Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Okay, so the Wang Chung song Dance Hall Days has come up twice in recent pop culture, probably the most clustered Dance Hall Days revival since the 1980s - appearing (can I song appear? is appearing by definition visual? probably, but I'm going to try it out here and see how it sounds) both in the movie Adventureland, which takes place in the '80s, and in the MLB2K9 commercial in which Tim Lincecum telsl his computer-generated doppleganger that "we don't listen to this." (Why Dance Hall Days? Where is he just hearing this on the That is seriously unnecessary - I didn't know Dance Hall Days had such a polarizing effect).

Anyway, as a Dance Hall Days afficionado, I wanted to use its brief, um, moment in the sun to pay tribute. It's, by chart placement, Wang Chung's third biggest hit (Everybody Have Fun Tonight and Let Go were top 10s while Dance Hall Days reached 16), but by my subjective judgment the second most well-known song after Everybody Have Fun Tonight, but sounds entirely different. Dance Hall Days sounds far more laid back, less in-your-face, and has kind of lounge sound, in that it would sound appropriate if you (or I were listening to it while just sitting sitting a cocktail).

I had a minor obession with Dance Hall Days while I was in Florence, Itay in the fall of 2004.

I love the staccato way in which certain words in the first two lines of the chorus are pronounced, the so, in, phase, dance, hall, days, and cool, on, and craze, which sounds far more distinctive and memorable than if they had just been song normally.

For some reason, I always through the line “we were cool on craze” was “we were cool on cries.” I really don't have a good reason for this, as it doesn't make a whole lot of sense, and it definitely doesn't rhyme, but I guess I thought there was something cool in the contradiction of being cool and crying, and honestly I'm not sure what being cool on craze means anyway.

The song has the rare ability to build tension without getting faster or louder (except towards the “share in what was true” part, I suppose), building and then reaching a climax during the last two lines of the chorus, “When I, you, and everyone we know/Could believe, do, and share in what was true”, and then deflates all the tension through the couple of seconds sax flourish which comes right after, but before the title line, “Dance Hall Days, love” (Why he insert the “I'm said” before saying it, I'm not sure – it seems like those words are unnecessary). That's about the only sax in the whole song except at the end of the song. I really like the winding out outro featuring the sax at the end of the song as well – I think it really goes with the whole feel of the song, taking it down slowly, brining down the remaining tension to a halt.

If there is any particular meaning to the song, it is beyond me, but the feel is very soothing, and reassuring, and maybe a bit nostalgic, as if these Dance Hall Days, were, a time when you could “take your baby by the heel and do the next thing that you feel.” Somehow, the song meanders a path between being sad and perhaps too nostlagic, but without being particularl happy or triumphant either, which in my mind are the two basic types of songs about memories, and this middle ground works for it.

So, there you go. My ode to Dance Hall Days – underated classic.

1 comment:

AndrewEberle said...

For the longest time I thought they said "Dance Hall, Dance Hall". No clew why. This song is okay, but you might have gone on about it for just a tad too long. :)