Town’s 40-year dancing ban overturned

HENRYETTA, OK (KJRH) A 40-year-old ordinance banning Henryetta, Oklahoma residents from dancing within 500 feet of a church has been abolished.

Henryetta’s city council heard an appeal Tuesday and residents crammed inside city hall, hoping the council would abolish the ordinance.

“We can’t dance down here, we’re too close to the church,” said Joni Insabella, who co-owns Rosie Lavon’s Marketplace, which is 250 feet from Henryetta United Church of Christ.

She said the ordinance had not been enforced, but when she planned to host a dance for Valentine’s Day, someone on social media quickly reminded her it was illegal to host a dance right across the street from a church.

“A lot of the elders here in town are afraid,” Insabella said. “They’re concerned for change. They’re concerned to allow dancing. They’re afraid that then bars will go in on Main Street and dancing causes a lot of undesirable things that they don’t want in the town.”

The community was vocal about abolishing the decades-long law.

“We’ve all heard about it since we were kids, you know,” said Vernon Britt, a Henryetta resident. “I’m in my 40s now, so even as kids we all thought it was silly.”

An Elvis impersonator will take the stage Saturday at Rosie Lavon’s Marketplace. Tickets for the event are sold out. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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