The Madonna Timeline: Song #110 – ‘Into the Groove’ – 1985/1987

{Note: The Madonna Timeline is an ongoing feature, where I put the iPod on shuffle, and write a little anecdote on whatever was going on in my life when that Madonna song was released and/or came to prominence in my mind.}

Music can be such a revelation
Dancing around you feel the sweet sensation
We might be lovers if the rhythm’s right
I hope this feeling never ends tonight…

It was a hot and happening Saturday night in my bedroom. The girls from ‘The Facts of Life’ had just departed, leaving me alone in the bright lights of the neon-clad 80’s, and we were headed into the lateness of the nine o’clock hour. Fly 92 was probably playing its Saturday night dance jam, but I had a cassette tape of non-stop Madonna mixes, and I didn’t need Shadoe Stevens clogging up my head with his smoother-than-Black-Velvet voice.

While it was originally released in 1985, I had my head in the sand at that time, as I don’t quite recall the initial chart-storming that Madonna made with ‘Into the Groove’ – instead, my memory is of the re-release it got on 1987’s ‘You Can Dance’ remix EP. On those Saturday nights when I was freed from the chains of school, I found safety and salvation in the meanderings of my bedroom. A childhood bedroom holds wonders that no parent or guardian could ever fully understand.

Yet as much as I wanted safety and security, I yearned for escape. Even then I knew I had to create my own world and forge my own way because the things I thought were secure were about to come tumbling down. And the only constant in any gay boy’s world at the time was Madonna. The rest of the world, and sometimes our own families, wanted to quiet us with shame and silence, but Madonna embraced all – gay, straight, black, white, Catholic, Jewish, Muslim – it did not matter to the Material Girl. Everyone was invited to her party ~ hell, that’s how you made the money. Not by excluding or silencing, but by celebrating. We didn’t know how deep she went then, we only cared that she knew her way around a proper pop song. She was always one step ahead of the rest of us.

And so, on Saturday nights I’d lock the door where no one else could see, and dance my worries away. Escapism was the only way out. They could belt me, they could hate me, they could shame me, but they couldn’t take away what was inside my head. They couldn’t take away what was in my heart. That’s where the groove was. That’s where freedom would be found.

Only when I’m dancing can I feel this free 
At night I lock the doors, where no one else can see 
I’m tired of dancing here all by myself 
Tonight I wanna dance with someone else…

Regarding ‘Into the Groove’ – The Song – I actually never loved it. It’s sacrilege to say so to certain Madonna fans, but I just never connected to this one, which is odd because so many consider it a seminal piece of the Madonna mythology. The most fun I had with it was her Reinvention incarnation with bagpipes and drums. I was touched that she was making such an overt nod to her then-husband Guy Ritchie. Love makes us do odd things – and it’s always touching to see that. I guess I just needed that incongruous Scottish mash-up – kilts solve a multitude of problems. (Oh, and put this into your blasphemous files: I’ve never seen ‘Desperately Seeking Susan’ in its entirety. Yeah, I know. Kenneth in the 212 can shoot me now.)

SONG #110 – ‘Into the Groove’ – 1985/1987

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