Chaos. Bloodshed. Annihiliation. 1983–the beginning of the most violent and horrific outbreak of violence in Columbia since the Civil War. Fast forward 29 years–the day it ended. Families of the victims won’t be seen parading around Columbia. Shattered CD cases can be seen strewn all over downtown. (henceforth referred to as, “The District”).
Unbeknownst to Men Without Hats, their album Rhythm of Youth sparked a new kind of Civil War–with Columbia, Missouri at ground zero. What was meant to be an album full of criticisms about the political climate instead turned to be a Martyr’s token of war. Much like a terrorist relies heavily on his misconstrued interpretations of religious text, Men Without Hats’ 1983 album tore apart a civilization with their confusing lyrics in the hit song “Safety Dance”.
“No one knew what they were talking about when it came out,” Ross Derpison, a former member of the Literalists With Helmets Militia, said. “We [The LWHM] thought they were talking about getting down and funky with friends. You have to keep in mind, we were only kids–15, maybe 16 years old.”
As the death toll mounted to 15,000 before the year 2000, moderates and fighters on both sides were beginning to consider peace. Unfortunatley, it would be another 12 years before an agreement could be made. Resentment still runs deep for one militia man.
“Those bastards knew damn well what the song was about. That whole album was full of political metaphors,” Damon Fapper, ex-member of the Abstractionists With Visors Republic (AWVR), said. “Safety Dance was clearly a metaphor for nuclear war. With the Soviets and Americans constantly building up their aresenals until the very end, there was no way that song meant anything else.”
The dance in the song’s music video became the weapon of choice for fighters on both sides. Using that famous “S” style arm-jerking-motion, thousands of militia men began to die on both sides, as well as innocent civilians caught in the cross-fling.
“My daugther had both of her eyes poked out on her way to campus!” cried Judy Danish. Danish’s daughter, Jenny “Cream Cheese” Danish, was brutally murdered in 1995. Her mother recounts the horrific details of Jenny’s injuries. “She was lying on the ground outside of [Harpo's Bar and Grill] one night, bleeding to death. Those militia men were having a fight right in the middle of the street, and she tried to avoid it. She just got caught in the cross-fling!”
The City of Columbia, as well as the University of Missouri, Stephens College, Columbia College, and Shakespeare’s Pizza began writing a peace treaty that hashed out all necessary demands set forth by both sides. Leaders of the militia’s finally met last month to finalize the treaty, and today the war officially ended. The treaty makes illegal the practice of the Safety Dance, as well as banishes the album from ever being sold or played in any way.
“It’s great that we can finally put this violence to rest. Too many lives have been lost,” Danish said. “I’ll never get back my sweet Cream Cheese but at least I know she can rest peacefully. In a way this is a small bit of closure.”