And today in things I did not think I would ever type, we have this: A Canadian man has reportedly been fined for singing “Everybody Dance Now” in his car. Alone. Right by his house. According to both the National Post and the Huffington Post, the Montreal Police have declined to comment on the case — but oh, what a case it is.
According to CTV, Taoufik Moalla of Montreal left his house on Sept. 27, hopped in his car, put the ubiquitous ‘90s dance tune by C+C Music Factory on the car stereo, and began to sing along. However, shortly thereafter— just a few meters from his home, according the Winnipeg Free Press — he heard sirens. To his surprise, the police didn’t just want him to move out of theway; they wanted him to pull over. “I stopped and four police came, two on each side, and checked the inside of the car,” Moalla told CTV. “Then they asked me if I screamed. I said, ‘No, I was just singing.’”
After that, said Moalla, the cops checked his license and registration… and then handed him a ticket for $149 (about $118 in U.S.dollars). It seems that there is a law in Montreal regarding disturbing the peace under which singing loudly in public appears to fall: One of the stipulations of this code states that “every one who, not being in a dwelling-house, causes a disturbance in or near a public place by fighting, screaming, shouting, swearing, singing, or using insulting or obscene language … is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction.” CTV reports that fines between $50 and $1,000 may be levied for a first offence, with subsequent offences carrying a fine of $100 to $2,000.
Moalla was, understandably, surprised to receive the ticket; he said that he wasn’t singing unusually loudly (indeed, according to him, the windows of the car were up at the time), although he did note to CTV, “I don’t know if and that’s why I got the ticket, but I was very shocked. I understand if they are doing their job, they are allowed to check if everything’s OK, if I kidnapped someone or if there’s danger inside, but I would never expect they would give me a ticket for that.” According to the Winnipeg Free Press, he has formally contested the fine; however, he likely won’t receive a court date for six months or longer.
The song many of us know simply as “Everybody Dance Now” isn’t actually called “Everybody Dance Now,” by the way. That’s its subtitle; its full name is, “Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now).” Originally released by C+C Music Factory on Nov. 18, 1990 as the lead single on the album also titled Gonna Make You Sweat, it charted globally, reaching the number one spots in six countries; in the United States, it held the top slots not only in the Billboard Hot 100, but also in the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play, Hot Dance Music/Maxi-Singles Sales, and HotR&B/Hip-Hop Singles charts. In the nearly 30 years since, it has become what I feel comfortable saying is the most recognizable dance song of the ‘90s, if not in history; the list of movies and TV shows in which it has appeared is pretty astonishing. (It includes five separate episodes of The Simpsons with air dates ranging from 1994 to 2011, for example.) I’m pretty sure starring in the story of Man Who Receives Ticket For Singing is a new usage of it, although it's also no stranger to controversy.
However, I do think it’s worth noting that although this story is going viral for being somewhat humorous, there’s also something frightening about it. Granted, I can’t speak to the situation in either Montreal specifically or Canada more generally, but in the United States, the context in which it exists is that of Philando Castile, Sandra Bland, and other victims: People who were pulled over — ostensibly for “routine” reasons, according to police, although the dangers of simply driving while black in our society are horrifying and real — and who did not walk away with merely a ticket. For that reason, it’s hard to laugh at this latest story; if the circumstances were just a tiny bit different, it could have ended very, very differently.
In any event, Moalla is currently waiting for his court date; his plan, he told CTV, is to just tell the story of how he got the ticket to the judge. “Imagine if the Candiens [ice hockey team] won a game. All the fans are going to scream out of their cars. They’re going to sing,” said Moalla. “Are you going to give them all tickets?”