A Real Life Footloose Situation Averted and ABRA Defines “Dance Floor”

In an illuminating decision, ABRA ruled this week that Policy’s 2nd floor Liberty lounge does not improperly offer a “permanent space for dancing.” Instead the 14th Street bar, according to ABRA, “merely operates a cocktail lounge with a large standing area.”

Under DC law, bars with restaurant liquor licenses cannot “offer facilities for dancing” without first getting permission (through an entertainment endorsement) from ABRA. Someone complained that Policy, which did not have permission at the time, that people were **gasps** ***clutches pearls*** dancing at Policy. To investigate the complaint, an ABRA investigator visited four times, eventually counting the number of people dancing on the second floor (12 out of 30 people on a Friday, 8 out of 22 later the same weekend); Policy’s co-owners admitted that folks danced at the bar.

In the end, ABRA said that Policy didn’t create an illegal dance floor, and that “sporadic and isolated incidents of dancing” by itself, isn’t improper. ABRA outlined a list of factors considered to determine whether a dance floor exists:

  • Wood/vinyl flooring (e.g. wood paneling, floor LED light panels or interactive floor panels)
  • Open area distinguished from other areas (by barriers, elevated/depressed floors, furniture, lighting)
  • Advertising a dance party
  • Providing music and encouraging people to dance
  • No tables/chairs for dining or
  • Large standing crowds engaged in dancing.

ABRA said that while it “was possible” Policy had created a 2nd floor dance floor, it was “just as likely” the “dance floor” was just a “large standing area” because sporadic dancing isn’t enough and ABRA failed to show the layout on the 2nd floor showed that a dance floor existed.

Policy's Alleged Dance Floor is in the Background

Policy’s Alleged Dance Floor is in the Background

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