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The politics we want

Re-Flex – The Politics of Dancing

The politics of dancing
The politics of, ooh, feeling good
The politics of moving, aha
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#ReFlex #ThePoliticsOfDancing

Politics was certainly a hot topic in the 80s. Sometimes it was taken very seriously, and songs were composed to recall events that had happened or perhaps hoped for uprisings and changes. It happened both at a local level, especially in the United Kingdom, and think of Sunday Bloody Sunday by U2 or Sowing the Seeds of Love by Tears for Fears, or even at an international level, and think of Russians by Sting, Born in the U.S.A. by Bruce Springsteen, State of the Nation by Industry, 19 by Paul Hardcastle, or even Mandela Day and Belfast Child by Simple Minds.

Sometimes, however, politics was seen more as a weird element or was perhaps mentioned with irony or with references in titles and names, as in Election Day by Arcadia, or in the name of the Hong Kong Syndikat who became famous with Too Much, or through references such as in the name of Picnic at the Whitehouse singing We Need Protection.

In February 1983, however, an English group achieved success with a political proclamation that inevitably found the agreement of young people from all over Europe, perhaps partly interested in politics, but certainly interested in music and dance, and we are obviously talking about Re-Flex and their beautiful The Politics of Dancing.

Re-Flex were the classic meteor of the 80s, but thanks to the magic of those years their music certainly managed to last a long time, much longer than the group’s fame. And in a certain sense it is no coincidence, because Re-Flex had been able to fully create those sounds that represented the first part of the 80s, and for this reason their music is certainly still familiar to those who had known them, even if he may not remember the name of the group.

Re-Flex were formed in 1981 in London, and within a short time their line-up had seen various exits and entries. At a certain point, the group featured also Phil Gould and Mark King, who will soon leave Re-Flex to found Level 42. Let’s say that in any case the two historical founders were always in the group, singer John Baxter and keyboardist John Fishman, the one we see on the left in the video with the red tank top, author of almost all the songs. In fact he used to go around London with a tape recorder, a Walkman or something like that, and when he felt inspired he would hum and record, then at home he would work on it a bit and show up to the rest of the group with the song practically ready.

The Politics of Dancing was their debut single, and it was definitely a good success, even reaching the top ten in many European countries. The song opens with a provocation, imagining what would happen if politicians were DJs, and here the link between politics and music is ready: to satisfy the desires and ambitions of young people, the politics of dancing is needed, a politics that make people feel good.

The video is equally simple and nice, but if we look carefully it contains some of the stereotypes of the 80s, such as the temptation to dance in the streets (which will soon inspire the whole trend of street dance), the nightmare of war, stylized with a map of England where the troops are moved with sticks, and there is also a very first sketch of morphing, the transformation of one face into another, which will then be exalted in the video for Cry by Godley and Creme, which it’s basically a single morph from start to finish. In this case, the morphing is between a more adult version of the singer John Baxter, and the real version, in a transition that is certainly a bit artisanal, but nice.

After this song and this album, Re-Flex did not know how to repeat their success and their story stopped in 1987 after two more albums that were unsuccessful. Since 2010 Fishman has resumed publishing their music and created other albums, but I would say that the history of Re-Flex all in all remains confined to the success of The Politics of Dancing, which over the years has appeared as a soundtrack in films such as Atomic Blonde with Charlize Theron, or in videogames produced decades later.

In short, the United Kingdom and the whole world have obviously changed a lot since the early 80s, but we are sure that the politics of dancing and feeling good continues to have the majority of votes even after so many years!

Re-Flex on Wikipedia

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