This Western Nation Has Dancing Permits, But May Finally Lose Them

Sweden may be about to finally get rid of its long-standing dancing permits, whose existence has kept “spontaneous dancing” illegal in the country for several decades now.

Even ABBA Operated Under the Public Dancing Ban

While Sweden has been known as a prosperous model democracy and one of the most “liberal” nations – besides giving the world IKEA and ABBA, for nearly 70 years now, it has had a low ban on public dancing without a special permit.

In 1956, Sweden adopted a law prohibiting “spontaneous dancing.”

It did not apply to individuals, and nobody was sent to jail for dancing – but it required respective public venues, such as clubs, bars, discos, etc., to buy a dancing permit – at least if their clients were expected to dance there.

As of 2023, the dancing permit is still in existence in Sweden and it costs about $67 at a minimum, Oddee reported.

If a company running a dancing establishment doesn’t get the necessary permit, it could be fined or even have its liquor and business permits revoked, thus getting shut down.

According to the report, the law banning spontaneous dancing was adopted almost seven decades ago to protect the “moral purity” of Sweden’s population.

Even though Sweden was neutral during the Second World War, the afterwar years saw a spike in the popularity of dance meets, with new forms of music, such as rock ‘n roll, accompanied with drinks.

At the time, the Swedish establishment thought popular music was immoral. When that was combined with rampant alcohol consumption at dance parties, it spiked concerns over not just morals, but also increasing crime rates and even rioting.

Paradoxically, even as Sweden ended up giving the world not just ABBA – whose emblematic song, the dancing Queen, came out in 1975 – but also dozens of other world-famous English-language pop and rock groups, public dancing in the country required a legal permit.

Dozens of Attempts to End It

The Swedish government is now seeking to repeal the ban on public dancing and the need to buy permits, including for financial reasons. Eliminating the bureaucracy of issuing dance licenses would save money.

Gunnar Stroemmer, Sweden’s Justice Minister, has stated regulating people’s dancing was not a “reasonable” thing for a state to do. He noted entrepreneurs in the country would benefit from the elimination of permit requirements.

The report stressed the dancing ban had never been popular in Sweden, but dozens of attempts to end it have failed.

There were such tries in the Swedish parliament once per year between 2007 and 2010, plus 20 more attempts between 2011 and 2014.

In 2016, the legislature voted unanimously to repeal the dance permit law, but the agreement was not translated into legislative changes and the license remained in force.

Presently, there is a new motion to kill the dancing permit; if it is passed, the law will end on July 1, 2023.

This article appeared in The State Today and has been published here with permission.