City Ordinance Bans Dancing Within 500 Feet of Church

iStock/Thinkstock(HENRYETTA, Okla.) — In the iconic 1984 film Footloose, a small town's youth are at odds with lawmakers who uphold a local law banning dancing and rock music.

Well, fast forward 32 years to the present — and to reality — and a similar situation has unfolded in Henryetta, Oklahoma.

The city of approximately 6,000 people — located about 90 miles east of Oklahoma City — has a law on the books that was unknown to most of its residents, until a Valentine's Day dance was recently scheduled — then scrapped.

Apparently, dancing is not permitted within 500 feet of a church, according to a city ordinance, and the dance was slated to be held at a venue just 300 feet from a church, the Henryetta Church of Christ.

So, to the dismay of lovestruck toe-tappers, the dance would be illegal.

Mayor Jennifer Clason, who was born and raised in Henryetta, admits she heard of the law but she never thought much about it.

"It's never been enforced my entire life," Clason told ABC affiliate KTUL in Tulsa. "But I'd never looked at it because it never came up. It's an antiquated ordinance, no one has ever looked at it to change it."

Although the ordinance seems archaic and its origins unknown to many residents, the law is the law. So the dance's organizer canceled the soiree — mostly because her husband is the city's attorney, according to KTUL.

Such is life in a small town. "He said his oath is to uphold the law," Clason said.

And the city's police chief, Steve Norman, admitted he's never enforced the law nor is he about to start.

"It's one of those ordinances that was passed long before I ever came, and we have no interest in enforcing it," he said.

City council will consider abolishing the ordinance during its Feb. 22 meeting, Clason said.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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