Wang Chung released “Dance Hall Days” on January 14, 1984. The single only charted at #21 on the U.K. Singles Chart, but peaked at #16 on the U.S. Hot Billboard 100, becoming one of five U.S. Top 40 hits the band would have over the next three years.
Wang Chung is Chinese for “yellow bell.” It’s also the first note in the Chinese classical music scale. The band originally spelled it Huang Chung, but changed the spelling at Geffen Records’ suggestion, as English-speaking people were pronouncing the band’s name as “Hung Chung.”
Lead singer Jack Hues stated in an interview that “Dance Hall Days” was partially inspired by Adam Ant, which led to Wang Chung recording the song with Chris Hughes, who also produced Adam and the Ants’ “Kings of the Wild Frontier.”
Dance Hall Days 3’58
Dance Hall Days [Remix] 8’02
Dance Hall Days [Remix] 7’22
Music Video #1
Music Video #2
Two music videos were filmed for “Dance Hall Days.” The first was directed by Derek Jarman and included his father’s home movies from the World War II era interspersed with footage of the band playing violins and dressed as characters from The Wizard of Oz. (The toddler in the footage is actually the director as a child.)
The second music video takes place in an art deco music hall. The band performs the song while couples dance. Later, the camera pans across the tables and reveals the audience is filled with identical twins. The mirrored ball falls to the dance floor and a mirrored dancer hatches from it and dances. Outside the dance hall, lead singer Jack Hues walks off without his suitcase, which sprouts legs and chases after him. This video was nominated for Best New Artist at the 1984 MTV Music Awards, but lost to Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This).”
“Dance Hall Days” is one of the few songs I can hear and instantly feel sixteen again. The song and the music video were in heavy rotation on radio and T.V. in the Summer of 1984, which I feel was the apotheosis of MTV. There’s just something about the guitar and synth, the cryptic lyrics, and the surreal video that has remained with me over the past almost thirty years.
What are your memories of “Dance Hall Days” by Wang Chung?