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Sunday, March 04, 2007


Velveeta Jukebox, Part VII: Dance Hall Days

I realize that my normal modus operandus in this feature is to pick an utterly cheesy song and mock all that is horribly wrong with it. My song for today, however, doesn't really have all that much to mock.

"Dance Hall Days" is definitely of its era. It's loaded up with synthesizer. The lyrics aren't necessarily the deepest you'll ever hear. And the video features a horrifying dancing demon-thing being birthed from a disco ball. Still, all in all, I think the song holds up just fine. And I like it much, much better than Wang Chung's other big hit, in which they invited people to both "have fun tonight" and to "wang chung tonight."

No, the real reason I've chosen to write about this song is its inclusion in the soundtrack of a movie I watched today for the first time in about eighteen years: Bachelor Party.

Way the fuck back in 1984, when Bachelor Party was released, my sister and I absolutely loved it. It was the height of sophisticated hilarity. I believe we may have seen it more than once. In the theater. And we laughed our goddamn heads off.

Watching it again today, I have to say that my opinion has changed somewhat. Maybe I'm more mature. Maybe exposure to slightly more intellectual humor--stuff like, say, videos of Robert Tilton farting--have ruined for me the good old fashioned yucks to be mined from guys fucking hookers. I don't know.

But whatever the case, I sat through this film today without laughing once. I am, in fact, rather astonished that Tom Hanks went on to win multiple Academy Awards after this thing. God knows the rest of the cast didn't recover. Except Tawny Kitaen, who went on to a glorious career as a psychopathic baseball wife.

For those of you who may not have seen the film when it came out and who have not purchased the Criterion Deluxe Edition on DVD, allow me to summarize: Hanks plays the type of character which would eventually make Adam Sandler millions and millions of dollars. He's a goofy guy who's immature, but likable and he hangs out with guys he's known forever. Tawny, daughter of wealthy parents who don't approve of Hanks and wish she'd instead settle down with stock 80s movie dweeb Robert Prescott, knows how fond Hanks' friends are of hookers and worries that he'll screw someone else during the...Bachelor Party. Hanks promises not to. Then the party starts.

Now I'm pretty sure that the movie's creators thought they had a real Animal House vibe going with this flick. And I suppose that, if you took a toenail from Animal House and did a cut-rate cloning job with retarded lab workers, you might have wound up with this lumpy, malformed offspring. Is it truly funny to watch a bunch of guys screaming repeatedly about wanting to fuck hookers? How many laughs are we meant to scrape from the squealy-voiced druggie friend who wants to commit suicide? And then, maybe it's me, but an overdosing donkey just doesn't seem as hilarious in Dick Cheney's America.

"Dance Hall Days" shows up on the soundtrack during the scene wherein the boys play a prank on Tawny and her friends at a male strip club. The song kind of fits in, I guess. But I was really jarred during another scene to hear R.E.M.'s "Wind Out". Southern college rock in a slobs versus snobs movie? I was baffled until I watched the credits and realized that IRS records put the soundtrack out and loaded the film up with a bunch of their artists. Poor bastards.

So now, I'm not sure if I can ever again hear this song--which I've actually got on my iPod and listen to periodically--without thinking of the Nick the Dick scene. And that's going to kill my enjoyment deader than Adrian Zmed's career. Did I mention that Adrian Zmed was in this?