The Story and Meaning Behind “And We Danced,” a Top-40 Hit from the Beloved Philly Band The Hooters

The Pocono Mountains are usually reserved for romantic getaways. But in the case of The Hooters, the mountains served as the backdrop for the creation of “And We Danced.” The effervescent song gave the Philadelphia-based band their first ever Top-40 hit in 1986, and it remains their most well-known track today.

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What is the song about? How did Cyndi Lauper play into the band’s development? And how did songwriters Rob Hyman and Eric Bazilian come up with the track and fine-tune it into the hit it became? All the answers and much more as we explore “And We Danced,” a beloved ’80s song from a band that rose to stardom in that era.

Time After Big Time

Rob Hyman and Eric Bazilian formed The Hooters in 1980 in Philadelphia. By 1983, they had worked their way up to the point of recording a debut album entitled Amore on a small independent label. Needless to say, the label wasn’t able to bring it a lot of exposure, but the record did well enough in the band’s home city that it opened some eyes at the major labels.

The real breakthrough for the band came from a side gig that Bazilian and Hyman did that, at the time, probably didn’t seem like much. A mutual friend called on them to help write, arrange, and perform on the debut album of a quirky female performer. That performer was Cyndi Lauper, and the album, She’s So Unusual, became one of the biggest hits of ’83. Hyman co-wrote and sang harmonies on the Lauper’s indelible ballad “Time After Time.”

With that experience in the books, major labels came calling for The Hooters, and they signed with Columbia Records. Because so few people had heard Amore, they rehashed a few of the songs for their first album with the new label, which would be called Nervous Night when released in 1985. But they needed more songs, which is how our story winds up in the Poconos.

Hyman and Bazilian went there on a songwriting retreat to try to hammer out the material for the rest of the record. One night, the pair started having a conversation about why some melodies work and others don’t, and that led them to devising the chorus melody for “And We Danced.” As Bazilian told this author in the book Playing Back the ’80s: A Decade of Unstoppable Hits, their producer was immediately convinced they had something special:

“We came back with 15, 20 different song ideas. And we played them all for Rick Chertoff, who was producing the record. That was the last one we played him, and he was like, ‘That paid for your trip.'”

They weren’t quite home free with the song, however. The band originally arranged it with a calypso feel. Chertoff convinced them to turn it into more of a rocker. It turned out to be the perfect song to introduce fans to the band, because Hyman played a melodica, aka a hooter, as part of the arrangement.

What is the Meaning of “And We Danced”?

“And We Danced” has a lot in common with The Beatles’ “I Saw Her Standing There,” in that it takes place at a dance and the narrator is beguiled by a girl he sees there. In the first verse, we find the girl came on somebody else’s arm (She was hangin’ on Johnny, he was holdin’ on tight) before making a beeline right for the narrator.

He describes the girl’s ability out on the floor: She could dance all night and shake the paint off the wall. But he also knows he wants to be alone with her: But when I saw her smile across a crowded room / Well I knew we’d have to leave the party soon. The chorus suggests that perhaps this isn’t the storybook romance it’s cracked up to be: We were liars in love, Bazilian and Hyman sing in harmony.

“And We Danced” served as the turning point for The Hooters, as Nervous Night began to take off in popularity. As an example of how far they’d come, the band opened the American portion of Live Aid in 1986 in front of their home fans in Philly. It was quite the ascension, but somewhat understandable considering the buoyancy provided by this one-of-a-kind classic hit.

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Photo by Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images for ASCAP

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