Protesters fight for their right to dance; STGnews Videocast

Protesters dance in front of St. George City Hall, St. George, Utah, Nov. 6, 2014 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

ST. GEORGE – People were dancing on the steps of St. George City Hall Thursday while a disc jockey played tunes like the Beastie Boys’ “(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party)” and “The Safety Dance” by Men Without Hats on the sidewalk nearby. While most danced, some carried signs and banners protesting what they believe to be a city permitting process that is hostile toward dancing.

A veteran among the protesters carries a sign saying he fought for freedom, including the freedom to dance, St. George, Utah, Nov. 6, 2014 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News
A veteran among the protesters carries a sign saying he fought for freedom, including the freedom to dance, St. George, Utah, Nov. 6, 2014 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

One man wearing a cap that identified him as a war veteran carried a sign that read, “I fought for freedom including the right to dance.”

The “dance protest,” as it was called by participants, was a response to the Monster Mash incident that played out between St. George Police officers and members of the Heart of Dixie Events LLC at Fiesta Fun Family Fun Center in St. George last month. A dance party at Fiesta Fun was abruptly shut down after about six police officers arrived to enforce aspects of the city’s permitting process.


Read more about the Monster Mash dance party shut down here.


Before going out to dance in protest Thursday night, a large group gathered inside the St. George City Council chambers to lend their support to others who planned to address the City Council about its permitting process. The process is perceived as being hostile toward dances. Some have thought the city has an ordinance governing dancing specifically, which it does not.

Right or wrong, the city has gained the reputation of being anti-dance.

“It’s not right,” Tiffany Barnes, of St. George, told the City Council. “We have a right to dance.”

Barnes is a part of the Red Rock Swing Dance group. She said the city, through its ordinance governing the permit process, infringes on constitutional rights of assembly and expression.

“Anyone with common sense can recognize this is a frivolous ordinance,” Barnes said.

(report continues below)

Videocast by Samantha Tommer, St. George News

Ed. note on the videocast: K.C. Zeeman identified himself as Volunteer City Council Member to the videographer; he is not a member of the City Council and there are no “volunteer” positions on the City Council. Zeeman said he was asked to be the spokesman for the media at the event.

Jared Keddington, representing the promoter, Heart of Dixie, whose event was shut down, attempted to address the City Council but was denied due to being a Washington City resident. Councilman Gil Almquist, acting as mayor pro tem, said only city residents could address the council during the monthly public comment period.

A DJ plays tunes for the protesters nearby. Among the songs played were the Beastie Boys' “Fight for your right to party” and Kenny Loggins' “Footloose,”
A DJ plays tunes for the dance protesters, St. George, Utah, Nov. 6, 2014 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

“Being the guy who started the fire, I’d like to help put it out,” Keddington said.

Almquist said the city will likely be examining its permitting process in the near future. Keddington and others were invited to return and give their insights and suggestions at that time.

As the public comment period concluded, those protesting the city’s permitting ordinance went outside, where music was playing and people were dancing. The dance protest was peaceful, and motorists driving by shouted their support and honked their horns.

Some city officials looked on as the dancing commenced but didn’t interfere, nor was there a uniformed police officer in sight.

Following the meeting, Keddington said he’d like to see event promoters and city staff work together to craft a permitting process that is agreeable to all sides.

He said he plans to keep the momentum going in his fight for change to a more dance-friendly environment.

“We don’t want to back off now,” Keddington said.

As for people dancing on the steps of City Hall, he said the whole thing was surreal to see.

Taylor Gilbert, 16, of St. George, was among the protesters.

“I expect the city to open its eyes and see how passionate people are about this,” Gilbert said.

Jared Keddington, Heart of Dixie promoter, carrying his daughter while protesters dance behind him, St. George, Utah, Nov. 6, 2014 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News
Jared Keddington, Heart of Dixie promoter, carries his daughter while protesters dance behind him, St. George, Utah, Nov. 6, 2014 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

Currently, groups planning to hold special events in St. George must submit an application to the city 30 days before the scheduled event. This is to allow time for city staff, police and any related third parties to examine the application and make sure applicants have everything in order. Items that are reviewed by the city and others include plans for sanitation, parking, potential traffic impacts, security and so forth. It is then left to the City Council to approve the application and grant the applicant the desired permit.

Keddington said he originally did not know about the permitting requirements until city officials contacted him four days before his event. The city claims Keddington was able to get a permit but not for the dance party. The subsequent misunderstanding made headlines.

“If anyone thinks we are anti-dance on the City Council, we need to correct that immediately because there is not a drop of truth to that,” Councilwoman Bette Ariel said.

And yes, the DJ also played Kenny Loggins’ “Footloose” for the protesting dancers.

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Email: mkessler@stgnews.com

Twitter: @MoriKessler

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56 Comments

  • Sarcasm November 7, 2014 at 12:18 am

    Shame on the St. George police department for not arresting each and every one of these dancing criminals! If the police cannot manage to disperse this flagrant display of law-breaking , then maybe they should divert more manpower away from stopping lesser crimes such as those dealing with meth and heroin.
    This appalling case of lawlessness-on the steps of city hall, no less!- should have been properly staked out, and a large and intimidating police presence enacted to show the peasants of St. George that they MUST submit to the whims of the Almighty city council.
    I recommend that each and every officer on duty today be charged with dereliction of duty, and fired.
    Thank God councilman/mayor Gil Almquist confronted that troublemaker Keddington and called him out on the technicality that he was indeed NOT a St George resident. Outsiders from the distant city of Washington that were also not directly affected by the St George laws and processes should not even be allowed to voice their concerns on this matter.

    • sleepy hallow November 7, 2014 at 8:58 am

      And temp. Mayor Gil Almquist….the epitomy of city code violator. Runs a landscaping/material yard in a residential zone WITHOUT a permit and nothing happens to him. It’s the usual “do as I say, not as I do” mentality of the council. Shame on all of you council members. So, did the female council member with the “dance degree” join in on the dancing?

      • Dana November 7, 2014 at 12:20 pm

        Almquist, Code Violator Poster Child.

      • Herd November 7, 2014 at 12:47 pm

        Isn’t he bishop or something who goes under the bishop clause of “do what i tell you, not as i do”? Anyone notice how Randall has an Elvira look about her, not in the famous way, more like the witch way.

    • sagemoon November 7, 2014 at 9:40 am

      lol

    • Koolaid November 7, 2014 at 10:06 am

      Actually, he has business interests in St George. So technically, he does have the right to speak up on behalf of his business interests whether they be music, apartments or landscaping business (even ones that violate residential zones). Anyone who lives in this county can attend a city meeting in support of others who live or conduct business in this town. There is not a sign on the door that says “Outsiders not peritted to this meeting. We will have you arrested if you come in.”

    • Voter November 7, 2014 at 1:42 pm

      The person who never should be allowed to speak or voice an opinion is Bette Arial. Nobody elected her. She is nothing but a stooge appointed by the other council members. She takes her marching orders from them, not the citizens of this community and definitely not the youth.

    • Judy November 7, 2014 at 5:03 pm

      I am sure glad that I am a Nevadan. Its 2014, not the Dark Ages.

  • My Evil Twin November 7, 2014 at 12:32 am

    Is there even a remote possibility, that the city council will actually listen to the people they are elected to SERVE in this matter? This is why this needs to stay in the forefront of the news, until it is resolved. As to all the whiny folks who want to see it “just go away,” I would say NO WAY!
    I strongly applaud St. George News for their coverage of this. I am sure that MANY city officials are not happy with you over it! You CAN fight city hall, but it takes guts and stamina to do so!

    • Koolaid November 7, 2014 at 10:07 am

      Most likely they will listen to the minority … church people.
      Ed. ellipsis.

  • Sam Cooke November 7, 2014 at 12:59 am

    An alien concept when looked at with common sense. The fact that there was an assembly to protest such a trivial matter is ridiculous. What is this city trying to maintain with its ordinances?

  • getting flooded November 7, 2014 at 5:17 am

    That is the stupidest ordince I’ve ever heard of. Is this what we waste our tax dollars on for you officials to sit on your duffs and make these laws up?

  • Dana November 7, 2014 at 5:21 am

    Dance Elevated.

  • Billy Madison November 7, 2014 at 7:14 am

    What happened at Fiesta Fun was wrong, just plain wrong. Whoever sic’d the cop dogs on this event must suffer from little/big-man syndrome and hid behind the one’s who carry guns to feed their ego. Whatever happened to common sense? The will of the people was trampled under a heavy foot. To issue a permit and then change it, that’s just wrong. No wonder people get upset with authority.

  • Notagain November 7, 2014 at 8:25 am

    It’s embarrassing, plain and simple. I’m willing to bet the current city counsel members have no clue what’s in the city code book. After the dust settles on this red face issue, (What city code enforcer started all this?) the city manager and department heads will have several finger pointing excuses.
    ‘the police department started it’, NO I didn’t- you did! How can we blame this on the promoter or Fiesta Fun? Are you kidding me? We tried. The folks aren’t buying it.

  • Visiting Anthropologist November 7, 2014 at 8:28 am

    Finally – something that brought a smile and a laugh this morning! Dancing in the Streets! And I’m happy to know they danced to “Footloose…,” the anthem not only dancing, but for pure joy! The St. George City Fathers and Mothers (hello all you mothers) may think Stodgy is the best color for all that happens here, but these young people and their supporters know better. Thank God there are signs of life in this bland, lime-jello place and that there are plenty of people who prefer boogie boots to high-button shoes (and morals). As Fred Astaire once sang, “Let’s Face the Music and Dance!”

    • Notagain November 7, 2014 at 9:01 am

      VISITING ANTHROPOLOGIST, Your undies are showing girl. Cover up!

      • Visiting Anthropologist November 7, 2014 at 12:36 pm

        Undies? You mean the lacy red ones?

        • Koolaid November 9, 2014 at 8:42 am

          The only undies allowed here are the secret magic undies.

    • My Evil Twin November 7, 2014 at 11:27 am

      There is absolutely nothing wrong with having “morals.” Thank GOD that most of us have at least some! Just don’t try to force feed me your morals, if they are not my morals.
      And just what do people think is “immoral” about dancing? I thought that was reserved for the Southern Baptists!

      • Visiting Anthropologist November 7, 2014 at 1:47 pm

        It’s the force-feeding thing that gets to be a problem. Fascinating to watch this whole thing unfold. Personally, I love dancing, preferably in my slingback high-heeled pumps!

  • sleepy hallow November 7, 2014 at 9:06 am

    To the promoter of Heart of Dixie who was not allowed to address the council…..I’ll bet you have many friends or family who would consent to let you use their address in St. George so you could be able to address them. And by the way, why is it that non-St. George city members of the public are not allowed to address the council??? How many residents of other nearby cities work, shop, pay taxes, recreate, etc. in the city of St. George? Almquist should know better than that. St. George residents should remember him when next municipal elections come around. Shame, shame, shame on the city of St. George and the city council. Time for a St. George City Youth Council, sorely needed now.

  • koolAid November 7, 2014 at 9:20 am

    Let any and every one dance and party, eat drink and be marry for tomorrow we may parish. That’s how I was raised no rules no regret. Except for they way our family turned out. But if we break a law, then arrest us. Or maybe you want us to get ready for a world ran by ISIS. Government conspiracy ?

    • My Evil Twin November 7, 2014 at 11:28 am

      Yeah, that really is too bad about how your family turned out! 🙂

  • Delong November 7, 2014 at 9:34 am

    Some of these cities and states don’t have anything over on the Feds. What a waste!

  • For Peace and Order November 7, 2014 at 9:42 am

    This ordinance is in place so that Large Outdoor events have proper zoning, security, sanitation and so forth. To ask for the Event Permit be submitted 30 days prior to event is not out of line , but makes perfect sense when you think about it.
    For Mr. Keddington to say that he did not know about the permitting process until 4 days prior to the Event shows his INCOMPETENCE as a promoter, not the City’s dislike of dance.
    This is typical seize on the small grain and make it a huge problem.
    Let’s worry about something that actually matters,

    • Dancin Momma November 7, 2014 at 11:56 am

      The point here is you should not NEED a permit to dance in the first place. like really now come on. they try sayin its about parking n trafic but really that what the event permit is for. we should not NEED to ask permission for people to dance. If music is ok, which it was on the permit, then its obvious that people will want to dance. Plus not every party is planned over 30 days in advance so its still just plain stupid to have such strict laws on it. they mentioned school dances which are a regular thing so of course they have the time in advance to sort through stupid paperwork and i would imagine it is faculty filing for the permits and not “teenagers” as they claim. either way I will dance if i want too and obviously so will hundreds of others. the council needs to quit wasting time with petty defenses and just admit that the laws are outdated and overly controlling.

    • tight magic undies November 7, 2014 at 12:15 pm

      There is uptight, and then there is you.

  • Bev November 7, 2014 at 10:03 am

    It was sad the Fiesta Fun party had to be shut down, but they didn’t go through the proper permit process. The best thing to come out of this whole thing is the City of St George is listening to the people and hopefully, will change the ordinance that prohibits ‘Dancing without a Permit’.

  • Koolaid November 7, 2014 at 10:11 am

    Where was Dixie Arthur (Dan) McDaniel, the clown who implemented this ridiculous ordinance?

  • Koolaid. November 7, 2014 at 10:51 am

    Glad to see the young folks finally get out side and do something. Most of the time they just sit around and texting about it. They’ll certainly be able to continue this as they get old sitting around collecting the welfare like my family does.if they stop paying SS for each child had, these new generations will be to lazy for reproducing. I meet a few women up by dixie downs asked them what they did for a living their answer have children we get $ 400.00 a head from SS. I’m sure they’re like my family also they hate their jobs not the kids just the hard work to make um.WHATZ UP

  • Koolaid. November 7, 2014 at 11:02 am

    One more thing when I was pro test tooting in the street I would dance also. I always street danced I am best at twerking, jamacian jamming, homeless stumble, cracker can’t dance, , heroine hop, syringe stagger. Wanna see me dance just google any othe the above. Ya wanna be Kool get some aid put it together you got me koolAid. WHATZ UP

  • Dancin Momma November 7, 2014 at 11:16 am

    It was sooooo much fun! people had some awesome dance outfits. It looks like people got confused though and for some reason went to the courthouse? follow directions! lol. It was still fun thogh. Hopefully when we try again on the 20th people will get the address right. A special super thanx to DJ Vexify for coming out and blasting the beats! Hope you will come on the 20th (: <3 (:

  • Koolaid. November 7, 2014 at 11:20 am

    I danced in the street to the song footloose with my sister Lucy Foot. She got her name cuz when she danced she couldn’t keep her feet together. Our favorite song to dance to though is I’m the real koolaids, please stand up please stand up. But like always it didn’t take long, being so tired, we’d both lie down. What’s 8times $400.00? , WHATZ UP.

  • Notagain November 7, 2014 at 12:14 pm

    KOOLAID bro, I think you should maybe, take a nap? Your losing it.
    And Mayor Pike is no dummy. Prior engagement(or) stay out of site until the music stops? You be the judge.
    Stay on top of things– St. George News. Your keeping our attention.
    Good reporting Mori Kessler.

  • MomsForDancing November 7, 2014 at 12:38 pm

    K. C. Zeeman has my vote for city council!!

  • Koolaid November 7, 2014 at 12:41 pm

    Several others posting as me. Cool! Or, maybe I should say “Kool!”

    • sagemoon November 7, 2014 at 1:13 pm

      Yep, those posts don’t sound like the Koolaid I know.

      • Koolaid November 7, 2014 at 1:52 pm

        The real KOOLAID can spell. BTW, I’m in one of the pictures.

        • Joyce Kuzmanic Joyce Kuzmanic November 7, 2014 at 9:29 pm

          Really, Kool? Do tell?
          ST. GEORGE NEWS | STGnews.com
          Joyce Kuzmanic
          Editor in Chief

      • Mike November 7, 2014 at 4:28 pm

        Indeed. More syllables than we are used to.

    • Notagain November 7, 2014 at 1:38 pm

      I see you awoke from your needed nap KOOLAID. You feel better? Then get out there and do the mash potato or calypso. (after you get a valid permit to do so)
      Oh, you want music to dance to? Well, There another permit for the music. Pay another $100 buck at the window. Have a nice day——-

    • My Evil Twin November 7, 2014 at 3:27 pm

      The thing is that we don’t really believe that you are posting as you! YOU WHO? 🙂

  • dancing infidel November 7, 2014 at 1:38 pm

    Hey KOOLAID, you need to drop the KOO part and replace it with NOT.
    It would explain a lot. 😉

  • ScanMeister November 7, 2014 at 2:48 pm

    “8 Bravo Apparently has a vested interest in this, he is on the way” Quoted Part of the (Law Communication) recording from the night SG PD’s action during Monster Mash incident. Well, I am curious what 8 Bravo’s vested interest was referring to? Vested interest of a responding officer from SG PD…….???? What could that be….

  • Opinionated High Schooler November 7, 2014 at 7:10 pm

    What more will it take? We’ve been called out on national television for the sake of all the is worthy! It’s embarrassing to live in a place where one must obtain a permit before having a good, old fashioned dance party. Fiesta Fun is rightly named, because it is a place of just that, fun and parties!
    We all loved Footloose because it was the idea of a ridiculous rule being challenged. At least in Footloose there was an emotional reasoning behind it (even if it was barely connected). St. George has absolutely no reason to regulate our rights to dance.

    Does my dancing offend you? I may not be the prettiest or the most talented dancer, but I’m going to groove to my 80’s music if I want to. It offends me that St. George’s officials are squandering not only their valuable time, but that of others as well.

    How about spending more time on things that matter, like the fact that St. George still has two animal shelters that euthanize, or finding a better use of our taxes than ‘restoring’ the Electric Theater? (Though that is another topic, why couldn’t we turn the Electric Theater into something incredible and cool? Young people in this town need an outlet, and the Electric Theater has the potential to be just that!)

    Just remember, we’re St. George, not Bomont!

  • SAGEMOON. November 7, 2014 at 8:18 pm

    Sorry the Koolaid I know is shorter than average heavier that average smells funny and lives under a bridge but we when we dated it was clear they are an awesome little troll and I love um. We get along perfect. And if you’ve read my comments you know I get a little confused about life and thing. Ok I’m a lot confused. Keep up the good work Kool. I will send you another selfie with the elf again. Thanks

    • sagemoon November 8, 2014 at 11:53 pm

      Hey, weirdo, it’s bad luck to pretend you are someone you’re not.

      • Koolaid November 9, 2014 at 8:48 am

        Oh, let the … have his fun and consider it flattery with someone copying you. Besides, some of the rants are funny. Signed, the real KOOLAID
        Ed. ellipsis

  • Together at last November 7, 2014 at 8:18 pm

    We believe all that’s posted don’t you know

  • Titinka November 7, 2014 at 8:36 pm

    Around all the world young people has dancing school. In Saturday and Sunday afternoon is many places, where young people can dance and spent pleasant time together. And fee for young people is very low.

  • Bammy59 November 7, 2014 at 9:22 pm

    Just another stupid rule that doesn’t matter. Should have allowed the dancing and music. The city and county need to enforce laws on the books like bad check writing. Had a client that wrote 10,000 in bad checks. Took it to the police. Police took a report. Took report to county attorney. County attorney didn’t do one … thing about it. Had to get an attorney. What the … people! That’s a felony!
    Ed. ellipses.

  • Koolaid. November 8, 2014 at 12:34 am

    I love to dance to the song beat it. That’s the same thing my parents, family member, and any one who meets me says. Except for SAGEMOON, I ask SAGE to beat it, but sage is allergic to lotions and petroleum. That’s why trolls have dry flacking skin. They do. I know with all my deflated heart, my shallow soul, my foul breath, my stained undies, my pen is impotent. That I love to dance weither you let me dance by you and your children now that’s the question.

  • Koolaid November 9, 2014 at 8:50 am

    I danced so hard that … hurt the next morning.
    Ed. ellipsis.

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