Last Dance?

If you read this column even occasionally, you’re undoubtedly familiar with the controversy surrounding the LC’s dancing rules. If not: the Maui County Department of Liquor Control restricts dancing in booze-selling establishments to certain areas often delineated by duct tape. Drinking in the dancing area is prohibited, as is dancing in the drinking area. For many, it’s something of a joke, but it’s also pretty serious.

The controversy is twofold. First, what exactly constitutes “dancing”? A head bob? A toe tap? A hip swivel? The LC’s definition is extremely vague. (When Commissioner Frank Silva was asked for clarification, he offered up the old “I know it when I see it” chestnut.)

The second bone of contention is more basic: no matter how you define dancing, isn’t placing governmental restrictions on it a blatant violation of the First Amendment?

Maui Dance Advocates—a grassroots group started by two young Mauians, Ramoda Anand and Anthony Simmons—thinks so. MDA has been fighting, with the help of attorney Lance Collins, to get the LC to revise or at least clarify its dancing rules since 2006. 

They’re due for another day in court on March 27, when Judge Joseph Cardoza will consider a motion for summary judgment filed by MDA. That means the hearing could lead to either victory or defeat for MDA and quite possibly another appeal.

So it may not be the end of the dance marathon, but it’s a significant twist. We’ll keep you posted.