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The Real Town and Story Behind 'Footloose'

1:29 PM, Apr 14, 2010   |    comments
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ELMORE CITY, Ok. -- No one ever thought it would get past city limits, or city hall.  In fact, City Clerk Lisa Rollings hardly ever gets questions about a high school class from thirty years ago when the government classes come over for a tour.

"And when you start thinking about it, sometimes it just feels like yesterday," she said.

But tucked in her office, Rollings has a whole folder filled with articles and old pictures from 1980, when she was a sophomore.

"It just started out by kids talking," remembers Lisa.

And a new kid from Heavener named Leonard Coffee.

"And I asked, 'Why can't we have a prom?'" Coffee recalled.

He convinced his girlfriend, Mary Ann Temple, and several others to fight an old ordinance that outlawed dancing within the city limits.

"I wanted to be able to dance, and I got my opportunity and fortunately we got to," said Coffee.

The story became national news.  The school board meeting brought out a huge crowd, and Mary Ann's father, the minister, ended up casting the deciding vote to allow Elmore City High's first ever prom.

Rev. Raymond Temple said, "We did it all for the children."

A screenwriter picked up the story and wrote "Footloose."  In truth, Reverend Temple never did take much convincing.  He always thought the dance was a good idea.  The movie took some creative license.

"And we wanted something that was well-supervised," remembers Raymond.

That first dance took place on April 19th.  More press came than dancers.  KTVY Channel 4 showed up to shoot Leonard and Mary Ann doing a victory dance.

"My dance moves are on the cutting edge of mediocre at best but it was a lot of fun," laughed Leonard.

Step inside the gym now, and here's this year's junior class getting ready for this year's prom, many unaware of the momentous shift that took place here 30 years ago.

But they're thankful anyway for a chance to dance.


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