Why Am I Dancing?

Writers - Tennant/Lowe
First released - 2024
Original album - Nonetheless
Producer - James Ford
Subsequent albums - none
Other releases - none

According to the Pet Shop Boys' February 3, 2024 interview with The Guardian, this is the only song on Nonetheless that specifically refers to the COVID-19 pandemic. It apparently concerns Neil's lockdown habit of dancing by himself on his kitchen floor. (Chris suggested that Kylie Minogue was one of Neil's favorite sources of music to dance to.) The article also notes that this song is a "rewrite"—or as Chris has put it elsewhere, "a dance mix"—of "How Did I Get Here?" a ballad from Naked, a planned "stage show" that the Boys are composing based on the Hans Christian Andersen tale "The Emperor's New Clothes." (You'll recall that their 2011 ballet The Most Incredible Thing is similarly based on an Andersen story.) Whether Naked actually ever comes to fruition or if the precursor to this song will still be a part of it remains to be seen.

Getting back to the song, it kicks off with a simple trumpet fanfare (which recurs later), almost as if it were calling its narrator to attention. Appropriate to the subject of dancing, its upbeat tempo reflects the music—essentially is the music—that he finds himself dancing to.

Why am I dancing when I'm so alone?
What do I have to celebrate here on my own?

Likely inspired by its source from the aforementioned embryonic stage show, Neil sings that he "may as well be naked" since he has "nothing to hide." Even though one might think there's no reason for him to dance when he's alone, it's the very fact that he is alone that allows him to be in his "comfort zone," where he doesn't have to worry about what anyone else might think or how they might judge him. We all know how that works, don't we?

It's interesting to note that some lines seem to suggest a much younger man, perhaps one who's only now coming to accept himself as he truly is:

I’m starting a new life in a world far away
From the people who brought me up and I disobey

With words like these, it's easy to see why Neil has suggested that Nonetheless may be the Boys' "gay album"—although, to be honest, from this writer's perspective it's difficult to see that it's really much more "gay" than Very or Bilingual.

List cross-references