One of the most popular acts on the famed New Zealand label Mushroom, the Dance Exponents grew out of the South Canterbury-based band Basement, one of the area's biggest teen groups of the late '70s. Vocalist Jordan Luck and guitarist Brian Jones eventually relocated to Christchurch, where in late 1981 they formed the Dance Exponents with guitarist Steve Cowan, bassist David Gent and drummer Michael Harralambi. As the group's name indicated, their primary focus was dance music, and their target demographic was teens; however, with the youth market effectively blocked from the Christchurch pub circuit, they had difficulty establishing a foothold before settling into a residency at a new undergound teen nightclub named PJ's. Their popularity quickly soared, and the group soon signed to Mushroom, issuing their debut single "Victoria" in mid-1982 and soon reaching the Top Ten. Replacing Cowan with guitarist Martin Morris, they also acquired a new manager in Andrew Snoid, himself previously a performer with the Whizz Kidzz and Coconut Rough.
The Dance Exponents' second single, "Airway Spies," proved almost as successful as the first, and they quickly returned with another hit, "All That I Can Do." Morris soon exited, and the group did not immediately replace him; they soon appeared on the concert LP Radio with Pictures: Live at Mainstreet, alongside the Legionnaires. After adding second guitarist Chris Sheehan, they entered the studio to record their long-awaited debut LP, Prayers Be Answered; it was a major hit, achieving double-platinum status. Still, the group found the key Australian market difficult to crack, and a subsequent tour there proved disappointing, although in the summer of 1984 they scored another smash with the single "Sex and Agriculture." With drummer Vince Ely on loan from the Psychedelic Furs to replace the exited Harralambi, the Dance Exponents returned to the studio to begin work on their sophomore album, 1985's Expectations. Though well-received by critics, the record did not perform up to commercial expectations -- their young audience had grown fickle, and the group was clearly slipping in popularity. After a third LP, titled Amplifier, also fell subject to lackluster sales, the Dance Exponents moved to London and became the Exponents.