Back in 1980, Duran Duran boldly announced they wanted to be the band we all danced to when the Bomb went off. But it was Ultravox who actually placed that concept on record, four years later. 1983’s "We Came to Dance" had already toyed with the idea of dancing as the ultimate escape; now the band would take the concept to its ultimate conclusion.
The arrival of American cruise missiles on British soil in the early 1980s placed the UK very loudly on the front line of any future nuclear confrontation between the super-powers and, with international tensions rising (the Soviet Union walked out of disarmament talks in December, 1983), and nerves stretched to breaking point, the possibility of total annihilation seemed suddenly very real, and a once rhetorical question took on a whole new reality – how would you spend those final few minutes?
"Dancing with Tears in My Eyes" was Ultravox's answer, "weeping for the memory of a life gone by...living out a memory of a love that died." That lyric is crucial, as the band's evocative accompanying video rather muddied the waters by suggesting that the Three Minute Warning would stretch on for hours. In reality, Midge Ure lyrically spends his last moments recalling a perfect, romantic evening and, dancing alone with that memory, imagines himself in his love's arms until death arrives.
"Dancing" was indeed a song to comfort one at the end, its swirling synths lifting the spirit, while its prominent beats urge one to forget one's terror and lose oneself in the rhythm. Initially included on the band's Lament album, the song was then spun off as a single in May, 1984, when it whirled its way to #3 on the UK chart.