Nightclub Debaser recently opened a second premises at Medborgarplatsen in central Stockholm. With five bouncers hired to keep an eye on proceedings, the owners thought they had done more than enough to ensure the security of their paying guests.
But then one night a police patrol came to have a look around. Once inside the officers were confronted with the unmistakable sight of young people engaged in the act of dancing.
“We were told that if we have dancing in our club we have to have lots more security guards; one for every hundred customers,” Debaser’s Stefan Telford told The Local.
Irritated by what he refers to as the “stupid dancing permit”, Telford takes the example of the club’s alcohol-free matinée shows, which cater for a younger audience.
“If we have 800 kids there, we have to pay for 8 security guards. That means we make a loss,” he said.
Telford adds that the police view Medborgarplatsen as a problem area. Although the club has not had any problems with its customers at the new venue, police were insistent that a dancefloor necessitated additional security.
Debaser received its licence last week, but there are many other clubs around the country that could face difficulties if they do not get their dancing papers in order.
“If somebody begins dancing at a place that doesn’t have a dancing licence, the landlord is obliged to immediately turn down the music and stop the dancing,” police spokesman Christer Ohlin told newspaper Södermalmsnytt.
Until recently, however, Stefan Telford was not aware that his club required a dancing licence. And he is not alone.
“Some people maintain that an alcohol licence includes the right to so-called spontaneous dancing. But that is simply not the case,” said Christer Ohlin.
For safety reasons police conduct regular spot checks to ensure that nobody is dancing without their prior knowledge. But Ohlin admits that it can be tricky to differentiate between dancing and other forms of rhythmic motion.
“It is difficult to say exactly what constitutes dancing. It is a bit fuzzy and a question of interpretation. But if there is a presumption that dancing may occur on the premises then there has to be a dancing licence,” said Ohlin.