PDA

View Full Version : Cabaret Laws Face Rewrite



Kris
June 24th, 2003, 09:28 AM
June 24, 2003

After 77 Years, Cabaret Laws Face Rewrite

By JENNIFER STEINHAUER

The Bloomberg administration is poised to rewrite the city's nearly 80-year-old cabaret laws, which regulate all bars and restaurants where revelers dance. The laws, which were used by the Giuliani administration to punish nightclubs and bars where under-age drinking, drug dealing and other crimes were prevalent, have been a source of controversy for years.

But there is dissent within the Bloomberg administration about how to change the law. Some in the administration favor a more broad-based license that would be required for all establishments that are open into the early morning hours. Other officials fear such a license would further alienate nightclub and restaurant owners, who have already been hit with an indoor smoking ban and sidewalk cafe legislation this year, a view that is shared by some club owners and nightlife enthusiasts.

"We have been told that they won't regulate dancing anymore," said Adam Shore, a co-founder of Legalize Dancing NYC, a group that has been lobbying to eliminate the cabaret laws. But he said he worries that the city will replace the laws with other regulations that also will hurt the nightlife industry.

A public hearing will be held today in Lower Manhattan, where elected officials, nightclub and restaurants owners, and other experts are expected to testify and offer proposed changes to the law.

It is illegal under current law to operate a cabaret in New York City without a two-year license, which costs $600 to $1,000, based on capacity. Those places that hold a license are closely monitored by various city agencies. Only 332 establishments have the license.

There seems to be a general agreement that the law, which was promulgated in 1926, needs to go.

"We don't think the city's existing cabaret laws adequately address the problems affecting communities and nightlife establishments," said Gretchen Dykstra, the commissioner of the Department of Consumer Affairs, "but we need to document the range of the problem."

Many bar and restaurants owners have argued that the law is archaic and too punitive, in part because it has resulted in the closing of neighborhood bars without cabaret licenses where patrons have been caught dancing around a jukebox.

Many nightclub owners, tourists and night life enthusiasts have wondered why New York City needs a law for dancing at all, and some have complained that the city uses the law as a tool to shut down clubs.

Community groups and others have argued that while the laws may need changing, the city must maintain some form of regulatory system. Some of those groups fear the proliferation of loud bars and restaurants that disturb neighboring residents. As it stands, one requirement for getting a cabaret license is that a bar or restaurant be in an area zoned for such establishments.

Some community groups say that dancing is not the problem and that the state should get tougher with places that violate the law by removing their liquor licenses.

"Patrons dancing in and of itself is not what is bothering people," said Anthony Borrelli, the district manager of Community Board 4 in Manhattan. "We are primarily concerned with minimizing disturbances outside nightlife establishments. Enforcement is a big issue for us. If new laws are created that will make enforcement easier, that has potential."

The laws have also pit establishments that go through the effort, expense and scrutiny that getting a license entails against those bars and restaurants that do not seek a license and permit dancing anyway.

So far this year, the city has padlocked 11 places that featured dancing without a license; between 1999 and 2003, the city closed 20. The Giuliani administration tended to remove or threaten places that held licenses as punishment for a range of violations, from inadequate exits to drug use by patrons.

Ms. Dykstra has told colleagues she is most intrigued with the idea of a new license that would apply to a broad base of nightlife places such as those open after a certain hour.

But some officials say that even if such a law makes it easier for some businesses to offer dancing and live performances, a new regulation could also backfire against the administration, which has taken heat for its tough anti-smoking regulations and for raising a variety of fees around the city to help balance the budget. "I don't know in this economic environment that we need yet another regulation," one city official said. "I don't want to do anything that could be viewed as another impediment to business."

The New York Nightlife Association maintains that, even without the cabaret laws, dance clubs will still be regulated and limited by the zoning laws, building and fire codes, and the Health Department. "Our concern is not so much the eradication of a cabaret law as we are with a vast expansion of regulatory power by the Department of Consumer Affairs," said David Rabin, president of the association. "Nightlife as we see is suffering left and right."

Some club owners are concerned that restaurants that have not had dancing in the past might not have the type of safety systems that many night clubs have.

Ms. Dykstra, who said in an interview that regulating clubs by their hours of operation was "interesting," also insisted that the administration wanted to hear ideas from a plethora of parties before drawing any conclusions. "I am keenly aware that we don't want to over-regulate," she said. "We have to think of it as a matrix: where is the overlap between hours and location and is there anyway we can draw conclusion?"

The Bloomberg administration could put together a bill sometime this year, and submit it to the City Council, which will inevitably hold its own series of hearings before settling on any changes to the law.


Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

NYatKNIGHT
June 24th, 2003, 10:15 AM
Many bar and restaurants owners have argued that the law is archaic and too punitive, in part because it has resulted in the closing of neighborhood bars without cabaret licenses where patrons have been caught dancing around a jukebox.

Next thing you know people will be out on the sidewalks dancing next to the smokers.

What's next, no laughing?

Kris
June 24th, 2003, 12:30 PM
Dancing and laughing are good for your health. Bloomberg should approve.

Schadenfrau
June 24th, 2003, 12:37 PM
Maybe Bloomberg should look into reviving that old program "Dance Party USA". With all the squeaky-clean folks NYC bars are going to attract by banning the smoking and promoting the post-adolescent par-tay, it would be perfect.

Kris
June 25th, 2003, 08:48 AM
June 25, 2003

At a Hearing, Ostrich Plumes and Pleas for Freer Cabarets

By PATRICK HEALY

Opponents of New York City's longstanding cabaret laws, some dressed in fishnet stockings and ostrich plumes, spoke at a forum about the laws yesterday evening, carrying signs with slogans like "The Waltz is Illegal in New York City."

The six-hour hearing at New York Law School was attended by about 190 people, most critical of the laws. It began a process of gathering facts, complaints and suggestions about the 77-year-old laws. The commissioner of consumer affairs, Gretchen Dykstra, who has called the laws outdated, said yesterday that it was too early to say what direction the city would go.

Under the laws, clubs, bars and restaurants that offer dancing must have two-year licenses, which cost $600 to $1,000, based on capacity.

The city has 332 licensed cabarets, and has padlocked 11 unlicensed ones this year. From 1999 to 2003, the city closed 20.

Sebastian Holzmeister, who owns the Lunatarium, a club in the Dumbo section of Brooklyn, complained at the hearing, "As soon as I have two or more people engaged in a synchronized activity, I have to obtain a cabaret license."

He added, "You should be free to dance; you should be able to move your body."

Eric Demby, of Legalize Dancing NYC, a group that has been lobbying to eliminate the cabaret laws, said that until the laws were changed, the Department of Consumer Affairs should stop enforcing them. "This is an issue that has hampered the culture and economy of New York City."

Earlier, four panels, made up of representatives of restaurants, the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce and cabarets and clubs along with members of the City Council, debated the laws. The panel discussions often veered from cabarets to talk of the smoking ban, noisy patrons, club security and other issues.

James Capalino, who represents several Manhattan nightclubs, said the discussion foreshadowed broad night-life regulations for bars and clubs. The real issue is not dancing, Mr. Capalino said, but how big and loud a club is and its proximity to residential neighborhoods.

"This administration is going to move in the direction of some sort of legislation of night life," Mr. Capalino said in a panel discussion. "It's almost inevitable that it's going to happen."

David Rabin, president of the New York Nightlife Association, said changing the cabaret laws would have little effect on night life because of zoning and building and fire codes. But Mr. Rabin said he worried that more restrictive laws would further harm already struggling clubs.

"It sounds to me like they're trying to broaden the regulations at exactly the wrong time," he said.

Ms. Dykstra said in a telephone interview before the hearing, "I don't think we've necessarily heard a case for overhauling the cabaret laws."

Few on the panels praised the existing cabaret laws. Norman Siegel, a civil rights lawyer, said the laws restrict the First Amendment rights of dancers and should be scrapped.

Jen Miller, 30, who lives on the Lower East Side and is a member of the Dance Liberation Front, another advocacy group, invoked not the Constitution, but the Declaration of Independence.

"I'm here as a dancer. And as a citizen I have a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. And what is the pursuit of happiness if not dancing?"


Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

Agglomeration
June 27th, 2003, 11:15 PM
It very much sums up why I still hate the lethal smoking ban in bars and clubs. First that, forcing many patrons out into the streets, now pressure from noise pollution zealots who are complaining about commotion in the streets. Let's hope this revision of the cabaret laws doesn't result in even tighter restrictions such as noise restrictions and even curfews. Then again, what do you expect from a dictatorial and incompetent mayor who comes from a suburb of Boston?

Schadenfrau
June 30th, 2003, 11:56 AM
I agree. Call me crazy, but I've noticed bars that allow dancing seem to have a lot more clientele problems than bars that don't. Booty-shaking bimbos annoy me enough already, don't even get me started on the idea of said bimbos shaking said booties while I have to shove them out of the way while I go out to smoke.

Agglomeration
June 30th, 2003, 11:31 PM
Well, call me slightly perverted, but I do like booty-shaking bimbos. They're fun to watch and gloat over. :cheesy: I especially love the hot Britney-lookalikes. They're the best option I have now since I'm currently single.

I must ask, though, what else is annoying to you about them dancing?


(Edited by Agglomeration at 11:34 pm on June 30, 2003)

ZippyTheChimp
July 1st, 2003, 05:18 AM
Quote: from Agglomeration on 11:31 pm on June 30, 2003
Well, call me slightly perverted, but I do like booty-shaking bimbos. They're fun to watch and gloat over. :cheesy: I especially love the hot Britney-lookalikes. They're the best option I have now since I'm currently single.
Cause and effect? *:)

Booty-shaking bimbos should be seen and not heard.

Schadenfrau
July 1st, 2003, 10:50 AM
Keep in mind that while I may not be a fan of the dancing trollops, I certainly wouldn't want them banned.

When I'm looking for an evening out, my tastes run more towards the sedate than the scandalous. That said, I really don't give a hoot about the cabaret laws and think it's a sad ploy to distract from the failure of the smoking ban.

xrahd
August 20th, 2003, 11:03 PM
Does anyone know if NYC still issuing Cabaret Lic.
Any advise is welcomed.
Thanx in advance

billyblancoNYC
August 21st, 2003, 08:41 AM
Yes. *It's quite a pain to get, from what I hear.

Kris
November 20th, 2003, 06:48 AM
November 20, 2003

Decades Old Cabaret Law Faces Repeal

By MICHAEL COOPER

The age-old battle between the New York of nightclubbing revelers and the New York of sleep-deprived neighbors entered a new phase yesterday when the Bloomberg administration said it would move to repeal a Jazz Age law that prohibits dancing in bars and nightclubs that do not hold special licenses.

Declaring her intention of putting "the dance police" out of business, Gretchen Dykstra, the commissioner of the city's Department of Consumer Affairs, called for scrapping the old cabaret licenses. In their place, she said, the city should issue new "nightlife licenses" that would allow it to regulate the unwanted side effects of nightlife that people really care about: noise, disorderly crowds and filthy sidewalks.

It is the administration's attempt to balance the needs of those who boast that New York is a city that never sleeps, and those who complain about it.

The cabaret law was Mayor Jimmy Walker's attempt at that balance in 1926. A city report at the time noted that the law's opponents said that "when strangers came to New York, they wanted to `run wild.' " The report concluded that "there has been altogether too much running wild in some of these nightclubs."

The law now requires bars and nightclubs to have a cabaret license, in addition to a liquor license, if their patrons are to dance legally. Businesses say the licenses are not easy to come by.

Over the years, the law has been enforced heavily at some points and ignored at others.

It became an issue during the Giuliani administration, when the city began using the law as a weapon in its broader crackdown on quality-of-life crimes.

Few tears will be shed for the cabaret law if the City Council agrees to repeal it.

Stories abound of nightclubs that have switched at a moment's notice from dance music to country or (sorry, Beatles fans) "Eleanor Rigby" to get their patrons to stop gyrating when inspectors arrived. Some disgruntled night owls said New York City was losing its groove and turning into a real-life version of the small town that banned dancing in "Footloose," the Kevin Bacon movie musical. Other revelers were moved to action: they held a "Million Mambo March" to protest the law.

Ms. Dykstra announced the proposal to change the law at the Knitting Factory, a downtown nightclub that does not have a cabaret license.

"They have to expend resources and energy telling people not to dance," she said. "They don't have any community problems, they don't have violations. But people can't shake their booties when they come to the Knitting Factory. And that strikes us as a little odd."

In overhauling the nightlife laws, the administration is hoping to win back the good will of owners and patrons of bars and clubs, some of whom are annoyed by the city's smoking ban. But while the proposed repeal of the dancing ban was greeted ecstatically by some bar owners, other industry representatives expressed concerns about the licensing system that would replace it.

The proposal would require clubs to get nightlife licenses if they meet three criteria: they want to be louder than 90 decibels on a continuing basis, they remain open after 1 a.m., and they have a capacity of more than 75 in residential areas or more than 200 in commercial areas.

Each bar or club would have to get a professional sound engineer to certify that it has enough soundproofing to comply with the city's noise code. (Ninety decibels, officials said, is louder than a dog barking and quieter than a plane taking off.) And the city would be allowed to revoke the license of any club that is repeatedly caught selling liquor to minors or without a liquor license, or operating without sprinklers, exit signs or emergency lights, or that is the scene of crimes including assault and rape.

Christopher Policano, a spokesman for the City Council, said the Council would study the proposed law when it received it.

Robert Bookman, a lawyer for the New York Nightlife Association, a trade organization, applauded the city for moving to repeal the cabaret law, but he said he would rather see the city step up its enforcement of existing laws. The association wants a law allowing off-duty police officers to provide security at bars and clubs.

To some, the change cannot happen fast enough. At Plant Bar, on Third Street between Avenues B and C, the owner, Dominique Keegan, thought he had a system in place to keep surreptitious dancers safe. The bouncer was supposed to flip a switch if it looked as if inspectors were on their way, turning on a blue light telling the disc jockey to turn off the dance music and put on "Kid A," a less-than-boppy Radiohead album.

But the plan fell through in March, when a disc jockey did not know the code and the bar was cited for "16 people dancing." After a second ticket, it was padlocked. To reopen, Mr. Keegan had to discourage dancing, do away with the disc jockeys and put in a jukebox. Since then, he said, business has been way off. Under the proposed law, he would not need a nightlife license because his bar holds fewer than 75 people.

The news that dancing could soon be legal, he said, is "music to my ears, if you'll forgive the pun."

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

Kris
February 7th, 2004, 03:48 AM
February 7, 2004

Bar Owners Fear Mayor Wants a City That Sleeps

By JENNIFER STEINHAUER

He already took away their ashtrays. Now the owners of New York City's bars and nightclubs fear that the mayor has a secret plan to send the city to bed early.

So they are mobilizing once again, this time to defeat a piece of legislation that does not formally exist. Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's administration has been working on a plan to replace the city's antiquated cabaret license with a general "nightlife license" for large, noisy clubs that stay open past 1 a.m. But the club owners claim that the real goal is to push the current 4 a.m. closing time to much earlier for most bars, turning New York after dark into Riyadh after noon.

"That's a distortion that some guy is out there feeding everybody," Mr. Bloomberg said yesterday, as he found himself defending legislation that was still being written, although a six-page draft has been widely distributed. "There's no bill that's been submitted yet. So this guy who's pushing this is a little bit going overboard."

The guy in question is David Rabin, president of the New York Nightlife Association, whose members are still smarting from their failure to win any concessions on the smoking ban that they say has crippled their businesses. Mr. Rabin says the bar and club owners are united in their opposition to this latest plan.

"Everyone from hoteliers to taxi companies to bars understands what this means," he said. "There is no debate in terms of whether this is any good for anyone's health." He has begun to hold meetings with bar and club owners and plans a full-court press. "If we have to, we are going to show up with 5,000 people at City Hall."

Mr. Rabin, his lawyer and some other nightclub owners are also spreading a claim that under the plan, most city bars would have to close at 1 a.m. , essentially wiping out New York City's fabled all-night party scene.

Oddly enough, the administration started on this path in an attempt to get rid of something the nightlife industry hates: the 78-year-old cabaret law, which requires a license for any establishment that allows dancing. In the past, bars have been padlocked when a few patrons were caught swaying to a jukebox or a jazz singer, and the Giuliani administration often used the law as a weapon against clubs that had made themselves nuisances in other ways. Under the draft Bloomberg proposal, the cabaret license would be replaced with a more general license for all bars, clubs and restaurants that can hold more than 70 patrons, that stay open past 1 a.m. and that are noisy.

The demise of the cabaret law would certainly be embraced by some, especially the owners of small bars who resort to flipping on Lite FM whenever police or consumer affairs officials come by to see if there is dancing afoot. But many nightlife denizens are in no mood to trust the administration that drove smokers out into the cold, saying the new law would have onerous effects. Bars and clubs that choose to get a nightlife license could be required to pay for soundproofing, owners say. Those that choose not to get a license would have to close by 1 a.m., they insist, and those that have their licenses revoked - which they argue would happen more easily if the proposal became law - would also end up with an early last call.

Under the plan, licensed establishments would indeed face temporary or permanent padlocking if they did not obey certain provisions. For instance, a license could be revoked if there were more than one serious assault inside the bar, and a bar could be closed for 10 days after three sanitation violations.

"There is no question this is a de facto closing of bars and clubs at 1 a.m.," said Robert Bookman, the lawyer for the nightlife group, "because no one can withstand the provisions of this law."

Bloomberg administration officials argue that the more onerous provisions would affect only a minority of businesses. Dina Improta, the spokeswoman for the Department of Consumer Affairs, which enforces the cabaret law, said the agency surveyed 15 restaurants, bars and nightclubs and found that only one had noise levels at or above 90 decibels, one of the three conditions under which a nightlife license would be required. The noise level of Manhattan restaurants ranges from 60 to 85 decibels.

But the administration might face a tough public relations fight. Perception will mean everything, and the proposal is complicated, said Adam Shore, a founder of Legalize Dancing NYC, which wants to end the cabaret law but is concerned about this proposal. "The New York Nightlife Association can whittle it down to one phrase - '1 a.m.' - and the entire industry is going to respond to that," he said.

And a fight with the nightlife industry is the last thing that Mayor Bloomberg needs as he inches his way out of a significant trench in opinion polls. Yesterday, on his weekly radio show, he said the proposed legislation was misunderstood.

"Now I don't think in this day and age we need dancing police," he said. "Let's get serious. Who cares if you dance? If you want to have a bar that has dancing, God bless you.''

He said the city was also trying to respond to neighborhood noise complaints. "You don't want lots of loud noise,'' he said. "So what the proposal from our Consumer Affairs Department is, if you're open after 1 in the morning, you have to have a license."

The consumer affairs commissioner, Gretchen Dykstra, has been making her own rounds to promote the proposed legislation as good for neighborhoods concerned about noise and for the bars that suffer under the cabaret law.

Many community groups are embracing a change. Anthony Borelli, the district manager of Community Board 4 in Manhattan, which covers Times Square, said it was an important initative. "I believe if nightlife owners could be encouraged to install soundproofing in order to prevent disturbing their neighbors,'' he said, "that will be helpful."

Even some bar owners have been won over. "I have been hating the cabaret law for years," said Arthur Gregory, the owner of a bar in Lower Manhattan. He said bars would be able to stay open past 1 a.m. for a small fee, which has not been officially discussed. "It comes out to like 30 cents a day. I went to the nightclub association meeting, and they are just misinforming people."

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

Pottebaum
February 7th, 2004, 10:57 AM
Even some bar owners have been won over. "I have been hating the cabaret law for years," said Arthur Gregory, the owner of a bar in Lower Manhattan. He said bars would be able to stay open past 1 a.m. for a small fee, which has not been officially discussed. "It comes out to like 30 cents a day. I went to the nightclub association meeting, and they are just misinforming people."
I don't believe the '30 cents a day' fee thing. The adminstration claims that one of the reasons they are doing this is 'sound pollution' or community complaints....and I cannot think of a way a fee that small would not be paid by an clubs or bars.

Do you guys think that 30 cent fee would include the license?

billyblancoNYC
February 7th, 2004, 03:31 PM
I believe the fee to in the few hundred dollar range, but I guess they are concerned with having to noise-proof (which shouldn't be much) or someting else. Maybe more ways to be shut down for something.

I really hope this is a genuine effort to improve the law. It's so important for NYC, and it seems since Rudy (my 1 main beef with him) that it's viewed more as a plague than a massive, important industry and draw.

Oh well, who can tell now anyway?

Pottebaum
February 7th, 2004, 04:21 PM
I believe the fee to in the few hundred dollar range,

A month, or yearly?

Clarknt67
February 8th, 2004, 08:13 AM
Well, call me slightly perverted, but I do like booty-shaking bimbos. They're fun to watch and gloat over. :cheesy: I especially love the hot Britney-lookalikes. They're the best option I have now since I'm currently single.

(Edited by Agglomeration at 11:34 pm on June 30, 2003)

I was very amused at my local pub watching a half dozen girl, not a one of them over 25 go ga-ga when Madonna's Holiday came on the jukebox. I mean, not one of those girls was BORN when the song first hit the charts. I don't recall dancing to my parent's music.

Dancing seems so innocuous. The cabaret laws are archaic.

Agglomeration
February 8th, 2004, 08:41 PM
I had said quite a few times that the smoking ban would encourage more restrictions on the city's famed nightlife, and sadly I'm being proven right even as I write this. If any of you've ever been to Boston and wandered around the downtown area after 11 PM, you'll know exactly what kind of nightlife Doomberg wants. His 9-to-5 or die mentality clearly doesn't belong here.

Pottebaum
February 8th, 2004, 10:42 PM
I don't think noice-proofing will be too much trouble to many establishments, so I'm not too worried about this proposal. Rewriting the cabaret laws should be a good thing for bars and clubs, and the license fee doesn't appear to be that much at all.

EDIT: What would all be included in noice-proofing?

billyblancoNYC
February 8th, 2004, 11:59 PM
I believe the fee to in the few hundred dollar range,

A month, or yearly?

Yearly.

Ninjahedge
February 11th, 2004, 01:31 PM
I had said quite a few times that the smoking ban would encourage more restrictions on the city's famed nightlife, and sadly I'm being proven right even as I write this. If any of you've ever been to Boston and wandered around the downtown area after 11 PM, you'll know exactly what kind of nightlife Doomberg wants. His 9-to-5 or die mentality clearly doesn't belong here.

Um, question Agglom. Do you smoke?

The smoking regulation is not the spearhead of this. Not by a long shot. If he wanted to get rid of the cabaret at the possible expense of making closing time 1AM instead of 4AM, he would have done that FIRST.

You don't do a potentially unpopular regulation in preparation for another. He just had more easily accessable, although not entirely fair, means of getting the smoking ban in effect (health to workers, which, while I do agree with the ban, is a rather misfit reason to get it validated).

I hope the regulation comes out with some restrictions, but not many. Get rid of the cabaret licence entirely, and only require a MODERATE compliance with any noise restrictions between the hours of 1AM and 4AM in order to be able to stay up that late.

IOW, that is the time to either go to an establishment with sound insulation OR turn down the music a bit.

If they make the regulations too stringent (As in, almost NO noise) or uncompassionately enforced, it will not do the city any good.

Kris
February 12th, 2004, 12:48 AM
February 12, 2004

Mayor Likely to Put Off New Nightclub Rules

By RAYMOND HERNANDEZ

WASHINGTON, Feb. 11 - Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said on Wednesday that he would probably put off making any significant changes to the city's cabaret law this year. He had drawn criticism from bar and nightclub owners who opposed his administration's efforts to replace the law with different regulations.

Mr. Bloomberg spoke at a news conference as he made the rounds on Capitol Hill trying to persuade Congressional leaders to give the city what he called its fair share of money for transportation projects and antiterrorism programs.

Asked about the cabaret law, he said: "I think it's probably likely that we won't get to it this year. I want to make sure we get it right.''

The Bloomberg administration has sought to eliminate the city's 78-year-old law, which requires a license for any establishment that allows dancing. In the past, bars have been padlocked when a few patrons were caught swaying to music, and the Giuliani administration often used the law as a weapon against clubs deemed nuisances.

But under a proposal that Mr. Bloomberg's consumer affairs commissioner, Gretchen Dykstra, has been shopping around to community boards across the city, the cabaret license would be replaced with a more general license for all bars, clubs and restaurants that can hold more than 75 patrons in residential neighborhoods, and more than 200 in commercial neighborhoods, and that stay open past 1 a.m. and have substantial noise. In addition, the proposal would require many bars and clubs that choose to get a night life license to pay for soundproofing.

But the trade group that represents many bars and nightclubs opposes those changes, contending that bars that chose not to get a license would be required to close by 1 a.m. The group also said the proposal would make it easier for the city to revoke the licenses of bars, clubs and restaurants.

Finally, the owners complained that the Bloomberg proposal would make it much easier for the city to fine or padlock establishments. For instance, a license could be revoked if there were more than one serious assault inside the bar, and a bar could be closed for 10 days after three sanitation violations.

Given the outcry, Mr. Bloomberg most likely decided that he did not need the headache that the proposed changes to the law would have given him, even though the current cabaret law is unpopular among many bar owners. The mayor has already been hammered over the last year by bar, club and restaurant owners, as well as by their patrons, over the smoking ban he and the City Council imposed.

In discussing the matter with reporters, the mayor indicated that he felt changes to the law were needed. "The city should not be in the business of deciding what goes on, whether there is dancing or not dancing,'' he said. "We have dance police,'' he continued. "This is craziness.''

His Washington trip was carefully timed: Congress is set to consider the budget President Bush proposed for the 2005 fiscal year. New York lawmakers in both parties want to make sure the city is not shortchanged as Congress decides how to spend billions of dollars in antiterrorism and transportation aid.

Congressional leaders seemed to welcome Mr. Bloomberg's visit, even though he had provoked dismay among fellow Republicans in Washington when he once seemed to suggest that New Yorkers should not contribute money to national Republicans who are not helpful to the city. He did not receive any firm commitments beyond general reassurances that Congressional leaders would keep New York's needs in mind.

Jennifer Steinhauer, in New York, contributed reporting for this article.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company