Now Dancing (With Restrictions)

New legislation allowing clubs in Japan to be open all night long finally went into effect in June. Since 1948, a law prohibiting “dancing” after midnight often stymied nightlife in Japan, and while most venues simply ignored the antiquated ban – enacted to put a damper on prostitution after the war – in recent years the police had been cracking down on such clubs.

s a result, club owners and clubgoers lobbied their local representatives to have the law changed, and they did. However, there are still restrictions and conditions.

According to Yahoo News, in order to qualify as a “nighttime entertainment restaurant operation,” a club must provide sufficient lighting (“roughly equivalent to that inside a movie theater before the screening begins”) and proper decor (“no ads or decorations that interfere with the healthy development of youth”), and respect noise regulations. Moreover, such venues are limited to certain “districts,” but so far it seems these districts, which number 638 in Tokyo alone, encompass every possible location where such clubs already exist.

If all conditions are met, the venue can stay open until 5 a.m. – as long as it doesn’t serve alcohol. As of June 24, 70 applications for “status change” have been submitted so far.