Growing up in Southern California and attending church dances of the 1990’s, I was exposed to some of the top hits of the pop charts…from the 1980’s. While most of the songs that were presented were diligently vetted for appropriate content, one particular song seemed to have slipped passed the “inspired censors.” Once I learned the real history behind this song I couldn’t help but feel deceived. Thanks to the internet, I have seen the light and truth of this song. This discovery so shocking that I couldn’t help but come to the internet and expose this bit of history that is sure to damage faith and shake the foundation of trust that we have in our church leaders who perpetrated a lie for decades. When you learn what I am about to share with you, I wouldn’t blame you if you lost your faith all together. (Don’t say I didn’t warn you.)
My research into the TRUE history, name, and nature of this song, not the one that we have been told for all these years, and one of the songs that was played all the time at these church dances was a song that we came to know as “The Chicken Dance.” This song was presented as a fun little Oompah, polka-like tune with a quirky accompanying dance. The song would rotate through the same melody with some increasing intensity of tempo as the song progressed. Every Church Dance, almost without exception, this song was played and we all seemed to participate, even when most probably resented the notion of being compelled by social convention to engage in such silliness.
It wasn’t until the fateful spring of 2017 that I would come to know the truth behind the history of this abomination. Originally written by a swiss accordion player, Werner Thomas from Switzerland in the 1950’s, the song was originally called “The Duck Dance.” That’s right, Ducks, not Chickens. How could our leaders continue to perpetrate such a lie? Week after week we participated in ritualized dishonesty.
This travesty is compounded by the discovery that “The Duck Dance” was originally part of Oktoberfest festivities; a German tradition centered around the consumption of copious amounts of ale and beer. That means that we were engaging in a practice that celebrated the appearance of evil, a clear violation of the principles in the 13th Article of Faith to seek after praiseworthy things. This hypocrisy by leaders is evidenced in the fact that they allowed this song to pollute our ears each week at Church Sponsored dances.
Another shocking aspect of this song’s history is that in the 1970’s, the song was acquired by a German producer who altered the song to “The Bird Dance” – likely an attempt to not be offensive to lovers of many different birds, not just ducks. Over time, as popular chart toping songs do, other acts picked up the song and performed their own covers of the song, including versions with lyrics; a clear violation of the song writers wishes who opted to not write words in the first place. This bastardization of the tune came with it translations and other pollutions of the original name “The Duck Dance” to things like “The Dance of The Little Birds” and “Dance Little Birds.” Even Walt Disney Records contributed at least one of the 140 versions that would be responsible for over 40 Million copies sold world-wide.
Finally, in 1981, the song and its clearly duck inspired dance moves, were introduced to the United States during an Oktoberfest in Tulsa Oklahoma. The performers lacked the proper duck costume, and there were no duck costumes available in 1981 Tulsa; so they rented a chicken costume instead. From this point forward, in the United States at least, this song became known as the Chicken Dance.
The great apostasy that has been perpetrated against this dance song has now been spread to Church Dances across the United States. But this negligent act of previous generations to know the real history of this song is no excuse for the lack of thorough vetting. Why did our church leaders teach us the true history of the songs that have now become part of cultural tradition? The playing of “The Chicken Dance” song is nothing more than a pollution of the original tune, not to mention a celebration of glutenous drinking festivals. I for one was shocked by the discovery of this information and it only served to further my distrust of church leaders who claimed to be inspired. Did God inspire you to play a drinking song? Did he inspire you to call it the Chicken Dance when an inspired leader would be given the gift of tongues and know at least the real name of the original? I hope the Brethren correct this inaccuracy and thunder down from the pulpit this General Conference a clear directive to no longer play that song, and offer a sincere apology for having perpetrated this poor example of discernment to the youth of this church for decades.