"Last Dance" is a 1978 hit song by
singer Donna Summer. The song appeared on
the Thank God It's Friday movie
was written by Paul Jabara and was co-produced by
Summer's regular collaborator Giorgio
Moroder, along with Bob Esty. It was mixed by the Grammy Awardwinning record
producer, Stephen Short, whose back-up
vocals are featured on the song.
Donna Summer has a role in the
film Thank God It's Friday as an aspiring
singer who brings an instrumental track of "Last Dance" to a disco in hopes the
disc jockey will play the track and allow her to sing the song for her fellow
patrons: after refusing through most of the film the disc jockey eventually
obliges Summer's character and her performance causes a sensation.
to the song's co-producer Bob Esty, Paul Jabara had locked Summer in a Puerto Ricohotel
bathroom and forced her to listen to a cassette of him singing a rough version
of "Last Dance." Summer liked the song and Jabara asked Esty to work
with him on an arrangement for Summer to make her recording. Esty recalls:
"I changed some of the chords and extended the 'hook' to repeat three
times to finish the last phrase of the chorus. I also added a bridge to build
to a climax and suggested a ballad intro à la "Ain't No Mountain High Enough"
[the Diana Rossversion]
and another ballad in the middle of the song building again to a high note for
the last chorus ending. To our knowledge, this had never been done in a disco
track. ..We did the piano/vocal with Donna and me of the full version including
the two ballad sections and the ending in one 'pass'...I recorded the full
track in one day, rhythm in the morning, horns and strings during the day. That
same night, Giorgio Moroder recorded Donna's vocal exactly as she sang the
demo, in two takes, and banning me from attending the session. In spite of the
fact Giorgio didn't like the song and didn't want Donna to sing in a full voice
style, I thought I would be at least credited for co-producing the track and
co-writing the song with Paul. He ultimately took credit for it. And Paul
Jabara took the Oscar. I learned a bitter lesson from that"
"Last Dance" won an Academy Award, and
a Golden Globe for Best
Original Song that same year. With a #3 peak on the Hot 100 in Billboardmagazine, "Last Dance"
became Summer's third US Top Ten hit after "Love to Love You Baby" and "I Feel Love"
and almost matched the #2 hit "Love to Love You Baby" as Summer's
best-charting single (at that time). "Last Dance" also afforded
Summer a #5 R&B chart hit and was #1 on Billboard's Hot Disco Action Chart for six weeks
eventually being ranked as the #1 Disco hit for the year 1978. Certified gold
for sales of a million units in the US,"Last Dance" marked a downturn
in Summer's chart fortunes in the UK where she'd previously had more chart
impact than in the US with "Last Dance"'s UK chart peak being at #51;
Summer would return to the UK Top Ten - at #5 - with her followup single "MacArthur Park"  a
single which afford Summer her first US #1.
"Last Dance" was one of the first disco
songs to also feature slow tempo parts: it starts off as a ballad; the
full-length version on the film soundtrack also has a slow part in the middle.
This part was edited out for the 12" format, while more of the song was
edited for the 7". The versions found on most greatest hits packages is
either the original 7" edit (3:21) or the slightly longer and remixed
version from the 1979 compilation On The Radio: Greatest Hits Volumes 1
& 2 (4:56). "Last Dance" started a trend for
Summer as some of her following hits also had a ballad-like intro before
speeding up the tempo. Her other hits of this tempo format include "On the Radio";
"No More Tears (Enough is Enough)", a duet with Barbra
Streisand; "Dim All the Lights"; and a song written by
and duetted with Paul Jabara called "Foggy Day/Never Lose Your Sense Of Humor",
from his album "The Third Album".