Valentine's Dance in Oklahoma Canceled Because of Ordinance Barring Dancing Within 500 Feet of a Church

PHOTO: The Henryetta Church of Christ in Henryetta, Oklahoma, is 300 feet from a venue where a Valentines Day dance was slated. It had to be cancelled because of a city ordinance banning dancing within 500 feet of a church. PlayKTUL
WATCH Oklahoma Town: No Dancing Within 500 Feet of Church

In the iconic 1984 film "Footloose," a small town's youths are at odds with lawmakers who uphold a local law barring dancing and rock music.

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

The city of approximately 6,000 people, 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 love-struck toe tappers, the dance would be illegal.

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

"It's never been enforced my entire life," she 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 are 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.

The city's police chief, Steve Norman, said he has never enforced the law and he is not 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.

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

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