Japanese lawmakers relax ban on club dancing after midnight

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(CNN) — Walk into a Japanese dance club and you’ll be greeted by signs warning you not to dance after midnight.

That’s because in Japan, late-night dancing is a crime. In fact, it’s been outlawed for almost 70 years. Bars and nightclubs even put up warning signs, trying to avoid problems with police who call dance clubs magnets for drugs, violence and sex crimes.

Lawmakers voted last week to relax the dancing ban, a law going back to the American occupation after World War II, when “dance halls” were often a front for prostitution.

Police have looked the other way for decades, allowing Japan’s dance scene to thrive. But high profile drug cases and a deadly brawl about five years ago led to a surge of arrests from club raids.

The new law says clubs can’t be too dark in an attempt to discourage crime. Until changes take effect next year, after-hours dancing is still against the law.

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