Dancing in the Street
Martha & the Vandellas
Writer(s): William Stevenson/Ivy Hunter/Marvin Gaye (see lyrics here)
Released: July 31, 1964
First Charted: August 22, 1964
Peak: 2 US, 4 CB, 2 HR, 2 RB, 4 UK, 3 CN (Click for codes to singles charts.)
Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, 0.2 UK, 1.21 world (includes US + UK)
Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 3.0 radio, 12.89 video, 114.66 streaming
Awards: (Click on award for more details).
About the Song:
Martha Reeves was a secretary at Motown when she got the opportunity of a lifetime – she was given the chance to record a demo. RS500 The song, “Dancing in the Street,” was originally offered to Kim Weston, who would later marry William Stevenson, RS500 one of the writers, but she turned it down. NRR As Stevenson says, though, “When Martha got into the song…that was the end of the conversation!” RS500
Stevenson says the inspiration for the song came from riding through Detroit during the summer with Marvin Gaye, another of the song’s writers. To let the kids cool off, the city would open up the fire hydrants to release the water into the streets. Stevenson says, “They appeared to be dancing in the water.” SF
Of all the dance songs ever written, none come as close as this one to “conveying not only the physical experience but the emotional tenor of what it means to dance publicly.” MA The song’s “primal rhythms [are]…so simple anyone can groove to it and so infectious everyone does.” AMG As “the quintessential hymn of revolution, riot, and rapture” it makes everyone want to join the party. PW
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First posted 8/22/2011; updated 4/28/2021.