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Dancing in the dark

Posted by Smokey Stover on August 20, 2007

In Reply to: Dancing in the dark posted by Lang Allen Reeves on August 20, 2007

: What does "Dancing in the dark" mean? Where did the phrase originate? I have searched the web (this site included) and cannot find it. Is the meaning so obvious that no one thinks it needs explaining? Most of the phrases I see explained on the web are ones I already know: I am well educated and a compulsive reader. But I've never been able to understand this phrase that's so common Bruce Springsteen wrote an entire song about it! Please help!

Since you have searched this phrase with no success, I doubt that I would have any greater luck. So I'll go ahead with my theory that your suggestion is correct, that the meaning is so obvious as to require no explanation.

The earliest appearance of the phrase that I know of is the 1931 song by Arthur Schwartz (music) and Howard Dietz (lyrics). It appeared in the 1931 revue, "The Band Wagon," and reappeared in the 1953 film of the same title.

Lyricists are poets, often with a wonderful feeling for words and a good imagination. Dietz may have simply coined this phrase to express the feeling one gets from dancing in the dark--presumably a very romantic experience, with shared intimacy in the privacy of the dark. Even if dancing in the dark doesn't do anything for you personally, the poet conveys that it does for some people, and renders it romantic-sounding, reality aside.

If the phrase sounds like a common cliché it's probably because the song has been immensely popular, deservedly so. It has become a "pops standard," recorded by a who's who of pop singers. It is hard not to have heard the phrase, even if only as the beginning of a song.

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