Knoxville was once the real-life version of the town from Footloose.

Elisabeth Sherman
March 29, 2018

What brings people the most joy in life? Ask your family, friends, or even a stranger on the street, and at least one person is likely to say either drinking or dancing—and if you surround yourself with especially carefree people, you might hear both. Drinking and dancing do, of course, have their pitfalls—both can lead to indelicate behavior. Perhaps that was the thinking that lawmakers in Knoxville (who are long since retired from government work) used when they banned drinking and dancing in their town, a law that went so long overlooked it was only recently overturned.

The ordinance came to the public’s attention when major Madeline Rogero began inquiring about laws regarding rooftop bars in the area. She discovered that there was still a law on the books banning drinking and dancing, according to local news station Knox News. She was so surprised the ordinance she apparently responded, “Wait, we have what?”

The full ordinance read, “No beer shall be sold on premises upon any part of which dancing is allowed unless the cleared area provided for dancing shall contain at least one hundred forty-four (144) square feet of floor space."

All that really means is that people who are drinking beer can’t be in the same space as people who are dancing. It doesn’t say anything about cocktails.

Once the city council got wind of the ordinance, they thankfully did not stop to consider the merits of such a law. They took swift action and repealed the antiquated law.

Rogero admits that she, and plenty of other residents of the town, have violated the city’s laws over and over, more than once. But like in almost all drinking and dancing, the violations were in the good fun.

“As someone who likes to dance and have an occasional drink it seemed appropriate that we face the century we’re living in,” she said.

Sounds like Knoxville has a fun-loving mayor with a solid sense of humor. Hopefully, all the residents of Knoxville are celebrating with beers and a dance party tonight.