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"Dancing with Myself" is a pop song written by singer Billy Idol and bassist Tony James and first commercially released in the United Kingdom in October 1980 by their New Wave band Gen X. Produced by Keith Forsey, the song reached reached #62 in the Singles Chart. It was re-mixed and re-released by Idol as a solo artist in the United States in 1981, where the song reached #27 in the U.S. Billboard's Hot Dance Play Chart.

"Dancing with Myself"
Dancing With Myself.jpg
Single by Gen X
from the album Kiss Me Deadly
ReleasedOctober 1980
Format7", 12"
GenrePop punk, new wave
Length3:45 (album version)
3:30 (7" version)
4:06 (12" version)
Songwriter(s)Billy Idol, Tony James
Producer(s)Keith Forsey
"Dancing with Myself"
Dancing with Myself Billy Idol.jpg
Single by Billy Idol
from the album Don't Stop
Recorded1980 (remixed in 1981)
GenreNew wave[1]
Length3:19 (single version)
4:50 (album version)
6:05 (12" version)
Songwriter(s)Billy Idol, Tony James
Producer(s)Keith Forsey
Billy Idol singles chronology
"Dancing with Myself"
"Mony Mony"
Music video
"Dancing with Myself" on YouTube



The inspiration for the song occurred during a tour of Japan by the English post-punk band Generation X in mid-1979, when its vocalist/frontman Billy Idol and its bassist Tony James were struck by the sight of the young crowd in a Tokyo discotheque dancing with their own reflections in walled mirrors rather than with one another.[2]


The song was written and first recorded by Generation X during demo sessions in mid-1979 at Olympic Studios in West London (this demo-recording was first commerically released retrospectively on the long-player K.M.D.-Sweet Revenge (1998)).[3] After that band had split later in that year Billy Idol and Tony James re-branded the act as 'Gen X', and in production sessions for a new long-player at AIR Studios in London in mid-1980 the song was re-recorded for commercial release as a single. The guitar parts of the song were a mix of the playing of three guitarists with distinctively differing styles, viz. Steve New playing the lead, Steve Jones playing rhythm, with another layer being added by Danny Kustow.[4] On commercial sale in October 1980 as a pre-release single from the new band's forthcoming long-player Kiss Me Deadly (1981), 'Dancing with Myself' was a retail failure, reaching only #62 in the UK Singles Chart.

In late 1981 Idol, now a solo artist after Gen X had broken up, had Keith Forsey remix the record for its release as a single in the United States, fading down the guitar(s) and bass tracks from their dominance in the 1980 U.K. release and accentuating the vocal and percussion tracks to produce a more rhythmic sound for the American commercial market.[3] It became his first hit single in the United States and launched his career there, two versions being issued: the 3:20 single version (which was later included on Idol's 11 of the Best compilation) and the 4:50 extended version that appeared on Idol's Don't Stop EP.

Music videoEdit

For the 1981 United States single release a music video for use on the newly launched MTV was made, directed by Tobe Hooper, with Billy Idol in a scenario drawn from the 1971 cinema film The Omega Man playing a lone figure in a post-apocalyptic cityscape besieged upon a skyscraper rooftop by partying mutant street-waif punks.[3]

Cover artEdit

The portrait image of Billy Idol on the cover of the 1980 release was photographed by Iain McKell.

Formats and track listingsEdit

Gen X releaseEdit

7": Chrysalis - CHS 2444 (UK)Edit

  1. "Dancing with Myself" (3:30)
  2. "Ugly Rash" (4:30)

12": Chrysalis - CHS 12 2444 (UK)Edit

  1. "Dancing with Myself" (4:06)
  2. "Loopy Dub" (5:08)
  3. "Ugly Dub" (3:05)

Billy Idol releaseEdit

7": Chrysalis - IDOL 1 (UK)Edit

  1. "Dancing with Myself" (3:19) [Labelled as "Billy Idol featuring Generation X"]
  2. "Love Calling (Dub)" (5:33)

12": Chrysalis - IDOLX 1 (UK)Edit

  1. "Dancing with Myself" (6:05) [Labelled as "Billy Idol featuring Generation X"]
  2. "Love Calling (Dub)" (5:33)
  3. "White Wedding" (8:20)
  4. "Hot in the City" (5:20)
  • "White Wedding" is the 12" Shotgun mix, but not labelled as such.


Gen X versionEdit

Chart (1980) Peak
UK Singles Chart[5] 62

Billy Idol versionEdit

Chart (1981) Peak
U.S. Billboard Hot Dance Club Play[6] 27
U.S. Billboard Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles 102
Chart (1983) Peak
RIANZ New Zealand Singles Chart 9
Canada Top 50 Singles (RPM) 39

Appearances in popular cultureEdit


  1. ^ "Civil Twilight turn Billy Idol's "Dancing With Myself" into a sparse, understated ballad — listen". 30 June 2016.
  2. ^ Billy Idol explaining the song's origin, 'Billy Idol Unplugged' (2001), (1.11. mins).
  3. ^ a b c Idol, Billy (2014). Dancing with Myself. Simon & Schuster.
  4. ^ Interview with Tony James, April 2002, for the 'Generation X Anthology' (2003).
  5. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 224. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  6. ^ "Billy Idol | Awards". AllMusic. Archived from the original on 18 July 2016. Retrieved 20 August 2019.
  7. ^ "Gia (1998) Soundtracks". IMDb. Retrieved 20 August 2019.
  8. ^ "Mean Girls (2004) Soundtracks". IMDb. Retrieved 20 August 2019.
  9. ^ "Flushed Away (2006) Soundtracks". IMDb. Retrieved 20 August 2019.

External linksEdit