Already have an account?
Get back to the

‘Footloose’ Just Turned 40! Here, 10 Behind-The-Scenes Secrets About the Movie

"Let's Dance!" and find out who almost played Kevin Bacon's iconic role!


For the 40th anniversary of Footloose, a youth blockbuster released in 1984, actress Lori Singer shared with PEOPLE her fantasy for a sequel to the beloved film that got Generation Xers cutting loose, kicking off our Sunday shoes and dancing.

For years, Singer’s been kicking around this idea of a sequel in which her character, the rebellious Ariel, moves to New York, while Ren McCormack (Kevin Bacon ) stays behind in Bomont. But when Ariel returns to tend to her ailing father, the couple is reunited.

Unfortunately, Singer may have to put the brakes on that idea as Bacon — whose Ren had moved to Bomont from Chicago and shook up the town’s conservative, no-dancing rules — isn’t crazy about the idea.

“Never say never, (but) I think it would be a disaster,” he told a fan who asked him about a sequel on his podcast, Six Degrees with Kevin Bacon.

footloose cast dancing
Cast of “Footloose” remake (2011) Pictures

We largely agree with the hesitation, finding it hard to imagine exactly where this plot could go 40 years later while still managing to retain the central theme of dance and rebellion.

And, it should be noted, Footloose was already remade in 2011 and there’s no determining how yet another version would fare in the 2020s.

Nonetheless, Footloose is a treasure chest of ‘80s gold. Directed by Herbert Ross, the film produced one of the best movie soundtracks in history, tapped into our freedom-loving adolescence, fired us up to fight for what we believe in and touched our hearts with the romance of Ren and Ariel.

MUST-READ: 20 of the Best Movies from 1984 — Celebrating Their 40th Anniversary This Year

10 fun facts about the original Footloose.

1. Footloose (1984) was inspired by a real-life dance ban

The Footloose story was inspired by a real-life case from Oklahoma, where, in 1978, a group of teens challenged an 82-year-old ban on dancing in the town of Elmore City.

The junior class at the high school won their challenge and got permission to hold a prom, making national news while the town itself was given its claim to fame. In fact, Elmore City hosts an annual Footloose Festival (this year’s to be held on April 20).

MUST READ: Real Life Movies on Netflix, Ranked: 10 Stories That Are Sure to Inspire

2. The theme song’s singer was in the movie

In the unforgettable scene with more than 150 pairs of feet shown dancing close-up, those wearing wearing the golden shoes belong to Kenny Loggins, who sang the theme song “Footloose.”

3. Footloose (1984) was shot in Utah

Footloose (1984) was mostly shot in and around the town of Payson, Utah. The high school is Payson High School, and the famous scene where Ren plays chicken with jerk Chuck Cranston with tractors takes place along the canal road there.

The church scenes were filmed at American Fork Presbyterian Church in the town of American Fork — just about a half-hour drive from the state capital of Salt Lake City — and the steel mill where Bacon dances to soundtrack song “Never” was the former Geneva Steel in Vineyard.

4. The school where they filmed looks the same today!

According to recent interviews Payson High School officials did with FOX 13, the school — where filming began in May 1983 — looks the same as it did in the ‘80s. And Ren’s locker, which appears several times in the movie, is still there and marked on the inside with a plaque that begins, “Congrats! You’ve got Kevin Bacon’s locker!”

But here’s the sad news: Payson High School is slated to be torn down and rebuilt in spring 2025. The students who are planning their final prom where the one in Footloose was filmed, have started a “BacontoPayson” campaign to get the actor to attend this April.

MUST-READ: 16 Fascinating Facts About the ‘Sixteen Candles’ Cast

We sure hope Bacon takes them up on this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for students, faculty and alumni! (In an interesting parallel, Bacon actually did attend classes at Payson briefly in the ‘80s, posing as a student named Ren McCormack from Philadelphia. He was treated pretty badly, like in the movie, and left after a few hours).

5. Kevin Bacon did most of his own dancing


While the talented Bacon did much of his own dancing in the movie, he did have a stunt double, a dance double, and two gymnastics doubles. In an interview with CNN, he expressed disappointment that he couldn’t have performed some of the more sophisticated dance moves and flips in the iconic warehouse scene.

Are you kidding? I was furious,” Bacon said in the 2011 interview. “It’s like a starting pitcher getting taken out of the game — no one wants to be told they can’t get the guy out.”

MUST READ: ‘Dirty Dancing’ Cast Then and Now — And The Latest Scoop On A Long-Awaited Sequel

6. A fan-favorite scene was added due to a real problem

two boys dancing; footloose 1984
Chris Penn and Kevin Bacon in “Footloose” (1984) Pictures

The adorable scene where Ren teaches Willard, played by Chris Penn, to dance — one of our favorites — was added to the Footloose script for real-life reasons: Penn didn’t know how to dance. The song “Let’s Hear it for the Boy” is just such a cute soundtrack tune for the dancing scene between the two of them.

7. The ending of Footloose (1984) was almost completely different

Footloose’s original ending, based on early audience feedback, was nixed and replaced by the energetic dancing scene we know, which was shot nearly a year later. In an Entertainment Weekly interview in 2022, Bacon talked about the original conclusion, in which he runs into the room to say “Let’s Dance!” Then, after a moment of dancing, the camera goes into slow motion while glitter falls from above.

MUST-READ: Cast of ‘Gremlins’: See the Stars of the Madcap ’80s Horror-Comedy Then and Now

During test screenings, producers realized that the audience wanted to get up and dance, so they shot a new, choreographed scene with hired dancers from Los Angeles. This long gap between the conclusion of filming and the start of reshoots could explain the conspicuous absence of the young Sarah Jessica Parker, who plays Rusty in one of her earliest movie roles.

8. We almost didn’t get Kevin Bacon

Actor Kevin Bacon, 1987Bonnie Schiffman Photography/Getty

We can’t imagine anyone but Bacon in the role of Ren in Footloose (1984). Nonetheless, he wasn’t the casting director’s first choice — instead, it was Tom Cruise, but the actor was busy filming All the Right Moves. Rob Lowe also auditioned, but he couldn’t take the role due to an injury.

Likewise, the female lead, rebellious preacher’s kid Ariel Moore, attracted many famous auditioners, including Madonna, Meg Ryan, Heather Locklear, Brooke Shields, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Phoebe Cates. Daryl Hannah was offered the role, but she turned it down to co-star in Splash with Tom Hanks. We like the way it turned out with Singer in the role.

RELATED: Actor Kevin Bacon Helps Family Find Their Lost Pig…Also Named Kevin Bacon

9. Bacon was nervous for his iconic scene before the council

Ren is electrifying in the scene where he argues before the town council to lift the ban on dancing. Would you believe the real-life Bacon was terribly nervous during that part of filming and had to take an anti-anxiety pill to calm himself down? Bacon broke out in hives on his chest and took half a Valium to combat the nerves.

We get goosebumps when Ren addresses the council and cites King David in the Bible’s Book of Samuel. “What did David do?” Ren said. “David danced before the Lord with all his might, leaping and dancing before the Lord.”

10. Footloose (1984) didn’t get great reviews originally

As beloved as this classic is 40 years later, Footloose didn’t get the best reviews back in 1984. Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times called Footloosea seriously confused movie that tries to do three things, and does all of them badly. It wants to tell the story of a conflict in a town, it wants to introduce some flashy teenage characters, and part of the time it wants to be a music video.”

We respectfully disagree, Mr. Ebert. We love Footloose!

For more movie 80s nostalgia, click here!

Use left and right arrow keys to navigate between menu items. Use right arrow key to move into submenus. Use escape to exit the menu. Use up and down arrow keys to explore. Use left arrow key to move back to the parent list.