I’ve never understood how it is that men without hats can dress real neat from their hats to their feet. I’ve never understood anything about that song, nor have I ever been the type to delve into the meaning behind poetry or really trendy writing or 80’s new age Canadian rock. Actually, I doubt many people claim to be guilty of the latter. I won’t ask if you’ve heard it because I know you have, but do you like “Safety Dance” by men without hats? Um, I do. A bunch. If hell was an ever descending elevator playing one song over and over in some sort of tortuous loop, I’d ask for it to be “Safety Dance”. It’s a bit embarrassing to admit, especially here, but whatever; I can blog if I want to.
A huge wave of boredom swept me under and I recorded Bio-Dome on my DVR. I knew it starred Pauly Shore, but did you know that other guy was a Baldwin? Blew my mind. Anyway, there’s a scene in the movie when the riot police are trying to smoke Pauly Shore out of the Bio-Dome by repetitively playing “Safety Dance” over and over on a comically large PA system. Of course it doesn’t work; Shore’s music tastes are impeccable and he dances through the Bio-Dome like some sort of wood nymph on an ecstasy overdose. That movie got me thinking (I’m totally aware of the fact that I’m the first person in history to say that).
What’s that song about? Is it about safe sex? I guess it’d make sense if you massage the metaphor enough and that’s what I’ve thought for the past few years. I Googled it though, and I was wrong. I guess the lead singer was pogo dancing in some Canadian club right around the time that Disco was suffering through its death throes. New age rock was elbowing its way to the top of the charts and from what Wikipedia tells me, all the cool kids were starting to “pogo dance”. I’ve never done it, but I suppose it involves a bunch of jumping up and down sans an actual pogo stick. Anyway, the lead singer got kicked out of the club for jumping up and down when he should’ve been doing the electric shuffle of something and as he was standing outside that Canadian and presumably snow-dusted club, he said “we can dance if we want to”. Boom. I’d like to think that a big hair and spandex spangled explosion occurred in his mind. The song came out a few months later and took over the 80’s. As a side note, I sometimes wonder what new age Canadian clubs were like in the 80’s; I’d like to think that there was at least one neon maple leaf in each one.
Of course, the pogo dance was the only way to dance when shouting “we can dance if we want to” so the move spread from floor to floor until the electric shuffle was no more. Good job nameless bouncer. The pogo dance led to the smash dance which led to the mosh pit which led to crowd surfing which led to an odd moment in my life wherein I was holding a drumstick and standing on a deserted concert stage after Jane’s Addiction ran for their safety.
Alaska’s music scene is a rage fueled, culture starved, pit of nonsense. Actually, everything up there is like that. The Olive Garden up there continues to post record profits because when anything from the lower forty-eight opens up, the locals flock with open wallets just for a chance to live like all those fancy southerners in the commercials. Concerts aren’t much different. When an honest to goodness act deigns to play a show in the last frontier, ticket sales skyrocket and everyone shows up with great expectations and limited sobriety (twenty hours of darkness don’t lead to wholesome things). And inevitably, one douche bag bumps into another who then bumps into two more and the mosh pit is formed. It really doesn’t matter who’s playing either; I’ve seen it happen at Pantera where it belongs and at Blues Traveler where it doesn’t. Idiocy is contagious, and its spread most efficiently through a violent shoulder bump.
Anyway, Jane’s Addiction played a single show sometime in my early teens and a huge group of us went knowing it’d end up as a disaster. The band played five or six subdued songs in a row when the mullet bearing subspecies prevalent at most Alaskan concerts wanted something more conducive to handing out concussions. The crowd starting booing. The lead singer, smug in his corduroy suit, said something about how Alaskans didn’t have any more culture than a Fred Meyer and then he started playing the same short and shity song over and over again. That was a ridiculously bad mistake.
I was surfing the crowd on my back upon an intrusive cloud of hands when the anger erupted. The mullet brethren started chanting something indistinguishable and guttural and stormed the little wall around the elevated stage. I literally rode the wave of pissed off humanity towards the stage, and when I got to the wall and the little mote of concrete protecting the band, the ocean of man beneath me tossed me over like a castaway sailor being thrown from the surf onto the sand. I didn’t weigh very much however, and the momentum carried me over the protective area and directly onto the stage. The protective wall buckled shortly thereafter and the tide of pissed off Alaskans started washing up behind me.
I made eye contact with the lead singer, still in his corduroy suit but no longer smug, shortly before he made it to safety behind a steel backstage door. I smiled, flipped him off, and shouted “welcome to Alaska”. His eyes got a bit wider and then the door separated us. Whatever; I was fourteen. Blah blah blah I got a souvenir drum stick that the drummer abandoned while running for his life, the stage was demolished, and the police came; none of the rest really matters. What matters here is that if it wasn’t for a rather eccentric Canadian’s choice to jump up and down, if it wasn’t for the intolerance of a Canadian bouncer who kicked him out, if it wasn’t for the resulting declaration of damn it “we can dance if we want to, but leave your friends behind, because etcetera etcetera”, I never would’ve owned a drum stick used by the drummer from Jane’s Addiction. Like I said, whatever, I was fourteen. I’ve long since lost the drum stick, but I’ve gained a mantra. I’m not going to type it, because that would be cheesy, but hopefully, it’s playing over and over in your head by now.