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Customer dancing – licensable or not?

Are there any restrictions for customers dancing?

Q: I run a late night bar with a small area for customer dancing. I am authorised on my premises licence for Facilities for Dancing until 01:00am. A couple of weekends ago the Police came in and said that they witnesses customers still dancing at 01:20am. They have given me a formal written warning but are not taking any further action. However, I am quite annoyed as I run a tight ship and I do not see why I should have a black mark against my premises for something as harmless as people dancing around. Is there anything I can do?

A: Yes, quite a lot. Firstly, you can inform your local Police that Facilities for Dancing were removed entirely from the licensing regime when the Live Music Act was passed in October 2012. In other words, the requirement to be licensed for a permanent or temporary dance floor was removed completely about a year and a half ago. I am aware that many licences still have this authorisation stated on the licence, but your local Licensing Authority should really be removing that misleading ‘permission’ as it no longer applies. Secondly, customer dancing is not, and never has been a licensable activity – only the performance of dance by staff (e.g. podium dancers, lap dancers, etc.) is licensable and only then in certain circumstances. However, what occurred in your bar at 01:20am on that weekend is not a licensable activity and therefore you should not have been given a written warning (so long as you were still acting within the other conditions of your licence, for example, your opening hours). I suggest you write both to the Police and to the Licensing Authority in order to rectify the situation and also to update your licence so that this particular ‘licensable activity’ is removed from your licence.

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