This song is commonly thought to be about masturbation, but it's really more about dancing by yourself. Billy got the idea after watching Japanese kids at a Tokyo disco "dancing with themselves" in a nightclub. The kids would dance in a pogo style up and down, and there were mirrors in the club so they could watch themselves doing it.
Idol concedes, however that there is "some sort of masturbatory element" to the song.
Idol originally recorded this in 1980 with his band Generation X, but producer Keith Forsey thought Billy should try releasing it on his own in the States. Forsey set Billy up in New York and thanks to MTV, the song quickly caught on. Idol re-recorded it when he went solo in 1981 and used it as a B-side on various extended singles.
This song is about more than just dancing. Idol told Rolling Stone: "The song really is about people being in a disenfranchised world where they're left bereft, dancing with their own reflections."
Steve Jones of the Sex Pistols played the solo. Steve and Billy remained close friends.
This song was a big deal for Idol because it established him in America. When he left Generation X, he came to the States and tried to get his solo career off the ground. With no idea what to do and a bit of depression creeping in, he went to the New York nightclub Hurrah to drown his sorrows. As Idol tells it, he was in the bar area when suddenly a crowd migrated to the dance floor. The song that got them up and dancing was "Dancing With Myself," which he had recorded with Generation X.
He realized that this was the hot sound - one also being employed by Simple Minds and Depeche Mode - and that he should run with it. With this revelation, Idol was able to evolve his punk sound into a new wave/dance style that made him one of the biggest stars of the '80s.
The video was directed by Tody Hooper, who directed the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
Suggestion credit: Saint - New Orleans, LA, for all above
On Guitar Center Sessions, Idol explained: "With 'Dancing With Myself' I was trying to put back in punk energy, but streamline the music at the same time and make it great to dance to and slightly more sexual - some of the things that punk precluded because it was a sort of gang kind of music. I wanted to put a sexual feeling into it, and that's when I started doing with songs like 'Dancing With Myself.'"
Christopher from San Antonio TexasEye without a Face comment, Out of Hope, hopelessly addicted to Heroin singer hunts for his next fix for himself and his love, she calls him, while he's far out looking for their next Fix he wakes up that the dream and believing is over stealing, gambling, prostituting to get more dope despise, mad, but realizing he must love real life and get clean in the end he realizes that this dream lover and addiction was a waste such a human waste
a perfect example of this was John Lennon who got hooked on heroin via Yoko she was dead in her eyes addicted got John Lennon hooked too, then he wanted to leave her but she had him knocked off by a lunatic and yoko protests release of the hitman Chapman who was also on heroin
William from Phoenix Az 85029For Heavens sake, William himself said the song had an "element" of masturbation about it. but it says a lot more than just that, doesn't it? geeez, if nothing else, what about the way the song crescendos at the end? explain that? that seemed kinda like a statement about Dancing with complete abandon, be it alone or with a partner. It's a great song, and should not be dissected to death. thanks for reading
Jim from Enid, OkHa! Man I'm so mad I even searched my deeply buried password list to log onto this superb site!! Grrr! The song is about a lonely guy who is unable to find a woman! Even Mr. Idol has a hard time finding a woman to relate to in a huge city. Tokyo and London for example. "But your empty eyes seem to pass me by...." How many of us have gone to places looking into a prospective mate's eyes and they don't even see us? 'Let's sink another drink...." Yep, he's bracing himself with a stiff one before he lights out into the street to go to clubs, bars and crowds to seek female companionship.
Questor from Citrusheights, CaThis song reminds me of something I've always hated hearing others say. They've got this gargantuous fear of being seen all by themselves, as if they're loners. So if there's a new movie they want to see or a restaurant they want to try, they won't go if their only choise is solo. What's the big deal?
I love those job interviews that ask A) Are you a team player? and then B) Are you wable to work independently? Yes, I'm able to work on a project by myself, see a movie by myself, enjoy a nice dinner by myself, and if necessary dancing by myself.
You can only be of service to others when you're good to yoursElf.
Kostas Korras from Las Vegas, NvI think this song could be about enjoying your own company first not caring what others think of you and letting the world joining your parade.I dont think its about masterbation.could be though.
"theres nothin to prove and theres nothin to lose cause Im dancin with myself"
Drew from B'ham, AlIf Billy Idol is what I think he is & no one tainted this song w/ the meaning that is masturbation, someone is bound to make a tainted recording now! Thanks a lot, some o' u commentators! Some people simply deserve a real whooping from their mothers! Sickoes!
Michael from San Diego, CaConcur with Chad & oldpink, I have been to other countries in which the walls in some nightclubs are mirrored and people seem to "dance with themselves"....
Oldpink from New Castle, InYeah, it's not the most lyrically deep song, and no, it is NOT about self gratification. Sorry, Beavis. Rocking song, definitely, and this one was a real crowd pleaser when I saw him do it live in 1982. Billy puts on one killer show, I have to admit.
Chad from Superior, Wiin VH1 Story tellers Idol says he went on tour in Japan, While there he went to a dance club and the kids were dancing in mirrors around the room (dancing with myself). That prefectly explains the opening verse, you are a complete moron if you think it is about wacking off.
Mark from Byrdstown, TnLooks like most of the posters in here are 16 year old males....all they think about is whacking off....any song they hear will make them think of whacking off......great insights fellows.....NOT!Idol himself has said repeatedly that this song is NOT about whacking off.
Leila from Perth, Wa, Australiathis song is totally about masturbation.. i think billy was just trying to see how many idiots there were in the world when he said that it was about japanese kids dancing by themselves.
i can personaly vouch that it is also a great song to masturbate to...
Lester from New York City, NyIf I'm remembering correctly, when Billy Idol was on Late Night with David Letterman, Idol said the drug dealers in Greenwich Village were calling heroin 'White Wedding', cocaine 'Rebel Yell' and marijuana 'Dancing With Myself' in tribute to his songs, to which Dave replied, "Your mother must be so proud".
Danielle from Palm Coast, Fli think if i were to die tomorrow i would pick this song to play at my funeral. IT IS SO ME!
Rusty from Raleigh, NcI saw zombies in that music video. They were jumping off the roof top of a building.
Eb from Richmond Hill, GaYOU NEED TO WATCH THE VIDEO TO REALIZE THIS . . .
Yep, you got it, the song is about MASTURBATION.
Adam from Sydney, AustraliaS'cuse my typo...
Adam from Sydney, AustraliaAn innocent, 16 year female old contestant sang this on the Aussie version of Idol recently. That did make me giggle!
Michael from San Diego, CaI like The Donnas version of this song as well!
Joe from Bellingham, WaOnly Billy Idol could come up with lyrics that sound meaningful, but turn out to be about jacking off! hahah! you're still the king billy!
Marissa from Is This Optional?, Ohwell crud! I thought this song was about somebody who kinda couldn't get up the courage to ask a girl to dance so he just danced by himself (kinda like I do at dances.) This was in a cartoon movie by the way -- "Flushed Away" if you care to know, and if it's really about masturbation that's weird!!!
Joel from Columbia, ScYeah, it sounds like self abuse to me.
Tiffane from Kalispell, MtNot about masturbation. It could be, with the words "love vibration" in the song. - Tiffani, Kalispell, MT
AnonymousIts about youth culture not masturbation. It could be, with the lyrics "Well, I wait so long for my love vibration". I'm still debating over that.
Lalah from Wasilla, AkWCOZ and WBCN, two Boston-based radio stations, would battle with each other to play this song back in 1980. I could have sworn, though, this got airtime before 1980. When I moved across the country in 1983, the west coast called it "new" from Billy Idol.
Sean from Brockton, MaGotta love the postapocalyptic themed-video- similar to The Police in the "Synchronicity II" video. In fact, Billy Idol reminded me a lot of Sting in his early days (well, not the voice...)
Jonathon from Clermont, FlThey really need to put more of his songs up on this site. There's three right now, and they missed my all-time favorite, "Catch My Fall"...Either way, this is still one of his best songs, no matter what it was about.
Sasha from Houston, TxI'm with Alex and the Japanese dance clubs - I've read that meaning before in an Idol interview. While I see the self-love connotations, it's not all about that. ;)
Jer from London, Canadai love this song for its meaning and its tune. GO SELF LOVE!!
Mike from Winnipeg, Canada"holy moly! now i'm embarressed of all the times i walked down the street singing this song, and i never had any clue that this song was about beatin' the meat! sheesh. oi. "
I fell the same way. But still a great song. Oh well if the meaning is about masturbation. Same with Turning Japenese but if people think I masturbate alot because I like this song screw them.
Benjamin from Heidelberg, GermanyBilly Idol definitely rocks!
Matt from Pawtucket, RiA few weeks ago i was at a baseball game and this song started playing over the speakers! I found it really funny in some way or another.
Randy from Cabimas, South America"When there's no-one else in sight In the crowded lonely night Well I wait so long For my love vibration And I'm dancing with myself"
definetely an M... song. any normal teenage boy could figured that one out.
Anastasia from Anaheim, Caholy moly! now i'm embarressed of all the times i walked down the street singing this song, and i never had any clue that this song was about beatin' the meat! sheesh. oi.
Dee from Indianapolis, InLove this song, not for it's meaning but it's an all aroung great tune that is one for the ages.
Alex from New Orleans, LaI think Idol himself said it was about dance clubs in Japan that had mirror reflections as partners,hence dehumanization.
Joel from Panama City, FlBlink 182 covered this song very well