Fighting for the Right to Dance


Wabash Valley residents are fighting for their right to dance. Locals are upset about a ordinance that requires people to have a dance permit for public parties and events.

It’s a law that’s so heavily enforced that some people have already been dragged into court, with over $19,000 dollars in citations collected in the past two years.

On Thursday night, during the the Terre Haute City Council meeting, it almost felt like a scene straight out of the 1980’s film ‘Footloose.’

Several people spoke out against the ordinance; while others told council members that they were just flat out confused about the ordinance.

The law was passed in 2016 as a way to decrease violent crimes related to dance parties.

Let’s break down on how this law works:

  • The ordinance applies to advertised public events including block parties and fundraisers.
  • Under the ordinance, the organizer(s) of such an event has to pay for the $50 dollar dance permit.
  • That permit also requires a detailed security plan in order to prevent violence from occurring.

Members of the city council say that even back in 2016 there was a great amount of confusion and backlash when this ordinance was first passed.

“At the time when we passed it, we realized we might have to revisit it in the future. After hearing what those who are most concerned about this have to say, uh, I think we as a council talk about this, see what we need to address specifically, aside from changing the name obviously and go from there,” said Curtis Debaun, President of the Terre Haute City Council.

City council officials do advise folks that there are a few exceptions to the ordinance.

Private functions such as birthday parties, wedding and religious events. Also events where the purpose is to teacher people to dance are exempt from the ordinance and do not require a permit.

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