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Hawaii Senate to vote on Maui dancing bill

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 4, 2013 at 6:13 pm •  Published: March 4, 2013

"If someone is full-on shaking their thang I try to tell them, 'Hey guys, there is a dance floor,'" she said.

Stern says she tries to ask nicely because she knows a lot of visitors to Maui aren't aware of the rule.

"We do have really strict and bizarre laws," she said.

Anthony Simmons, a teacher's aide in Maui, has been leading a public protest against the dancing rule for several years.

Seven years ago, he helped form Maui Dance Advocates, a group "dedicated to fighting for the right to dance in Maui county. "

Simmons says he has petitioned the Liquor Control Commission and even sued the county twice to try to get the rule changed. But all his attempts have so far failed. This year is the second time that he's tried to a get a law passed clarifying the issue.

Simmons says the main problem with the dancing rule is that its ambiguity allows the liquor commission to enforce it arbitrarily.

"I've seen them send people multiple times a night to a bar shaking them down for dancing," he said. "It depends on your relationship with the Liquor Control. No one who has a liquor license wants to say anything."

Simmons says he first became aware of the rule when he moved to Maui 12 years ago and his band was playing at a bar. A bouncer asked a fan multiple times to stop dancing because the bar didn't have a dance floor, and when the fan kept grooving, he was eventually asked to leave.

Simmons says the issue is about constitutional rights.

"Currently the rules discriminate against people who have too much joy in their step," he said in his testimony to the state Senate. He wrote that a disability prevents him from standing still for long periods of time and that the rule doesn't take disabilities into account.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii submitted testimony supporting the bill, along with several individuals. If it passes the Senate, the bill will next be considered by the House.