“Let’s Dance” by David Bowie

This is of course a dance song, albeit one which may sound slightly-unorthodox in that regard. A pair of “red shoes”, which are mentioned twice in the lyrics, play a prominent role in not only the song but also its music video. It has been deemed that this device was derived from a 1948 movie which itself is entitled The Red Shoes. Ultimately they are symbolic of the wearer, i.e. the addressee, possessing the wherewithal, or perhaps let’s say disposition to dance. That is to say that the line in which they are featured, “put on your red shoes and dance the blues”, is meant to be somewhat of a dichotomy. So it would appear that even though the singer knows the addressee is feeling ‘blue’, he is still encouraging her to dance anyway. 

And in terms of who is being addressed, that would seem to be a romantic interest of the singer. Moreover, it can also be argued that this individual is in a depressed based on the working of the chorus. For here the singer assures her that even if she “should fall”, he would be there for her. Additionally, it would appear that he is once again encouraging her to dance her melancholy away.

And conclusively, it can be said that is the primary idea upon which “Let’s Dance” is based. The singer is able to perceive that the addressee, someone he cares about, is not in an ideal state emotionally. Thus in the name of uplifting her, he wants the two of them to get their dance on. And another, more general way of picturing the song’s intention is as an exercise in emotional upliftment via an activity, dancing, which has proven to produce such results.

Facts about “Let’s Dance”

This is the title song from David Bowie’s 15th studio album. It was the first song recorded for the project and was released as its lead single on 17 March 1983.

“Let’s Dance” was written by Bowie and produced by Nile Rodgers. Also for the record, it features a guitar solo rendered by Stevie Ray Vaughan.

“Let’s Dance” is one of Bowie’s best-known tunes, having reached number 1 in almost 15 countries. This includes topping the Billboard Hot 100 and UK Singles Chart. It also ranks amongst the top-selling songs in British history, having gone platinum in the United Kingdom (as well as Canada).

The music video to “Let’s Dance”, which was filmed in Australia, had David Mallet as its director. Bowie used the clip to tackle the issue of racism. In fact it features actual depictions of racism against aborigines, as during the filming the (White) locals weren’t even aware of who Bowie was and or what the recording was being used for and thus showed their true colors.

The pub in which part of the video was filmed is part of the Carinda Hotel. And it has become somewhat of a landmark, making headlines when the owners put it up for sale in 2020.

This song has been covered by the likes of Smashing Pumpkins (1998) and Jimmy Fallon (2017). And it was featured (along with a David Bowie cameo) on the movie Zoolander (2001) and interpolated by British singer Craig David onto his hit track “Hot Stuff” (2007).

The label that originally put out “Let’s Dance” is EMI America Records.

1 Response

  1. Anonymous says:

    Seems like people are kind of sidestepping the issue that is a great disco tune!

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