A few weeks ago, one of my friends asked me what I wanted to do my dissertation on. “I’m only a fresher, how am I supposed to know” I thought (I don’t even know what I’m having for dinner most nights). I panicked and said “I just want to write about how much I love ‘Dancing On My Own’ by Robyn.” Now although I would enjoy doing so, I’d fail and waste the £27,000 I’m paying for the course (fucking hell that’s a lot of money). So in my best interest, here’s my love letter to ‘Dancing On My Own.
My first memory of this song was listening to it on the Radio 1 Review Show. Whoever was on the show that night said it was a clichéd eighties song. They are sort-of right, but let’s be honest eighties music is fucking amazing and everyone loves a cliché (I imagine even the biggest cliché naysayers ugly cry listening to ‘Someone Like You’ post-break-up).
The first part of her ‘Body Talk’ trilogy came out soon after. I remember going to the dentist with it on in the car and my Mum saying that she hated it. She never told me why, but I imagine ‘Don’t Fucking Tell Me What To Do’ was not something that she wanted her fifteen year-old son listening to. I didn’t really appreciate the album at the time though, mainly because ‘Flesh Tone’ by Kelis came out at the same time and I’m still as taken with that album as I was back then.
Back to ‘Dancing On My Own’, my fondest memory attached is my Year 11 prom. In the months leading up to that night, I was still getting bullied. You’d think by the time exams came around people would give up but no. In fact, I wouldn’t leave the house without my parents (aside from going to school) because I was so scared. It was a completely irrational fear admittedly, but still I didn’t see anyone outside of the school gates.
Exams came and went and it got to prom night. I had bought my first suit (I picked it because Graham Norton had a similar one and he was – and still is – one man I look up to hugely). My getting ready playlist was ‘Dancing On My Own’ and ‘Disco Moment’ by Bright Light Bright Light (another man who I looked up to – he’s also now my beard-spiration) on repeat. Whilst I was sat their listening, I had a ‘fuck it’ moment. I stopped caring what people thought and decided that, even if I was going to be alone the whole time, I was going to have the best night of my life.
That’s perhaps why I love ‘Dancing On My Own’ so much – I take the lyrics as a ‘I’m leaving that version of me behind and am getting on with life’. That night I danced harder than I’ve danced since (although dancing to Ariana Grande’s ‘Problem’ last week came very close), and in many ways I guess that song helped me come to terms with myself. That sounds so weird and like a movie starring Sarah Jessica Parker, but it was the first time I comfortably felt like Matt Hooper (it was the first time that I felt comfortable enough to put a picture of myself online). Now that sounds even weirder.
Since then, this song has become my emotional crutch. More recently a guy popped into my life. We went on a few dates, only for me to find out that I was ‘the other man’. This situation is probably more what Robyn had in mind when writing ‘Dancing On My Own’, so naturally it got a few spins as I sat in my room wondering why. Perhaps the only bad thing about this song is that I’m yet to hear it out. It’d definitely be my ‘clear the floor’ moment. Everyone has one of those, right?
And that’s why I love this song so much. So thank you Robyn, you are fucking amazing at this pop malarkey.