Dance Party at Jefferson Memorial? No, Thanks

Lindsay Mannering

jefferson memorialThis weekend, protesters took to the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C. to fight for their right to party. Er, fight for their right to have a dance party on government property, that is. About 200 people put on their dancing shoes (and some strange costumes) and busted a move in front of old Thomas Jefferson to demonstrate their disapproval of a recent court hearing that banned such conduct.

It all started back in 2008 when a flash mob of 18 people descended on the Jefferson Memorial to commemorate our third president's 265th birthday. The dancers, wearing headphones, were arrested after they refused to leave. They appealed the case, arguing that the right to dance falls under the first amendment. Last month though, the court ruled that it was, in fact, illegal to boogie down in an area the memorializes a revered American hero.

Is anyone else wondering where Kevin Bacon is when you need him?

I mean, the Footloose actor has some experience with this sort of town-bans-dance thing; seems only natural he could get involved and lend a celebrity name to the cause, right?

Anyway, after the verdict was handed down in May, five dance-loving souls protested the court ruling by ... you guessed it ... dancing on the T.J. Memorial and were ... you guessed it ... arrested.

Apparently the dance community is not one that's easily defeated or discouraged. A week after the five arrests, 200 people headed downtown to the Jefferson Memorial on June 4 to dance their butts off in the name of free speech. The Park Service didn't arrest anyone this time and simply corralled the crowd and moved demonstrators slowly but surely out of the Memorial and onto less sacred, public ground.

I never thought I'd say this, but I have to side with the government on this one. I get it -- banning dancing sounds just about as evil as it can get. What's next? A ban on ice cream socials and Labrador puppies? But I think the National Park Service has a point: There's a time and a place. In a statement released this week, they made a lot of sense:

... just as you may not appreciate someone using a cell phone in a movie theater or someone dancing in front of your view of a great work of art, we believe it is not appropriate to be dancing in an area that memorializes some of the most famous Americans.

Visitors come from all over the globe to pay respect to, and read the words of Thomas Jefferson. These words, placed on the inner walls of the Thomas Jefferson Memorial chamber, are a moving testament of the good in humankind. We believe our visitors should be able to enjoy this experience without distractions.

They go on to say that there are 2.4 acres of land around the Jefferson Memorial where people are more than welcome to dance and express themselves -- it's just that dancing inside the Memorial's chamber is forbidden. I dig it.

So far, no word from Mr. Bacon.

What do you think -- should dancing be allowed inside the T.J. Memorial?

Image via dbking/Flickr

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