Did you know that it is illegal to dance inside certain venues in Venice?   

That’s right, technically the bars and night clubs in the V must have a cabaret license in order for the DJ to crank it up and the crowd to cut the rug!  Sound crazy?  It is!

It was part of prohibition, which, while prohibition was repealed, these laws to curtail dancing and music remained!   New York City just repealed these same cabaret laws.



Venice was a center for dancing in Los Angeles, but the zealot powers wanted to shut down the bohemian vibe.  Now, the #1 tourist destination in Southern Caifornia has almost no live music and dancing venues.

So, let’s get rid of this silly rule.  Here is the plan!

Our buddies Daniel Samakow and James Evans, owner of Canal Club and James’ Beach, are  spearheading an effort and we need you to join in.  They are trying to get a license to boogie for the Canal Club, and in doing so shine a light on this out dated law, hopefully enough to either get it abolished or at least have the level playing field.

Want to help? 

There is a letter of support below that you can print, sign, and either drop of at James’ Beach/Canal Club, or email to [email protected]

Let’s get this thing done, Venice!

View message from Daniel Samakow and James Evans. 


Venice is the number 1 tourist destination in Southern California. Until prohibition, it was the number one place for dancing in Los Angeles, with numerous dance halls and signs (even a Venice-style sign strung across the street) proclaiming dancing. As you can see from the picture, the forces of intolerance during Prohibition ended dancing along with drinking. Venice was targeted for its Bohemian life-style, much as Harlem’s black night clubs and the West Village’s Gay bars were targeted in New York. Cabaret laws in both cities were created as a way to discriminate and keep joy restricted.  www.grubstreet.com/2017/10/new-york-city-will-finally-repeal-cabaretlaw-banning-dancing-in-bars.html .  The prohibition on alcohol was finally voted away but this law has remained and as a result, Venice now has literally 1 live music / dance license.


This past year, New York City did away with the Prohibition-era law, as unfair, discriminatory and restricting the joy of its citizens. These laws were being enforced unevenly by Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and others, as part of a “quality of life”program, a way to support gentrification of certain neighborhoods. The same is happening here.  www.spin.com/2017/10/new -york-city-council-votes-to-repeal-century-old-anti-dancing-law/
When there are no legal places to dance, people seek out illegal venues that may be unsafe and that do not enforce building safety codes, age limits, health safety standards, etc. www.nytimes.com/2017/10/30/ nyregion/new-york-cabaret-law-repeal.html.   The Ghost Ship in Oakland was one of these illegal venues where 36 young people died seeking music and dancing.


Today, numerous visitors and Angelinos stay after the sun sets to explore Venice’s restaurants, nightlife and our history of being a music and art incubator. Not having these options hurts our culture and our economy. Canal Club is one venue that wants to bring back dancing and live music. To do this, Canal Club must first change its CUP (Conditional Use Permit) in order to apply for a Cabaret License. The Canal Club needs your support!


We are James Evans and Daniel Samakow. We opened the Canal Club in 1998, two years after opening James’ Beach across the street. We are two long time Venice residents who have dedicated our lives to be contributing citizens of the artistic community we call Venice. Over the years we have used our time and passion to support Venice movements and institutions including the Venice sign, the Venice Sign holiday lighting events, the Venice Art Crawl, Venice Pride and others; along with numerous causes and groups that help make life better here in Venice every day.
Being allowed to dance is a basic part of a pursuit of happiness as set in our American constitution. We can’t turn back the clock, but we can offer safe and responsible venues run by experienced local professionals; for visitors and locals to dance and enjoy Venice music.  It is good for our community.
Thank you,
James Evans & Daniel Samakow

You can use this sample letter below, or print and sign this sample letter! 

You can also use this sample template.

[Insert Date]
City of Los Angeles Planning Department
Attn: Zoning Administrator
Office of Zoning Administration
City Hall, Room 763
Los Angeles, CA. 90012
Re: Support for Case # ZA-2018- 828-CUB-CUX

Canal Club, Inc.

2025 S. Pacific Ave, Venice CA 90291 Dear Zoning Administrator,

I would like to express my support for the approval of a new Conditional Use Permit for the Canal Club located at 2025 S. Pacific Ave Venice, CA 90291. …
[Insert Support]
Respectfully Submitted,

[Insert Name & Phone Number & Address]

We ask you to support us to expand the Canal Club to allow live music and dancing by helping us change our CUP.   We are not some big company from out of the area trying to change things. We are locals and caring operators as we have been for 21 plus years and 37 plus year as involved Venice residents.

Want more dancing in Venice?  Please share this!

You can  drop off letters at Canal Club, 2025 Pacific Ave. Venice, Ca 90291,  and at James’ Beach, 60 North Venice Blvd. Venice, Ca 90291,  or email it to [email protected]

Join the “Bring back dancing to Venice Beach” on  facebook!

Article by Alex Stowell

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