Wang Chung – Dance Hall Days
In mid-January 1984, a song released a few days ago about dance and ballrooms, “Dance Hall Days”, entered and climbed the charts. The topic was a bit about nostalgy, but the sounds were very modern and the song overall was captivating and original. In addition to the song, however, the curious name of the group stuck to the mind, because it sounded clearly Chinese: Wang Chung.
And it actually was Chinese! At first the group spelt this name differently: Huang Chung. And Chinese experts say it was more correct, from a transliteration perspective. Huang Chung, which I think means more or less “yellow bell,” actually indicates the first note of Chinese musical scales, a bit like our C note.
But “Huang Chung” had to be pronounced just like Italians or Germans or Spaniards read it, but the English speakers read it differently. for this reason, in 1983 (after six years of career with good satisfaction) the record company suggested changing the spelling of the band’s name and thus making it easier to pronounce correctly for those who spoke English (i.e. half the world). And so the name became “Wang Chung”.
“Dance Hall Days” had actually already been launched (by Huang Chung) in 1982, but had not been very successful. And so the following year, while working on their album “Points on the Curve” (very good album) they recorded a new version, which was kissed by fortune and fame.
“Dance Hall Days” is certainly a nostalgic song, and in the lyrics it evokes the happy days when the protagonist spent days and evenings in the dance halls. It’s actually also an autobiographical song, in some way, because the father of Wang Chung leader Jack Hues played in ballrooms when his son was a child, and later Jack, who in turn started playing, had followed and accompanied him often and they had also played together.
Two videos were made of this song; an early version was created by the director using images and films from the 1940s and 1950s, in which he also appears as a newborn. Among these images we see sequences in which Wang Chung sings with unlikely sweaters and plays the violin. The second version is the most famous, set in the scenery of a ballroom, in full splendor, with Wang Chung playing. The video begins and ends in black and white with Jack Hues on the street outside the hall, but becomes in color when he is inside the ballroom.
Jack Hues (actually named Jeremy Ryder, and named after Emile Zola’s “J’accuse”) and the Wang Chung had a particular fate during their successful period. Despite being absolutely British to the bone (Hues was born in Kent), they were much more successful in the United States than in England. “Dance Hall Days” was certainly successful in the UK as well, but in America it literally became an immense success, and it was also included on the soundtrack of the movie “To Live and Die in L.A.”. From then on, Wang Chung were mostly successful in America. The were also nominated for an MTV Award, but the winner was Eurythmics’ “Sweet dreams (are made of this)“
All in all, Jack and his companions liked this situation: when they went on tour they lived days like worldwide stars in America, but then they returned to England to their families and managed to live a quiet and reserved life because they had a much quieter success at home. I mean, in their own way, they were heroes of both worlds, but two very different worlds, where America was kind of an immense ballroom!
Wang Chung on Wikipedia