Do I Have To Dance All Night – The Best Leonard Cohen Song You’ve Probably Never Heard


When the primary content of this post was originally published in 2006, its hook was that few individuals, even those who were Leonard Cohen fans, had heard the 1976 version of Do I Have To Dance All Night. At that time, in fact, except for those who attended one of Leonard’s 56 European concerts that year, obtained a bootleg of one of those concerts, bought the Leonard Cohen 45 rpm Do I Have To Dance All Night record that was marketed briefly in Europe, or discovered the crappy MP3 version of the song then available from various file-sharing services, Do I Have To Dance All Night was about as well known to Cohenites as the books of the apocrypha are to Southern Baptists. I am happy to report that now this marvelous song is far better known, and I submit, in all false humility, that this change is in part because of my unrelenting efforts to spread the word about this wonderful tune. Note: Unlike most Cohencentric posts republished here on on (these posts can be found at Leonard Cohen), the following is a composite of several entries.

June 5, 1976 Leonard Cohen concert – Olympia Theatre, Paris. Photo by Dominique BOILE.

Official Recordings Of Do I Have To Dance All Night

Of all the authorized Leonard Cohen albums, this song is on – exactly none of them,1 and, indeed, it has been and continues to be officially available only as a seven inch single (CBS 4431), originally recorded at the June 1976 concert in Paris and pressed in Holland for sale in Europe.2 Do I Have To Dance All Night is Side A on the single; Side B features The Butcher, which is also available on the Songs From a Room album.

Why Is Do I Have To Dance All Night A Great Song?

Do I Have To Dance All Night is a great song because it is quintessential Cohen: it’s evocative, it’s plaintive, it’s self-effacing, it’s sly, sexy, salacious, and seductive… it is way cool. And, as a bonus, it has. to my ear, a quasi-disco vibe, an assessment seconded by T Wilcox in Leonard Cohen: Montreux Jazz Festival, June 25, 1976 (Aquarium Drunkard: Aug 21, 2017. Note: The entire piece, including a download of a recording of the concert, is available at the link.):

This masterful two-hour Montreux (June 25, 1976) set…. offers up a handful of less-traveled tracks. You don’t really think of [Leonard Cohen’s] music as particularly funky, but hey, it was ‘76 and disco was in the air… And then there’s Do I Have To Dance All Night, his unabashed plunge into disco, which he was playing that summer, but only released as a limited single in Europe.

Of course, all this is just one guy’s opinion. Listen to the song yourself at the end of this post.

Be aware, however, that if you happen to be as infatuated with Do I Have To Dance All Night as I am, you may find yourself spontaneously singing, at the most unexpected times, the refrain of

Ooh tell me, Bird of Paradise,
do I have to dance all night?

This can be a wonderful thing if it happens, for example, while one is dancing and the words are sung just barely above a whisper through lips that are almost touching a sweetheart’s ear. If it takes place in the middle of ones presentation on shower curtain sales trends over the past fiscal year in the Minneapolis–Saint Paul metropolitan area, not so much.



Video: Do I Have To Dance All Night

In 1976, there was, of course, no official Do I Have To Dance All Night video.

But now… well, there still isn’t an official Do I Have To Dance All Night video. In 2009, however, I cobbled together a composite of Cohen-associated photos and clips to accompany the music.



Credit Due Department: All the examples of cover art shown in this post, except the image atop this post, are from the private collection of Dominique BOILE, who also shot the photo of the June 5, 1976 Leonard Cohen concert at the Olympia Theatre in Paris.


  1. According to the Wikipedia, “Cohen wanted to include Misty Blue/Do I Have to Dance All Night as a free bonus single with the [Recent Songs] LP, but Columbia, his record company, rejected the idea.” []
  2. The woman on the French cover (the one atop this post) is Avril Giacobbi, the Personal Assistant to and girlfriend of Marty Machat, who was then Cohen’s lawyer and business manager. (Source: Dominique Boile, personal communication) []

2 thoughts on “Do I Have To Dance All Night – The Best Leonard Cohen Song You’ve Probably Never Heard

  1. Thank you Allan 🙏 I had heard it before, many many years ago, but completely forgotten about it. There are so many things we would not have known or understood, if it wasn’t for 1Heck of a Guy or …. ❤️

Leave a Reply