More Than a Small Town – The History of Footloose

It’s that time of year again; play season!! This fall the Drama Club will be shaking the past, making their breaks and taking control (if that’s what it takes) with a classic story… Footloose!

Released in 1984, the original movie stars a young Kevin Bacon as Ren McCormack as he fights for the right to dance in a conservative town that has outlawed the very thing. After Ren and his mother Ethel move in with his aunt and uncle in the small, conservative town of Bomont, Ren quickly becomes an outsider among the locals. Unable to accept the small-town ways of Bomont, he is labeled as the rebellious, good for nothing new kid.

A few years prior to Ren’s arrival in town, a group of kids were killed as they came home from a party. Shaw Moore, the reverend and leader of the town was crushed and began to blame the kids’ deaths on dancing, rock and roll music, and alcohol. The town council quickly followed the Reverend’s lead and outlawed the very things Shaw blamed for the kids’ deaths. Coming from Chicago, Ren wasn’t able to accept these laws and began to rebel against the Reverend. With encouragement from his new friends Willard, Ariel, and Rusty, Ren decides to challenge the law that outlaws dancing, falling in love with the Reverend’s daughter, Ariel in the process.

Footloose tells a tale of rebellion, love, and forgiveness. It teaches us to accept other people’s differences and to stand up for what is right. Footloose isn’t just a movie or a musical, it’s an anthem to teenagers everywhere. On top of all that, Footloose was based on a true story!

The true story begins in the late 1800s when a law was enacted in Elmore City, Oklahoma that prohibited dancing within the city limits. Years would pass and high schoolers would ask year after year to be able to throw a prom, rather than their annual dance-free banquet and year after year they would be turned down. In 1980, however, the school in Elmore was finally able to throw such a dance after 100 years. Students of Elmore High School created a presentation for the city council to repeal the law that prohibited dancing. The controversy divided the town and even got picked up by the mainstream media. The prom, finally granted by the city council was even covered by People Magazine. A famous song/screenwriter, Dean Pitchford, heard of the story and was inspired to write about it. Footloose, the movie, was born. In 1998, Pitchford was even on hand to write the movie into the full-blown broadway musical, which is what GV will be performing this November!

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