Dancing in the Dark (Bruce Springsteen Song)
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Dancing in the Dark Bruce Springsteen Song

"Dancing in the Dark"
Single by Bruce Springsteen
from the album Born in the U.S.A.
"Pink Cadillac"
ReleasedMay 3, 1984[1]
RecordedFebruary 14, 1982[2]
StudioThe Hit Factory, New York[2]
Bruce Springsteen
Bruce Springsteen singles chronology
"Open All Night"
"Dancing in the Dark"
"Cover Me"
Born in the U.S.A. track listing

"Dancing in the Dark" is a song written and performed by American rock singer Bruce Springsteen. Adding uptempo synthesizer riffs to his sound for the first time, the song spent four weeks at number two on the Billboard Hot 100[4] and sold over one million singles in the U.S. It was the first single released from his 1984 album Born in the U.S.A.; it became his biggest hit and helped to propel the album to become the best-selling album of his career.


The song is written in the key of B major with a tempo of 149 beats per minute[5] in common time. Springsteen's vocals span from G4 to G5.[6]


Springsteen wrote "Dancing In the Dark" overnight, after Jon Landau convinced Bruce that the album needed a single. According to Dave Marsh in Glory Days, Bruce was not impressed with Landau's approach. "Look", he snarled, "I've written seventy songs. You want another one, you write it." Despite this reaction, Bruce sat in his hotel room and wrote the song in a single night. It sums up his state of mind, his feeling of isolation after the success of The River, and his frustrations of trying to write a hit-single. Six takes cut on February 14, 1984 at The Hit Factory, and 58 mixes later, work was completed on March 8, 1984. The 12" single was released May 9, 1984 and was the biggest selling 12" single in the U.S.A. that year.[7][8]


In a first-for-Springsteen effort to gain dance and club play for his music, Arthur Baker[9] created the 12-inch "Blaster Mix" of "Dancing in the Dark", wherein he reworked the album version. The remix was released on July 2, 1984. The result generated a lot of media buzz for Springsteen, as well as actual club play; the remix went to #7 on the Billboard Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart,[10] and had the most sales of any 12-inch single in the United States in 1984.[9]

Music video

Directed by Brian De Palma, the video was shot at the Saint Paul Civic Center in Saint Paul, Minnesota, on June 28 and 29, 1984. The first night was a pure video shoot, the second was on the opening date of the Born in the U.S.A. Tour. Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band performed the song twice during that show to allow Brian De Palma to get all the footage he needed. The video is a straight performance video, with Springsteen not playing a guitar, allowing him to invite a young woman from the audience, performed by Courteney Cox, to dance along with him on the stage at the end. Although De Palma had told him that it was she whom he was supposed to select, Springsteen thought she was just a pre-selected fan attending and did not know until afterward[11] that she was a professional actress, brought in from New York City, who had already played in As the World Turns.[12] In September 1985, the video won the MTV Video Music Award for Best Stage Performance[13] and was nominated for Best Overall Performance.

Live performance history

On the 2009 Working on a Dream Tour, the song appeared intermittently during the encores. However, Springsteen for the first time played a number of music festivals during the routing, and "Dancing in the Dark" closed all of them: Pinkpop Festival, Bonnaroo Music Festival, Glastonbury Festival, and Hard Rock Calling. When played live in recent years, the song features a harder, guitar-driven sound, with the distinctive synthesizer riff being supplied by Soozie Tyrell's violin.[]

During the 2012 tour the song again became a regular at live shows with audience members selected to dance not just with Bruce (reenacting the Courteney Cox scene from the video), but with other band members too, especially new band member Jake Clemons.[14][15][16] Springsteen family members appeared on stage for this song on occasion, with mother Adele doing the 'Courteney Cox' dance at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia at the start of the tour,[17] and daughter Jessica dancing on stage with Bruce in Paris on July 5.[18]

Chart performance

Released as a single prior to the album's release, the song entered the Billboard Hot 100 chart on May 26, 1984 at no. 36, and spent four weeks at No. 2 (his highest charting song to date) beginning June 30, 1984 (it was kept off the No. 1 spot by that year's song of the summer, Prince's "When Doves Cry").[19] It did reach No. 1 on the Cash Box Top 100 Singles chart.[20] It was also the first of a record-tying seven top 10 hit singles to be released from Born in the U.S.A. "Dancing in the Dark" also held the No. 1 spot for six weeks on Billboard's Top Tracks chart.[21] The song reached No. 1 on the Radio & Records CHR and AOR airplay charts.[22]

In the UK, "Dancing in the Dark" originally reached number 28 in the UK Singles Chart when released in May 1984.[23] However, the song re-entered the chart in January 1985 and subsequently reached number 4,[24] becoming the 29th best-selling single of the year.[25]

The recording also won Springsteen his first Grammy Award, picking up the prize for Best Rock Vocal Performance in 1985.[26] In the 1984 Rolling Stone readers poll, "Dancing in the Dark" was voted "Single of the Year".[27] The track has since gone on to earn further recognition and is as such listed one of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.[28]

Track listings

7": Columbia / 38-04463

  1. "Dancing in the Dark" - 3:59
  2. "Pink Cadillac" - 3:33

12": Columbia / 44-05028

  1. "Dancing in the Dark" (Blaster Mix) - 6:09
  2. "Dancing in the Dark" (Radio) - 4:50
  3. "Dancing in the Dark" (Dub) - 5:30

12": CBS / TA4436

  1. "Dancing in the Dark" (Extended Remix) - 6:09
  2. "Pink Cadillac" - 3:33

Charts and certifications

See also

Cover versions


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  • Born in the U.S.A. Tour (tour booklet, 1984), Springsteen chronology.
  • Born in the U.S.A. The World Tour (tour booklet, 1985), Tour chronology.
  • Marsh, Dave. Glory Days: Bruce Springsteen in the 1980s. Pantheon Books, 1987. ISBN 0-394-54668-7.

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