The release

‘Dancing In The Street’ was initially intended to be just a film to be shown during Live Aid. A positive audience reception, however, meant that it was released as a single on 12 August 1985.

The front cover photograph was taken by Jon Hoffmann during the video filming on 29 June 1985.

‘Dancing In The Street’ was released on 7″ and 12″ vinyl by EMI America. The 7″ had the 3:12 Clearmountain Mix, with the 3:17 instrumental on the b-side.

The 12″ single, meanwhile, had Steve Thompson and Michael Barbiero’s 4:40 mix, a dub version lasting 4:41, and a 3:24 edit.

‘Dancing In The Street’ was an international smash, topping the charts in Australia, Canada, Finland, Ireland, the Netherlands, Spain, and the United Kingdom. It was also a top ten hit in Austria, Belgium, Germany, New Zealand, Norway, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, and the USA, where it reached number 7 on the Billboard Hot 100.

The legacy

Although nobody’s idea of a classic, ‘Dancing In The Street’ remains a quintessential example of the positivity and generosity that briefly overtook the music industry in the mid-Eighties.

The video, in particularly, is an often-hilarious example of two rock icons casting aside their egos to send up themselves and each other, with three minutes of crimes against fashion and dancing that captured both Bowie and Jagger at the peak of their ridiculousness.

On 20 June 1986, almost a year to the day since the song was recorded, David Bowie and Mick Jagger performed ‘Dancing In The Street’ live at the Prince’s Trust Rock Gala at Wembley Arena in London. Their star-studded backing band included Paul McCartney, Elton John, Eric Clapton, Mark Knopfler, Bryan Adams, Mark King, Midge Ure, Status Quo, Howard Jones, and Phil Collins.

Bowie never again sang the song in public, although the horn intro was included in the Glass Spider Tour’s arrangement of ‘Fashion’.

‘Dancing In The Street’ made an unlikely reappearance during the Blackstar sessions in 2015. Bowie and the musicians often discussed favourite comedies and would share clips.

One that Bowie shared was a ‘silent’ music video for ‘Dancing In The Street’ by Strack Azar and Michael Stevantoni, in which the music was removed and badly-sung new vocals and sound effects were overdubbed.

I remember us watching this thing… somebody did a series of music videos without the music. Somebody did one of those for the video he did with Mick Jagger for ‘Dancing In The Street’. But there’s no music, there’s just footsteps and grunts and burps and stuff like that. He thought that was hilarious and would just have us watch the whole thing.
Ben Monder, Blackstar guitarist, 20 January 2016
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