Stop the boogie: Brussels clubs hit back against 'dance tax'

Story highlights

  • The Belgian capital is enforcing a 'dance tax' on clubs
  • One venue has responded by asking customers not to dance

(CNN)Busting a move just got a whole lot harder in Brussels thanks to authorities enforcing a little-known "dance tax" on revelers in the city.

The obscure tariff orders clubs and cafes to pay €0.40 (about $0.42) for each person "assisting or participating at habitual dancing venues."
    Although the law dates back to the 1950s, it was rarely imposed and re-introduced two years ago. However, it was only recently that the municipality began imposing it on establishments.
    "At first I thought it was a joke," said Nicolas Bucci, artistic director of Bonnefooi cafe, a venue in central Brussels which regularly hosts DJs and live music acts.
    He added: "Then they estimated that we have about 100 habitual dancers per week, and gave us the bill ... They said if we didn't accept their estimate, we had to calculate the number of dancers per night by ourselves and give them the data."
    Bucci, who estimates his annual fee would be around €2,000 (about $2,120), says he would prefer putting that figure towards booking performers and questions the nature of the levy.
    "What is a dancer?" said Bucci, adding "Is throwing your arms in the air dancing? That's an absurd way to calculate a tax."
    But the city's financial department, which oversees the tax, says that these venues require extra expenses to cover "safety, public peace and public order."