In the land of hula, dancing does not always reign supreme.

Bar owners in Hawaii face heavy fines if they let their patrons bob their heads to the music or swing their hips to a song off an approved dance floor.

The county liquor commissions have chosen to regulate dancing for years, requiring special permits and additional fees. The problem is, they won’t define what constitutes “dancing.”

Civil Beat decided to ask Dean Pitchford, who knows a thing or two about dancing, what he thought about the issue. Pitchford, who grew up in Hawaii and went on to make a little movie called “Footloose,” says dancing should be defined as broadly as possible.

State lawmakers tried again this past legislative session to force the liquor commissions to either quit enforcing the dancing rules or define the term, but the bill stalled in the House after the counties complained.

Picture a speed limit sign with no numbers. How do you know how fast you can go before you get a ticket?

The county liquor commissions seem to view dancing like porn; you know it when you see it. That’s not good enough for small business owners who don’t want to lose their licenses to serve booze and earn a living.

Sens. Kalani English and Gil Keith-Agaran led the charge for change this past legislative session. Both represent Maui, where they routinely hear concerns from their constituents about the county’s infamous “Footloose” rule.

The rule — which is similar to those for Honolulu, Kauai and Big Island — bans “dancing” in bars and restaurants that serve alcohol, except on a designated dance floor where no consumption is allowed.

“The rule fails to define dancing and, as such, leaves small business owners and patrons without any notice as to what movements would be considered ‘dancing,’” ACLU attorney Laurie Temple said in her testimony.

She said the ACLU has received a number of complaints about “overzealous” liquor commissioners who can be “unresponsive” and “outright hostile.”

The Maui Liquor Commission testified against the bill, saying “dancing regulations are unnecessary because we have not cited any liquor licensees for any dancing-related violations.”

The Honolulu Liquor Commission also opposed the bill, calling the proposed amendments “vague” and “ambiguous.”

Senate Bill 464 would have simply required any county liquor commission that chooses to regulate dancing to include a definition of the term “dancing” in its rules.

The Senate unanimously passed the bill in March, but it died in the House without a hearing. Lawmakers said they expect it to resurface next year.

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