“Land Of 1000 Dances” is not a census, it’s a promise – that as long as there is music and there are dancefloors, fresh dances will be found. The pleasure of so much pop lies in those new moves, the routines which attach themselves to songs by design or accident. You can’t usually work out the moves just by listening – there’s no clue in the grooves of Whigfield’s “Saturday Night” that the song has a special dance, but the dance is inextricable from the love so many people have for it. A bespoke dance, learned by seeing then doing, is the physical manifestation of the joyful communion pop creates simply by lots of different people loving the same thing at the same moment. It’s like the world’s easiest initiation ceremony.

Which makes DJ Casper’s “Cha Cha Slide” either the ultimate dance hit or a weird outlier. “Cha Cha Slide” snatches away this figleaf of mystery – the song is the dance, the words are the routine, it is no less and not much more than a step aerobics routine with set music. It’s almost hook free – “Cha Cha Slide” just drops away into pure stepping where a chorus might otherwise be.

As well as its simplicity, the other thing I notice about “Cha Cha Slide” is its austerity – this isn’t a record that goes out of its way to create ‘fun’ beyond the basic joy of dancing. There have been other instructional dance records in the charts – by 1985, Spitting Image could show up with a piss-take of them and be well understood – but they all have moments of excess, commands that are saucy or surreal giving dancers permission to make a fool of themselves. “Cha Cha Slide” has no pelvic thrusts or pushed pineapples or conga lines – it simply is what it is.

As a non-dancer – at least not to this level of coordination – I can’t say whether the Slide is easy or hard, enjoyable to pull off or banal. It’s too prescriptive (and therefore too corny) to work inside a DJ mix, too brutally one-dimensional for non-dancefloor listening. It’s a record that almost refuses any life beyond the functional and communal, the most defiantly critic-proof of Number Ones.

Score: 4

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