Dancing ban

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Dancing bans are legal or religious prohibitions against dancing, which 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.

Legal bans[edit]

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.[1][2]

Since 1926, the New York City 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. This law was still enforced until it was repealed in 2017.

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.

Historic bans[edit]

From the 1830s to 1950s, play parties became popular as a means to circumvent restrictions on dancing.

The events of the 1984 film Footloose were inspired by a dancing ban in the heavily Southern Baptist town of Elmore City, Oklahoma, which lasted until 1980.

Religious bans[edit]


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.

The Church of the Nazarene, a Methodist denomination originating in the Holiness Movement, recommends against "All forms of dancing that detract from spiritual growth and break down proper moral inhibitions and reserve."[3]

A 19th century catholic theologian similarly teaches:[4]

There are balls which are gravely licentious, either on account of immodest dances or of the costumes and dresses introduced at them. In these no one should take part. Even modest dances are rarely without danger, and a Christian should not frequent them from choice and of his own free will.[4]

Many Christian churches determine doctrine locally and may be non-denominational, and these vary on their stances on social dancing.

Jehovah's Witnesses disfavor events where there might be sexually suggestive dancing or excessive drinking of alcohol.[5]

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.[6]


In Islam, Salafists and Wahhabis consider dancing in general to be haram (forbidden).[7] 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.

In contrast, Sufism encourages dancing, for example Sufi whirling and dancing to celebrate Mela Chiraghan. This has resulted in conflict in areas influenced by the Taliban.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Pound, Virginia Bans Dancing?". Retrieved 2012-11-16.
  2. ^ "Part 2: ABC revokes Golden Pine restaurant's license to sell alcohol". Retrieved 2012-11-16.
  3. ^ Church of the Nazarene (2005–2009). Manual (PDF). p. 51. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-03-02.
  4. ^ a b Schouppe, François Xavier (1879). Abridged Course of Religious Instruction, Apologetic, Dogmatic, and Moral: For the Use of Catholic Colleges and Schools. Burns & Oates. p. 349.
  5. ^ "How Do Jehovah's Witnesses View Dancing?". 2012-01-27. Retrieved 2012-11-17.
  6. ^ Jacobson, Phyllis C. (1992), "Dance", in Ludlow, Daniel H (ed.), Encyclopedia of Mormonism, New York: Macmillan Publishing, pp. 354–355, ISBN 0-02-879602-0, OCLC 24502140.
  7. ^ Brian Palmer (2012-08-31). "Does Islam ban dancing and music?". Slate.
  8. ^ Stuart Whatley (2009-05-08). "Pakistani Festival Dancers Banned By Religious Group". Huffington Post. Retrieved 2012-11-17.