Charlie's 80s Blog

This Day In Music, June 30th

On this day in 1984: Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Dancing In The Dark’ peaked at #2 on the U.S. singles chart, the first of six singles from his seventh studio album ‘Born In The U.S.A.’ which all hit the U.S. Top 10. The video was shot at the Saint Paul Civic Center in Saint Paul, Minnesota, and shows Springsteen pulling a young Courteney Cox from the audience to dance along with him on the stage.

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.

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 USA 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 Courtneney 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 that she was a professional actress, brought in from New York City, who had already played in ‘As the World Turns.’  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. The video initially included a story line 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. In September 1985, the video won the MTV Video Music Award for Best Stage Performance and was nominated for Best Overall performance. 


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