U.S. News


Oklahoma Town Ditches 'Footloose'-esque Ban On Public Dancing

Henryetta, Oklahoma, finally repealed a decades-old ordinance that banned dance halls near churches or public schools.
Posted at 1:40 PM, Feb 23, 2017

"Dancing is legal in Henryetta, Oklahoma," Henryetta Mayor Jennifer Clason said.

You heard that right. This small town in Oklahoma has finally repealed a decades-old ordinance that banned dancing in public.

Go ahead, make a "Footloose" joke. The residents of Henryetta have heard them all before.

"We've all heard about it since we were kids. I'm in my 40s now, so even as kids, we thought it was silly," resident Vernon Britt said.

According to Newsy's partners at KJRH, the ordinance was first enacted in 1977. It prohibited dance halls within 500 feet of a church or public school.

The ban hadn't been enforced for years — that is, until earlier this month when one woman wanted to host a Valentine's Day dance above her store in town.

Problem was, her shop is right across the street from a church. And she says someone pointed that out when she posted the event on Facebook.

"A lot of the elders here in town are afraid. They're concerned for change," resident Joni Insabella said.

The dance was canceled, and residents were pretty vocal about wanting to strike the ordinance down. And on Feb. 21, they got their wish when the city council overturned it. But Henryetta wasn't the only place with some pretty outdated dance laws.

In South Carolina, it is still illegal to operate a dance hall on Sundays.