Oklahoma Town Repeals ‘Footloose’ Ordinance

(CN) – A small Oklahoma town repealed a long-standing “Footloose” ordinance on Wednesday that banned public dancing within 500 feet of a church or public school.

In a 5-0 vote, the Henryetta City Council unanimously repealed the 1970s-era ordinance during its regular meeting.

“Dancing is legal again in Henryetta, Oklahoma,” Mayor Jennifer Clason proclaimed as the capacity crowd applauded. Several people in the audience wore pink t-shirts proclaiming, “Keep calm because dancing is not a crime.”

Reminiscent of a fictitious town portrayed in the 1984 Kevin Bacon film “Footloose” in which dancing was banned, the ordinance caused the cancellation of a Valentine’s Day dance at Rose LaVon’s Marketplace this year because the business is 300 feet from a church.

Marketplace owner Joni Insabella said the ordinance was brought to her attention by a “party pooper.” She thought it was a joke.

“I didn’t think she was serious about it because she then said we were lawbreakers and breaking the law and some other not-very-nice things,” she told the Tulsa World newspaper. “We are kind of expecting Kevin Bacon to show up at any time and we are just going to get footloose with him if he does.”

Insabella said she “can’t imagine” why so many members of the media from out of town have been interested in the ban.

“The only thing I can think of is there’s probably very few towns left in the U.S. that have an ordinance like this,” she said.

Clason, 45, said that the dance ordinance has not been enforced during her lifetime.

“We had proms, we had dances, we actually had Teen Town here in the civic center which is less than 100 feet from the church,” she said.

Henryetta is 60 miles south of Tulsa, in Okmulgee County. Its most famous residents include Dallas Cowboys Troy Aikman, who went to high school there, and professional cowboy Jim Shoulders.


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