"Dancing in the Dark" is a 1984 song, written and performed by American rock singer Bruce Springsteen. Adding up-tempo synthesizer riffs and some syncopation to his sound for the first time, it became his biggest hit and, as the first single released from Born in the U.S.A., propelled it to become the best-selling album of Springsteen's career.
"Dancing in the Dark" was the last song written and recorded for Born in the U.S.A. Springsteen's producer and manager Jon Landau liked the album but wanted a sure-fire first single, one that was fresh and directly relevant to Springsteen's current state of mind (because much of Born in the U.S.A. had been written two years earlier). Landau and Springsteen argued and Springsteen later wrote "Dancing in the Dark". His irked mood from the day's argument, combined with the frustrations at trying to complete the album, poured out into the lyrics.
"Dancing in the Dark" was a featured song throughout the 1984-1985 Born in the U.S.A. Tour, usually being played as the second song of the second set. Echoing the music video, the song's outro would be extended while Springsteen searched the front rows of the audience for a woman (played in the music video by the 20 year old future Friends star Courteney Cox) to pull up onstage and dance with. The dance that Courteney Cox performed during the video later became the inspiration for Carlton Banks' famous dance in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Being pulled up onto stage became quite the prize for the female faithful, and considerable jostling for position with stage security and each other could take place. Once up, some fans danced well, others wanted hugs more than steps, and some just froze.
During the 1988 Tunnel of Love Express, the song was usually the next-to-last song of the second set, but it was played much the same and the same pull-the-girl-on-stage routine took place. However, by the start of the 1992 "Other Band" Tour, the song was drastically reshaped as a slow, tired harangue on solo electric guitar with no fan and no dancing. This interpretation only lasted a dozen or so performances before it was dropped from the set list.
Though it was his biggest hit, "Dancing in the Dark" gradually disappeared from Springsteen concerts for a decade, until it resurfaced as a regular encores selection shortly after the start of the 2002-2003 Rising Tour. Now presented in a more rock-oriented arrangement, it was warmly received by fans and stayed in the show for the balance of the tour, after which it went back into retirement for Springsteen's subsequent not-rock-band tours.
The song found its revival on Springsteen's Magic Tour in Fall of 2007, where it replaced "Waitin' on a Sunny Day" as the penultimate encore song for the later shows on the tour. The song has been performed 429 times through 2008.
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, but with other band members too, especially new band member Jake Clemons. Springsteen family members appeared on stage for this song on occasion, with mother Adele doing the 'Courtney Cox' dance at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia at the start of the tour , and daughter Jessica dancing on stage with Bruce in Paris on 4 July.
Released as a single prior to the album's release, the song spent four weeks at #2 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart (his highest charting song to date) in June–July 1984 (it was kept off the #1 spot by Duran Duran's "The Reflex" and that year's song of the summer, Prince's "When Doves Cry"). It did reach #1 on the Cash Box Top 100 Singles chart. 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 #1 spot for six weeks on Billboard's Top Tracks chart.
Although the song only peaked at #5 in Australia, it remained on the charts for most of 1984 and was that country's highest selling single of the year. It spent a total of 64 weeks in the Top 100.
In the UK, "Dancing in the Dark" originally reached number 28 in the UK Singles Chart when released in May 1984. However, the song was re-released in January 1985 and subsequently reached number 4 in the charts, becoming the 27th best-selling single of the year.
The recording also won Springsteen his first Grammy Award, picking up the prize for Best Rock Vocal Performance in 1985. It also won the MTV Video Music Award for Best Stage Performance. In the 1985 Rolling Stone readers poll, "Dancing in the Dark" was voted "Song of the Year". 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. File Hashes