage for millions of American youth. So, it is perhaps surprising to many that such an activity may be regulated by the law, but in many jurisdictions it is. And, we are not talking about exotic or belly or other suggestive types of dancing. These laws apply to any kind of dancing, including the stuff your grandparents were doing. So, what are some of the more unusual laws against dancing?
Here is a short list of some of the more interesting laws regulating dancing:
In the state of Washington, it is illegal engage in marathon dance competitions. Moreover, in Lynden, Washington, dancing and drinking alcohol are not permitted in the same establishment. An old law in Bellingham, Washington prohibits women from taking more than three steps backwards while dancing.
In Fargo, North Dakota, it is illegal to dance with a hat on or even wear a hat to a function where dancing is taking place. Violation of the ban on hats while dancing is actually a criminal offense and could result in jail time.
In Washington, D.C., women cannot be employed to dance with men in a dance hall. Moreover, nobody is permitted to dance for longer than 12 hours in any given 24 hour period.
In Purdy, Missouri, dancing of any sort is strictly prohibited (though there are reports that this law is no longer enforced).
In Monroe, Utah, “daylight” must be visible between dance partners on a dance floor. It is unclear how this law applies indoors or during night dances.
In South Carolina, dance halls are not permitted to operate at all on Sundays.
In Delaware, alcohol cannot be served on the premises of a nightclub if dancing is occurring at the same time.
In Indiana, anyone with a puppet show, wire dancing, or tumbling act must pay a $3 fine if they are paid for their performances to prevent certain “immoral practices.”
In Helena, Montana, a woman cannot dance on a table in a saloon or bar unless she is wearing at least three pounds, two ounces of clothing. There is no specification as to the types of clothing required or what must be covered, so presumably a heavy belt buckle could satisfy this law.
There are countless other such obscure and outdated laws on the books in every state and in many counties, parishes, and cities. If you want to make sure not to run afoul of one of these laws by mistake, or fear the authorities may attempt to use such a legal provision to shut down your business because it involves some form of dancing, you should consult with a local attorney in your area. You can find a list of attorneys by visiting the Law Firms page of our site, HG.org, and searching by your geographical location.
Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer. For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.
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