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Footloose Kevin Bacon Lori Singer

Shut Up and Dance

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Footloose

Get on the dance floor with Footloose during IFC's '80s Weekend.

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Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures/Everett Collection

The 1984 classic Footloose gave us a tale of disgruntled teenagers, a Kenny Loggins powerhouse hit and kicked off the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon game. We all remember Bacon’s moves and the soundtrack, rife with karaoke power ballads, but as you tune in to Footloose during IFC’s ’80s Weekend, here’s a few fun things you might not have known.

1. It Was Based on a True Story.

Footloose cast
Paramount Pictures

Footloose‘s Bomont is loosely based on Elmore City, a town in Oklahoma known for the saying “If the South is the Bible belt, then we are the buckle.” Dancing really was outlawed, until the juniors at the local high school asked to allow dancing at their prom. Kevin Bacon’s character Ren McCormack was based on Leonard Coffee and Rex Kennedy, leaders in the pro-dance movement. Though they were probably less dreamy and “footloose.”

2. The Real Town Reverend Also Hated Dancing.

Footloose Dance Your Ass Off
Paramount Pictures

Though the high schoolers were very polite in their request, they were met with some stern disapproval. The town reverend F.R. Johnson said “No good has ever come from a dance,” and that it would cause a “surge in pregnancies at the school.” One citizen was fearful “because when boys and girls breathe in each other’s ears, that’s the next step.” Whatever dance that involves heavy breathing into your partner’s ears should stay outlawed.

3. Footloose and Fame have a connection.

Footloose Dance
Paramount Pictures

Dean Pitchford wrote the lyrics to Fame and won an Oscar for his efforts. When Pitchford heard the story of Elmore, he knew he had to do bring it to the big screen. The fact that he only wrote lyrics and had never written a screenplay was no impediment. He even traveled to Elmore to get the feel of the locals, which was easy once he found the town. It was so small, he actually drove through it without realizing he’d passed it until he got to a “You’re Now Leaving Elmore” sign.

4. The Tractor Chicken Scene Was Pure Fiction.

Footloose Tractor
Paramount Pictures

Generally, residents of Elmore found the movie to be fairly accurate, though with a little Hollywood exaggeration. When asked if they ever played chicken with tractors Mary Ann Temple-Lee, the inspiration for Ariel, said “You’ve got to be kidding. Our dads would’ve killed us. The tractors are like $100,000 and a major part of the family income!” The scene is less fun knowing that $200,000 of equipment and a poor farmers livelihood are being thrown away for an overblown penis measuring contest.

5. Tom Cruise Almost Played Ren.

Risky Business
Warner Bros.

Tom’s famouse underwear dance scene scored him consideration for the Footloose lead. But Kevin Bacon can thank All the Right Moves for helping him score the role of Ren, since Cruise had to pass on Footloose to film the football flick.

6. Kevin Bacon had four dance doubles.

Footloose Kevin Bacon
Paramount Pictures

Bacon told People that he was “furious” about having gymnastics and dance doubles perform the tricky flips and other moves during his famous dance sequence. While most of the moves are pure Bacon, the actor remembers, “I had a stunt double, a dance double and two gymnastics doubles. There were five of us in the f—ing outfit, and I felt horrible.”

7. It Spawned a Successful Broadway Musical.

Footloose Musical
Richard Rodgers Theater

Footloose opened on Broadway in 1998 and ran for two years, with many national tours and UK productions. Dean Pitchford wrote the book and lyrics of the show which featured all the pop hits of the soundtrack with a few originals. If you’re dying to see Footloose on stage, you don’t need to go to Broadway — it’s in the top 20 most produced high school musicals. So, run down to your local school to watch two teenagers awkwardly sing “Almost Paradise.”

8. Chris Penn Really Couldn’t Dance.

The montage where Ren teaches Willard Hewitt (Chris Penn) to dance was added because Chris Penn really, as the Genesis song goes, could not dance at all. Penn had such a hard time, the crew started to describe dance moves in wrestling terms. Being a former wrestler, he eventually caught on.

9. The Parents Were Barely Older than the Kids.

Footloose Dianne Wiest
Paramount Pictures

Dianne Wiest and John Lithgow play Ariel’s extremely strict, old-fashioned parents. In reality, Dianne Wiest was only nine years older than Ariel (Lori Singer) at the time and John Lithgow was 12 years older. Somehow it’s not hard to imagine a 12-year-old Lithgow as a pretty intimidating figure, so it all works out.

10. Daryl Hannah Almost Played Ariel.

Daryl Hannah Splash
Touchstone Pictures

Jennifer Jason Leigh, Melanie Griffith, Rosanna Arquette, Meg Ryan and pretty much every other actress in Hollywood during the ’80s were considered for the role of Ariel. Daryl Hannah was offered the part, but turned it down to star opposite Tom Hanks in Splash. In hindsight it’s pretty odd that she turned down the part that shares a name with a mermaid to play a mermaid.


Final Countdown

The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at


Rev Up

Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.


Give Back

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.

Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…