The Magnificent Dance

“To the fiercest Clash fans, rockers till death, ‘The Magnificent Dance,’ with its tipsy percussion and Chic bass humming ‘bumm bumm (pause) tn-m mana-ma” for a groove — aided by ABSOLUTELY NO LYRICS — may have been The Magnificent Sellout. But not to me. I licked up its irregularly splattered percussion, I let its bass flickers use my body to write on the floor. This groove talked to me. It said ‘pride, pride, arhoolie, stride proud’ to my feet and sent telegrams up through my loins and into my gut, lungs, larynx, nose, and eyes and — lastly, if at all — my brain. I’ve danced — written in the crystal mist of a club — ‘The Magnificent Dance’ for an hour straight, as my DJ segued two copies of it over and back, riffing on this lick or that counterbeat of Copy A into Copy B, and I can tell you this makes me understand all that the song has to say far better than if it had SAID it with LYRICS. For my body has exercised the groove into lyrics, and its talk is part of my life’s work because I worked it. Have you ever danced a single groove for an hour? If so you know that the work-song lives.”
Michael Freedberg, “Dance Music,” Music Sound Output, April 1982

An amazingly tactile piece of writing about dance music by one of the few rock critics who got disco from the get-go. See more of Freedberg’s work here.


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