Sometimes life in New York City is anything but a waltz. While it may seem that anything goes on the New York City subways — pants-dropping, rat-frolicking, instantaneous Shakespeare — there are, in fact, rules. One of which is, No Dancing — at least that’s what a New York City police officer told Caroline Stern and her boyfriend George Hess as they were arrested last July.
The couple were waiting for a train on their way home from Midsummer Night’s Swing, a big-band dance party at Manhattan’s Lincoln Center. When a busking steel drum player started up in the train station, the couple began to dance. “We were doing the Charleston,” Stern told the New York Post when the long-arm of the law clamped down on them. “They said, ‘What are you doing?’ and we said, ‘We’re dancing,’ ” she recalled. “And they said, ‘You can’t do that on the platform.’ ” The police officer asked the couple for identification, but when Stern was unable to produce anything other than a credit card, and Harris started to film the encounter, the cop called for back up.
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Hess, age 54, was allegedly tackled and pinned to the floor of the subway platform before both he and Stern, age 55, were cuffed and taken to the police station for booking. The couple was charged with disorderly conduct for “impeding the flow of traffic,” a charge that Stern strongly disagrees with. “There was nobody on the platform. There were, like, three people,” she told the Post. “I’m a dentist, and I’m 55, and I got arrested for dancing,” Stern said. After being held for 23 hours, the charges, including resisting arrest, were later dropped.
Now, the couple has filed a Manhattan federal court suit against the city for unspecified damages. New York City’s Law Department is reviewing the court papers, a spokeswoman said.
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