The Safety Dance

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"The Safety Dance"
Single by Men Without Hats
from the album Rhythm of Youth
B-side "Security"
Released January 14, 1983 (Canada)
March 16, 1983 (US)
August 22, 1983 (UK)
Format 7", 12"
Recorded 1982
Genre New wave,[1] synthpop[2]
Length 4:36 (album version)
2:47 (single version)
Label GMC
Writer(s) Ivan Doroschuk
Producer(s) Marc Durand
Men Without Hats singles chronology
"I Like"
"The Safety Dance"
"I Got the Message"

"The Safety Dance" is the biggest hit song written and recorded by Canadian new wave band Men Without Hats. It was initially released in Canada in January 1983 as the 2nd 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.[3]

The song entered the Canadian top 50 in February 1983, peaking at #11 on 14 May. 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.[4] It also reached #1 on Cash Box, as well as #1 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.

Meaning of the song[edit]

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".[5]

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."[6]

Music video[edit]

The music video for the song, directed by Tim Pope,[7] 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 South West England.[8] 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 referring to the first letter in 'safety'. The Morris Dance seen in the video was the Chippenham Town Morris Men from Wiltshire, performing in Monkton Park.[9] The dwarf actor is Mike Edmonds. His T-shirt in the video shows the "Rhythm of Youth" album cover.

For many years, there has been speculation about the identity of the female dancer in the video. On February 25, 2013, the Facebook group page, Fans of the girl in the Safety Dance Video, revealed her to be Louise Court. However, it is still unconfirmed.[10] Court went on to become a journalist and, since 2007, UK editor of Cosmopolitan.[11]

Chart performance[edit]


In 2010, a Lipton commercial featuring Hugh Jackman included a version of the song playing in the background. [30]

Referenced in a 2002 episode of Futurama, Season 4, Episode 9. When 'That 80’s Guy' asked Fry if he remembered "The Safety Dance" and also a short time later, after 'That Guy' had easily taken over the Planet Express Company, in celebration, he loudly imitated the notes of the most memorable part of the song.


  1. ^ Scarecrow Press, ed. (1983). Voice of Youth Advocates: VOYA., Vol. 6.  "The single by Men Without Hats, "The Safety Dance," may be the best new wave dance song since The B-52's "Rock Lobster.""
  2. ^ EMAP Performance Limited, ed. (2006). Mojo, N° 154 to 157.  "But the Adam Ant-meets-The Wicker Man promo clip for Men Without Hats' hit The Safety Dance indeed featured these symbols of rustic England. Nor was it a standard-issue synth pop hit."
  3. ^ Sandra Sperounes (May 12, 2011). "Good dance tunes don't die". Retrieved May 12, 2011. 
  4. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits, 8th Edition (Billboard Publications)
  5. ^ "Safety Dance". Lyrics on Demand. Retrieved April 3, 2011. 
  6. ^ Karec. "True Meaning of the Safety Dance". FC2. 
  7. ^ Jim Hynes. "Past Interviews". Retrieved July 22, 2013. 
  8. ^ "You Can Dance If You Want To". April 25, 2010. Retrieved August 1, 2012. 
  9. ^ "Chippenham Town Morris Men". Retrieved July 22, 2013. 
  10. ^ "Facebook posting from band revealing identity of female dancer". February 25, 2013. Retrieved April 24, 2013. 
  11. ^
  12. ^ bulion. "Forum - ARIA Charts: Special Occasion Charts - CHART POSITIONS PRE 1989". ARIA. Retrieved July 22, 2013. 
  13. ^ "Men Without Hats – The Safety Dance –" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40. Retrieved July 22, 2013.
  14. ^ " – Men Without Hats – The Safety Dance" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Retrieved July 22, 2013.
  15. ^ "The Safety Dance - MEN WITHOUT HATS". VRT (in Dutch). Retrieved July 25, 2013.  Hoogste notering in de top 30 : 12
  16. ^ "Top Singles - Volume 38, No. 11, May 14, 1983". Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved June 2, 2013. 
  17. ^ "InfoDisc : Tous les Titres par Artiste". Dominic DURAND / InfoDisc (in French). June 21, 2013. Retrieved June 21, 2013.  You have to use the index at the top of the page and search "Men Without Hats"
  18. ^ "Men Without Hats - The Safety Dance". Media Control. Retrieved July 22, 2013.
  19. ^ "The Irish Charts - All there is to know". IRMA. Retrieved July 22, 2013.  Only one result when searching "The safety dance"
  20. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – Men Without Hats - The Safety Dance search results" (in Dutch) Dutch Top 40. Retrieved July 22, 2013.
  21. ^ " – Men Without Hats – The Safety Dance" (in Dutch). Mega Single Top 100. Retrieved July 22, 2013.
  22. ^ " – Men Without Hats – The Safety Dance". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved July 22, 2013.
  23. ^ " – Men Without Hats – The Safety Dance". VG-lista. Retrieved July 22, 2013.
  24. ^ "South African Rock Lists Website SA Charts 1969 - 1989 Acts (M)". John Samson. Retrieved July 22, 2013. 
  25. ^ " – Men Without Hats – The Safety Dance". Singles Top 60. Retrieved July 22, 2013.
  26. ^ "Men Without Hats – The Safety Dance –". Swiss Singles Chart. Retrieved July 22, 2013.
  27. ^ "Archive Chart" UK Singles Chart. Retrieved July 22, 2013.
  28. ^ a b c "Rhythm of Youth awards at Allmusic". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved June 2, 2013. 
  29. ^ "Canadian Content (Cancon) - Volume 63, No. 19, June 24, 1996". Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved June 21, 2013. 
  30. ^

External links[edit]

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