Public dancing finally legalized in Fort Smith, Arkansas
FORT SMITH, Ark. (AP) — Officials in a western Arkansas city say residents can finally kick off their Sunday shoes.
Fort Smith city directors recently repealed a 1953 ordinance that essentially outlawed public dancing on Sundays. Locals who knew about the law called it the "Footloose" ordinance, nicknamed for the 1984 movie starring Kevin Bacon about a town that banned dancing and rock music.
City Director Andre Good introduced the repeal after a resident told him about the antiquated law, which barred the operation of public dance halls or any place with dancing on Sundays. The ordinance came amid a series of blue laws established in Arkansas that banned all sales and most labor on Sundays, according to the Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture. Later laws also banned Sunday activities that included hunting and baseball.
"It is ascertained and declared that present laws are inadequate to restrain public dances upon Sundays and that such dancing greatly endangers the public health, safety and welfare," said the dancing ban's emergency clause signed by former Mayor H.R. Hestand.
No one in Fort Smith has been arrested or ticketed in two decades for cutting loose on Sundays, according to city spokeswoman Karen Santos.
"If you don't care to dance on Sunday, that's fine," Good said. "We should all respect that. But let's not impose some outdated, outmoded morality code on all our fine fellow citizens."
Good said the decision could lead to repealing other unenforced rules that he said "impede progress" and "conflict with our focus on moving Fort Smith forward."