Spontaneous dancing still illegal in Sweden

Don't let the rhythm move you 

Ravneet Ahluwalia
Tuesday 22 August 2017 11:10 BST
Throwing these shapes could lead to jail
Throwing these shapes could lead to jail

"Spontaneous dancing" is still illegal in Sweden, a year after the government promised to stop prosecuting people under the bizarre law.

In April 2016, the Riksdag, Sweden's national legislature, voted to drop the rule that forced bars and pubs to have a licence in order for people to dance in them, a law that dated back to the 1970s.

But 17 months on, police are still cracking down on bar owners for the crime of dancing customers and the punishments are harsh – ranging from the removal of other permits, to harsh fines or even prison.

Dance permits were introduced as a way for Swedish police to prevent public disorder which led to riots.

Industry organisation Visita says that bar owners have told them they are still being visited by police when they hear reports of dancing at the premises.

Eva Östling, CEO of Visita, said: "The government has to do something about it. It’s not fair that we have police doing this as part of their work. It’s ridiculous, thinking about the societal problems that actually exist and they should be focusing resources on.

"The entire world, at least all of Europe, is laughing at us."

She told the Independent: "Luckily the law has no effect on, or for, visitors coming to Sweden. It is not criminal to dance for customers, but it is of course ridiculous and plain stupid that restaurant and bar owners can be charged for 'illegal dancing' in the year 2017. We need the police for more urgent and important matters."

Campaigners had hoped the law would be removed by the end of 2016. Visita has pressed the government about the delay but had not yet had a response.

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