Novoselic May Go To Court To Overturn Dance Law

Sonicnet Music News

The Seattle City Council failed to gain the votes needed to overturn the mayor's veto of the proposed All Ages Dance Ordinance on Monday night.

The council voted 5-3 to override, falling one vote short of the six required to supersede Mayor Paul Schell's veto. The existing Teen Dance Ordinance, which some say makes producing all-ages events cumbersome, will therefore remain active, as various community interests regroup to create new proposals.

The All Ages Dance Ordinance, proposed after a year of research by the local Youth and Music Task Force, would have eliminated age restrictions at dance events that are open to people younger than 18, a switch from the current Teen Dance Ordinance, which requires that attendees be between the ages of 15 and 20. The proposed ordinance also would have eased security and insurance requirements, and would have required promoters to undergo a criminal-background check to obtain a license.

The Joint Artists and Music Promotions Political Action Committee, headed by Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic, is considering going through the courts to overturn the Teen Dance Ordinance, according to the "Seattle Times" (see "Novoselic Supports Proposed Seattle Dance Ordinance"). The group has hired an attorney to examine the TDO stipulation that off-duty police staff all-ages events, which some have bemoaned as costly and which JAMPAC says restricts free expression, according to the paper.

JAMPAC leaders, who led the push for the AADO, say that the TDO, although it goes largely unenforced, makes clubs reluctant to host all-ages dance events and prevents entrepreneurs from opening new dance clubs. The ordinance they proposed would have relaxed security and insurance restrictions, thereby allowing clubs to profitably host all-ages dance events.

Members of the dance-music community, however, were pleased with

the council's vote. Dance Defense, a local grassroots organization, mobilized over the summer to protest the proposed AADO, saying it discriminated against the hip-hop and electronic-music community and represented the interests of club owners.

"We're happy they didn't override the veto," Dance Defense organizer Jesse Proudman said. "It will allow us to start working on fair dance laws for every community."

Proudman, who is 15, said the group's main objection to the AADO proposal was its failure to exempt nonprofit organizations, which could have halted the dance-music events he helps organize. He also named criminal background checks and the elimination of harm-reduction programs, including the distribution of drug-education materials, as problems with the AADO.

Dance Defense has an uphill battle, as two of the council members who voted against the override wanted to increase restrictions rather than decrease them.

"We're going to start meeting with

nonprofits and churches and start drafting a law that works for them and for everyone," Proudman said.