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Small Town Finally Overturns Footloose Ban On Dancing


In many places across the U.S. there are little-known laws, still technically in effect although rarely enforced, that range from dumb and antiquated to weird and absurd. For example, in New Hampshire it is illegal to collect or carry away seaweed at night, and in Kentucky all public officials and lawyers must take an oath stating that they have never fought in a duel with deadly weapons. In Fort Smith, Arkansas, the colloquially nicknamed Footloose ordinance has outlawed public dancing on Sundays, until now that is. The ban on dancing has finally been repealed, leaving residents free to cut loose on Sundays at last.

The Western Arkansas city of Fort Smith has had the ordinance on the books since 1953 according to KATV. The ordinance basically outlawed public dancing by barring the operation of dance halls or any public place with dancing on Sundays. The emergency clause in the ordinance stated that public dancing on Sundays "greatly endangers the public health, safety and welfare." No one has been arrested or ticketed in 20 years for violating the law, but when its continued existence was brought to the attention of City Director Andre Good, he still wanted to get rid of it and introduced the successful repeal. There is no word on whether or not citizens of Fort Smith also kicked off their Sunday shoes and held a huge dance in celebration.

Although the law was put into effect way back in 1953, it eventually earned its nickname for the 1984 film starring Kevin Bacon and Lori Singer. It is easy to see why as this law has some obvious parallels to that film. In Footloose, a local minister in the town of Bomont (John Lithgow), has gotten dancing and rock music banned completely after a family tragedy. Kevin Bacon's Ren McCormack moves to town from Chicago and challenges the anti-dancing law so that he and the other high school seniors can have a proper prom. They are successful in the end and are able to dance the night away. Footloose was also remade in a 2011 film starring Julianne Hough and Kenny Wormald and although it had 100% less Kevin Bacon, it was actually pretty well-reviewed.

Funnily enough, Footloose itself was loosely based on real-life events that took place in Elmore City, Oklahoma where dancing was outlawed until high school juniors fought to have it allowed at their prom. So there is a long history of dancing being seen as dangerous until common sense finally prevails.

Check out our release schedule for all the movies that will make you want to cut loose this year and for all the latest in movie news and why you should always read up on the local laws before dancing in the streets, stay tuned to CinemaBlend.

Nick grew up in Maryland has degrees in Film Studies and Communications. His life goal is to walk the earth, meet people and get into adventures. He’s also still looking for The Adventures of Pete and Pete season 3 on DVD if anyone has a lead.