Dancing in the Dark (Bruce Springsteen song)

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"Dancing in the Dark"
Single by Bruce Springsteen
from the album Born in the U.S.A.
B-side"Pink Cadillac"
ReleasedMay 9, 1984[1]
RecordedFebruary 14, 1984[2]
StudioThe Hit Factory, New York[2]
Songwriter(s)Bruce Springsteen
Bruce Springsteen singles chronology
"Open All Night"
"Dancing in the Dark"
"Cover Me"

"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., and became his biggest hit, helping the album become the best-selling album of his career.

"Dancing in the Dark" was also successful worldwide, becoming Australia's highest-selling single of 1984 (despite peaking at number five on the Kent Music Report), peaking at number one in Belgium and the Netherlands, and charting within the top 10 in seven other countries.

The song is listed among the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.[5]

Writing and recording[edit]

Springsteen wrote "Dancing In the Dark" overnight, after Jon Landau convinced him that the album needed a single. According to journalist Dave Marsh in the book Glory Days, Springsteen 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, Springsteen 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 his album The River, and his frustrations of trying to write a hit single. Six takes of "Dancing in the Dark" were recorded on February 14, 1984, at The Hit Factory, and after 58 mixes, work was completed on March 8, 1984. The 12-inch single was released May 9, 1984, and was the highest-selling 12-inch single in the US that year.[6][7]


Cash Box said that the song "is classic Springsteen: gutsy vocals set to a hard-driving backbeat" and "an added surprise is the addition of the synthesizer to the inspired playing of the E-Street Band."[8]

Chart performance[edit]

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 Duran Duran's "The Reflex" and that year's song of the summer, Prince's "When Doves Cry").[9][10] It did, however, reach No. 1 on the Cash Box Top 100 Singles chart.[11] 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.[12] The song reached No. 1 on the Radio & Records CHR and AOR airplay charts.[13]

In the UK, the song peaked at No.4. It was the 29th-best-selling single of the year.[14]

The recording also won Springsteen his first Grammy Award, picking up the prize for Best Rock Vocal Performance in 1985.[15] In the 1984 Rolling Stone readers poll, "Dancing in the Dark" was voted "Single of the Year".[16] 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.[17]


In a first-for-Springsteen effort to gain dance and club play for his music, Arthur Baker[18] 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,[19] and had the most sales of any 12-inch single in the United States in 1984.[18]

Music video[edit]

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 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[20] that she was a professional actress, brought in from New York City, who had already played in As the World Turns.[21] Despite this Cox has stated that she was one of many that Springsteen could have selected and that she was secretly hoping to not be picked.[22]

The video initially included a storyline in which Cox and several of her friends were getting ready to go to the concert with one of them getting picked. Vignettes were shot for this although they remained unused.[22] In September 1985, the video won the MTV Video Music Award for Best Stage Performance[23] and was nominated for Best Overall Performance. Actor Alfonso Ribeiro later claimed to have drawn inspiration from Cox's dancing in the video in developing "The Carlton" for his character in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.[24]

Live performance history[edit]

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.[citation needed]

During the 2012 tour the song again became a regular at live shows with audience members selected to dance not just with Springsteen (reenacting the Courteney Cox scene from the video), but with other band members too, especially new band member Jake Clemons.[25][26][27] 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,[28] and daughter Jessica dancing on stage with him in Paris on July 5.[29]


According to authors Philippe Margotin and Jean-Michel Guesdon:[30]

Track listings[edit]

7": Columbia / 38-04463[edit]

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

7": CBS / WA-4463 *[edit]

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

(*Car-shaped picture disc released in the UK, featuring a pink Cadillac on the front side)

12": Columbia / 44-05028[edit]

  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[edit]

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



Region Certification Certified units/sales
Australia (ARIA)[60] 3× Platinum 210,000double-dagger
Canada (Music Canada)[61] Platinum 100,000^
Denmark (IFPI Danmark)[62] Platinum 90,000double-dagger
Italy (FIMI)[63] Gold 25,000double-dagger
Mexico (AMPROFON)[64] Gold 30,000double-dagger
Portugal (AFP)[65] Gold 20,000double-dagger
United Kingdom (BPI)[66] 2× Platinum 1,200,000double-dagger
United States (RIAA)[67] 4× Platinum 4,000,000double-dagger

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.
double-dagger Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Marsh, Dave (2004). BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN TWO HEARTS THE DEFINITIVE BIOGRAPHY, 1972–2003. New York, NY: Routledge. pp. 310, 346–347. ISBN 0-203-49470-9. Retrieved January 23, 2020.
  2. ^ a b Heylin, Clinton (2012). Springsteen Song by Song: A Critical Look. Penguin. pp. 81–82. ISBN 9781101626030.
  3. ^ Holden, Stephen (May 27, 1984). "Springsteen Scans the American Dream". The New York Times. Retrieved October 7, 2019.
  4. ^ a b "Bruce Springsteen Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved September 2, 2016.
  5. ^ "The Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll". Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Archived from the original on March 17, 2010. Retrieved October 5, 2020.
  6. ^ Marsh, Dave (1987). Glory Days: Bruce Springsteen in the 1980s. New York: Pantheon Books. ISBN 0-394-54668-7.
  7. ^ "Born In the U.S.A. Studio Sessions". Brucebase. Brucebase. Retrieved August 22, 2019.
  8. ^ "Reviews" (PDF). Cash Box. May 19, 1984. p. 12. Retrieved July 23, 2022.
  9. ^ "Hot 100". Billboard. New York: Billboard Publications, Inc. June 30, 1984. p. 60.
  10. ^ Marsh, Glory Days, p. 219.
  11. ^ a b "CASH BOX Top 100 Singles – Week ending JUNE 30, 1984". Archived from the original on September 30, 2012. Retrieved June 12, 2014.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link). Cash Box magazine.
  12. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits, 8th Edition (Billboard Publications), p. 593.
  13. ^ a b "National Airplay" Radio & Records June 29, 1984: 88
  14. ^ "Top 100 Singles". Music Week. London, England: Spotlight Publications. January 18, 1986. p. 10.
  15. ^ "Winners". Grammy.com. The Recording Academy. Retrieved October 15, 2015.
  16. ^ "Readers' Poll" Rolling Stone February 28, 1985: 26
  17. ^ "Experience the Music: One Hit Wonders and the Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll". he Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, Inc.
  18. ^ a b Marsh, Dave (2004). Bruce Springsteen: Two Hearts : The Definitive Biography, 1972–2003. Psychology Press. p. 491.
  19. ^ a b "Billboard August 18, 1984" (PDF). Billboard. New York, NY, USA. August 18, 1984. p. 31. Retrieved September 2, 2016.
  20. ^ Bream, Jon (September 27, 2016). "In new memoir, Springsteen recalls opening Born in USA Tour in St. Paul". startribune.com. Star Tribune. Retrieved April 21, 2018.
  21. ^ Onofrio, Jan (1998). Alabama Biographical Dictionary. Somerset Publishers. p. 90. ISBN 9780403098118.
  22. ^ a b theoffcanerashow (March 25, 2017). The one where Courteney Cox doesn't want to dance with The Boss. YouTube. Archived from the original on December 19, 2021.
  23. ^ "Volume 97 No. 38, DECEMBER 28, 1985" (PDF). Billboard. New York, NY, USA. September 28, 1985. p. 40. Retrieved September 2, 2016.
  24. ^ Cooper, Daniel (February 15, 2019). "The 'Fortnite' Dance Lawsuits Are Close to Falling Apart". Entrepreneur.
  25. ^ Bruce Springsteen danced with a dude dressed like Courteney Cox to Dancing In The Dark and it was epic, Metro, June 6, 2016
  26. ^ Bruce Springsteen Helps Pregnant Fan Complete Bucket List By Dancing With Her On Stage, Inside Edition, February 4, 2016
  27. ^ 'Dancing in the Dark,' at 88, with Bruce Springsteen, CTV News, February 3, 2016
  28. ^ The Hollywood Reporter, March 30, 2012
  29. ^ "Brucebase – 2012". Brucebase.wikidot.com. Retrieved June 26, 2015.
  30. ^ Margotin, Philippe; Guesdon, Jean-Michel (2020). Bruce Springsteen All the Songs: The Story Behind Every Track. London: Cassell Illustrated. p. 250. ISBN 978-1-78472-649-2.
  31. ^ "Forum – ARIA Charts: Special Occasion Charts – CHART POSITIONS PRE 1989". Australian-charts.com. Hung Medien. Archived from the original on October 20, 2013. Retrieved September 2, 2016.
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  33. ^ "Radio 2 Top 30" (in Dutch). Top 30. Archived from the original on March 31, 2016. Retrieved September 2, 2016.
  34. ^ "Top RPM Singles: Issue 6758." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved September 2, 2016.
  35. ^ "CHART NUMBER 1436 – Saturday, July 07, 1984". Archived from the original on November 7, 2006. Retrieved September 2, 2016.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link). CHUM.
  36. ^ Nyman, Jake (2005). Suomi soi 4: Suuri suomalainen listakirja (in Finnish) (1st ed.). Helsinki: Tammi. ISBN 951-31-2503-3.
  37. ^ "Le Détail par Artiste". InfoDisc (in French). Select "Bruce SPRINGSTEEN" from the artist drop-down menu. Retrieved September 2, 2016.
  38. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Dancing in the Dark". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved September 2, 2016.
  39. ^ "Classifiche". Musica e dischi (in Italian). Retrieved June 1, 2022. Set "Tipo" on "Singoli". Then, with "Dancing in the dark" in the "Titolo" field, click "cerca".
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  43. ^ "Topp 20 Single uke 24, 1984 – VG-lista. Offisielle hitlister fra og med 1958" (in Norwegian). VG-lista. Retrieved September 2, 2016.
  44. ^ "South African Rock Lists Website SA Charts 1965 – 1989 Acts S". The South African Rock Encyclopedia. Retrieved September 2, 2016.
  45. ^ "Bruce Springsteen – Dancing in the Dark". Singles Top 100. Retrieved September 2, 2016.
  46. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved September 2, 2016.
  47. ^ "Bruce Springsteen Chart History (Mainstream Rock)". Billboard. Retrieved September 1, 2016.
  48. ^ "Bruce Springsteen". Radio & Records, Inc. Retrieved May 2, 2017.
  49. ^ "Kent Music Report No 548 – 31 December 1984 > National Top 100 Singles for 1984". Kent Music Report. Retrieved January 23, 2023 – via Imgur.com.
  50. ^ "Forum – ARIA Charts: Special Occasion Charts – Top 100 End of Year AMR Charts – 1980s". Australian-charts.com. Hung Medien. Archived from the original on August 28, 2014. Retrieved September 2, 2016.
  51. ^ "Top RPM Singles: Issue 9638." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved September 2, 2016.
  52. ^ "Official New Zealand Music Chart – End of Year Charts 1984". Recorded Music NZ. Retrieved September 2, 2016.
  53. ^ "Volume 96 No. 51, DECEMBER 22. 1984" (PDF). Billboard. New York, NY, USA. December 22, 1984. p. TA-19. Retrieved September 2, 2016.
  54. ^ "The CASH BOX Year-End Charts: 1984". Archived from the original on September 30, 2012. Retrieved June 3, 2017. Cash Box.
  55. ^ "Radio & Records Contemporary Hit Radio 1984 Year-End Chart".
  56. ^ "Kent Music Report No 599 – 30 December 1985 > National Top 100 Singles for 1985". Kent Music Report. Retrieved January 23, 2023 – via Imgur.
  57. ^ "Ultratop Jaaroverzichten 1985". Ultratop 50 (in Dutch). Retrieved September 2, 2016.
  58. ^ "Top 100-Jaaroverzicht van 1985". Dutch Top 40 (in Dutch). Retrieved September 2, 2016.
  59. ^ "Dutch Charts Jaaroverzichten Single 1985". Single Top 100 (in Dutch). Retrieved September 2, 2016.
  60. ^ "ARIA Charts – Accreditations – 2017 Singles" (PDF). Australian Recording Industry Association.
  61. ^ "Canadian single certifications – Bruce Springsteen – Dancing in the Dark". Music Canada.
  62. ^ "Danish single certifications – Bruce Springsteen – Dancing in the Dark". IFPI Danmark. Retrieved November 10, 2022.
  63. ^ "Italian single certifications – Bruce Springsteen – Dancing in the Dark" (in Italian). Federazione Industria Musicale Italiana. Retrieved September 11, 2017. Select "2017" in the "Anno" drop-down menu. Select "Dancing in the Dark" in the "Filtra" field. Select "Singoli" under "Sezione".
  64. ^ "Certificaciones" (in Spanish). Asociación Mexicana de Productores de Fonogramas y Videogramas. Retrieved September 30, 2020. Type Bruce Springsteen in the box under the ARTISTA column heading and Dancing in the Dark in the box under the TÍTULO column heading.
  65. ^ "Portuguese single certifications – Bruce Springsteen – Dancing in the Dark" (PDF) (in Portuguese). Associação Fonográfica Portuguesa. Retrieved May 24, 2022.
  66. ^ "British single certifications – Bruce Springsteen – Dancing in the Dark". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved November 11, 2022.
  67. ^ "American single certifications – Bruce Springsteen – Dancin' in the Dark". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved May 25, 2022.


  • 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.