What Is The Ultimate 1980s Floorfiller?

Here’s a quandary. If you had to choose one 1980s song to get people on the dancefloor – maybe you’re the last-minute guest DJ at a wedding disco – what would you go for?

The track probably needs a few things going for it:

1. A great intro – a ‘call to arms’.

2. Cross-generational appeal, one for the kiddies and grandparents alike.

3. It has to be a total hit – no cult favourites.

4. Loudness and ‘impact’.

5. It’s probably ‘pop’ and pretty genre-less – no heavy metal or R’n’B.

6. A soundtrack hit might be good – something from a John Hughes joint or ‘Dirty Dancing’?

7. A flavour of the ‘novelty’ hit/one-hit wonder might help.

In his (great) book ‘Nothing Is Real’, David Hepworth comes up with five ultimate floorfiller contenders including two from the 1980s: Brucie’s ‘Dancing In The Dark’ and Madonna’s ‘Open Your Heart’. Both choices strike this correspondent as a little odd. Rather I’d posit the following (feel free to chime in with any omissions):

Michael Jackson: ‘Billie Jean’

Prince: ‘Kiss’

Dexys Midnight Runners: ‘Come On Eileen’

Simple Minds: ‘Don’t You Forget About Me’

Toni Basil: ‘Mickey’

Musical Youth: ‘Pass The Dutchie’

Roxy Music: ‘Same Old Scene’

Cyndi Lauper: ‘Girls Just Wanna Have Fun’

Bill Medley/Jennifer Warnes: ‘(I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life’

De La Soul: ‘Say No Go’

Young MC: ‘Know How’

Wham!: ‘Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go’

Human League: ‘Don’t You Want Me’

ABC: ‘Poison Arrow’

Madonna: ‘Into The Groove’

But the one 1980s track I’d choose to get people onto the dancefloor is…

David Bowie: ‘Let’s Dance’

I’ve rounded up most of these and some others into a playlist. Happy groovin’.

21 thoughts on “What Is The Ultimate 1980s Floorfiller?

  1. OK, I really should be working, but this is more fun. I write this as a 55-year-old non-DJ who’s non-DJ’d at many parties over the years…

    This is a fine list, and I think you’re spot on about “Let’s Dance”. For what it’s worth, “Eileen” has the same effect on me as the Whitney one evidently has on you. I have some alternatives to your picks, and a couple I think you’ve missed. All have a strong sing-along chorus.

    For Frankies, believe it or not, I’d go with “Two Tribes” instead.

    For the League: “Love Action”

    For Prince: “Rasberry Parade”

    Then there’s Chaka Khan’s “Ain’t Nobody”, Grace Jones’ “Slave to the Rhythm” and Donna Summer’s “State of Independence”.

    But the two killers at every party I’ve ever thrown are Talking Heads’ “Once in a Lifetime” and Soft Cell’s “Tainted Love”.

    Just my 2c… Back to work. Sigh.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Great stuff and thanks. It’s hard to argue with your choices when you’ve clearly done the research! Great calls on Heads and Soft Cell. I considered the former but completely forgot about the latter. But, brilliant as it is, ‘Raspberry Beret’ strikes me as too slow? Ditto ‘Love Action’, ‘Slave’ and the Donna S. Love ’em all though. Re. FGTH, I was going to include ‘Relax’ but removed it at the last minute, so not sure if you’ve seen an early draft of my post…! Would probably agree with you on ‘Two Tribes’ anyhoo.


  2. I can visualize how you dance by your song selections. Some I agree on the artist, but not the song. “Billie Jean”, not so much. “Wanna Be Starting Something” will get most out of their seats. Prince’s “Kiss” suits the dancers in the video, but “Let’s Go Crazy” is pretty self explanatory.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I recently DJ’d at a party with mixed audiences. About 80% of my records are productions from the 1980s. And to my surprise, The Bangels’ “Walk Like An Egyptian” was the absolute floor filler. Most of the funky synth classics couldn’t keep up with this song on that night.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow! What a Paaaarty Game!!!! Not going to argue with Let’s Dance!!
    Okay my addition would be:
    Sweet Dreams – Eurythmics (the drums are amazing!)
    And as another contributer has mentioned –
    Once In A Lifetime

    Liked by 2 people

  5. You are going to think, no no not HIM again! This bloke is obsessed with This Particular Post.
    And you’d be right… I am!
    Anyway, my daughter was a nightclub the other day and in the last half hour the DJ played ‘oldies’ .
    They played ‘ You Can Call Me Al ‘ Paul Simon – and dancers whooped with joyous abandon!
    I never would have thought it, but it fits your floorfiller criteria: catchy, instantly recognisable opening….!

    Liked by 1 person

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