Bottoms Up: Allow drinking, dancing in public spaces, NYC nightlife board says

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EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND – OCTOBER 09: A couple drink from takeaway glasses outside a pub in the Grassmarket following last orders at 6pm on October 9, 2020 in Edinburgh, Scotland. Pubs and restaurants in the central belt of Scotland close their doors for a fortnight while from 6pm in tough new coronavirus measures set out by the Scottish Government. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

NEW YORK — An advisory board tasked with evaluating the city’s nightlife and making recommendations to better the city’s social community said in a recent report that rules restricting New Yorkers from drinking in public squares and parks should be lifted in order to create affordable and impromptu gatherings.

The Nightlife Advisory Board — established in 2017 to advise the NYC Office of Nightlife — said in its report that “a thriving nightlife goes beyond bars and clubs,” and the many community groups, collectives and artists that call the city home can’t easily host events in public spaces, though those groups are a big part of the city’s culture.

“New Yorkers need affordable options for all kinds of nightlife,” the group said in its July 19 report. “In most global cities people can gather informally in squares and parks to drink with friends and even dance to the rhythm of impromptu concerts. Drinking in the public space and dancing anywhere in the city should be regulated but not prohibited.”

Among its other recommendations were expanded anti-sexual assault training for nightlife business staffers, decreasing or subsidizing the cost of permits and fines, reviewing the treatment of artists and performers and the financial stake they hold in their acts, and greater nightlife integration in specific areas of the city.

The board also called for a rezoning of dancing, calling out the city’s Footlose-like rules about who can bust a move where.

Read the board’s full report here.

The call to expand drinking in public places follows a year in which al fresco dining and to-go drinks became lifelines for the hospitality industry; bars and restaurants whose indoor spaces were shuttered were able to salvage some of their business, serving New Yorkers who also had no places to patronize amid the pandemic and its related restrictions.

Earlier this year, New York state ended alcohol sales through take out or delivery orders.

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