Authorities in Brussels hit nightclubs with tax on dancing

Authorities in Brussels are enforcing one of Europe's more obscure fiscal levies: a tax on dancing.

Cafes, bars and clubs must pay the government 40 cents for every one of their dancing customers, per night. The tax was introduced in 2014, but authorities are clamping down on unpaid fees in the run-up to Christmas.

One Brussels club, which has been hit with a bill for almost €2,000 for its toe-tapping customers, has even asked revellers to “please stop dancing” using tongue-in-cheek posters on its windows.

The tax inspector explained that the tax is based on the number of people dancing,” Nicholas Boochie, artistic director of Bonnefooi, told local website Bruzz. But the tax has raised a question we’d never thought we’d have to ponder: “Is throwing your arms in the air dancing?” Boochie asked, presumably looking for a way to avoid paying the fee.

According to the city’s finance department, public dancing is a costly business for Brussels, “entail[ing] additional expenditure, in particular in the field of safety, public peace and public order.” The ‘dancing tax’ covers these outgoings. 

It looks like Bonnefooi won’t be the only one to receive a retrospective bill: “Sometimes taxes are applied, but there are not enough officials to collect them,” Marc Van Muylders, of Horeca Bruxelles, told Bruzz.

Boochie said that he would prefer to use the €2,000 levy to pay for more performers at his club. “I first thought it was a joke, but it really does turn out to be true,” he added.