#AdventCalendar: When spontaneous dancing was forbidden by law in Sweden

#AdventCalendar: When spontaneous dancing was forbidden by law in Sweden
There's more to the story than you think. Photo: David Magnusson/SvD/SCANPIX/TT
Each day of December up until Christmas Eve, The Local is sharing the story behind a surprising Swedish fact as part of our own Advent calendar.

If you've been throwing shapes of any nature over the festive season, spare a thought for the people of Sweden who were banned from spontaneous dancing until as recently as 2016.

We're not talking about an unwritten social code in a country whose people are known for a reserved nature; dancing in certain circumstances was banned by law for decades.

The law dates back to the 1930s and states that bars and pubs must have a permit in order for dancing to take place at the establishment. If the rule was breached, the owners of the bar risked fines or having their permits withdrawn.

Establishments were able to apply for one-off permissions for dancing events, but if spontaneous dancing broke out and no permit was in place, the owners were legally expected to break up the boogie.


Over the decades, there were dozens of campaigns from the nightlife industry, lobby groups, and people fighting for their right to party. In 2016, there were over 1,000 bars and restaurants in Stockholm, but only 100 of them had the coveted danstillstånd (dancing permit).

And in April of that year, Sweden's parliament voted to scrap the rules. The announcement was greeted with celebrations and, naturally, dancing.

But the story isn't quite over.

Although parliament voted in favour of overturning the law, the next step of a new law proposal still hasn't been taken. This means that police reports are continuing to be filed, and bar and restaurant owners still face consequences, for unlawful dancing.

Each day until Christmas Eve, The Local is looking at the story behind one surprising fact about Sweden, as agreed by our readers. Find the rest of our Advent Calendar HERE and sign up below to get an email notification when there's a new article.


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