Governments against dance music
With legislation and brutal police raids, governments worldwide attempt to stop young people from making open air dance parties. Official motivations for the crack-down are drugs and noise disturbances; but the organisers experience it as an attack on dance-music culture and governmental abuse of the rights of music fans
According to News Editor Claire Hughes from DJ Magazine, laws are in place all over Europe, the USA and Asia, aimed at stifling dance-music culture. Recently, Czech officials have issued legislation which is, more or less, a copy of the British Criminal Justice Bill from 1994 – a many-claused law which bans, among other things, “groups of ten or more people” from having “the right to assemble on private land if the gathering is for the express purpose of listening to music typified by the excessive repetition of a number of beats”.
In an article published by both DJ Magazine and The Independent in September 2005, Claire Hughes looks back on how it all began in the UK, during 1988, with the dawning of “acid house” which prompted a wave of public panic, exacerbated by the British press. Government response to the ensuing drug fear, fuelled by press coverage of rave parties, paved the way for the “1994 Criminal Justice Bill.” Never before had legislation been brought in so quickly by any government, states Claire Hughes. The same happened in Ottawa in USA when the city was clamping down on parties in 2000.
Today, countries all over the world have their own dance scenes, and what started out as a youth movement has become a way of life for people of all ages and races. But still authorities kick against it.
Czech police brutality
On July 30, 2005, the ‘Czechtek Festival’ – a Czech open air international and multicultural music festival with a 12 year tradition – was closed down with what an eye-witness described as “extreme brutality”.
According to this source, the festival was attacked by 1.000 policemen, water cannons, tear gas, disorientation grenades, and even armoured tanks and a low-flying helicopter. The organisers said there was no indication that there should be anything illegal about the festival. All official permissions were in place, every aspect of the arrangement was done according to Czech Republic law.
American dance party broken up by police
An outdoor dance event about an hour drive outside of Salt Lake City, Utah, in a valley surrounded by tall mountains, had a similar experience of being closed down with camouflage-uniformed soldiers, assault rifles, tear gas, and helicopters.
700 tickets had been sold in advance for this event on August 21, 2005, and around midnight, approximately 1,500 people had arrived. A total of 3,000 people were expected.
Banned from attending public dance
In Marchall, USA, Rebecca Willis has been banned from dancing at the local gathering spot because her dance moves are too “provocative”
In October 2005, the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, decided that the First Amendment’s guarantee of free speech does not apply in the case of Rebecca Willis, a resident of Marshall, who had been banned from attending public dances at ‘Marshall Depot’, a refurbished train station that serves as a local gathering spot and community centre. Rebecca Willis claimed the town of Marshall violated her First Amendment rights by banning her.
“Most forms of dance, whether ballet or striptease, when performed for the benefit of an audience, are considered expressive conduct protected by the First Amendment,” Judge William Traxler wrote for the panel, affirming a lower court’s decision.
Willis’ dancing style included gyrations and “simulated sexual intercourse” with a partner, and was “sexually provocative,” lawyers for the town said in court documents.
However, the judged stated that Willis cannot challenge the ban on First Amendment grounds.
Indian ban on dance
You can’t dance to modern dance music in the hi-tech Indian city of Bangalore. Nightclubs there have been told to play classical music and are not allowed to play music that “provokes dancing.”
“Early Saturday evening in Bangalore. Advertising executive Matthew Thomas has just stepped into Enigma, a nightclub in the city. As the evening unfolds, jostling bodies and craning necks crowd the bar, and hip-hop booms from the DJ console. Just as Thomas and his friends start grooving, a bouncer swoops in on them and sits them down. The DJ is asked to change tracks.
Musicians rendered jobless by the ruling
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