Somebody Call Kevin Bacon! Utah Town Shuts Down Party For Dancing (VIDEO)

Seriously. Organizers Heart of Dixie held a Halloween Party they call the “Monster Mash” last week in St. George, Utah. The party was held at the Fiesta Fun Center — a local outdoor venue — and promised access to the venue’s go-karts, bumper boats, mini golf… and a dance party.

Everything was going great until around 9:30 pm when the police showed up to shut the party down. They threatened the organizers with arrest for “inciting a riot,” a felony in St. George. Why the issue? It all boils down to permits. A St. George city ordinance says that public dances must have the permission of the city council. Yes, that’s right, St. George is the real-life equivalent of Bomont.

Since the organizer, Jared Keddington, found out about this caveat three days before the event, he asked the city fathers what could be done. The city issued him a permit, approving the entire event. But when Keddington produced the permit for police, he was advised that there were additional pages to the permit that he had not been given. In fact, Keddington thinks that these new additions were an attempt to do a “CYA” on the city’s part, so they could point to them for their side of the argument. That is exactly what happened. But, Keddington said, those pages had handwritten notes denying the dancing portion of the event. He had received neither the extra pages nor any notes prohibiting dancing at the event beforehand:

“Things had been crossed out, and in hand was written, no dance activity permitted. On another page it was typed that the event must not be allowed to become a dance party due to random acts of dancing by patrons.” (source)

The St. George town authorities have a different story, of course. They say that, since the city council never gave their permission, the dance was illegal. They insist that this is not about dancing; it is about the permit process, City spokesman Marc Mortensen said:

“Via the power of social media, who knows how many could have showed up and would that have overburdened that particular neighborhood and could it have potentially created problems. That’s what we try and avoid.”

Mortenson insists that these rules apply to everyone, while Keddington claims that the process is arbitrary and discriminates. The city council has said that they will review the ordinance.

St. George is near to where I grew up and I’ve been there several times. There are some pretty weird laws and rules there. Everything from how you’re allowed to dress (modestly) to what you can drink (milk, unless you ask for the wine list, which is produced grudgingly). It doesn’t surprise me at all that St. George would be the place that brought Footloose to life.

Dancing is not a crime and it’s probably unconstitutional to have laws to prohibit it. It is a method of expression, covered by the First Amendment. I guess St. George didn’t get the memo. This was Keddington’s first year hosting the “Monster Mash” in St. George. I’m pretty sure he won’t be coming back.

Here’s the report from Fox13 in Salt Lake City: