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The Best Dance Movies of the '80s

Updated October 2, 2019 2.0k votes 557 voters 46.5k views24 items

List RulesVote up your favorite dance films that were released in the 1980s.

The best dance movies of the 1980s have some of the best soundtracks of all time. The '80s were a time when dressing in spandex and jamming out to Oingo Boingo was the recipe for a great weekend, and these dance movies prove it. The genre of dance movies truly peaked in the '80s with films like Flashdance, Footloose, and Hairspray. 

Dirty Dancing brought couples together on the dance floor almost as soon as it came out. Who could forget the iconic moment when Patrick Swayze hoisted Jennifer Grey out of the water in a graceful, sexy lift? While Dirty Dancing encapsulated themes of forbidden love and modern dancing, Breakin’ and Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo attempted to portray what was happening on the streets. Also on this list of the best '80s dance movies are Staying Alive (sequel to Saturday Night Fever), White Nights (featuring the great ballet dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov), and the original Hairspray (starring none other than Divine.)

Vote up the best '80s dance movies below, and be sure to let us know what you think in the comment section. 

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  • 1
    Dirty Dancing
    224
    30

    Dirty Dancing

    Patrick Swayze, Jennifer Grey

    Released1987

    Directed byEmile Ardolino

    Dirty Dancing is a 1987 American romantic drama film. Written by Eleanor Bergstein and... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button

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  • 2
    Footloose
    178
    33

    Footloose

    Sarah Jessica Parker, Kevin Bacon

    Released1984

    Directed byHerbert Ross

    Footloose is a 1984 American musical-drama directed by Herbert Ross. It tells the story of Ren... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button

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    #354 of 1,647 The Most Rewatchable Movies#1533 of 3,110 The Greatest Albums of All-Time

  • 3
    Flashdance
    152
    32

    Flashdance

    Jennifer Beals, Lee Ving

    Released1983

    Directed byAdrian Lyne

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  • 4
    Urban Cowboy
    106
    31

    Urban Cowboy

    John Travolta, Bonnie Raitt

    Released1980

    Directed byJames Bridges

    Urban Cowboy is a 1980 American western romantic drama film about the love-hate relationship... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 5
    Girls Just Want to Have Fun
    104
    31

    Girls Just Want to Have Fun

    Sarah Jessica Parker, Helen Hunt

    Released1985

    Directed byAlan Metter

    Girls Just Want to Have Fun is a 1985 American romantic comedy dance film directed by Alan... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 6
    Fame
    84
    31

    Fame

    Debbie Allen, Irene Cara

    Released1980

    Directed byAlan Parker

    Fame is a 1980 American musical film conceived and produced by David De Silva and directed by... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button

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  • 7
    Fast Forward
    72
    24

    Fast Forward

    Michael DeLorenzo, Don Franklin

    Released1985

    Directed bySidney Poitier

    Fast Forward is a 1985 dance film directed by Sidney Poitier. In the film, a dance troupe from... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 8
    Breakin'
    55
    27

    Breakin'

    Jean-Claude Van Damme, Ice-T

    Released1984

    Directed byJoel Silberg

    Breakin', released as Breakdance: The Movie or Break Street '84 in some countries, is a 1984... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 9
    Hairspray
    63
    37

    Hairspray

    Debbie Harry, Jerry Stiller

    Released1988

    Directed byJohn Waters

    Hairspray is a 1988 American romantic musical comedy film written and directed by John Waters,... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button

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  • 10
    Staying Alive
    58
    32

    Staying Alive

    John Travolta, Sylvester Stallone

    Released1983

    Directed bySylvester Stallone

    Staying Alive is the 1983 film sequel to Saturday Night Fever, starring John Travolta as... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button

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  • 11
    Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo
    44
    26

    Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo

    Ice-T, Lucinda Dickey

    Released1984

    Directed bySam Firstenberg

    Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo is the sequel to the breakdancing film Breakin', with both films... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 12
    White Nights
    35
    28

    White Nights

    Helen Mirren, Isabella Rossellini

    Released1985

    Directed byTaylor Hackford

    White Nights is a 1985 American drama film directed by Taylor Hackford and choreographed by... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 13
    Beat Street
    32
    24

    Beat Street

    Rae Dawn Chong, Mary Alice

    Released1984

    Directed byStan Lathan

    Beat Street is an American 1984 drama film featuring New York City hip hop culture of the... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 14
    Can't Stop the Music
    28
    23

    Can't Stop the Music

    Bruce Jenner, Steve Guttenberg

    Released1980

    Directed byNancy Walker

    Can't Stop the Music is a 1980 American musical comedy film directed by Nancy Walker. Written... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button

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  • 15
    Body Rock
    22
    19

    Body Rock

    Lorenzo Lamas, Ray Sharkey

    Released1984

    Directed byMarcelo Epstein

    Body Rock is a 1984 film directed by Marcelo Epstein about a young man "from the streets" with... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 16
    Salsa
    20
    17

    Salsa

    Constance Marie, Valente Rodriguez

    Released1988

    Directed byBoaz Davidson

    Salsa is a 1988 romance film about a lower-class Puerto Rican dancer who decides to improve... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 17
    Dancers
    20
    20

    Dancers

    Mikhail Baryshnikov, Mariangela Melato

    Released1987

    Directed byHerbert Ross

    Dancers is a 1987 film directed by Herbert Ross and stars Mikhail Baryshnikov and Julie Kent.... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 18
    Tap
    17
    20

    Tap

    Etta James, Sammy Davis

    Released1989

    Directed byNick Castle

    Tap is a 1989 drama film written and directed by Nick Castle. It stars Gregory Hines and Sammy... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 19
    The In Crowd
    13
    18

    The In Crowd

    Joe Pantoliano, Peter Boyle

    Released1988

    Directed byMark Rosenthal

    The In Crowd is a 1988 film directed by Mark Rosenthal and written by Rosenthal and his... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button

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  • 20
    Disco Dancer
    14
    24

    Disco Dancer

    Rajesh Khanna, Mithun Chakraborty

    Released1982

    Directed byBabbar Subhash

    Disco Dancer is a 1982 Indian Hindi/Bollywood feature film directed by Babbar Subhash,... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 21
    Carmen
    6
    21

    Carmen

    Paco de Lucía, Antonio Gades

    Released1983

    Directed byCarlos Saura

    Carmen is a 1983 Spanish film adaptation of the novel Carmen by Prosper Mérimée, using music... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 22
    Carlos Saura Dance Trilogy, Part 3: El Amor Brujo

    Released1986

    Directed byCarlos Saura

    El amor brujo or Carlos Saura Dance Trilogy, Part 3: El Amor Brujo is a 1986 Spanish musical... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 23
    Blood Wedding
    4
    20

    Blood Wedding

    Antonio Gades, Marisol

    Released1981

    Directed byCarlos Saura

    Blood Wedding is a 1981 Spanish musical film written and directed by Carlos Saura. It was... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 24
    Le Bal
    3
    18

    Le Bal

    Francesco De Rosa, Marc Berman

    Released1983

    Directed byEttore Scola

    Le bal is a 1983 Italian-Franco-Algerian film without dialogue directed by Ettore Scola that... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button