In this upbeat dance-pop number, the normally reserved narrator openly shares his joy when he experiences the thrill of falling in love. Pet Shop Boys' Neil Tennant was inspired by a Jules Feiffer cartoon from London's Observer magazine that depicted a dancing lady. "I imagined myself as a Feiffer cartoon figure, going crazy with happiness," Tennant explained in his 2018 book, One Hundred Lyrics and a Poem. "Very mundane English expressions like, 'I wouldn't normally do this kind of thing,' are often a starting point for a lyric, in this song inspiring a contrast between high emotions and the reserved language used to express them."
Tennant came up with the title when he took an out-of-the-ordinary trip from London to Edinburgh and back again, all in one day. He thought, "I wouldn't normally do this kind of thing." When he couldn't get the phrase out of his mind, he brought the idea to Chris Lowe and they turned it into a song.
Tennant: "It's a funny song, but it's sincere. I'm so bored with people seeing us as ironic that I'm quite keen on being sincere at the moment."
The lovestruck Englishman claims, "I feel like taking all my clothes off, Dancing to the Rite of Spring." "The Rite of Spring" is an orchestral piece Russian composer Igor Stravinsky wrote for the 1910 Ballet Russes in Paris.
The simpler album version was remixed by the English electronic group The Beatmasters for the single release, giving it an energetic '60s vibe with more instrumentation in the mix. Aside from peaking at 13 in the UK, it hit #2 on the US dance chart.
Robbie Williams recorded this as the B-side to his 1998 single "Let Me Entertain You" from his debut album, Life Thru A Lens. His version was used on Friends when Monica and Ross try to get screen time on Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve and Joey tries to get away from his dancing partner. The song was also included on the show's 1999 soundtrack, Friends Again.