The 67 Year Ban on Dancing After Midnight in Japan

In 1948 the Japanese Government created a law known as the Businesses Affecting Public Morals Regulation Law (風俗営業等の規制及び業務の適正化等に関する法律), also known as 風俗営業取締法 (Fūzoku Eigyō Torishimari Hō) or 風営法 (Fūeihō). This is a law that regulates entertainment establishments in Japan. In 2016, it was relaxed subsequently allowing permits for exceptions provided that certain conditions are met including lighting, and with operations at a certain distance from residential areas.

Nightlife

The law targets businesses in the sex industry, food and entertainment, and liquor. This includes dancing. For almost 70 years, bopping, twirling, and swaying to music after 12MN has been officially forbidden in in Japan in nightclubs with dancefloors smaller than 66 square meters, or nightclubs that operate after midnight and 1A.M. in some areas of the country.

This archaic law has been largely ignored by Japanese law enforcers for decades allowing Japan’s dance scene to flourish from the 70’s through the 90’s. Occasional raids have been conducted on clubs and other such venues that allow dancing in areas such as Roppongi and Shibuya. But consecutive bumps with the law involving celebrities and a deadly club brawl in 2010 in Osaka that led to the death of a 22-year old student, caused an outpouring of arrests from club raids. Police began to enforce stricter rules and used the Fūeihō Law as “Japan’s War on Dance” . It led to the arrest of DJs and club patrons to police stations and were often tested for drugs. This prompted establishments to display “No Dancing” signs to alleviate their liability.

Clubbing

In 2013, the organization ‘Let’s Dance’ submitted a petition signed by 155,879 people to the National Diet, requesting more modern and reasonable regulations to the existing law. The cabinet finally came to a consensus on lifting the ban on dancing on October 2014.

Today, the lights in Japan’s cities still shine brightly even after midnight. DJs and club patrons alike need not fear expressing their talents and rush away from the dancefloor like Cinderellas after midnight. Shall we dance?