Unravelling The True Story Behind ‘Footloose’

Kevin Bacon’s rise to stardom was ignited by the 1984 hit film ‘Footloose,’ directed by the renowned Herbert Ross. In the movie, Bacon delivers iconic dance performances, portraying the character Ren McCormack, a teenager from Chicago who faces a cultural shock after relocating to the conservative town of Bomont with his mother. Ren soon discovers the town’s strict prohibition on dancing and rock music, enforced by Reverend Shaw Moore and his wife, Vi.

The inspiration behind ‘Footloose’ traces back to the true story of Elmore City, Oklahoma, where a dancing ban was enforced in 1898 to curb rowdy behaviour associated with alcohol consumption. 

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Footloose True Story
Image Courtesy: NPR

This ban persisted for decades, leading students at Elmore City High School to challenge it in the late 1970s. Despite facing opposition from religious leaders and a divided community, determined students and supportive figures like Principal Dean Worsham and school board president Raymond Temple successfully overturned the ban in 1980.

The remarkable events in Elmore City caught the attention of Dean Pitchford, a lyricist who crafted the screenplay for ‘Footloose’ based on his experiences in the town. Pitchford’s visit to Elmore City provided him with firsthand insights into the residents’ struggles and served as inspiration for the iconic film. 

Footloose True Story
Image Courtesy: The New York Times

While Elmore City’s victory for dancing didn’t yield the financial success seen in ‘Footloose,’ the town commemorates its triumph with annual events like the Footloose Festival, celebrating the spirit of freedom and community through dance.

– Farheen Ali