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Inspiration for 'Footloose' Celebrates 30 Years After First Public Prom

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In 1980, public dancing was outlawed in Elmore City, but a group of students changed that by fighting the school board to let them have a prom. In 1980, public dancing was outlawed in Elmore City, but a group of students changed that by fighting the school board to let them have a prom.
Elmore City's story inspired the blockbuster hit "Footloose." Now 30 years later, the town celebrated with a dance open to the public. Elmore City's story inspired the blockbuster hit "Footloose." Now 30 years later, the town celebrated with a dance open to the public.

By Jon Jordan, NEWS 9

ELMORE CITY, Oklahoma -- Before 1980 public dancing in Elmore City public could have gotten you in trouble with the law. Now 30 years later, dancing isn't just encouraged, it's lead to an all out celebration.

"Most schools have class dances when they would raise money after football games where they have the dances. We couldn't do that. We couldn't have a prom," said Mary Ann Temple-Lee, who helped start Elmore City.

In 1980, Mary Ann Temple-Lee along with her then high school sweet heart, Leonard Coffee, and most of the high school student body fought to have the city's 80-year-old ban against dancing overturned by pushing for their first ever prom.

"I don't think many of us knew there was a law on the books against dancing in Elmore City. We just wanted to dance for the prom," Coffee said.

After a long fight, the school board finally gave the OK for the first school prom, an event that inspired the hit movie "Footloose." Coffee, who was played by Kevin Bacon in the movie, said the blockbuster hit wasn't entirely accurate.

"There were some accuracies, there was also a lot of poetic licenses. Of course they got to make a movie that sells. Fortunately that one sold big," Coffee said.

To mark the event 30 years ago, the city is holding its first ever street dance. Rain forced the event to be moved inside to the Elmore City community center, but that did not stop the town from celebrating.

However, Coffee said there are still people in Elmore City today who think dancing should be outlawed in the city.

"There are still members in the community. There are still faculty in school that are still dead set against it," Coffee said.

A belief both Temple-Lee and Coffee said they respect, but it doesn't have them regretting what they were able to accomplish.

"The thing I am most proud of is that today, 30 years later, they still have a prom," Coffee said.

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