The Best Dance Movies of the '80s 

Ranker Film
Updated October 2, 2019 1.8k votes 547 voters 44.6k views 24 items

List Rules Vote 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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Patrick Swayze, Jennifer Grey, Jerry Orbach

Released: 1987

Directed by: Emile Ardolino

Dirty Dancing is a 1987 American romantic drama film. Written by Eleanor Bergstein and directed by Emile Ardolino, the film stars Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey in the lead roles, as well as ...more

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Sarah Jessica Parker, Kevin Bacon, John Lithgow

Released: 1984

Directed by: Herbert Ross

Footloose is a 1984 American musical-drama directed by Herbert Ross. It tells the story of Ren McCormack, an upbeat Chicago teen who moves to a small town in which, as a result of the efforts of ...more

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Jennifer Beals, Lee Ving, Michael Nouri

Released: 1983

Directed by: Adrian Lyne

Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial Flashdance is a 1983 American romantic drama film directed by Adrian Lyne. It was the first collaboration of producers Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer and the presentation of some sequences in ...more

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Sarah Jessica Parker, Helen Hunt, Cyndi Lauper

Released: 1985

Directed by: Alan Metter

Girls Just Want to Have Fun is a 1985 American romantic comedy dance film directed by Alan Metter and starring Sarah Jessica Parker and Helen Hunt. For many years, Comedy Central, Lifetime, USA ...more

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Debbie Allen, Irene Cara, Meg Tilly

Released: 1980

Directed by: Alan Parker

Fame is a 1980 American musical film conceived and produced by David De Silva and directed by Alan Parker. Its screenplay is by Christopher Gore, its choreography by Louis Falco and musical ...more

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John Travolta, Sylvester Stallone, Janet Jones

Released: 1983

Directed by: Sylvester Stallone

Staying Alive is the 1983 film sequel to Saturday Night Fever, starring John Travolta as dancer Tony Manero, with Cynthia Rhodes, Finola Hughes, Joyce Hyser, Steve Inwood, Julie Bovasso, and ...more

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Debbie Harry, Jerry Stiller, John Waters

Released: 1988

Directed by: John Waters

Hairspray is a 1988 American romantic musical comedy film written and directed by John Waters, and starring Ricki Lake, Divine, Debbie Harry, Sonny Bono, Jerry Stiller, Leslie Ann Powers, ...more

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Jean-Claude Van Damme, Ice-T, Christopher McDonald

Released: 1984

Directed by: Joel Silberg

Breakin', released as Breakdance: The Movie or Break Street '84 in some countries, is a 1984 breakdancing-themed film directed by Joel Silberg. The film setting was inspired by a 1983 German ...more
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John Travolta, Bonnie Raitt, Debra Winger

Released: 1980

Directed by: James Bridges

Urban Cowboy is a 1980 American western romantic drama film about the love-hate relationship between Buford Uan "Bud" Davis and Sissy. The movie captured the late 1970s/early 1980s ...more

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Ice-T, Lucinda Dickey, Shabba Doo

Released: 1984

Directed by: Sam Firstenberg

Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo is the sequel to the breakdancing film Breakin', with both films having been released in 1984. Electric Boogaloo was released seven months after its predecessor by ...more

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Helen Mirren, Isabella Rossellini, Gregory Hines

Released: 1985

Directed by: Taylor Hackford

White Nights is a 1985 American drama film directed by Taylor Hackford and choreographed by Twyla Tharp and stars Mikhail Baryshnikov, Gregory Hines, Jerzy Skolimowski, Helen Mirren and Isabella ...more
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Rae Dawn Chong, Mary Alice, Kadeem Hardison

Released: 1984

Directed by: Stan Lathan

Beat Street is an American 1984 drama film featuring New York City hip hop culture of the early 1980s; breakdancing, DJing, and graffiti. It began with a script written by Steven Hager titled ...more
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Michael DeLorenzo, Don Franklin, Tamara Mark

Released: 1985

Directed by: Sidney Poitier

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Heath Ashli LeFebvre added Constance Marie, Valente Rodriguez, Draco Rosa

Released: 1988

Directed by: Boaz Davidson

Salsa is a 1988 romance film about a lower-class Puerto Rican dancer who decides to improve his lot in life by entering a salsa dancing contest. The film was directed by Boaz Davidson, and stars ...more
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Etta James, Sammy Davis, Jr.

Released: 1989

Directed by: Nick Castle

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Bruce Jenner, Steve Guttenberg, Valerie Perrine

Released: 1980

Directed by: Nancy Walker

Can't Stop the Music is a 1980 American musical comedy film directed by Nancy Walker. Written by Allan Carr and Bronté Woodard, the film is a pseudo-biography of disco's Village People ...more

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Lorenzo Lamas, Ray Sharkey, Grace Zabriskie

Released: 1984

Directed by: Marcelo Epstein

Body Rock is a 1984 film directed by Marcelo Epstein about a young man "from the streets" with a talent for break-dancing. It stars Lorenzo Lamas in the lead role of 'Chilly'. The film ...more
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Mikhail Baryshnikov, Mariangela Melato, Tommy Rall

Released: 1987

Directed by: Herbert Ross

Dancers is a 1987 film directed by Herbert Ross and stars Mikhail Baryshnikov and Julie Kent. The story revolves around a ballet dancer who is planning to make a film version of the ballet ...more
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Paco de Lucía, Antonio Gades, Laura del Sol

Released: 1983

Directed by: Carlos Saura

Carmen is a 1983 Spanish film adaptation of the novel Carmen by Prosper Mérimée, using music from the opera Carmen by Georges Bizet. It was directed and choreographed in the ...more
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Rajesh Khanna, Mithun Chakraborty, Om Puri

Released: 1982

Directed by: Babbar Subhash

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Joe Pantoliano, Peter Boyle, Bruce Kirby

Released: 1988

Directed by: Mark Rosenthal

The In Crowd is a 1988 film directed by Mark Rosenthal and written by Rosenthal and his long-time writing partner Lawrence Konner. The period piece set in the 1960s features music of the era, ...more

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Antonio Gades, Emma Penella, Laura del Sol

Released: 1986

Directed by: Carlos Saura

El amor brujo or Carlos Saura Dance Trilogy, Part 3: El Amor Brujo is a 1986 Spanish musical film written and directed by Carlos Saura. It was directed and choreographed in the flamenco style by ...more
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Francesco De Rosa, Marc Berman, Étienne Guichard

Released: 1983

Directed by: Ettore Scola

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Antonio Gades, Marisol, José Mercé

Released: 1981

Directed by: Carlos Saura

Blood Wedding is a 1981 Spanish musical film written and directed by Carlos Saura. It was directed and choreographed in the flamenco style. It is the first part of Saura's 1980s flamenco ...more