‘Dancing is Freedom’

It was near the end of the Oct. 11 Maui County Liquor Commission hearing when Ramoda Anand, 21, addressed the panel. Dressed in a bright red shirt, Anand slowly made his way to the front table. He has severe Cerebral Palsy and is confined to a powered wheelchair, so his friend Anthony Simmons, sporting a wild blue aloha shirt and even wilder afro, gently pushed his chair forward and then took a seat by his side, where he began translating Anand’s statements.

According to Simmons, Anand said that he enjoys dancing in Maui nightclubs but found the LC’s rules—no dancing by tables, in aisles or anywhere outside specially marked zones—to be utterly incomprehensible. “He doesn’t want to break the nice rules you have,” Simmons told the commissioners. “He wants you to come up with a good definition of dancing but don’t invade our personal space.”

A few minutes later, Simmons spoke for himself, saying that he also wondered what the LC did and didn’t consider dancing and worried that his actions could get a club in trouble. “Dancing is freedom,” he said. “Dancing is a form of communication. It should be on the dance floor if it’s extreme, but if you’re just in your own space, I don’t see how you can make a rule on this.”

LC Director Franklyn Silva very politely responded that his office’s definition of dancing came from Webster’s Dictionary—movement to the beat of music—and that, like pornography or calculus, “you know it when you see it.” He added that his department usually only hauls establishments before the Adjudication Board for dancing violations if they happen “over and over,” but even then the club or restaurant has an opportunity to defend itself.

The commissioners, not really knowing what to do with Anand’s request for clarification, looked a bit lost. Silva then said that he would put his answer in writing for Anand, and that seemed to satisfy the commissioners, who happily went on with other business like getting details on an upcoming state liquor conference.