By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
As we reported a month or so ago ("Can't Boogie No More," September 11), Mayor Laura Miller is considering revising Chapter 14 of the city code, requiring all clubs to shut down at 2 a.m. (They're currently allowed to stay open until 4 a.m.) A recent meeting of the public safety committee found there wasn't a strong enough case to support such a move, but Miller still seems intent on making the change, even though there has been a substantial backlash from club owners and their customers.
"We've gotten a flood of e-mails from people concerned that they won't be able to dance after 2 a.m.," Miller told The Dallas Morning News last week. Apparently, the movement to stop the new dance hall ordinance has gone much further than just e-mails. We received a copy of the October 16 city council meeting from an anonymous source--even though, uh, it was a public meeting--and the tape shows that Miller and the council may have their hands full if they try to force the changes through. What follows is a transcript of that meeting.
Uh, wait, uh, excuse me. Before we begin, I just wanna remind all you kids we're conducting an official meeting. We're not gonna tolerate any disturbances. [A young woman, Ariel Moore, opens her jacket to reveal a T-shirt that reads "Dance Your Ass Off."]
OK. Um, the floor is now open for any new business. [A young man rises from his seat in the audience.]
Ren McCormack: My name is Ren McCormack, and I, uh, would like to move on behalf of most of the dancers in Dallas that the dance hall ordinance not be changed. [There is a big cheer from the assembled club-goers in the audience. Lots of clapping.]
Mayor Laura Miller: Mr. Benavides, could I address myself to this?
TB: You bet.
LM: Even if this was not a law, which it is, I'm afraid I would have a lot of difficulty endorsing an enterprise which is as fraught with genuine peril as I believe this one to be. Besides the liquor and the drugs, which always seem to accompany such an event, the thing that distresses me even more, Ren, is the spiritual corruption that can be involved. These dances and this kind of music can be destructive. And, uh, Ren, I'm afraid you're gonna find that most of the people in our community agree with me.
A random man in the audience: I do. [There is general agreement and clapping.]
LM: That's all I have to say on that.
Councilwoman Elba Garcia: I believe a vote is in order on the motion.
TB: Well, all those opposed... [Everyone on the council raises his or her hand. There is disorder in the audience. McCormack tries to make himself heard over the commotion.]
RM: Excuse me, uh, I'd just like to say something. [Avi Adelman, owner and operator of BarkingDogs.org, stands up.]
Avi Adelman: It is outrageous. [Turns to McCormack.] If you think that we...
State Representative Steve Wolens, Mayor Miller's husband: Avi, sit down. [Adelman sits.]
SW: I think Mr. McCormack has a right to be heard. [McCormack walks to podium amid cheers from his classmates.]
RM: I, uh, just wanted to say a few words about this motion so that, uh, you, you wouldn't think that we were encouraging destruction with this idea. [McCormack pulls out a piece of paper and begins reading from it.]
From the oldest of times, people danced for a number of reasons. They danced in prayer or so that their crops would be plentiful or so their hunt would be good. And they danced to stay physically fit and to show their community spirit. And they danced to celebrate. And that is the dancing that we're talking about. [McCormack pulls a Bible from his pocket.]
Aren't we told in Psalm 149: "Praise ye the Lord. Sing unto the Lord a new song. Let them praise his name in the dance." [Many members of the audience say "Amen." Mayor Miller smirks.]
It was King David. King David who we read about in Samuel. And, and what did David do? What did David do? What did David do? [McCormack finds his place in the Bible.]
"David danced before the Lord with all his might. Leaping, leaping and dancing before the Lord." [McCormack slams his hand down on the dais.]
"Leaping and dancing." [There is a stare-down between McCormack and Mayor Miller. McCormack turns to the crowd.]
Ecclesiastes assures us that there is a time to every purpose under heaven. A time to laugh. A time to weep. A time to mourn. And there is a time to dance. [McCormack turns back to the council.]
And there was a time for this law, but not anymore. See, this is our time to dance. It is our way of celebrating life. [McCormack holds up the Bible.]
That's the way it was in the beginning. That's the way it's always been. That's the way it should be now. [McCormack turns and struts out of the room.]