Ivan Doroschuk, from Men without Hats, has explained that “The Safety Dance” is a protest against bouncers stopping dancers pogoing to 1980s New Wave music in clubs when Disco was dying and New Wave was up and coming. New Wave dancing, especially pogoing, was different from Disco dancing, because it was done individually instead of with partners and involved holding the torso rigid and thrashing about. To uninformed bystanders this could look dangerous, especially if pogoers accidentally bounced into one another (the more deliberately violent evolution of pogoing is slam dancing). The bouncers did not like pogoing so they would tell pogoers to stop or be kicked out of the club.
Thus, the song is a protest and a call for freedom of expression. It has been claimed that the meaning of the song can be found in similarities between “Safety Dance” and “Safe to dance”. Other lyrics in the song include references to the way pogoing looked to bouncers, especially “And you can act real rude and totally removed/And I can act like an imbecile“.