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The Duluth City Council has unanimously approved the repeal of a city rule that prohibited dancing. 

Yes, technically it was illegal for establishments in Duluth that serve alcohol to allow the public to dance unless they obtained a special permit. 

The law has been on the books for nearly 100 years. Ordinances regulating dancing and dance halls were introduced in 1925, stemming from Prohibition-era concerns about the regulation of alcohol and immorality, city documents state

The state had a similar law that regulated dancing, but it was repealed at the state level in 1989.

"We're a little behind schedule in keeping up with the state," city clerk Chelsea Helmer said during a Nov. 18 council meeting. 

Council member Roz Randorf brought forward the motion to remove "the Footloose ordinance" after city staff during the first COVID-19 shutdown in 2020 combed through city code to look at regulations and how they were impacting establishments. 

City documents say the no dancing rule has been difficult to enforce and has created inequity in the licensing system, with some obtaining licenses to allow public dancing while others don't. 

There is no record of a dancing violation in recent history, Helmer told the Star Tribune.

During a Nov. 18 meeting, city council member Arik Forsman said he's glad this rule wasn't enforced in his "younger days going to Grandma's Sports Garden."

City staff consulted with the Duluth Police Department before the ordinance was brought to the city council. Removing this ordinance won't impact public safety as the city continues to regulate late-hours operation and late-hours entertainment through other code provisions, documents state.

Helmer said there are several other ordinances that are outdated and could be revisited, with such ordinances expected to come before the city council in 2022. 

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