please enjoy: "The Safety Dance" by Men Without Hats

please enjoy: "The Safety Dance" by Men Without Hats

Hello friends. Last year at the beginning of the year, I started a newsletter called The Molly Zone where I interviewed music people, and then those music people recommended me other people to interview. Then I realized I had a lot of...opinions about I started writing other types of posts on the newsletter, like a recap of a 100 Gecs DJ set, or an attempt to listen to music as if I were a kid again. Then I realized I needed to start my own music blog, which is what yer reading now. I am happy to be here and hope you all keep reading this thing, whoever you might be.

So, "The Safety Dance," by Men Without Hats. The reason I'm freshly kicking off 2024 with a blog post about a song from 1982 is because 2manydjs played it at their set at the LCD Soundsystem New Year's Eve concert in San Francisco. Or at least I think they played it. I was as lit as a sparkler and dropping it as low as a Times Square ball, and at first I wasn't 100% sure the Belgian DJ duo spun "The Safety Dance" somewhere between the hours of midnight and 1:30am, but I woke up with the song stuck in my head, and my friend Mitch told me he was pretty sure they played it too, and 2manydjs have been known to play the song in their sets before, and that's journalistically accurate enough for me.

It's possible 2manydjs actually played the Italo Brutalo edit, because the version I remember had more of a focus on the spare, jaunty bassline than on the baroque chorus synths. The easy pace is perfect for people who are a little tired on their feet, but certainly don't want to go home yet.

You can listen to dance music if you wanna, you can listen in any format you wish, from car radio to headphones, but the place dance music really lives and breathes is in public, at an institution of live music, played very loud. We were in the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, a cavernous venue with a capacity of 8,500 people. Some folks had left after LCD Soundsystem played "New York, I Love You But You're Bringing Me Down" and then Auld Lang Syne and then released about 8,500 balloons and bits of confetti from the ceiling, but the ones who stayed were locked in. It was the type of crowd where people were wearing shirts that said "do not invite me to afters under any circumstances no matter what i say" underneath a sharp blazer.

People were kicking around the balloons that had landed on the floor. I went to the bathroom and a girl had grabbed a giant blue one and was taking it home with her. Sometimes the visual metaphor for wanting fun to last forever gets served to you on a platter. Back up in the auditorium, 2manydjs still spinning, I tried to pop a balloon by stomping on it — sometimes I have a taste for light property destruction when intoxicated — and it wouldn't pop, and then an older woman placed the balloon between her feet to stabilize it and I tried again and succeeded. I get by with a little help from strangers, etc. etc.

"The Safety Dance." So simple, so effective. I've been listening to it a couple of times a day since New Year's Eve. The song was apparently written as a protest against club security guards who banned pogo-ing to New Wave music at the discothèque: too violent, too dangerous. (There's an old VH1 segment with this explanation from Men Without Hats' Ivan Doroschuk, in which you can see a yung Rob Sheffield.) It's funny that this New Wave classic was written by a musician who got kicked out of a club for violating disco norms, and the disco classic "Le Freak" was written by musicians who never got into the disco club to begin with. The word "party" comes from partie, a division or separation. "We can dance if we want to, we can leave your friends behind." In order to have a party, some people must be invited, and some must not be allowed in. Which is so not my's why my favorite type of concert is located in "a large field"'s why I hate when VIP sections are the only place in the club with a place to sit...but if the division inspires a good song, so be it.

"The Safety Dance" was on the Billboard Hot 100 for 24 weeks. I'm sure a lot of people got very sick of it at the time. Though it's been flattened into an '80s one hit wonder cliché, it didn't even get a reference on I Love the '80s — A Flock of Seagulls seems to have nudged it out of the designated New Wave slot. But the tradition lives on. 42 years after the song was released, I danced to it on New Year's Eve with friends who I did not need to leave behind, due to their willingness to dance. We can dance if we want to. And you can dance...for inspiration. Am I just picking up on the manic, synthesized energy of the 1980s after spending too long in the woozy '90s and plastic '00s? Is it time to get into the groove? Should I get a perm?

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