Stephen Kafoury had to dance so the rest of Portland could sing.
It was a Friday night in 1973, and the 31-year-old lawyer was where you'd often find him in those days—at the Goose Hollow Inn in Southwest Portland. The joint was packed with the usual mix of young professionals and blue-collar residents of the neighborhood that gave the bar its name. Kafoury, in particular, was in a celebratory mood. He'd recently won election to the state Legislature, helping the Democrats take control of the House of Representatives.
A beer was in his hand, and a record was spinning on the house turntable. So Kafoury started to move.
"I was bouncing from one foot to the other, and a waitress came up said, 'You can't do that,'" says Kafoury, now 76. "'Do what?' 'You can't dance. It's illegal to dance in taverns.' I said, 'Don't tell me what's illegal, I'm a legislator. I write the laws.'"
Turns out, she was right. Back then, Oregon law drew a hard line between "taverns" and "nightclubs." Only bars with full, hard-to-obtain liquor licenses were allowed to host any sort of entertainment that might inspire patrons to sing and dance.
The following Monday, Kafoury went down to Salem, where, by sheer coincidence, he was appointed chairman of the Legislature's Joint Committee on Alcohol and Drugs. At the next legislative session, he proposed eliminating the provision outlawing dancing in taverns, to no opposition. With the swing of a gavel, bars in Oregon could finally throw dance parties, host live music and, later, have karaoke nights.
When he returned to the Goose Hollow Inn, Kafoury was greeted as a hero, at least by the bar's owner—the gregarious future mayor of Portland, Bud Clark.
"I don't know when Bud found out, but he laughs every time I see him: 'You're the guy who got dancing allowed in taverns!'" Kafoury says. "Nobody knew at the time what a big deal this was going to be."
It might have been a big deal. But not much changed at Kafoury's favorite bar.
Asked in an email how the ruling affected his business, Clark responds: "Not at all. There was no room to dance at the Goose at that time anyway."
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