I’m pretty sure that I have never listened to, and will never listen to the “Smooth 70s” radio station, whose listeners voted Dancing Queen as their favourite hit from the decade (I’m guessing they didn’t bother with polls for other decades…).
I’m very confident that if I’d had a vote in the 2008 US Presidential Election, I would not have cast it for John McCain, who named Dancing Queen as his favourite song in 2008.
I’m reasonably confident that I have never sunk a coin into a jukebox and selected Dancing Queen from the carousel of disappointment, unlike the many people whose selections sent it to number eight in the 2009 Phonographic Performance Limited list of the songs most played on the radio, in clubs and on jukeboxes.
I have, however, probably shimmied across the dancefloor at a club, in my own inimitable style, at some point, and there are few parallel worlds out there in the multiverse where I haven’t joined in with the awkward family and friends throng, urged on by a purveyor of wedding disco cheese. Even the knowledge that some of the people around me probably think they’re actually living out a scene from Mamma Mia! is not going to put me off. Perhaps it’s uncool to admit to being able to dance unironically, or faux-ironically if required, to Abba’s third number one hit of 1976, but this is one of those occasions when fun effortlessly trumps cool.
With its Disco beat and signature ABBA craft, Dancing Queen perfectly captures the fleeting euphoria of the dancefloor - “having the time of your life” - not to mention the misconceptions shared by many out there - “you can dance, you can jive”; it unites everyone, while giving each their own dream.
The song’s enduring strength is perhaps best illustrated by the following tale:
When the Sex Pistols’ 20th anniversary reunion tour came to London, John Lydon decided that the band should enter to the strains of Dancing Queen - the plan being to remind us how terrible music had become when the Sex Pistols came along. The idea backfired. On instant recognition of that piano flourish, the entire audience cheered and broke into spontaneous dancing.Peter Paphides