School dances had so much potential back in the day. If you eliminated the angsty teen melodramas, the pubertal hardships, the unrequited crushes, and the desperate need to be accepted by your peers at all costs, dances were the perfect events for letting loose and having a genuinely good time. A time made all the more merry by the music being played.
Unless you had a significant other that week, you typically went with a group of friends. You also typically cleared the dance floor the moment a slow song came on. You promptly exited the cafeteria floor (that’s where a lot of my school dances were) because it was time to claim your location on the wall. The slow songs were terrible and the country songs thrown in made my stomach turn. Even then, surrounded by farmers and Country-Western-loving-fiends, I hated Country music.
BUT, once the painfully depressing slow song segment would end, it was back to business. Shimmying and shaking to Billboard’s top hits. There were always those songs that got everyone going like YMCA and The Loco-Motion. And then there were the everyday chart toppers with a few old school songs thrown in to boot. A little Madonna, a little Prince, a little NKOTB … school dances could easily be a fun, safe and pretty upright way to spend a Friday night with your friends. And yes, I am well aware things have changed – OR maybe they haven’t changed as much as we might think.
I was in my car a few years ago and AC/DC came on the radio. Love me some AC/DC. Of course it was You Shook Me All Night Long. And of course I began screaming singing along at the top of my lungs. Who doesn’t with this one? But the funny thing is, I was listening to the lyrics for the very first time. I knew the lyrics, yes, I had to in order to be able to sing along, but this was the first time in my life (in the 50,000 times I’d heard it) that I was actually listening to the lyrics. HOLY SHIT.
So this song played at my junior high dances. It played at my high school dances, too, and I don’t know that that was any more appropriate. Do you know the lyrics? It’s sort of like my Fast Times At Ridgemont High experience. Growing up, I watched Fast Times more times than I can count. It was always playing on some cable channel when I was a kid. Totally edited, mind you. Call it naiveté or blissful ignorance, but though I laughed quite heartily at Spicoli’s antics or Brad Hamilton’s sorry state, it was only when watching the movie, unedited, years beyond my youth, that I realized how much content I hadn’t fully comprehended.
My virgin ears and eyes should have been completely appalled at the obscenities heard, seen and implied in that film. Don’t get me wrong, I still totally love that movie; it’s a classic. And I’m no prude, but seriously? Where were the parental controls? Heck, where were my parents? Letting a child with delicate sensibilities watch as Phoebe Cates demonstrated some unseemly carrot eating techniques to a young and impressionable Jennifer Jason Leigh. So. Wrong.
Back to some AC/DC playing at the school dance. With the Fast Times concept fresh in my mind, where were our teachers during these dances? Where were the authorities making good life choices on our susceptible behalves? We, very vulnerable (and rather sheltered in some cases) youngsters, were unknowingly receiving a fast and loose sex education disguised as melodious music merely meant to swing and sway to. Ok, maybe not always unknowingly …
So I’ve decided to add to The Music Challenge with today’s throwback. Just a few songs I boogied to with wholly inappropriate lyrics… well, inappropriate for excessively hormonal tweens and teens to be gyrating to in a confined space. But every time I hear them, I’m taken back to that cafetorium floor and a really bad DJ who likely grew up to be a meth dealer one day.
The Music Challenge #6
26. AC/DC, You Shook Me All Night Long (1980)
27. Sir-Mix-A-Lot, Baby Got Back (1992)
28. Madonna, Like A Virgin (1984)
29. Color Me Badd, I Wanna Sex You Up (1991)
Help me out here. What were some poor song choices played at your school dances?