Favorite Dancing Scenes from ’80s Movies

This is the second part of a two-part feature. The first part was our Favorite “Singing” Scenes from ’80s movies. If you have not read that one yet, be sure to click on the link and do so. This part will cover our favorite “dancing” scenes from ’80s movies. As you will notice, there are even more examples of dancing than singing.

I guess “dancing” can be interpreted in different ways, so in this list you will see many different variations. I did try to include some less obvious choices. The scenes could be very professional or quite amateur. They could be very brief or much longer choreography. A movie could be included on the list only once even if it has multiple dancing scenes and the same scene could only be on either the singing or dancing list. Some of these scenes could be included on both the dancing and singing lists, but just like before, I made the call on which list I would put them on.  With that, here are our FAVORITE DANCING SCENES FROM ’80s MOVIES:

Honorable Mention. Back to the Future, Part 3 (1990) – In this scene, Michael J. Fox ends up showing off some dance moves including the moonwalk while “Mad Dog Tannen” fires bullets near his feet. This missed the ’80s by only months and is part of the franchise which began in that decade, so I decided to at least include it as honorable mention.

50. Goonies (1985) – The other kids are a little hard on the chubby kid here, but seems like all in good fun. They make “Chunk” played by Jeff Cohen shake his belly around in a dance they refer to as the “Truffle Shuffle.” It is a quick but memorable dance.

49. Spaceballs (1987) – Most of this film parodies Star Wars, but there is a scene which does a parody of Alien with a creature bursting through a guy’s chest. Only this time, the little guy does something a little more unexpected. This one could’ve gone on either list since he belts out “Hello, My Baby”, but I like the chorus line kick step he does across the counter.

48. Gremlins (1984) – During the scene when the Gremlins are destroying the bar and making things difficult on the bartender (Phoebe Cates), there is a short tribute to Flashdance that ends with a little break-dancing back spin.

47. Grease 2 (1982) – The sequel to the 1978 original opens up with the “Back to School Again” number where we get introduced to the new Pink Ladies, T-Birds and other students at Rydell High.

46. Romancing the Stone (1984) – There is a scene where “Jack Colton” (Michael Douglas) shows “Joan Wilder” (Kathleen Turner) his dance moves as the two begin to develop feelings for each other.

45. Staying Alive (1983) – The sequel to Saturday Night Fever begins with an intense dance number by “Tony Manero” (John Travolta) to the song “Far From Over” by Frank Stallone.

44. White Nights (1985) – From a technical standpoint, this scene should probably rank near the top of this list. Directed by Taylor Hackford, the performance by Mikhail Baryshnikov and Gregory Hines still deserves recognition especially for this impressive scene.

43. The Last Dragon (1985) – I surprisingly did not choose a scene featuring Vanity as “Laura Charles” at 7th Heaven, but instead chose this scene featuring the Sum Dum Goy guys doing their thing before they meet Bruce Leroy.

42. ¡Three Amigos! (1986) – The Amigos’ salute could be considered a little dance itself, but I decided to go with a musical number. “My Little Buttercup” could have been included on the singing list, but they show off a little choreography in this one, so I included it on this list instead.

41. Batman (1989) – Gentlemen, let’s broaden our minds! The Joker (Jack Nicholson) enters the museum dancing very much like a drum major to Prince’s “Partyman”.

40. Better Off Dead (1985) – At about the 1:40 mark of the scene below, “Ricky” (Dan Schneider) enters and proceeds to show off his dance moves with an unwilling “Monique” (Diane Franklin) while E.G. Daily sings.

39. Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984) – This particular scene has always stuck in my head because it features the awkward Crispin Glover (pre-George McFly) dancing awkwardly to “Love is a Lie” by Lion. Interesting fact that Glover has revealed is that he was actually dancing to AC/DC’s “Back in Black” and they later dubbed over the song you hear in the film.

38. Bachelor Party (1984) – During his bachelor party, “Rick Gassko” (Tom Hanks) jumps up on the grand piano and performs a little dance which you can see below.

37. Do the Right Thing (1989) – The opening credits to this Spike Lee joint features Rosie Perez dancing to “Fight the Power” by Public Enemy.

36. Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982) – “Spicoli” (Sean Penn) jumps on stage to join the band singing and dancing to “Wooly Bully” while the rest of the cast is seen dancing along.

35. Girls Just Want to Have Fun (1985) – This lesser known film stars Sarah Jessica Parker and Helen Hunt. Parker plays “Janey” who disobeys her father and auditions to be on a dance television show. She makes it to the audition finals here featuring the song “Dancing in Heaven (Orbital Be-Bop)” by Q-Feel.

34. National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983) – “Clark Griswold” spots Christie Brinkley again this time during a rest stop for lunch. They enjoy a little dance set to “Little Boy Sweet” performed by June Pointer. The only dance on this list that uses a sandwich as a prop.

33. Earth Girls Are Easy (1988) – Many don’t remember this movie, but it did have a fantastic cast including Jim Carrey, Damon Wayans, Geena Davis, Jeff Goldblum, Julie Brown and Michael McKean.  It does include a silly dancing sequence featuring “Zeebo” (Damon Wayans) and the song “Baby Gonna Shake” by Royalty.

32. Cocktail (1988) – “Brian Flanagan” (Tom Cruise) and “Doug Coughlin” (Bryan Brown) perform a choreographed drink mixing routine set to “Hippy Hippy Shake” by The Georgia Satellites. This is a loose interpretation of dancing, but still counts.

31. Short Circuit (1986) – Johnny 5 dances with “Stephanie” (Ally Sheedy) to the Bee Gee’s “More Than a Woman” as we get to see he’s more than just any ordinary robot.

30. The Great Outdoors (1986) – During the end credits of this film, you see most of the cast highlighted by Dan Aykroyd dancing to the Wilson Pickett song “Land of 1000 Dances”. I wish more movies would do things like this to make the credits more interesting. Got to know how to pony, like Bony Maronie.

29. Twins (1988) – At one point, “Vincent” (Danny DeVito) teaches his unlikely twin brother “Julius” (Arnold Schwarzenegger) how to dance before his date. Tonight is your night, bro.

28. Fame (1980) – This film follows young students and their teachers trying to make it at a High School of Performing Arts. Irene Cara is one of the stars of the movie as “Coco Hernandez” and she also sings the title song, “Fame.” which went on to win the Oscar for Best Original Song.  It would later become the theme song for the TV series (inspired by the film) which ran from 1982-87.  The song is featured probably the most memorable scene from the film where the students flood out of the school to dance in the streets. 

27. Mannequin (1987) – There is a memorable montage with Kim Cattrall and Andrew McCarthy dancing and changing outfits set to “Do You Dream About Me” by Alisha.

26. The Karate Kid Part II (1986) – In the original, which is one of my personal favorites, there is a scene that could have qualified when Daniel attends the school dance in his shower costume and gets a brief slow dance with Ali. But in the sequel, there is a scene where Daniel-san swing dances to Bill Haley & the Comets’ “Rock Around the Clock” with his new love interest Kumiko.

Click the 2nd page for the Top 25!

About OldSchool80s 18 Articles
Old School Tim has an adoring devotion to the awesome '80s decade. He loves to relive and share that nostalgia on a regular basis. The Kickin' it Old School blog site has been retired, but you can still get daily doses of '80s goodness on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and anywhere else they let him.