Ask a Cop


Dear Cop,
A few weeks ago I was patronizing a local bar on a Friday night. The place was moderately busy, a DJ was spinning in the booth, the dance floor was busy and all around everyone was having a great time. Then out of nowhere a crew of cops showed up to inform the bar owner and the bar patrons that it was illegal to be on the dance floor with a drink in hand. Apparently this wasn’t the only bar the cops visited that Friday evening. Across the downtown area they were making appearances telling people to ditch the drinks if they were dancing. Where does the cops’ authority come from to march into a bar and claim no one can dance? Is this “no drinks on the dance floor” some archaic law initially passed as a safety precaution? Do they consider that dancing with a drink is probably safer than leaving said drink unattended on a table and getting roofied later in the night? Aren’t roofies a bigger safety concern than drinks on the dance floor? And when the fuck did Salt Lake City start resembling the plot of the movie Footloose?
—Tiny Dancer

Dear EtOH Dancer,
I’m somewhat familiar with Utah State liquor laws.  And, I’m basically familiar with Salt Lake City alcohol ordinance Title 6, and nowhere have I ever heard or read of any law, state or local, that prohibits dancing in a bar with a drink in your hand.  I looked them both up after reading your question just to make sure.

Are you sure they were real cops?  I could see where a $5 drink gets chugged so you can continue dancing, and then you buy another $5 drink to make up for the one you chugged.  Sounds like a money maker for the bar.

You hear stories about strange liquor laws all over this country, and Utah has its share, but as long as you’re in an area of the establishment where it’s legal to drink, I don’t know of any Utah statute or city ordinance that makes it illegal to dance with a drink in your hand.

There is a legislator Nazi down in Orem who’s attempting to add to Utah’s strange liquor laws, but I haven’t even heard him promote Footloose’s no-dancing Sharia law.

And, if you think about it, have you ever seen cops enforcing liquor laws on any patron in a bar, other than the standard drunk dude or chick who got in a fight?  No.  It’s not their responsibility unless the bar itself has called them on something like a fake ID or a fight.  Vice cops go in, they look for violations, and then they cite the bar owner.  If there were a law against dancing with a drink in your hand, it would be the bar owner permitting the activity who is breaking the law.  Again, it seems like the bar you were in made some extra money that night.

[Editors Note: At press time SLUG Magazine could not confirm the exact name of the specific City Ordinance refrenced here. However, SLCPD did confirm that it is in fact, a city ordinance.]