I miss dancing on dark dance floors so much. I miss the pounding of my heart, and getting a sweaty face, and just sort of losing myself in the noise, and sound, and rhythm of it all. I miss feeling alone, even though there’s people all around, I miss exorcising all emotion and leaving it right there in the middle of the club like the handbags our mothers danced around 30 years ago. I don’t take a handbag to the club, now. I just take my emotional baggage, put it on the floor to dance around it, and go home with bags under my eyes instead. Leaving it all behind me.
It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything, I’m sorry – it’s been a really manic time housing/life/job wise.
I want to talk, today, about sad bangers. About songs that sounds, initially, like a thumping good’un, and whilst they are thumping you check in to the words half way through bouncing about on a dance floor and suddenly it’s like.. oh here’s a song to weep to as well as bop to. You know what I’m talking about. Think Robyn’s ‘Dancing on my own’ (or every songs she’s ever made tbh), ‘Too Much’ by Carly Rae Jepsen, even Dancing Queen is a sad banger – it’s all about being sad that you’re not seventeen any more, about the flight of youth from your raging body as the new young thing comes in, and you’re 27 on the dance floor and you might as well hang up your party outfit and go home.
Last week Byfyn released her new track ‘Ain’t gonna be lonely’. It’s got touches of ‘Dancing on my Own’ too, but it speaks so perfectly to the present moment of isolation, of loneliness, that it’s like a little message in a bottle from future you to the you now. Or perhaps another way around, who knows? I don’t.
‘Is this how it is now? I spent a day on my own somehow. I don’t want you to leave me alone never, never go. I can’t stand it alone’
To me this sounds as though she’s whisper singing to herself in the quiet. Not asking someone else not to leave her alone, but as though she’s asking herself not to go.
The chorus ‘you ain’t gonna be lonely when you sleep’, is again like a version of Byfyn soothing the first speaker. The two parts of self: the internal, the external, (or however you personally divide yourself) having a little chat about feeling lonely.
I think it’s the perfect confinement bop, it’s a lock-down extraction floating through the ether. Despite the fact that it’s tonally really upbeat, the shuddering bass synths lend a kind of restless anxiety to the track’s feel. Granted there are chiming synths leading the chorus that almost seem to shoot us from the darker spaces of the verses into the bright beaming light of un-lonely sleep; but that shuddering anxiety still underpins it. This, I think, speaks to all our anxieties about what it means to be locked down in the way that we are. For everything to be slightly weird and off kilter so that we’re not quite sure how to stand. Even the double track vocals, and unpinned harmonies, offer a feeling of unravelling. As though energy in the bass and tempo are fraying the edges of reality. “You ain’t gonna be lonely when you sleep” – why? Where are you going to go?
This brings me onto the video that was released couple of days ago, now, because I think that this reading isn’t exactly inaccurate when you watch the video. It seems to me as though Byfyn herself is yearning for the relief of a dance floor. Her video-self enters an empty flat dimlit in blues and greens and gets in the bath. So far so much like an early 00s club track: girl gets ready to go to the club, goes to the club with friends, dances, middle eight everyone loses it on the dance floor, fade out with close up on a well lit face. done.
But not this sad banger, oh no. This sad banger involves 2 Byfyns: sad bath byfyn, and un-lonely dream byfyn. For reference, sad bath byfyn is also sad dancing on bed byfyn. But sad bath byfyn had a better ring to it. Both byfyns are dancing, crucially, inside. They’re confined to the space of a house, the window shudders against its frame, a wind comes in and blows out all the candles, but crucially, Byfyn is never allowed out to rejoin the real world. She dances in the inside space, sharp staccato movements that suggest a need to ‘break out’, and that the only release would be sleep itself. Un-lonely dream byfyn, clad in ruffles and fluff and ethereal dream-like fabrics has a more fluid mode of expression, as though the release afforded by sleep lends a celestial quality to this version of self.
You watch un-lonely dream byfyn’s arrival on the interphone, and then suddenly she’s in the hall. The lights flicker, the space shudders.
In the second chorus, both sad bath byfyn and un-lonely dream byfyn dance through a sequence of moves, mirroring each other; one fluid and free, the other rigid, stuck to the bed like she’s strapped down.
Then there’s an escape. The superimposed image of the floating dream slides in over the rigid one strapped down on the bed, and then sad-bath byfyn BECOMES un-lonely dream byfyn. You get this now, don’t you? That she’s gone to sleep, she’s in the dream club, dressed to the dream nines.
The image of her dancing in her pyjamas stood at the end of the bed reminiscent of the amount of times I danced around my bedroom during confinement, and the final shot of the light flickering in the windows, receding away like we were being voyeuristic, sneaking a peek through her curtains. (Through her near windows). I don’t think I’ve heard a song yet that truly epitomises the yearning for dance floors that this song does. It captures the heady rise of the entire performance of “going out out”, and the inevitable disappointment of not being able to. If you miss the club like I miss the club, get out your fanciest clothes, put on your sparkliest eyeshadow, turn out the lights, and put this bop on to dance around your room to in the dark before you go to bed.
You ain’t gonna be lonely when you sleep.
You ain’t gonna be lonely when you sleep.
all we can do is dance
[check out Byfyn on Spotify, stream this track until you’ve had your fill of dancing your heart out to it, and then follow her in on instagram]