The Safety Dance

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"The Safety Dance"
Single by Men Without Hats
from the album Rhythm of Youth
B-side"Security"
ReleasedJanuary 14, 1983 (Canada)
March 16, 1983 (U.S.)
August 22, 1983 (UK)
Format7", 12"
Recorded1982
GenreNew Wave
Synthpop
Length4:36 (album version)
2:47 (single version)
LabelGMC
Virgin
Writer(s)Ivan Doroschuk
ProducerMarc Durand
Men Without Hats singles chronology
"I Like"
(1982)
"The Safety Dance"
(1983)
"I Got the Message"
(1983)
 
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"The Safety Dance"
Single by Men Without Hats
from the album Rhythm of Youth
B-side"Security"
ReleasedJanuary 14, 1983 (Canada)
March 16, 1983 (U.S.)
August 22, 1983 (UK)
Format7", 12"
Recorded1982
GenreNew Wave
Synthpop
Length4:36 (album version)
2:47 (single version)
LabelGMC
Virgin
Writer(s)Ivan Doroschuk
ProducerMarc Durand
Men Without Hats singles chronology
"I Like"
(1982)
"The Safety Dance"
(1983)
"I Got the Message"
(1983)

"The Safety Dance" is a song written and recorded by Canadian New Wave band Men Without Hats; and to date, it remains their biggest hit. It was initially released in Canada in January 1983 as the second single from the band's first full-length album, Rhythm of Youth. The song was written by Ivan Doroschuk after he had been kicked out of a club for pogoing.[1] The song entered the Canadian top 50 in February 1983, peaking at #11 on May 14. In the meantime, "The Safety Dance" was released in the US on March 16, but did not enter the US charts for a few months. When it finally did, the record became a bigger hit than it had been in Canada, peaking at #3 in September 1983.[2] It also reached number one on Cash Box, as well as number one on the Billboard Dance Chart. "The Safety Dance" similarly found success in other parts of the world, entering the UK charts in August and peaking at #6 in early November, and entering the New Zealand charts in November, eventually peaking at #2 in early 1984.

Contents

Meaning of the song

The writer/performer, Ivan Doroschuk, has explained that "The Safety Dance" is a protest against bouncers stopping dancers pogoing to 1980s New Wave music in clubs when disco was dying and New Wave was up and coming. New Wave dancing, especially pogoing, was different from disco dancing, because it was done individually instead of with partners and involved holding the torso rigid and thrashing about. To uninformed bystanders this could look dangerous, especially if pogoers accidentally bounced into one another (the more deliberately violent evolution of pogoing is slam dancing). The bouncers did not like pogoing so they would tell pogoers to stop or be kicked out of the club. Thus, the song is a protest and a call for freedom of expression. Other lyrics in the song include references to the way pogoing looked to bouncers, especially "And you can act real rude and totally removed/And I can act like an imbecile".[3]

Doroschuk responded to two common interpretations of the song. Firstly, he notes it is not a call for safe sex. Doroschuk says that is reading too much into the lyrics. Secondly, he explained that it is not an anti-nuclear protest song per se despite the nuclear imagery at the end of the video. Doroschuk stated that "it wasn't a question of just being anti-nuclear, it was a question of being anti-establishment.[4]

Music video

The music video for the song, directed by Tim Pope,[5] is notable for its English folk revival imagery, notably Morris men, Mummers, Punch and Judy and a Maypole. It was filmed in the village of West Kington, near Chippenham, in southwest England.[6] Ivan Doroschuk is the only member of the band to actually perform in the video. Doroschuk, and others in the video, can be seen repeatedly forming an "S" sign by jerking both arms into a stiff pose, one arm in an upward curve and the other in a downward curve, apparently referencing the first letter in 'safety'. The Morris Dance side in the video was Chippenham Town Morris from Wiltshire, performing Monkton Park.[7] The dwarf actor is Mike Edmonds; his T-shirt in the video says "RHYTHMYOUTH".

Peak positions

Chart (1983)Peak
position
Austrian Singles Chart[8]7
Canadian Singles Chart11
Dutch Singles Chart[8]23
New Zealand Singles Chart[8]2
Norwegian Singles Chart[8]3
Swedish Singles Chart[8]3
Swiss Singles Chart[8]4
UK Singles Chart[9]6
U.S. Billboard Hot 1003
U.S. Billboard Hot Dance Club Play1
U.S. Billboard Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks20

References

  1. ^ Sperounes, Sandra (2011-05-12). "Good dance tunes don't die". edmontonjournal.com. http://www.edmontonjournal.com/entertainment/Good+dance+tunes/4769026/story.html. Retrieved 12 May 2011.
  2. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits, 8th Edition (Billboard Publications)
  3. ^ "Safety Dance". Lyrics on Demand. http://www.lyricsondemand.com/onehitwonders/safetydancelyrics.html. Retrieved 3 April 2011.
  4. ^ "True Spin interview". http://www.veoh.com/browse/videos/category/music_alternative/watch/v16725574hRwbx5sZ.
  5. ^ [1]
  6. ^ "You Can Dance If You Want To". April 25, 2010. http://guanolad.blogspot.com/2010/04/you-can-dance-if-you-want-to.html. Retrieved 1 August 2012.
  7. ^ [2]
  8. ^ a b c d e f "Safety Dance", in various singles charts Lescharts.com (Retrieved 7 April 2008)
  9. ^ UK Singles Chart Chartstats.com (Retrieved 7 April 2008)

External links

Preceded by
"Flashdance... What a Feeling" by Irene Cara
Billboard Hot Dance Club Play number-one single
July 2, 1983
Succeeded by
"(Keep Feeling) Fascination" by The Human League
Preceded by
"Puttin' on the Ritz" by Taco
Cash Box Top 100 singles
October 1, 1983
Succeeded by
"Total Eclipse of the Heart" by Bonnie Tyler