Dance This Mess Around

Album: The B-52's (1979)

Songfacts®:

  • The third track on the B-52s eponymous debut album, "Dance This Mess Around" is about wanting to break free from the stale repetition of a relationship and have fun again. B-52s girls Cindy Wilson and Kate Pierson wrote the lyrics.

    Though it's got some zaniness in the words, it's actually one of the band's more coherent songs, and also one of their angrier songs. In live performances, Wilson tore into this one with raw fury, and the fun atmosphere usually associated with the band was put on the backburner. Feeling neglected, Wilson bitterly implores her lover to explain why he won't dance with her.
  • Cindy Wilson sings lead vocals, with Fred Schneider and Kate Pierson splitting the chorus.
  • The song references a few other songs and dances, including "Hippy Hippy Shake," which is called out by name. The first verse includes lyrics that are slightly altered from the chorus of the Motown classic "Stop! In the Name of Love":

    Before you break my heart
    Think it over
    Think it over
    Roll it over in your mind


    There is also mention of people going to parties who dance all the "16 dances." The song only lists eight: the Hippy Hippy Shake, the Coo-Ca-Choo, the Aqua-Velva, the Dirty Dog, the Escalator, the Shu-Ga-Loo, the Shy Tuna, the Camel Walk, and the Hip-o-Crit. These may very well have been real dances, but given the B-52s perchant for silliness, there's just as much a chance they weren't. Some listeners thought names of other dances were hidden in the lyrics.
  • At the end of the first verse, Wilson says she's "not no limburger." This is a reference to limburger cheese, which has an uncommonly pungent odor.

Comments: 1

  • Ron from Atlanta, GaI love this song and it holds up very well in 2020. When I first heard this song on Saturday Night Live in 1979 as a freshman in high school, I was completely unprepared for Cindy Wilson shouting WHY DON'T YOU DANCE WITH ME? I thought it was a joke but it was perfect performance art.
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