David Byrne's Dance Rehearsals for Stop Making Sense

posted by Jason Kottke Oct 19, 2023

Even if you haven't seen Stop Making Sense, you are likely familiar with the herky jerky dance moves of Talking Heads' frontman David Byrne. In this video, which has only recently been made public, you can see Byrne practicing his now-iconic moves.

40 years ago, David Byrne rehearsed dances for Talking Heads' upcoming Speaking in Tongues tour by recording video of himself to determine which moves worked better than others, which developed into many of the iconic moves seen in the Stop Making Sense movie, filmed at the end of 1983 and released in 1984. It was recently rereleased by A24 in restored 4K. These videos, recorded in David Byrne's loft, have been mentioned before in interviews and now after 40 years the footage is finally available!

If you don't want to sit through the full 25-minute video, here's an hors d'oeuvres version:

(via open culture)

Discussion  6 comments


The GIF possibilities are as endless as the night sky.

David Friedman
πŸ• 🎯 πŸ•  comment

Another gem is David Byrne interviewing David Byrne. I frequently have occasion to reference this. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dE-mxVxFXLg

Tim CarmodyMOD
πŸ‘ πŸ’― πŸ†’  comment

I always wondered who Byrne modeled his moves on. I mean, he took the whole funk section from Funkadelic. But dance-wise, Mick Jagger famously borrowed his moves from Tina Turner. Who was Byrne's Tina Turner?

Tim CarmodyMOD

I have to think he took at least SOME inspiration from Lynn Mabry and Ednah Holt: you can watch how they sing and dance together with Byrne in this version of "Slippery People"

Tim CarmodyMOD

Fela Kuti is probably also an influence (although Byrne is very careful not to imitate him, or any Black performers).

Charlie Sorrel

Tangentially related, pianist Bruce Brubaker is just about to release an album with reinterpreting of Brian Eno’s ambient work, including some of Ambient Music for Airports.


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