In the summer of 1984, Bruce Springsteen was at the height of his powers. His seventh studio album, Born in the U.S.A., was #1 on the Billboard 200 and about a dozen other charts across the globe. The album also produced seven hit singles, the first of which was “Dancing in the Dark.”
In addition to being the Boss’ biggest hit to date, “Dancing in the Dark” was also his first song to include the use of a synthesizer. 1984 was the right year for that. The video was memorable, too.
Directed by Hollywood heavyweight Brian De Palma (Scarface, The Untouchables, Mission: Impossible), the video was filmed over two nights at the Saint Paul Civic Center in Saint Paul, MN. The second night was the opening date of the Born in the U.S.A. Tour. Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band performed the song twice during that concert so that Brian De Palma could get all of the footage he needed. The crowd must have wondered if they were experiencing collective déjà vu.
There’s nothing fancy about the video. It’s a straight concert performance. Bruce isn’t even holding a guitar. But toward the end of the song, he invites a pretty girl in the front row to dance with him on stage. It was pre-Friends Courteney Cox (above). Until then, her only acting credit was an episode of As the World Turns. Nevertheless, Courteney had been hired in New York City and flown to Minnesota to appear in the video. Bruce didn’t know she was an actress until after they had shot the scene.
Despite its simplicity, or perhaps because of it, “Dancing in the Dark” won the MTV Video Music Award for Best Stage Performance and was nominated for Best Overall Performance in 1985. Without further ado, here are Bruce Springsteen and the future Monica Geller:
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