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Dancing without a license? Is Sweden removing the ancient ban

Owners of Swedish cafes, clubs, and restaurants have been crying for a while: an end to the ban on dancing without a license. Since the 1930s, catering businesses have run the risk of being fined or losing their liquor license as soon as their patronage starts swinging. This is because a valid dance license is required. The Swedish parliament also finds this patronizing and obsolete.

In 2020, the ban on spontaneous dancing, born out of ‘moral panic’, finally seems to come to an end. Although the Swedish government is not obliged to act after such a request, the Scandinavian country’s parliament formally asked last week to delete the dilapidated article of law.

Usually, the government will comply with the wishes of the Riksdag.

In the 1930s and 1940s, Sweden noticed that the youth started dancing more and more. Older generations saw this youthful leisure activity as ‘a corrupting cocktail of ecstasy, lust, and intoxication’, Trouw newspaper writes.

And according to the moral knights of that time, that had to be combated by imposing a dance license obligation.

Allan Svantesson wrote in 1942 in his book The Enemy of Youth: “What is modern dance? Nice and cozy entertainment? No! A game of wild beasts.” A position that is hard to imagine today.

This also applies to the operators of bars and cafes. At the last count, only a hundred catering establishments out of 1100 in Stockholm had such a permit.

Several proposals to remove the dance ban – a motion was even filed annually between 2007 and 2010 – did not yield results.

The twenty motions in the following years were also unsuccessful. The government was too busy.

Parliament voted for revocation in 2016, but even then, it never came. While the police are still issuing fines, it seems to be now: Music!

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