Songs We Dance To

Songs We Dance To

Kate Jane Villanueva
Media Staff

I discovered my love of dancing at my junior prom, when I slung around my “Prom Royalty” sash to “Old Town Road” by Lil Nas X; I sang along to “Bohemian Rhapsody”; I got down low to “Apple Bottom Jeans.” Ever since then, my favorite thing to do with friends or out on a weekend is to head to the dance floor, or bust out some moves in the privacy of a dorm room.

What music do we like? Why do we dance? What songs make us want to MOVE our bodies to the beat (even if it’s just when no one is watching)?

I have a friend who is obsessed with the 2010 dance song “Like a G6” by Far East Movement. If you don’t know it, give it a listen – it’s an experience, for sure. Seeing him dance to this song, you get the sense that all that’s ever mattered to him is this song, and his syncopated response to it. He once wrote an essay for a class about it, to which the professor responded, “that song is horrible.” We asked the professor what his favorite dance song was. The answer was “Let Me Clear My Throat” by DJ Kool. I’ve been trying to listen to it to understand why this (semi) old man likes it so much, but I don’t get it  – yet. Sometimes a song has to hit the right way at the right time before it resonates.

So what about the rest of us? What songs make YOU jump up and flail about as if life itself were just one giant joyful dance? According to my informal poll of college students, here are some of the best dance songs of all time. 

  • “TiK ToK” by Kesha (my pick) - It’s incredibly funny. It sounds like the way women joke with one another, talking about going out on a weekend and rejecting men who think they’re hot. But mostly, it goes hard.
  • “The Cupid Shuffle” by Cupid - Most people probably learned this dance in elementary school. There’s nothing complicated – almost anyone can dance to it. Ubiquity is a strength. As addendums to this argument, I also received answers including “The Wobble,” “Cotton Eyed Joe,” and “The Macarena.” 
  • “Sorry for Party Rocking” by LMFAO - my best friend has been meaning to have an LMFAO-themed birthday party for years. Plus, this song being the sequel to LMFAO’s song “Party Rock Anthem” will always be funny. It’s incredibly rude, but I see a joy in it - being young, (un)apologetic, and so loud that the neighbors complain. 
  • “Gives You Hell” by the All American Rejects. “I was a wannabe Myspace kid,” said this college student.
  • “Mr. Brightside” by The Killers - This song has a borderline-religious quality. It’s relatable; it’s cathartic. 
  • “Shawty Fire Burning” by Sean Kingston - this was a somewhat humorous response, but it’s also localized. Sean Kingston is just part of the UVA culture now. His invitation to perform for UVA Welcome Week was met with fairly negative reactions, and I heard mixed reviews on his performance. All in all, a perfect setup for semi-ironic adoption of his music by college kids.
  • “Everytime We Touch” by Cascada. To put it simply: it’s euphoric.
  • “Mo Bamba” by Sheck Wes. No one actually provided this as an answer, but anyone who has been in the general vicinity of a fraternity dance floor when this song comes on can attest to how much college kids love this song.
  • “S&M” by Rihanna. It’s sexy, it’s fun, and my mom would make an extremely disappointed face if she heard the lyrics.
  • “Best Song Ever” by One Direction. The person who submitted this song emphasized the hype this song creates, even on previously dead dance floors. “This is a scientific hypothesis that I have tested in the US, in the UK, at frats, clubs, bars, parties, you name it. 100% success rate,” she says.
  • “Sweet Home Alabama” by Lynyrd Skynyrd. Released in the 70s, this is now another darling of frat bros. My dad was appalled when he visited Grounds and heard this wafting from Rugby Road. “Why do people still play this song? I hate it so much.” Can’t quite beat longevity.