Bono has written a song or two in the past about heroine. I've heard a couple of interpretations that Discotheque is about Ecstacy, a drug found commonly in Discos during the 70s. The lyrics, you take what you can get point towards the desperation of drug addicts, with the addiction further being shown in 'cause it's all that you can find. You can reach, but you can't grab it paints a vivid picture of an ecstacy user who can't get the drug he/she craves. You can push, but can't direct it shows the effects drugs can have....the more you take, the less predictable the effects. You get confused, but you know it describes the craving for ecstacy. Finally, You just can't get enough of that lovey dovey stuff is an obvious line of lyrics pointing at the unbelievable addiction some feel for drugs. If one also looks at the video for Discotheque, he/she will see that the atmostphere of the video is very spacey and almost surreal....the same feelings one may get by taking the drug.
Roger M. Craine rcrainejuno.com (contributed before the 20:th of February 1998)
Although I'm impressed by the current interpretations, I had different ideas about Discotheque when I first heard it. It seems the song deals with a cultural identity crisis. Right now, pop culture is a composite of cultural trends of the past. Fashion, music, film and art are going back to styles of the '80s, '70s and slightly into the '60s -- all at once. You see retro night at local dance club, with people wearing ringer baby Tees and neon shirts ('80s). Other places, the women are wearing bell bottom and boot-cut pants with the clunky platform heels ('70s), and men are wearing leisure suits with huge butterfly collars (late '60s, early '70s). Lounge music is making a come back, a la Swingers, and disco style dance, such as the Cardigans and Spice Girls. I think that's what Bono means when he wails you know you're chewing bubblegum. You know what that is but you still want some. You just can't get enough of that lovie dovie stuff. Bubble gum, by nature, is meant to be chewed again and again, just like these fads of the past. The only problem is that it tends to loose its flavor. But people just can't get enough. And lovie dovie is a '70s popspeak term. The other lyrics of the song You can reach, but you can't grab it...You get confused, but you know it. show how this movement is hard to describe and understand. Yet it's there invading pop culture, which seemed like a suitable theme for the first song on the album. The dress and dance of the video kind of reinforce this idea too, with Bono, Larry and the Edge dressed in the disco attire of the era.
Chad Loren 00180219bigred.unl.edu (contributed before the 20:th of February 1998)
I sort of disagree with the other interpretations on this site, because I think all of them apply; not in that sense that the song is about everything and nothing, but in the sense that it is really a (brilliant) generalization of the many things that people see in it at first glance.
It is a song about Love and God, as so many U2 songs, but this time from a specific point of view, which is the consideration that people are out there looking for love and for God, and for something that makes some sense in their lives, but they get caught in the smaller, more immediate goods which satisfy them only for an instant, but are somehow incomplete. People think that their lives should be filled with many of these pleasures in a way that they add up to something like happiness, but in the meanwhile they're missing the fact that these things are not God and cannot replace Him; in fact, they bring you further from God because they trick you into thinking that happiness is right there when really you should be looking somewhere else.
I think any interpretation that mentions substitutes for the real Love fits in this one: be it lust, drugs, night life, whatever.
The first part of the song shows this movement where people get something but strangely discover it is not sufficient (can't grab it, direct it, connect it, etc.). And there's no way to get enough of that lovie-dovie stuff, the small loves, the petty loves, because they don't have what it takes to satisfy you.
The Discotheque is the perfect symbol for this atmosphere, where you get a lot through your senses, but your spirit is made numb by this hollow excess. The disco turns you away from facing anything important in your life - don't think, don't talk, just dance and drink, and tomorrow you will have the additional advantage of not being awake in the morning, thus escaping yet another bit of reality... and you know all this but still want it.
The key sentence in the song is "You want heaven in your heart / Heaven in your heart / But you take what you can get / `Cause it`s all that you can find". You are looking for the absolute and the eternal, but you're too caught up in the immediate and transitory.
The song sets the perfect entrance to the album: it's where people are at before they face the need for redemption that flourishes throughout the album and is sung openly in "Wake Up Dead Man", the song that comes after you "listen over the rhythm that`s confusing you". This is where "Pop" starts: when "you know there`s something more, tonight, tonight, tonight"...
Pedro Rodrigues pedro.rodriguesclix.pt (3rd of December 1998) Lisbon, Portugal
I would say there is not much to add and all explanations are plausible, but this one tiny thing that I'm sure will enlight some doubt. It's about the you know you're chewing bubblegum / you know... / you just can't get enough of that lovie dovie stuff. This is indeed a way to describe the use of the XTC-drug. Maybe you noted that many people who are on XTC grind with their jaws all the time? Just like chewing gum. (It has to do with the presence of amphetamine in XTC and is thus a sign that the taken pill is of minor purity. Most "everything is sweet and mellow"-kinda people prefer pure MDMA synthese in XTC and as little speed / amphetamine as possible there.) And yep... lovie dovie stuff refers to XTC's second name, in early days used on the scene: love. For it makes you soft and gentle towards others. In a fake way, that is.
Domitian van Bavel bavel42zonnet.nl ( 3:rd of February 2000) Breda Holland
I think that Bono was very annoyed with that lovie dovie stuff (it's obvious he means drug). People is "looking for the one" who can quench their thirst of drugs. When he says "you know you're chewing bubble gum", he refers to stuff inside you, destroying your health in vain. And although they know that's dangerous, they still want some of it. "You can't get enough" 'cause you are addict. "You can't control or direct it", 'cause it controls you, making you "work and hurt" to obtain a bit of it.
Moran moran2interlap.com.ar (contributed before the 20:th of February 1998)
It is very simple Bono talked about when he was in Sarajevo, He was amazed how the people made Discotheques out of Bomb shelters. They would dance the night away in the bomb shelters as the city was being bombed, hence the Boom Cha!
Patrick Allen Zuniga modsavageaol.com (29th of August 2009)