Welcome to the Seattle Teen Dance Ordinance Project! This is an archive collecting documents regarding the teen dance ordinance in Seattle in the last part of the twentieth century.

The Teen Dance Ordinance, the TDO came into existence in 1985 in response to sex and drug abuse of under-aged club goers at a club called the Monastery. is was however not the first teen dance law in Seattle (the first being in 1967). Under the TDO, a club would have to have a million dollar deposit for music events with youth and two off-duty Seattle Police Department officers attending for security. Youth were barred from concerts and dances, but were permitted at underage dances where those between the ages of 15 and 20 could be unsupervised without a chaperone. The ordinance never defined what a ‘dance’ was so, essentially during the period of TDO between 1985 and 2002 all my music events for youth were limited to underage dances. Many youth would go to neighboring cities for concerts, but until the 21st century, Seattle basically had a youth-free music scene. Ironic given the focus of Seattle in music of the nineties.

The first significant attempt to repeal the TDO came in 2000. The City Council voted for the appeal, but then Seattle Mayor Paul Schell vetoed the measure and it couldn’t be overridden.

Repeal Dance of the TDO

While a repeal would happen two years later, it was around this time that all-ages movement begin to grow despite the lack of proper municipal legislation. Organizations like JAMPAC (The Joint Artists & Music Promotions Action Committee) would become a huge advocate for the repeal of the TDO starting in the late nineties. Other organizations such as The Vera Project created all-ages music spaces, even before the TDO was repealed.

Since the repeal of the TDO in 2002, the all-ages music scene in Seattle has grown quite large. A large part of this is due to the effort of these organizations.

In this archive you’ll find information regarding media response to the TDO, legislation, organization, as well as documentation from those organizations, city officials, and court decisions regarding teen dance laws in Seattle.