raised on mtv: part four:
the safety dance, from the album rhythm of youth, was the first and biggest-selling single by the 1980s synth pop group men without hats. the song was written by ivan doroschuk. released in the u.s. in 1982 and in the u.k. in 1983, and it peaked at number three on the billboard hot 100. in the u.k. the song also proved successful, reaching number six. i remember that the video was one that was on constant rotation, not only on mtv, but on local video shows, like video one and mv3; the song also danced around the radio stations, crossing over from the heavy pop stations, to the more "alternative" ones (even though that word had another almost ten years to become a real musical adjective).
this was the time which marked my first experiences in high school, and my moments of becoming enchanted with dances and fashion (i was already obsessed with music). the safety dance was addictively catchy, and near impossible to not dance to.
the video, well it was silly, really; though i never think it was meant to be taken too seriously. i can remember during a pep rally the dance team did a number to this song, and each side of the bleachers started doing a round-robin style safety dance: hands in the shape of an "s", heads tilted to the side. it was almost cinematic in its everyone knows the same dance sort of way, except it was realistic, because back in 1983 everyone did know that dance.
exactly what the title of the song refers to has been debated. some claim the song encourages safe sex, while others claim that it encourages people to take care and be careful while slam dancing, and others still claim the song is about the fear of leaving familiar and well known surroundings for something new.
for me back then, a fifteen year old girl struggling for my place in the realm of adolescence, it felt like a celebration of freedom, of uniqueness, or being yourself.
and, of course, it was a song about dancing.
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."