Blowing the Whistle on the Lost Dance of the 80s (GIFS)


Was Roland Orzabal of Tears for Fears a thief of dance?  (Warning, GIFS)

I was watching a DVD given to me by old friends, Joanna and Irv.  It was a DVD collection of all of Tears for Fears’ videos, a thoughtful gift considering how many laughs Irv and I had shared over the dances of the new wave era.  The one that gave us endless chuckles was embedded in “Change,” an addictive but lyrically useless pop song that confused me for years until I realized that it was intentionally valueless.


We spent lots of time trying to emulate the martial artistry in Roland’s arms.  What was he doing?  Was he fighting off the bacteria from errant sneezes with kung fu?  Was he cracking acorns in his slamming fists?

tearsBut the pattern I noticed is that quintessential stiff 80s dancing required lots of arms.  In the video for Mad World, Roland is demonstrating the loss of human empathy by simulating doing yoga on a canoe.  Below, he simulates a beginner karate student, unprepared to fight off the violence that is a natural result of deadened human emotions.

roland2Above, he is stiff, elbowy, and awkward.  An incredible silhouette; the stuff of legend.

I could not help but notice some matching imagery between Tears for Fears’ “Change” and The Cure’s “The Walk.”  Mainly, it was the inclusion of a creepy mask of inditerminate Asian origin.  The mask appears to be teaching Roland how to karate chop ghosts, but in “The Walk” it appears to illustrate a lyric relating to a woman who looks like a Japanese baby.  I have read that the phrase is meant to illustrate orgasm.  In “The Walk,” it appears to illustrate abortion by using a woman holding a baby doll with a creepy face.  She is doing the same dance.

Was this a message to Roland?  “The Walk” came out two months after “Change.”  Then, I stumbled upon “Let’s Go To Bed,” The Cure’s 1982 single.  Guess what I found.


There it is, all elbows and stiffness.  And it was months before “Change.”

The core of the dance is unmistakeable: the stiff back, legs and arms appearing to move around it, while the chin merely reacts to the vibrations the rest of the body creates.  The power is in the hip.  Roland used that power to lift his knee to the groin of evil.  This dancer uses that power to shovel air.  I envy the brute power of his forearms.

This is not a dance just any man can do, as evidenced by Robert Smith’s inability to capture the power in the performance.


Smith is left. On the right, I can only assume, is Roland Orzabal’s maleficent clone, enslaved by Smith to dance forever.

Legendary.  Was Smith jealous of Roland?  Is that why he selected a dancer that vaguely shares Roland’s features?  Was “The Walk” a way of telling Roland “Hey, dude, don’t steal my shitty dance, or I’ll steal your creepy masks, okay?”  WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

There was a conspiracy once, now lost in the sands of time.  But we need clues.  If you find another video with this awkward elbowy dance, mail me, at  It is never too late to blow the whistle.



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