Wang Chung – Everybody Have Fun Tonight
School discos, eh? They’re meant to be fun but I always found them to be highly traumatic events. I don’t know about you, but most of the ones I attended consisted of all the boys at one end of the room and all the girls at the other. Nobody ever set a foot on the dance floor until at least an hour in to proceedings, and even then it was only the rowdier girls, specifically the ones who could beat you up as soon as look at you. Only when the teacher in charge put on, say, a Madness record, would some of the cooler boys make an appearance, and from that point it was only about half an hour before a rumour would go round that someone was drunk and that person A had been discovered snogging person B in an empty classroom and then the main lights would go on and we’d all get a stern telling off before Karma Chameleon came on for the third time that evening.
The best thing I can say about school discos is that they give you some very distinctive and lasting memories. Of course one of the all time great school-y records is Dance Hall Days by Wang Chung, and despite only being a no.21 hit in the UK, something about it worked incredibly well in those cavernous school gymnasiums where you had to dance in your socks lest you mark the flooring with your plimsoles. I only have to hear the opening bars and I’m back leaning against a wall watching the trendier kids jig about to it while I willed the earth to swallow me up, simultaneously terrified that somebody would ask me to dance and that somebody wouldn’t.
Considering how amazing Dance Hall Days was, it’s always surprised me that Wang Chung weren’t bigger in the UK. They were quite literally a one hit wonder here – nothing they did before or after breached the top 75. Possibly this was a result of being signed to the American label Geffen Records as opposed to a British based one – but that really shouldn’t have mattered when they had a song as appealing as Everybody Have Fun Tonight, which brought the phrase “everybody Wang Chung tonight” into common usage and became and the biggest of the band’s five top 40 Hot 100 hits in the US, peaking at no.2. Here? Diddly-squat.
What were we doing in October 1986 that was so much more important than buying this brilliant pop single? It’s baffling. It’s amazingly catchy, and more importantly you can just sort of stomp and/or jump around to it – a dance record for people who can’t dance, and therefore perfect for me. It also came with an innovative and fit-inducing video from Godley & Creme which I seem to recall seeing quite a lot on telly. Yet somehow we were more inclined to purchase In the Army Now by Status Quo in (alarmingly) huge quantities than we were this – were depressing records perhaps in vogue? Not really – at this point Mel & Kim were riding high with Showing Out (Get Fresh at the Weekend), which was all about partying. JUST LIKE WANG CHUNG.
I fear that the real problem was that, as far as the British pop press and pop purchasers were concerned, we already had Go West doing a fairly similar job – and this does possess a rather We Close Our Eyes-ish quality. But despite having a two year march on their competitors, Wang Chung found very little success in their native land. Thank goodness they received a much warmer welcome in America, presumably because most of their records had a built-in prom night quality that maybe didn’t play so well over here. That’s why you’ll find both Dance Hall Days and Everybody Have Fun Tonight taking pride of place on the two soundtrack albums from the greatest film ever made – Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion. Now, let’s fold scarves, shall we?
Entered chart: 25/10/1986
Chart peak: 76
Weeks on chart: 8 (8!)
Who could sing this today and have a hit? Today’s outgoing cheeky chappy du jour Olly Murs might just manage it.