German word of the day: Das Tanzverbot

Sophie Shanahan
Sophie Shanahan - [email protected]
German word of the day: Das Tanzverbot
Archive photo shows people dancing at a disco in Stuttgart. Photo: picture alliance / Franziska Kraufmann/dpa | Franziska Kraufmann

You might think it was just the pandemic that cleared the dance floors in Germany, but people have had to get used to controls on their freedom to dance since well before the crisis hit. 


Das Tanzverbot, meaning ‘dancing ban’ is a legal provision in Germany which means that, on certain ‘silent’ public holidays, dancing in public is officially banned. You may remember this word flying around over the Easter break, as there is a full Tanzverbot on Good Friday in twelve of Germany’s sixteen federal states. 

Although this may seem like one of those outdated laws that no-one really abides by, failing to comply with the Tanzverbot can land a business with thousands of euros in fines. The law is in place as a respectful gesture to some important holidays in the Christian calendar, meaning it is viewed by many as quite rude to disregard these traditional rules. 

The majority of the population still identifies as Christian in Germany, and surveys suggest that more than half of people are in favour of keeping the dancing ban in place. However, every year debates resurface as to whether this decades-old rule should be scrapped or become optional so that secularism is also respected. 

READ ALSO: Is it really illegal to dance at Easter in Germany?

And, of course, the Tanzverbot took on a new meaning when the pandemic restrictions closed clubs. 


This tweet, from the Young Liberals from April 2nd reads: "There’s now been a total of 377 days on which we couldn’t dance and the cubs have been closed. We think that’s enough! After the Corona-Pandemic all dancing bans and silent public holidays should be scrapped. The last year has been quite enough."

In the most religious states, particularly Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria, the Tanzverbot is taken pretty far and sometimes lasts for multiple days, meaning clubs and bars have to shut their doors for entire weekends. Bavaria even has a Musikverbot (music ban) on some public holidays, meaning businesses are not even allowed to play background music. 

Berlin has just lifted the blanket Tanzverbot on the city that was effectively in place throughout the lockdown, meaning that the party scene can once again spring into life, though face masks and social distancing will be a familiar sight on the capital’s dance floors. 

READ ALSO: Berlin dancing ban ends on Friday: what you need to know

Luckily the ban does not extend to private parties and events, so if you ever want to dance your heart out on one of these silent public holidays you can still do so, as long as it is within your own four walls.



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