Dancing bans, legal or religious prohibitions against dancing, have been applied at various times in various jurisdictions around the world. Even more controversial than recreational or artistic dancing have been sexually suggestive forms such as lap dancing, topless dancing, and rave dancing.
In Islam, Salafists and Wahhabis consider dancing in general to be haram (forbidden). Conservative Islamic and Orthodox Jewish traditions prohibit contact between men and women in public (especially those not married to each other), and thus in these societies men and women either dance separately or not at all.
Various Christian groups believe that dancing is either inherently sinful or that certain forms of dancing could lead to sinful thoughts or activities, and thus proscribe it either in general or during religious services. These include some adherents of Mennonite, Hutterite, Baptist, Seventh-day Adventist, and Holiness movement sects. Jehovah's Witnesses disfavor events where there might be sexually suggestive dancing or excessive drinking of alcohol. Likewise, the Church of the Nazarene recommends against "All forms of dancing that detract from spiritual growth and break down proper moral inhibitions and reserve." Many Christian churches determine doctrine locally and may be non-denominational, and these vary on their stances on social dancing.
In contrast, some strains of Charismatic Christianity practice rituals in which the Holy Spirit is believed to cause spontaneous dancing, among other behaviors. Mormonism has embraced social dancing to some degree since its founding.
Tanzverbot is the German term for "dancing ban". In Germany and Switzerland, dancing on some holidays is banned by most state or canton governments. These occasions are certain Christian and secular holidays aimed at mourning or contemplation, such as Good Friday, All Saints' Day (from its association with All Souls' Day practices) or memorial days like Volkstrauertag. The German and Swiss dancing bans prohibit public parties, but not dancing in one's private residence.
Until 1999, an ordinance in Pound, Virginia required that dance hall permits not be granted "to anyone who is not a proper person, nor to a person who is not a person of good moral character". After community opposition to granting him a permit, a lawsuit by William Elam, owner of the Golden Pine restaurant, resulted in the ordinance being struck down as unconstitutionally vague and infringing on free expression protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. A replacement ordinance drafted more narrowly prompted a 2001 lawsuit from Elam, though the restaurant later went out of business after revocation of its alcohol license.
Since 1926, New York City's Cabaret Law has prohibited dancing in all spaces open to the public that sell food and/or drink with the exception of those who obtain a cabaret license. As of 2017, this law is still actively enforced.
Between 1985 and 2002, a Seattle, Washington law called the Teen Dance Ordinance enacted strict legal requirements for those wishing to have dancing by youth under the age of 21, effectively banning events that would feature young people dancing.
From the 1830s to 1950s, play parties became popular as a means to circumvent restrictions on dancing.
- New York City Cabaret (No Dancing) Law
- Sumptuary law
- Seku Amadu
- Pai, Thailand
- The Brass Rail (Toronto) - subject to lap dance ban, since overturned
- Little Arabia
- Brian Palmer (2012-08-31). "Does Islam ban dancing and music?". Slate.
- Stuart Whatley (2009-05-08). "Pakistani Festival Dancers Banned By Religious Group". Huffington Post. Retrieved 2012-11-17.
- "How Do Jehovah's Witnesses View Dancing?". 2012-01-27. Retrieved 2012-11-17.
- Church of the Nazarene (2005–2009). Manual (PDF). p. 51.
- Jacobson, Phyllis C. (1992), "Dance", in Ludlow, Daniel H, Encyclopedia of Mormonism, New York: Macmillan Publishing, pp. 354–355, ISBN 0-02-879602-0, OCLC 24502140.
- "Pound, Virginia Bans Dancing?". Retrieved 2012-11-16.
- "Part 2: ABC revokes Golden Pine restaurant's license to sell alcohol". Retrieved 2012-11-16.