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international news _ 10th April, 2006

No Dancing In New York As Cops Shut 5 More Clubs

Text by Jonty Skrufff (Skrufff.com)

New York's infamous party police stormed into five of the City's best known clubs last weekend and padlocked their doors, following a 9 month undercover investigation into alleged drug sales and underage drinking at the venues.

Avalon (at the converted 6th Avenue premises formerly known as Limelight) and Spirit were the two biggest clubs issued with temporary closure orders, alongside Splash, View and Club Deep and all five venues will stay shut indefinitely until licence hearings are held, said the New York Post.

Pacha New York chief Eddie Dean was sympathetic to his fellow club owners' plight, telling Skrufff 'lets face it, these clubs are expensive to build and expensive to operate, no club owner in his right mind condones this type of underage/drug behaviour. There is so much more at stake."

"It is a very scary situation and these raids are a clear message from the NYPD (New York Police Department), they've ran a 9 month investigation which certainly isn't a typical inspection. Post 9/11 the NYPD has taken a suffocating approach to all crime, if there is any type of crime they move in and suffocate the situation. Closing five clubs in one night seems quite suffocating, doesn't it," he continued.

"What will be interesting to see is the follow through; did they get their 'pound of flesh' or will they continue to suffocate these venues into permanent closure? I can only hope there will come a time where the clubs and the NYPD will work together," Eddie added.

The raids happened two days before a Supreme Court Judge upheld New York's notorious Cabaret Laws, which continue to criminalise dancing in bars and restaurants virtually everywhere in the city (apart from the less than 300 licensed establishments).

Judge Michael Stallman made his ruling after local nightspot the Gotham West Coast Swing Club challenged the law on the grounds that people have a constitutional right to dance where they like, though he conceded that the Prohibition era legislation outlawing dancing was less than perfect.

"Surely, the Big Apple is big enough to find a way to let people dance," he suggested. However, city official Kate Ahlers disagreed and instead welcomed the ruling as a victory for New York residents seeking a quiet life, the New York Daily News reported.