Kinks – Come Dancing

I saw the Kinks on this tour. This remains one of the best concerts I’ve ever went to. They were in their early forties at this time and all over the stage. In 1983 this song peaked at #6 on the Billboard 100, #6 in Canada and #12 in the UK.

This song got heavy play on MTV at a time when I would watch the channel. I’ve always liked the Kinks. They get forgotten but deserve their place beside the Beatles, Who, and Stones.

From Songfacts on Ray Davies writing the song.

Ray Davies wrote this nostalgic song about his older sisters, who loved to dance. The song describes how guys would take them out dancing, only to be frustrated at the end of the night when all they would get for their efforts (and money) was a kiss on the cheek.

Davies had six older sisters (and one younger brother: his Kinks bandmate Dave). For years, Ray said that the specific sister this song is about was Gwen, who was the sixth sister and seven years older than him (this fits the timeline, as a young Ray would have seen Gwen going out dancing and then sending off her dates). He later claimed that the sister in the song was Rene, who was 18 years older. According to Davies, Rene married a Canadian soldier and moved with him to Canada. He says is was an abusive and unhappy marriage, and Rene would often return to the childhood home in Muswell Hill for visits.

One of these visits took place in 1957 when Ray turned 13. For his birthday, Rene bought him his first guitar: a Spanish guitar he wanted. That night, she went dancing at the Lyceum Ballroom in London. Rene had rheumatic fever when she was young, and her heart was weak. That night, she suffered a heart attack and died at the ballroom. Twenty-five years later, Ray wrote this song to memorialize her and remember her love of dancing.

Come Dancing

They put a parking lot on a piece of land
When the supermarket used to stand
Before that they put up a bowling alley
On the site that used to be the local pally
That’s where the big bands used to come and play
My sister went there on a Saturday
Come dancing
All her boyfriends used to come and call
Why not come dancing, it’s only natural
Another Saturday, another date
She would be ready but she’s always make him wait
In the hallway, in anticipation
He didn’t know the night would end up in frustration
He’d end up blowing all his wages for the week
All for a cuddle and a peck on the cheek
Come dancing
That’s how they did it when I was just a kid
And when they said come dancing
My sister always did
My sister should have come in a midnight
And my mom would always sit up and wait
It always ended up in a big row
When my sister used to get home late
Out of my window I can see them in the moonlight
Two silhouettes saying goodnight by the garden gate
The day they knocked down the pally
My sister stood and cried
The day they knocked down the pally
Part of my childhood died, just died
Now I’m grown up and playing in a band
And there’s a car park where the pally used to stand
My sister’s married and she lives on an estate
Her daughters go out, now it’s her turn to wait
She knows they get away with things she never could
But if I asked her I wonder if she would
Come dancing
Come on sister, have yourself a ball
Don’t be afraid to come dancing
It’s only natural
Come dancing
Just like the pally on a Saturday
And all her friends will come dancing
Where the big bands used to play

Author: badfinger20

Guitar, Bass, song writer,

32 thoughts on “Kinks – Come Dancing”

  1. Who would’ve believed the Kinks would have a big hit in the 80’s close to 20 years after the British invasion. I did not know about his sister dying. that was very sad.

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    1. If they wouldn’t have been barred from playing in the mid 60s to the late 60s they would’ve been much bigger than what they were

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      1. I don’t know if it was for fighting or something…but they were barred from touring America and it hurt them.

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  2. First time I saw them was 69 at FILLMORE EAST, and being one of my favs from the British Invasion I must say they were amazing, mouth left open kind of awe. Numerous times since as The KinKs and Ray solo with and without Story Teller. And they played my college in 71 while I worked the crew. That’s another story. God Save The KinKs.

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    1. I’m not only envious that you got to see the Kinks in their prime but you got to see them in the Fillmore East… I would have loved to walk in that place… All the bands that went through there… Allman Brothers, The Dead, Byrds, Janis, and everyone. Thanks so much for commenting.

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  3. I didn’t know the backstory on this song either-thanks for sharing… I hope they get together and tour again I’d like to see them one more time.

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    1. I found out originally… by “pop up” video on VH1… I do hope they tour again… I have some friends who are really envious that I saw them because they picked Def Leppard which were playing at the same time.

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      1. Oh man- bad choice there Def Leppard over The Kinks.. Every time I think of Def Leppard I think of the time I was visiting my cousin-back in the 80’s- and he said something about his tape player eating his Def Leppard tape and destroying it- and I replied ” No big loss there.” I don’t think he appreciated my comment. Oh well… Yes a new album from The Kinks would be fine but If given one of the other I’d like to see them on tour again!

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      2. You feel the same way I did/do… They monopolized the radio back then…I just don’t see it. The only thing nice I will say is their influences were Badfinger etc…but it didn’t show…I would have never bought their ticket anyway…but my buddies have woken up.

        I can’t wait to hear on what they do. With Ray Davies…he doesn’t care about current things at all…he does what he does. He has never tried to fit in…as far as I know….liked we talked about McCartney.

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      3. Hmmm never have heard the Badfinger influence in Def Leppards music… It would be great to see Ray and Dave back on stage together. Even though they were a big success by most standards they should have been bigger. I think Ray has a new album out.

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      4. The Kinks are about to have an album out. Ray announced they are regrouping…and maybe a tour…that I am hoping for…

        I don’t hear a lot of their influences either like Bowie, Badfinger and others. They did cover No Matter What…I’m with you on their influences but that is what they have said…that early seventies rock.

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      5. It is interesting sometimes the influences musicians have- Slim Whitman for example being a big early influence on our George. Elvis was a big Dean Martin fan.. Barf Brooks- influenced by Kiss and James Taylor.

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      6. The two that always get me is Ozzy Osbourne and Lemmy from Motorhead… they claim that the Beatles were THE band that influenced them the most.
        Kiss and James Taylor…now that is a combination.

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      7. Maybe Ozzy and Lemme realized they just couldn’t do Beatles like music- and went on a different path that suited them more.. Did you ever see the documentary on Lemme? Interesting fella.

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      8. Yes I saw it… When he compared the Beatles and Stones I broke up laughing. You couldn’t help but like the guy. He was so straight up…there was no hedging.
        They didn’t do Beatle like music but some of their songs do have catching hooks…so I guess they got things here and there from them.

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      9. Come on guys…I love Def Leppard. Ha! High and Drive is a kick A album. Pyromania wasn’t nearly as good, but still…I dug it. I saw them live too, back in the day–1983–and they were very good. They even played a Creedence song as their final encore…Just sayin’…

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      10. In all of their career I did like one song… I don’t know what album it was on…it was before they were saturated by Nashville’s KDF…and probably everyone else… it was called Bringing On The Heartache… I respected them for carrying on with their drummer where many bands would have just went on with someone else.

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  4. Like you, I had the privilege of seeing The Kinks live. And like you, it’s one of my favorite concerts. No band, including The Stooges, bridged the divide between Pop/Rock and Punk better, IMHO. Lola, Destroyer, You Really Got Me, Victoria…And this one. Like The Kinks, this song is atypical in their catalog. It is sweet, reminiscent and, somewhat, innocent. Fantastic song. Thanks for posting this one!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Catch Me Now I’m Falling… The Village Green Preservation Society… I saw them I think in TPAC…Not a bad seat in the house.
      I had to look up my ticket stub…a local band called the White Animals opened up. It remains one of my favorites.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I hear ya. AOR radio ran them into the ground for sure. That happened to me on Pyromania the album right after High and Dry. And then Hysteria was just as bad–maybe worse–but, that said–I like all three of those albums a lot. After Hysteria they started making horrible Power Pop…really asinine lyrics, grossly over produced, they became a joke. But, anyway, sorry to go on about Def Leppard. In no way do they compare with the greatness of The Kinks.

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      2. Oh, that is fine! Bands and or record companies find the magic formula and they won’t stop making the same album over and over.
        Ok, I’ll step down off the soapbox now.

        The Kinks and The Who were the first big Punk bands to me anyway…

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    1. It was really sad. I read that a long time ago…that was a nice tribute.

      I am glad they are regrouping again and releasing an album.

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    1. I count it as one of my favorite concerts I’ve went to… They were so active…they acted like they were 20 more than 40 but in a good way.

      They have just regrouped…they are making an album and maybe touring again.

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