Henryetta Dance Canceled Due To 38-Year-Old City Ordinance

Wednesday, February 8th 2017, 7:45 pm
By: News On 6

Plans for a sweetheart dance have turned sour in Henryetta, all because of a 1979 ordinance.

Now, community members have to put their dancing shoes on the shelf.

It might sound old school, but the ordinance actually makes dancing illegal in certain places of the city.

Now, community members are at odds over whether this law should even be on the books.

You wouldn't be able to tell now but less than a year ago Rosie Lavan's Marketplace was an abandoned building in downtown Henryetta

Owners Shelly Riveria and Joni Insabella brought the joint back to life and after a few very successful months of business, decided to give back to the community.

"There used to be a teen town, many, many years ago, for teenagers and so we thought maybe we should bring that back and create an adult teen town," said Joni Isabella.

The plan was to use the second story of the building and have a Valentine's Day Dance. 

"It would give the community a place to take their sweetheart or come to Rosie Lavon's and find a sweetheart," Insabella said. 

So, the owners made a flyer. 

"We thought it was a great idea, most of the people we talked to thought it was a great idea," Insabella said. 

And they posted it to Facebook. 

"They were kind enough to share our invitation on the Henryetta chamber of commerce page and that's when it kind of turned ugly for us," Insabella said. 

She's talking about an ordinance written in 1979 that says it is illegal to dance within 500 feet of a church or building. 

And right across the street from Rosie's is Henryetta's Church of Christ.

But Insabella said the ordinance wasn't even on her mind when she created the event.

"There are dances in town. They have the prom here, they have all kinds of dances here. They have weddings and people dance. No one had ever complained."

The event caused so much debate that Insabella said she decided it was better to cancel the dance but she wants the community to know

"We are law abiding we are not law breakers. We just wanna dance, that's it," Insabella said. 

Henryetta's mayor said city leaders will decide whether to keep or abolish the ordinance on February 21.