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25 Best Songs About Dancing

Home > Everywhere > Dancing | Lists | Music | Performing Arts | Vintage and Retro
by Steven G (subscribe)
Too much tertiary education... Former performer/wrestler, teacher, scientist; Published author & Father... Want to be a writer if I grow up...
Published May 3rd 2020
Everybody dance
I mentioned in my column on Positive Songs that I had a rule for that list that stated: no songs about dancing. Well, this column is the reason why. The idea behind this column is very simple – these are songs about dancing or dances, but they also have music that actually makes me want to dance. Simple, really.
dance, music, songs, home, fun, upbeat

Okay, a little back-story: Even though where I live we aren't in mandatory lock-down, the whole isolation and 'don't go out' thing is still in effect. Well, the girls I used to go to the gym with have been doing little things together and I've gone out with them once or twice. Anyway, it has been raining here, so outside is a no-go, but because I have a, shall we say, interesting set-up of sporting goods in my shed, three of them came over. I set up a CD player and we started to warm-up. One of the girls went through the music, and then two of them used dancing to warm-up. Before long, we were all doing it.

"We dance all the time," one told me. "It stops us from going insane." I tried to picture her and her fiancé dancing but couldn't imagine him dancing. But apparently many people are dancing in their homes for exercise and to do something. Whole families even. While writing my Positive Songs list, I remembered all this, and so this list was also born.

It is a long list because it is so hard to cut a list like this down. And therefore, I won't be writing as much about each song. Now, songs that have a dance associated with them that is not mentioned in the lyrics – like Ike & Tina Turner's 'Nutbush City Limits' and its dance known in Australia as the Madison, and 'Y.M.C.A.' by the Village People – are excluded. Also, I don't like the song 'Macarena', so that's not here either. You may also notice a lack of disco songs. I do not like disco (in general). The one that made the list transcends disco as a genre. And I limited myself to one song per artist.
dance, music, songs, home, fun, upbeat

With all that in mind – 25 songs! Are you ready to dance?

'At The Hop' by Danny and the Juniors (1957)

Let's set the way-back machine for over sixty years ago. This is a song I remember hearing with my father and maybe it's those early associations that make me rate this song so highly. Then again, it is a really good dance track as well. The version by Sha-Na-Na from 1969 (as seen in the Woodstock concert film]) is pretty damn good as well.

'Do You Want To Dance' by Bobby Freeman (1958)

A track that has been covered countless times, this is a pre-Beatles rock classic. The first version I heard was by Cliff Richard and the Shadows, but the original just feels more natural. There is just something about the song that demands you answer, "Yes!" to its titular question. And who doesn't like bongoes?

'Let's Twist Again' by Chubby Checker (1961)

My one song per artist was so there were not three songs by Chubby Checker on the list. The sheer number of dance songs in the 60s was incredible, and this was one of the very best. I like it more than the first Twist song he recorded because the lyrics are just that little better even if the music is not that different.

'The Loco-Motion' by Little Eva (1962)

Most Australians know the version by Kylie Minogue from the late 80s, but this is far better, as Little Eva can actually sing and real instruments do make a difference. It is a simple song, as most dance tracks are, and just makes you want to move. And, of course, there is always the Grand Funk Railroad version from 1974:

'Let's Dance' by Chris Montez (1962)

Another simple song with a pounding drum beat that just sets your foot a-tappin'. So many bad covers of this abound, and none have touched the original. Mostly forgotten today, it is a great little track.

'Twist And Shout' by The Beatles (1963)

Yes, a track I've mentioned before because it is one of the greatest dance tracks of the 60s. With Lennon's voice on the brink of breaking, they got it in one take. But how much of a dance track it truly is can only be judged by watching the scene from the film Ferris Bueller's Day Off when hundreds of people join in with the song in the street parade. The Beatles are awesome.

'The Hucklebuck' by Brendan Bowyer (1965)

This is the first dance song I remember hearing, thanks to my father. So, again, there are probably other connotations for my liking it, but I do still like it, and this is definitely my favourite version of the track. Another cool dance.

'Land Of 1000 Dances' by Wilson Pickett (1966)

Pickett was not the first one to record this song (that would be Chris Kenner in 1962), but his version is probably the best known and certainly one of the best (if not the best) versions. His voice just sounds so soulful. This is the best version to dance to. Definitely.

'Dance To The Music' by Sly and the Family Stone (1967)

A song that is one of the most danceable songs ever. There are a lot of great songs on this list, but this one is a track that my feet move no matter what when I hear it. Soul-funk-rock-pop-everything thrown into a mix that was designed to be moved to. Perfect.

'Peppermint Twist' by The Sweet (1974)

A cover version that, to my mind, outdoes the original by Joey Dee and the Starliters. The Sweet dominated the mid-70s with their glam rock, with hit after hit after hit, and surprisingly this was one of their lesser ones. Still, a great version.

'Stayin' Alive' by Bee Gees (1977)

My one disco song on this list, but, really, it has grunt to it and goes beyond disco in its lyrics. It is about a bad life made better by dancing. And, of course, it is associated with one of the most iconic dance scenes of the 1970s (John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever)... and went to give its name to a not good sequel. But this song… disco's crowning achievement.

'Dance This Mess Around' by The B-52s (1979)

I've talked about this before, and I will forever associate this song with Melinda. While some prefer Rock Lobster from the same album, I like this one, and it definitely has more of a danceable attitude about it. The dance titles from times past add to it and it is weird to dance to but fun.

'Shake A Tailfeather' by Ray Charles with The Blues Brothers (1980)

From that classic movie The Blues Brothers, this huge dance set-piece is one of the very best known songs from the film, a cover version of a 1960s song. And it still resonates. When I was running school discoes in the 2000s, the kids requested this song!

'Dancing With Myself' by Billy Idol (1981)

Billy Idol re-recorded this song only a year after his band Generation-X released it. It was his first solo single and it started everything. There is also some hint that it might not be about actual dancing, per se, but another solo activity. But I reckon it is a great dance track, with its driving drums and pounding bass-line.

'Safety Dance' by Men Without Hats (1982)

This was my favourite 12 inch dance remix. A one-hit wonder if ever there was one. This song was a staple of Blue Light Discos back "in the day". There is an odd dance to go with it, doing the letters that spell the word "safety" (and another just doing the letter 'S'), but that's not necessary to dance to it.

'Flashdance… What A Feeling' by Irene Cara (1983)

You knew this song would have to be here, right? While the film is not a favourite, I do enjoy this song. When it builds up, it becomes quite the decent dance song. Very good.

'Footloose' by Kenny Loggins (1984)

Theme song from a great movie, and a song I keep on mentioning, this is such a glorious song. This is a Blue Light Disco special; the amount of times I danced to this song I cannot count. This is another song that just automatically sets your feet tapping.

'And We Danced' by The Hooters (1985)

A forgotten song from the 80s, this is such a bright hit that for a brief period we had it played at Blue Light Discoes as well. The song is such a joyous celebration of dance.

'Dancing In The Street' by Mick Jagger and David Bowie (1985)

Another song where there have been way too many versions over the years. But this one is my favourite. It sounds like they're having fun in this version, recorded to coincide with the Live Aid event. Some don't like it, but I don't care.

'Dancing On The Ceiling' by Lionel Richie (1986)

And we're still in the mid-80s and we're still listening to songs that remind me of Blue Light Discos. Richie's most pop solo song is the sort of song that definitely fills the dance floor. It is really easy to dance to, as well.

'Slave To The Music' by Twenty 4 Seven (1993)

I bought this song to use when I was an aerobics instructor because it has a great beat to use in the fast bit of a class. So maybe it was being exposed to it so often, but this is a great song to dance to. I didn't go to a lot of night-clubs at the time (I was more a live music person), but this song definitely brought the dancers onto the dancefloor.

'I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor' by Arctic Monkeys (2005)

I was introduced to this song by the kids in my class of that year and when I went to the school disco, this definitely filled the dance floor. I wasn't yet running the discoes, just one of many co-opted in to being a chaperone, but this song certainly sounded good and the kids all danced to it.

'Shut Up And Dance' by Walk The Moon (2014)

One of my favourite songs from the 2010s, this is just so very good. While I was long past my dancing days, people I talked to said that I was not alone in liking the track, and that everyone would join in at clubs when this came on.

'Uptown Funk' by Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars (2014)

Infectious, a genuine ear-worm, and with heaps of weird pop culture references, this track is one of those that just makes you nod you head along in time to it. This is made for dancing.

'Can't Stop The Feeling!' by Justin Timberlake (2016)

And we'll finish with a track that is a foot-tapper. It just screams, "Dance!" at you and you cannot help but move when you hear it. And it sounds so full of joy that it is a pleasure to move along to the music.

There you have it – 25 songs to dance along to! I hope that those of you stuck at home cleared a space in the middle of the floor and got the whole family to join in and have a good time. Dance, relax, live life. That's the best I can offer in terms of advice.

Hope you all enjoyed it!


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Why? We all need to dance
Where: Everywhere
Your Comment
Some really good songs (and movies). Thanks.
by May Cross (score: 3|8202) 875 days ago
Brilliant playlist, thanks!
by MaggieVP (score: 2|615) 875 days ago
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