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You Can Dance If You Want To…

There has been much speculation over the years as to the meaning of the 1983 hit “The Safety Dance”.  Released by Canadian new wave band Men Without Hats the lyrics say:
“We can dance if we want to
We can leave your friends behind
‘Cause your friends don’t dance
And if they don’t dance
Well, they’re no friends of mine”
Theories about the meaning of the No. 3 billboard charting hit range from safe sex to nuclear war.
Released in 1983 in Canada as the second single from “Rhythm of Youth” the song was written by lead singer Ivan Doroschuk.  Dororschuk wrote the song after being kicked out of a club for pogoing.
The Pogo was a dance inspired by new wave and was the precursor to moshing and slam dancing.  Pogoing was less violent then moshing. Dancers would stand rigid and jump up and down. Sometimes they would lightly collide into one another.  Hands could be kept to the side or flail about. Sid Vicious often took credit for the invention of the dance move in the London underground punk rock scene.
Bouncers in clubs at the time were used to disco dancing, usually done with partners or groups. When these “new wavers” came in and started thrashing about and bumping into each other they perceived it as violent and possibly dangerous. Often times the pogoers were kicked out of the club for the dance.  That is exactly what happened to Doroschuk and what gave birth to the inspiration for the song “The Safety Dance”.  (Everyone in the video is doing the pogo btw…)
In 2003, 20 years after the song’s release, Doroschuk appeared on VH1’s True Spin and dispelled two common interpretations of the song. One being that the song was a call for safe sex.  He remarked that people were looking too deep into the lyrics.  The other theory was that the song was an anti-nuclear protest because of imagery in the video.  Doroschuk stated that “it wasn’t just a question of being anti-nuclear, it was a question of being anti-establishment.”  So the next time you are pogoing to “The Safety Dance” on the dance floor remember it’s not just a catchy tune but also a protest and a call for freedom of expression.

The 15th Annual 80’s PROM 2017
​@ Cains Ballroom in Tulsa, OK. Tickets on sale now!