Quebec dancing prohibition petition

This petition aims to reverse the prohibition of dancing in Quebec

Dancing in nightclubs, bars and small concert venues has officially been illegal since June.

It’s safe to say that the people of Montreal operate on a “work hard, play hard” ethos and dancing is one of the ways they play hard. Montreal has over 2,000 bars (including nightclubs) and close to 75% of them are outfitted with a dancefloor. The city has also been called one of the best places in the world for nightlife, specifically for the diversity of dance halls and nightclubs. Simply, we like to dance. 

But citizens haven’t been able to dance legally (there have been a few underground raves) for quite some time due to a decree passed in June prohibiting dance “in rooms and terrasses covered by a permit authorizing the sale or service of alcoholic beverages for consumption on the spot” in all of Quebec. This was of course passed to reduce COVID-19 cases and to respect the two-metre rule. 

A petition on calls for a reversal of the law prohibiting dancing in Quebec. The petition is close to reaching its current goal of 5,000 signatures, after which it will continue to grow with more visibility. Meanwhile, much of the world is allowing dancing in clubs and bars, like the city of Toronto which allows masked dance nights. 

“I was shocked that there was an actual law in place that says we can’t dance,” says nightlife enthusiast Laurianne Lalonde, who created the petition to allow dancing in Quebec. “I also think there is a stigmatization surrounding the people who go to nightclubs. Those people are sometimes marginalized or thought of as younger.”

But Lalonde says that at a place like Salsathèque — a ’70s inspired disco venue — there is a generational factor when it comes to dancing. 

“So you could see a grandfather dancing with his granddaughter or his daughter,” she says. “This law is not just affecting younger people. It’s all about community gatherings.”

Dance is also a critical part of many cultures in Montreal. The Latin dance community for example, would normally be hosting salsa conventions, free for anyone looking to dance socially.

“I don’t even think the government really considers these issues. Their view of culture is really narrow and there has been no plan to change since the law was put in place,” says Philippe Larocque, event and concert producer for the Montreal record label Mothland. “Like we have the passport now and you can sit in a busy restaurant without a mask, but you can’t dance while wearing a mask? It makes no sense.”

Larocque is also a DJ and played a gig recently at l’Escogriffe, where, because of the law, no one danced. He was forced to play a smooth playlist of reggae and dub, but he quickly ran out of chill songs and reverted to his style of more upbeat rock ’n’ roll. 

“People got up and started dancing spontaneously and the bartender had to police them,” Laroque says. “But he told me to play more fun upbeat music or we would lose the crowd. So it’s weird. No one knows what to do.”

Both Lalonde and Larocque don’t understand why the government won’t allow venues to take responsibility for dancing in their establishments when they already rely on businesses to police the vaccine passport. 

“There has been this collaboration with the businesses and the government to uphold the passports, so why wouldn’t the businesses have the authority to make sure there was masked dancing,” Lalonde says. 

Venues made for dance are of course losing gargantuan amounts of money and some stuck in a limbo period of perhaps shutting down for good.

“There’s no point in paying a DJ if people can’t dance but you need people to dance in order to have a successful night financially,” Larocque says. 

Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante has introduced a $600,000 investment to boost support for city nightlife over the next three years, but many, including Lalonde and Larocque, are worried it will be too little too late. 

“From what I heard on the radio, that money is being used for recommendations. It’s not even for real action or to support the community right now,” Lalonde says. 

“We have to give the venues the power to decide for themselves what the best course of action for dance is,” Larocque adds. “I mean, who is going to be left by the time that money comes in?” ■

To sign the petition to allow dancing in Quebec nightclubs and bars, please visit

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