In This Small Oklahoma Town, Keep On Your Sunday Shoes

Feb 8, 2017

There’s an uproar in the small Oklahoma town of Henryetta after a Valentine's Day dance was canceled. The reason? It would have happened too close to a church.

Joni Insabella just wanted something fun to do in her hometown. She recently opened a vintage shop with an empty second floor. She decided it was good for one thing: dancing. So ,they started planning one for Valentine’s Day.

"We had not thought anything that very old 40-year-old city ordinance. It didn’t even cross our mind."

The chamber of commerce promoted the event, and people in town got excited. There was just one problem. The town has a law banning dances within 500 feet of a church.

"You know, and I did talk to the police, and I said ‘Hey, you guys, you know, are you going to come and arrest us if we have a dance and they thought it was funny."

The community was divided. And Joni’s husband, who is also the city attorney in Henryetta, said even though it’s an old ordinance, she should call the whole thing off. So, she did.

It all sounds a lot like the 1984 movie Footloose, which was based on a similar event in another Oklahoma town, Elmore City.

Overturning the ordinance is on the city council agenda later this month. Insabella says they’re planning a summer event to celebrate...dancing in the streets... and people hope actor Kevin Bacon will make an appearance.