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Footloose: The Town Behind the Movie

How Elmore City Sparked a Mini Youth Revolution

If there’s something that is eternally true about American teenagers of every generation, it is that they will, literally, fight for their right to party. Perhaps the best onscreen depiction of this is captured in the classic 1984 film Footloose. In the beloved movie, Kevin Bacon portrays a rebellious character named Ren McCormack. Accustomed to big city life, Ren is shocked when he moves to a small town called Bomont. As it turns out, Bomont has banned dancing. The strict Reverend Moore is seemingly at the helm of the entire town. Most people doubt that the rules are ever going to change. Because Reverend Moore’s son was killed in an accident he is particularly insistent that the town’s highly conservative regulations stay in place. In which the town’s teens were out carousing and caused a deadly car accident. Although many viewers are familiar with the film’s plot, very few are aware that the events portrayed in Footloose were inspired by a real-life town.

Elmore City: “Danceless” Town Since 1898

The truth may be even stranger than fiction. In Elmore City, Oklahoma, it was rules from the 19th century that prevented people from dancing. In the view of the original lawmakers, it was dancing that led to a whole host of other unsavory activities. Some activities include teens getting drunk and wild, causing havoc in the town. And while a deadly drunk driving accident wasn’t to blame like in the fictional Footloose, there are plenty of accidents in the Sooner State. In fact in 2021, there were 100 alcohol related accidents in Oklahoma City alone. 

It wasn’t 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. At the time, before social media, it was often difficult to bring awareness to small-town problems such aa this. But something about the plight of the students in Elmore City captured the hearts of the country. It wasn’t long before all eyes were on Elmore. Locally, however, many of the older residents weren’t interested in these new changes. They wanted Elmore City to stay the way it was, and that was why many clergy leaders in the town tried to influence their flocks to keep the ban on dancing. Eventually, however, progress took root. Mary Ann Temple’s father, the school board president, played a big role in making this happen. He cast the deciding vote to lift the town’s ban on dancing. Years later, the town celebrates the momentous event quite fittingly… with a dance. 

Footloose Celebrates 40 Years

This year is the 40th Anniversary of the original Footloose movie that was released in 1984 and starred 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 movie got fans dancing in movie theaters and it continues to delight fans across the globe.

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    Musings

    Footloose: The Town Behind the Movie

    How Elmore City Sparked a Mini Youth Revolution If there’s something that is eternally true about American teenagers of every generation, ...
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