Port Chester is known for its restaurants, and in the warmer months live music can be heard floating from the courtyards and outdoor decks of popular eateries and night spots.
But establishments can't just break out an impromptu dance party, according to police: owners must apply for a cabaret license before hosting live music or clearing room for dancing, no matter how small the area.
On Friday, detectives were checking downtown bars as part of their routine rounds when they walked into El Nuevo Jamos Tavern on Westchester Avenue. Inside, a DJ was playing and patrons were dancing, Lt. James Ladeairous said. The nightspot also had posters advertising upcoming performances by DJs and live bands.
Detectives asked the manager to step outside the bar so they weren't drowned out by the loud music. When they determined the bar didn't have a cabaret license, they issued a ticket for violating the village's license requirement. The manager is a 27-year-old Port Chester man, according to police.
Liquor licenses are governed by state law, but cabaret licenses are issued locally by Port Chester's village government, Ladeairous said.
Licenses for cabarets and "dance halls" are covered under Chapter 165 of the village code. That section mentions "adverse secondary effects" (noise, property crimes and prostitution among them) associated with some nightclubs, and includes indirect references to the village's struggles with the Diamond Club, a former adult club that sparked years of protests in the village.
Those protesters were a familiar sight to long-time residents; for years they lined Boston Post Road with signs like "No Porn In Port Chester." The village's legal battles against the strip club owners prompted pro-active law changes by municipal governments throughout Westchester County, and the case became a cautionary legal tale for towns with loophole-prone municipal code.
Port Chester's cabaret laws were updated in 2008, with changes meant to seal potential loopholes in the previously existing law. Elected leaders haven't forgotten the lessons from the Diamond Club battle, and they've worked proactively to limit undesirable businesses as recently as last year.
To read the complete village code on cabaret and nightclub licenses, including amendments added over the years, click here.
Follow Port Chester Patch!