Several Norfolk businesses not allowed to host holiday parties due to ‘dance hall ordinance’

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Norfolk, Va. - Several Norfolk businesses were told they could not have their holiday parties because it would have violated the rules of the city’s “public dance hall” ordinance.

The businesses are also having to pay fines due to the fire marshal inspection, NewsChannel 3 has learned.

The Satya Yoga Studio in Norfolk is in the business of body movement, but moving to the beat of music is at the center of an issue they’re having with the Norfolk Fire Marshal and a city code.

“No problem with incense or candles,” says instructor Logan Taylor.

Instead, it’s the dancing that’s not allowed at a holiday party Logan wanted to throw at the studio this weekend.

“I just wanted to have my community of students here to have a good time,” she said.

Not long after she posted a flyer for the party on Facebook, a Fire Marshal showed up.

“She said, well, it says on Facebook there’s going to be dancing…” Logan says. “She said, well, that’s not allowed unless you have a nightclub permit, and entertainment permit.”

The Norfolk “Dance Hall” city code says that if you’re not licensed as such, you can’t boogie at your business for a party.

According to the ordinance, it's considered a dance hall if you use more than 10 percent of the building for dancing.

There won’t be any congregating for With Lavender and Lace’s holiday party either. The Fire Marshal halted their party as well.

“They sort of generally looked around and then said you can’t have this party,” said owner Kelsie McNair.

On top of that, both businesses got billed for inspections and parties that will never be.

“They cancelled our party and then they sent me a bill,” she said.

The business owners at With Lavender and Lace and at Satya’s say while their parties are on hold, they plan on pushing for change.

“What a marvelous opportunity to raise awareness and to build a better community right?” said Logan.

Click here to view the ordinance from the City of Norfolk.

A Facebook page has been created in response to the city's ordinance: "Legalize Dancing in Norfolk"


  • Lisa Sajna

    For heaven’s sake, of course we can’t have dance halls. There’s bathtub gin, tommy guns and probably smoking. We just can’t have such dens of iniquity.

    • john copeland

      I with you on this one. No cat daddy dancing in Norfolk. Dranking, dancing, general vice like behaviors….. go to Miami if you want to be Miley Cyrus. We need to keep those lap dancers out too. And those that dare Mash Potato.

    • Mrs. Fannie Roberts from the Women's group.

      I agree, because you know what dancin’ leads to right? That leads to petting, and petting leads right up to the original sin! And lordy loo we don’t want our nice girls and boys listening to that coloreds music now do we?

  • Joe Willie

    There may have once been a good reason for that law, but now? It seems a bit old fashioned. I wonder what other pre-historic statutes are on the books? Is anyone supposed to check for these?

  • sandy

    Yes please…no dancing but by all means..feel free to rob banks,do drugs,and shoot up the town..idiots…it’s a free country last I checked.Are uou people retarded!?

  • Denver George Land

    It seems that nobody gets it. The first lady was told she could have the party… if she went and got a nightclub permit and an entertainment permit. Those aren’t cheap. Because she didn’t PAY THE MONEY, shoe couldn’t have the party.

    Follow the money.

  • Robert Brown

    I don’t see where this law has anything to do with these companies having a Christmas party. Unless they are making the employees or others attending pay a cover charge or pay for the food served, they do not fit the definition. This is just the Nanny State overstepping yet again.

  • Jennifer

    My thoughts exactly Robert! It seems to me that a private Christmas party for employees and patrons is very different from charging people to come out dancing and drinking. Sounds like the Fire Marshall is on an insane power trip if they can’t seem to tell the difference between the letter of the law and the “spirit” of the law. Just another attempt by a gov. official to see how far they can push it with people…

  • john copeland

    This law promotes indecency. Unlicensed dancehall behavior is a gateway to moral decay. Do we really need the “Miley Cyrus Problem” in Norfolk?We have enough problems with the riff raff hobos and slackers who dare “flop” on our city benches. Tell the floppers, and the cat daddy dancers “no, no, not in Norfolk.”

  • Dean

    As long as they are not charging people to attend, this ordinance does not apply to them. Hold the parties as scheduled and fight it in court if it comes to that.

  • Doug Mellville

    All they have to do is make it a “Private” party by invite only. Once it isn’t open to the ” general public” it is no longer under the law. If they are using facebook, just make it an event, and anyone who says they are coming is sent an invitation.
    Sec. 5-19. Definition.permanent link to this piece of content

    A “public dance hall” within the meaning of this article is any place open to the general public where dancing is permitted, to which an admission fee is charged, or for which compensation is in any manner received, either directly or indirectly, by cover charge or otherwise, or where refreshments or food or any form of merchandise is served for compensation before, during or after dancing; provided, however, that a restaurant, licensed under sections 4-98.1 and 4-98.2 of the Code of Virginia to serve food and beverages, having a dance floor with an area not exceeding ten (10) percent of the total floor area of the establishment, shall not be considered a public dance hall. The sale of any refreshments, food or any form of merchandise at any such place, or the exhibiting of such for sale, shall be deemed direct compensation for any such dance hall within the meaning of this section. (Code 1958, § 15.1-1; Ord. No. 33,802, 12-23-85)

  • WorriedSouthernGent

    This will lead to marijuana and then heroin and then the white women’s will get leered at by the darker chaps. Won’t anyone think of the white women’s?

  • Roy Berry

    Only in Virginia can dancing be illegal without a permit. Finally, someone has cornered the market for stupid laws other than NY. Congrats from the north!

  • Marc Montoni

    Only in Virginia? Hah. Unfortunately laws against dancing aren’t just in Virginia, or even just in the south. The very first laws against dancing were in Puritan Massachusetts — and some of their garbage is still on the books.

    The problem is we have given politicians the power to require people to get their permission before doing any business — and the direct result is that power goes to their heads.

    Abolish the power to “grant” permission, and the problem will unwind itself.

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