Are you ready to relive your first school dance?! Haha, just kidding. I’d never subject you to such a cruel and unusual punishment. Surviving middle school once was more than enough.
Here are the unforgettable school dance songs that defined your adolescent existence (hopefully they don’t bring back too many traumatizing memories):
1. “Cha Cha Slide” by DJ Casper
All hail the universal song that anyone and everyone — terrible dancers included — could bust a move to since the lyrics literally told you what to do. It’s OK if you couldn’t go down low, all the way to the floor. It’s OK if you could never quite figure out exactly what the “Charlie Brown” involved. This is a judgment-free zone.
2. “Since U Been Gone” by Kelly Clarkson
Let’s be real, this was the unofficial single girls anthem before Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” revolutionized the world in 2008. When your crush of the week didn’t like like you back, this was the song that said you didn’t need no man in your life anyway.
3. “The Anthem” by Good Charlotte
This song was unique because it simultaneously made you feel like you could conquer the world while also perfectly capturing your preteen angst about still having a bedtime (which you totally rebelled against because you were so hardcore, of course).
4. “Baby Got Back” by Sir Mix-A-Lot
You knew all the words to this or, more accurately, you acted like you knew them. You sang along because it created the illusion that you knew how to rap in real life.
5. “Build Me Up Buttercup” by The Foundations
The instant the DJ put this sucker on, everyone stopped whatever they were doing and became karaoke superstars. EVERYONE sang along to this song. In order to find that kind of joyous harmony these days, you need to be at a wedding when “Sweet Caroline” comes on.
6. “Collide” by Howie Day
This was probably your first slow dance (it was either this or “All My Life” by K-Ci and JoJo). You had no idea where to put your hands and there had to be six inches between you guys at all times.
7. “What’s Your Fantasy” by Ludacris featuring Shawnna
OK, so this is why the six-inch rule existed. This song basically required grinding, and you still have no idea why anyone thought it was a good idea to play this in the presence of horny 7th graders. The dance chaperones were most likely scarred for life after the hanky panky they witnessed. I feel like I need to wash my hands just thinking about it.
8. “My Boo” by Usher and Alicia Keys
Ahh, the song that captured all your crazy mixed emotions about your ex who you dated for four hours and held hands with exactly once. You guys had such history together! You were totally meant to be.
9. “1985″ by Bowling For Soup
Be honest, you had no idea who Springsteen was. Your parents probably understood this song’s lyrics better than you did.
10. “Cotton-Eyed Joe” by Rednex
Just hearing this wretched tune immediately brings back traumatic memories of hoards of sweaty middle-schoolers dancing in perfect synchrony to a wannabe square dance.
11. “Sandstorm” by Darude
Like most songs that don’t have any words, sh*t gets real when the beat drops. Furiously jumping up and down to this song at every school dance ever prepared you for today’s Avicii and Skrillex hits.
12. “Yeah!” by Usher featuring Lil Jon and Ludacris
This song required 20% rookie break-dancing moves and 80% yelling “bend over to the front and touch your toes!” I’m sure you’ve nailed at least one of those super important life skills by now.
13. “Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life)” by Green Day
The FEELS! This song had the magical ability to bring everyone within earshot together into a massive circle-shaped group slow dance huddle (you know what I’m talking about). During this powerful moment, you were absolutely certain that the people surrounding you would be your soulmates and true BFFs until you were a wrinkly 80 years old. You vaguely remember someone initiating a group hug — and then the music faded away and you were stuck in a smelly embrace with one real friend, an acquaintance, a frenemy, and that weird dude who picked his nose at lunch that one time.
Need more nostalgia? Keep the school dance party going with the playlist below.