'Footloose' Law Repealed by Arkansas Town

The residents of Forth Smith, Arkansas can finally cut loose after officials there repealed their Footloose rule, a 1953 ordinance that banned public dances on Sunday this week.

Last month, City Director Andre Good formally requested the repeal of Ordinance 2107. According to the Times-Record, the ordinance was adopted on Nov. 27, 1953 and officially reads, "It shall be unlawful for any person to operate a public dance hall on Sunday, or to operate any other place in which dancing is engaged in on Sunday."

Part of the ordinance even stated that, at the time, "present laws are inadequate to restrain public dances upon Sundays and that such dancing greatly endangers the public health, safety and welfare; that the enactment of this ordinance is necessary and will correct this condition."

The fine for breaking the law was $25 to $500.

Good told the Times-Record he did not even know about the law until he saw a Facebook post about it. Then, he did his own research to confirm that the law really existed.

“Honestly at first I thought it was kind of funny, but it’s a real ordinance,” Good said. “Think about it, what about if you are dancing in church?”

And in a move that might remind many of a scene in Parks & Recreation, Good said the community is looking at other "antiquated ordinances" that can hurt the town's growth.

A city spokeswoman told the Associated Press that no one was ever arrested or fined for breaking the ordinance in two decades.

The original 1984 Footloose starred Kevin Bacon as a Chicago teen who moves to a Midwest town where dancing is illegal.

It was inspired by another real-life law banning dancing in Elmore City, Oklahoma. The ordinance ended in March 1980, when the school board allowed students to organize a high school prom. In 2010, residents recreated the prom for its 30th anniversary, and kicked things off with Kenny Loggins' famous "Footloose" title track.

In February 2017, another Oklahoma town, Henryetta, forced the cancellation of a Valentine's Day dance because of a 1979 ordinance that banned dancing within 500 feet of a church. The venue for the planned dance was 300 feet away from a church.


Ordinances against dancing are not exclusive to the South. In October 2017, the New York City Council finally repealed the 1926 cabaret law, which banned dancing in businesses without a cabaret license. At the time the law was repealed, only 100 of the 26,000 bars and restaurants in the city had one.

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