They Dance Alone

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"They Dance Alone (Cueca Solo)"
Single by Sting
from the album ...Nothing Like the Sun
A-side "They Dance Alone (Cueca Solo)"
B-side "Ellas Danzan Solas"
Released 1988
Recorded 1987
Length 7:16
Label A&M
Writer(s) Gordon Sumner
Producer(s) Gordon Sumner
Sting singles chronology
"They Dance Alone"
"All This Time"

"They Dance Alone (Cueca Solo)" is a protest song composed by English musician Sting and published first on his 1987 album ...Nothing Like the Sun; the song was the fifth and final single released from the album. The song is a metaphor referring to mourning Chilean women (arpilleristas) who dance the Cueca, the national dance of Chile, alone with photographs of their disappeared loved ones in their hands.

Sting was accompanied by Eric Clapton, Fareed Haque and Mark Knopfler on guitar with Rubén Blades providing additional Spanish vocals.

Song information[edit]

Sting explained his song as a symbolic gesture of protest against the Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet whose regime killed thousands of people between 1973 and 1990. This song was recorded in both English (with some spoken Spanish words) and Spanish (with additional lyrics by Roberto Livi). This latter version was titled "Ellas Danzan Solas" and was released on the 1988 EP Nada como el sol.

Live versions[edit]

There are several live versions of this song, most notable from the Nelson Mandela 70th Birthday Tribute (1988), from an Amnesty International concert (1988) in Buenos Aires with Peter Gabriel and the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo and from the ''Desde Chile... un abrazo a la esperanza'' concert held at Estadio Nacional in Santiago de Chile (with artists including Sting, Jackson Browne, Branford Marsalis, Luz Casal, Sinéad O'Connor, Peter Gabriel, Vinnie Colaiuta and New Kids on the Block) on 13 October 1990 where more than 20 Chilean women came on to the stage with photos of their lost husbands and sons in their hands or pinned to their clothing.

Cover versions[edit]

Jose Feliciano and the Vienna Symphonic Orchestra Project (Instrumental Version) (1988) from the album Jose Feliciano and Vienna Symphony Orchestra,[1] Richie Havens (1994) from the album Cuts to the Chase,[2] Bob Belden Ensemble (Instrumental Version) (1989) from the album Straight to My Heart: The Music of Sting,[3] Mark Hall from the album Acoustic Moods of Sting,[4] the London Symphony Orchestra (1994) from the album Performs the Music of Sting,[5] Lynn McDonald (2007) from the album It's High Time,[6] Holly Near & Mercedes Sosa (English/Spanish Version) (1990) from the album Singer in the Storm,[7] Mariano Yanani (2005) from the album Babies go Sting,[8]Joan Baez (Spanish Version) (1989) from the album Diamonds & Rust in the Bullring,[9] and Birgitte Grimstad (Danish version) (1996) from the album Ord over grind, 51 Beste 1966-1994[10]


Year Chart Position
1988 German Single Charts 66
1988 Dutch Single Charts 27

See also[edit]



  • Sting: Lyrics by Sting. The Dial Press. 2007. ISBN 978-0-385-33987-2
  • Marjorie Agosín: Tapestries of hope, threads of love: the arpillera movement in Chile. Rowman & Littlefield, 2007. ISBN 978-0-7425-4003-3
  • Billboard review from the From Chile... An Embrace To Hope concert in Santiago de Chile (Online)