The release

The video for the song ‘Let’s Dance’ was shot in February 1983, in the tiny town of Carinda in New South Wales, Australia – described by David Bowie as a place of “frankly brute character.”

The shoot was directed by Bowie and David Mallet. It centred on the Carina Hotel bar, and also featured footage of Warrumbungle National Park and Sydney.

The ‘Let’s Dance’ single was released on 14 March 1983, with the b-side ‘Cat People (Putting Out Fire)’. It was a worldwide smash hit, topping the charts in Austria, Belgium, Canada, Finland, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the USA. It peaked at number two in Australia, France, Germany, and South Africa.

Let’s Dance was released exactly one month later, on 14 April 1983, on vinyl and cassette.

The album was an instant smash, becoming EMI’s fastest-selling album since The Beatles’ 1967 opus Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. It reached number one in Australia, Austria, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, and the UK. In the US it stalled at number four on the Billboard 200.

Three other singles were released from the album. ‘China Girl’ was issued on 31 May 1983, with ‘Shake It’ on the flipside. It was followed by ‘Modern Love’, backed with a live version, in September, and ‘Without You’/‘Criminal World’ in November.

‘Shake It’ was remixed and included on the ‘China Girl’ 12″. ‘Ricochet’, meanwhile, was the only Let’s Dance song not to appear on a single.

Reissues, remasters

The first compact disc edition of Let’s Dance was released in Japan on 21 July 1983. It was given a wider global release on the format the following year.

In 1995 the album was reissued by Virgin Records, with ‘Under Pressure’ as a bonus track.

It was re-released in 1999, as part of EMI’s ‘The David Bowie Series’ of 24-bit digital remasters. This version had no bonus tracks, but was remastered by Peter Mew and Nigel Reeve at Abbey Road Studios in London.

The Canadian edition of the 1999 reissue contained a data element, which included premium content from when played on a computer.

Let’s Dance was remastered by Nile Rodgers and included in the 2018 box set Loving The Alien (1983-1988).

Remastering Let’s Dance gave me the chance to bring it back to what we actually heard together in the studio while recording it. That’s one way I’ve paid my respect to the man that not only changed the world, but also changed my life…

In my heart, 35 years later I’m proud that I was able to capture what David was thinking, to elevate his ideas and to co-create the biggest record of his life. Now the world is going to get to hear it the way we heard it. It’s been both an incredible honor and a huge responsibility, and if technology becomes even more top-notch while I’m still alive, I will want to do it again because David is that important, Let’s Dance is that important!

Nile Rodgers, June 2017
Loving The Alien (1983-1988) book