Saturday, November 19, 2011

Footloose; the TRUE Oklahoma Inspiration.

I don't remember when I first saw the movie Footloose but I've always liked watching it. I'm not planning on seeing the remake though. Guess I'm a snob. I always wanted a pair of red cowboy boots like Ariel. I didn't realize till later that she probably wasn't the best character to dress like. 

Growing up I always heard from my dad that the movie Footloose was about my cousin Kim's high school in Oklahoma. Nah, I always thought, it must be somewhere similar. 

But last weekend we were in Oklahoma visiting Kim for an early Thanksgiving dinner (She's so organized with her Thanksgiving dinner notebook!) and after we were all stuffed with turkey and pie we couldn't do much else but sit and talk and we got Kim talking about her prom. 

In 1980 she was a sophomore in high school and the students wanted a dance but the law forbid public dancing. The laws were written back in a time to prevent dance halls, a 100 years before. So the principal and the students went before the town council to get the law changed. Kim remembers going and thinking somebody was going to get into a fistfight over it. The most opposition against dancing was the local ministers. 

The law ended up getting changed and the students were able to have their first dance and my cousin Kim got to go. They had a banquet dinner before the dance at their school. The problem was that this little Oklahoma town not being allowed to dance had made national news and the night of the prom there were all kinds of reporters outside the school. The cafeteria area where they were going to have their dinner had a wall of windows at one end that had to be blacked out with dark paper so the students could have some privacy. After their dinner the students went and changed, the dark paper was taken down and the reporters were allowed in but were kept back from the students at a respectable distance. 

Kim went on to tell us how all the students were just standing up against the walls because, "Well, we'd never had a dance and who wanted to dance in front of a bunch of reporters?" Then the junior class president and a junior girl started dancing which broke the ice and everyone else joined in. One reporter climbed halfway up a set of stairs and filmed the whole time. Another found the janitor's 8 foot ladder and set it up in the middle of the gym and shot footage down from above. Kim remembers thinking, "What's the big deal? We're just dancing."

Kim's little sister was watching tv that night when a picture of Kim came on the national nightly news. Her sister thought for sure Kim was going to hell because there she was dancing....without any shoes on!! Kim even made the front page of the Chicago Tribune without shoes on...heaven forbid! (I'd sure love to see that photo.)

Now even I wasn't sure just how much of Footloose was inspired by my cousin's school until Mountain Man showed me one of the special features on the Footloose Collector's Edition. And there is footage of the little town we were just a stone's throw from and my cousin Kim getting interviewed all about her prom in 1980. 

The inspiration for Footloose. What an interesting high school memory that must be? 

Thanks for sharing your story Kim! 


  1. There used to be a copy of that newspaper down at Grandma's. If I find it, I will make copies for everyone. Love Ya! MOM

  2. That's really cool! It's funny you blogged about that today because last night I had a dream that the local high school was putting on the play Footloose. They were basing it mostly on the new one (haven't seen) but using the song style from the original (which I don't remember).

    Thanks for sharing!


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