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The city behind the film

How Elmore City sparked a mini youth revolution

If there’s one thing that’s forever true about American teens of every generation, it’s that they will literally fight for their right to party. Perhaps the best representation of this on screen is captured in the classic 1984 film Footless. In the beloved film, Kevin Bacon portrays a rebellious character named Ren McCormack. Used to life in the big city, Ren is shocked when he moves to a small town called Bomont. It turns out that Bomont has banned dancing. The strict Reverend Moore is apparently at the helm of the entire town. Most people doubt that the rules will ever change. Because Pastor Moore’s son died in an accident, he is especially pushing for the city’s very conservative rules to remain in effect. In which the town’s teenagers were partying and caused a fatal car accident. While many viewers are familiar with the film’s plot, few know that the events of Footloose are inspired by a real city.

Elmore City: ‘Danceless’ city since 1898

The truth may even be stranger than fiction. In Elmore City, Oklahoma, it was 19th century rules that prevented people from dancing. According to the original lawmakers, it was dancing that led to a whole host of other unsavory activities. Some activities include teenagers getting drunk and wild, wreaking havoc in the city. And while a fatal drunk driving accident wasn’t to blame, as in the fictional Footloose, plenty of accidents happen in the Sooner State. They were even there in 2021 100 alcohol-related accidents in Oklahoma City alone.

It was only until 1980 that the youth of Elmore City decided to rise up and demand what most Americans consider the ultimate rite of passage: their own prom. Students Mary Ann Temple, Leonard Coffee and Rex Kennedy led the charge, taking their grievances to the media. In those days, before the advent of social media, it was often difficult to draw attention to problems in small towns like this. But something about the plight of Elmore City students captured the nation’s hearts. It wasn’t long before all eyes were on Elmore. Locally, however, many older residents were not interested in these new changes. They wanted Elmore City to remain as it was, and so many clergymen in the city tried to influence their flocks to comply with the ban on dancing. But eventually progress began to take root. Mary Ann Temple’s father, the school board president, was instrumental in making this happen. He cast the deciding vote to lift the city’s ban on dancing. Years later, the city fittingly celebrates this momentous event… with a dance.

Footloose celebrates 40 years

This year it is 40e Birthday from the original Footloose film released in 1984 and starring Kevin Bacon. To commemorate the anniversary, Bacon visited Payson High School in Utah, one of the locations of the original film. It’s been decades since this iconic film got fans dancing in theaters and it continues to delight fans around the world.