This song was a #1 US hit in September 1976, becoming one of the biggest disco hits of the era. When the movie Saturday Night Fever hit theaters in December 1977, the song was used in a famous scene from the movie where John Travolta takes over the dance floor - an appropriate choice since the song is specifically about dancing.
"You Should Be Dancing" was included on the soundtrack along with five other songs performed by the Bee Gees (plus another they wrote: "If I Can't Have You" by Yvonne Elliman). The album sold over 15 million copies in the US, marking the Bee Gees as a disco act when their earlier output was more charitably classified as blue-eyed soul. Decades later, a new generation discovered the group's earlier work and the disco taint began to fade, but for Barry Gibb, the memories of the backlash didn't. "It still haunts me like hell," he told Mojo in 2001 about this time. "Every time anyone asks me about it my mouth goes dry."
Along with "Jive Talkin'
," this is one of two Bee Gees songs on the Saturday Night Fever
soundtrack that had already been released. It first appeared on their 1976 Children Of The World
John Travolta prepared for the Saturday Night Fever movie by practicing his dance moves to this song. When he was told by the producers that "Night Fever" would be used for the sequence for which he was practicing, Travolta insisted that "You Should Be Dancing" be used instead.
The dance sequence from the movie was choreographed by Deney Terrio, host of the TV show Dance Fever.
Stephen Stills of Crosby, Stills and Nash played percussion on this track. He recalled to The Independent August 17, 2013: "We were in the studio next door making a CSN album and David (Crosby) was all full of himself and saying this is going to be the album of the year. I went, "No it's not, that's being recorded across the hall," 'cause I'd heard some of that Saturday Night Fever stuff and I knew it was totally unique and going to be a monster. So I played timbales and for a long time that was my only platinum single."
This featured at the end of the movie Despicable Me, where the minions replace ballet music with the song so everyone can dance.