Private Dancer

Album: Private Dancer (1984)
Charted: 26 7
  • songfacts ®
  • Artistfacts ®
  • Lyrics
  • This song is about either a prostitute or stripper who prefers to consider herself a "Private Dancer." It describes how empty she feels inside. It was an unlikely title track to Turner's wildly successful comeback album, as the subject matter didn't relate to the singer's life or her return to fame.
  • Mark Knopfler wrote this song for his band Dire Straits, but realized that it didn't work with a guy singing it, so he pitched it to Turner, who was beginning her comeback. In a 2004 interview with her fan club, Tina Turner described her reaction when Knopfler played her the song: "Mark said this song is not for a man, it's a girl's song. He recorded it but won't use it so when he put the demo on, he sung 'I'm a private dancer, dancer for money, do what you want me to do,' I told him, 'I think you're right, it's not a song for a guy. I liked it a lot. I wasn't sure whether the girl was a hooker or a very classical private dancer but I thought I'd take it."
  • Turner didn't realize until after this song was released that is was perceived as being about a prostitute. Early in her career, she did private shows (the musical kind) in Texas, so she saw the "private dancer" as someone who performs very innocently at these events. "I can be naive about some of these things," she said in the book Classic Albums. "I took it because it was an unusual song. I'd never sung a song like it."
  • Members of Dire Straits played on this track, including their bass player John Illsley and drummer Terry Williams. Jeff Beck played the guitar solo, as Mark Knopfler did not perform on it.
  • Turner chose this song as the title track from the album after the photo was taken for the cover. In that shot, she sits in a chair wearing a classy dress while a black cat stands in front of her, staring into the camera. She felt the photo suited the "Private Dancer" character better - it's also a more compact title than "What's Love Got To Do With It."
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Comments: 10

  • Chris Fox from San FranciscoI've always loved this song musically as well as Tina Turner's delivery, and I think the lyrics work whether there is prostitution involved or not. The ambiguity there makes the song relevant to more circumstances. But at the same time, as a sex worker myself, the message has always bothered me. The character in the song is definitely in the wrong line of work – she can't even see her clients as human! With apologies to Mark Knopfler and Tina Turner, as written it sends a harmful message of sex workers as exploited victims.

    So I've taken it on myself to pen some revised lyrics – I call it "Private Dancer (the sex-positive remix)". Since the song isn't originally mine, I'm putting these out there for anyone who wants to use them. For me, they more genuinely capture the true spirit of our profession, and the joy and benevolence it ought to embody.

    All the hopeful nervous faces
    Life can be a bitter game
    Don’t forget that we’re all human
    Smile warmly, ask their names
    You don’t worry about the stigma
    Keep an eye out for the law
    Tonight we’re gonna have a good time
    We’re gonna have a ball

    I'm your private dancer, a dancer for money
    Believe me I love what I do
    I'm your private dancer, a dancer for money
    An artist of pleasure for you

    Gonna make my clients happy
    Show them how fun this can be
    Everyone needs some connection
    While we’re together it’s you and me
    All the hopeful nervous faces
    Life can be a bitter game
    Don’t forget that we’re all human
    Smile warmly, ask their names

    I'm your private dancer, a dancer for money
    Sex symbol, love what I do
    I'm your private dancer, a dancer for money
    A healer with pleasure for you

    I'm your private dancer, a dancer for money
    Believe me I love what I do
    I'm your private dancer, a dancer for money
    An artist of pleasure for you

    Worth every dollar
    Bitcoin or other crypto is perfect, thank you
    Let me help you with that collar
    Tell me, do you feel done or shall we do it again?

    I'm your private dancer, a dancer for money
    Why shouldn’t I love what I do?
    I'm your private dancer, a dancer for money
    A healer with pleasure for you

    All the hopeful nervous faces
    Life can be a bitter game
    Don’t forget that they’re all human
    Smile warmly, ask their names
    You don’t worry about the stigma
    Keep an eye out for the law
    Tonight we’re gonna have a good time
    We’re gonna have a ball

    I'm your private dancer, a dancer for money
    I hope you’ll love what I do
    I'm your private dancer, a dancer for money
    An artist of pleasure for you

    I'm your private dancer, a dancer for money
    Believe me I love what I do
    I'm your private dancer, a dancer for money
    A healer with pleasure for you

    I'm your private dancer, a dancer for money
    I'm your private dancer, a dancer for money
    I'm your private dancer, a dancer for money
    Just a private dancer, a dancer for money
  • Chris from Germany Wow what would be if Tina Turner had not released this Album and especially those singles on that album.
    Tina Turner reached new paths and new generations of fans with this album. I am rather young and i don't know all the Dire Straits stuff and especially not the early works but Private Dancer is a typical Mark Knopfler song. Some can hear the similarities to Dire Straits songs.
    I remember the video it was even played in the early 90s on MTV.
  • George from Vancouver, CanadaClearly a stripper; &, to me, I agree that it sounds like a classy one(thus unlikely to do double-duty as a prostitute); the only dance a hooker's gonna do is the Horizontal Mambo!
  • Eric from Beaverton, OrI didn't know this was written by Mark Knopfler, but now that I think about it, it definitely sounds like one of his songs.
  • Jennifer Harris from Grand Blanc, MiMy favorite Tina Turner song! She doesn't sound like a prostitute.
  • Joshua from Twin Cities, MnNot only was this intended for Dire Straits' Love Over Gold album, but the chorus of that album's title track is, melodically, an echo of this song's chorus.
  • Scott from Blackwood, NjThe 'Private Dancer' is not a prostitute or stripper. The character is in fact a Dancer, much along the lines of the girls in Sweet Charity. While yes there was usually sex involved, in the early 20th century there were dance hall girls who men would pay to dance with (sex was implied but never expected).
  • Joey from Boston, MaI always thought this song was about a stripper, not a prostitute. Some people might think they're the same thing, but there's a difference IMO.
  • Wes from Springfield, VaI think it's a modern version of Richard Rodgers' bluesy "Ten Cents a Dance," about a dance hostess, notably sung by Doris Day in "Love Me or Leave Me" (1955).
  • Marvin from East Brady, PaMark Knopfler originally planned on using it on the Dire Straits album Love Over Gold but left it off so he gave it to Tiny Turner.
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