Nightlife board recommends al fresco alcohol, dancing in New York City parks

Lauren Glassberg Image
Monday, July 26, 2021
Nightlife board pushing al fresco alcohol, dancing in NYC parks
Should it be legal to drink in NYC parks? The Nightlife Advisory Board thinks so.

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- One thing that makes New York City parks different from those in other cities is that you can't drink alcohol in them.

"If you look at cities around the globe, there are many places where in the public square people get together with a bottle of wine listen to music and dance, right now technically that's illegal," said Andrew Rigie, chariman of the Nightlife Advisory Board.

Rigie says that should change.

The summer report from the Nightlife Advisory Board, or NAB, offers 15 recommendations including allowing "al fresco alcohol" and dancing in city parks.

Mayor Bill de Blasio is not entirely on board.

"Dancing used to have cabaret laws that were arcane, I smile on dancing, I don't smile on drinking in public places," de Blasio said. "I think there have to be some laws and public standards and I think right now is the right way to go."

At Washington Square Park, that mix of drinking and dancing among other activities prompted outrage by residents and a curfew by the city.

There are mixed reviews about whether to legalize drinking in the park.

"That legalization promotes safety, safe consumption and also knowledgeable consumption," said one New Yorker.

Others said the weekend crowds already create problems for police.

One resident said it will happen anyway, but it shouldn't be sanctioned.

Rigie agrees Washington Square Park would not be suitable for al fresco alcohol given the current issues, but says other spots could work.

"Maybe there is way to do it in a thoughtful way and there are potentially places in neighborhood throughout the city where you could have dedicated areas where people could play music, dance, they could enjoy a drink and socialize and do it in a contained way," Rigie said.

The NAB is also suggesting that municipal buildings, like libraries, be used in the evenings for events and rehearsals to provide artists and performers more affordable spaces to work.

ALSO READ | Report proposes Museum of Nightlife for New York City

There's a museum for everything in New York, and now the City That Never Sleeps could have a museum dedicated to its nightlife.


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