Judy (O'Hara) and Bubbles (Ball) are dancers in Madame Basilova's dance troupe. Madame Basilova, once a ballerina in Imperial Russia, is grooming sweet, kind, graceful Judy to follow in her footsteps in the ballet. She is not grooming Bubbles, who is brassy and sexually available and far more at home performing burlesque routines than the sort of graceful dancing Judy is good at. Unfortunately, and much to the discomfort of both Madame and Judy, burlesque seems to all the work the troupe can get.
A sudden tragedy leads to the dissolution of Madame Basilova's company. Judy has a scheduled audition with a high-class ballet company owned by one Steve Adams (Ralph Bellamy), but she chickens out. Bubbles for her part lands her own burlesque show, and gets Judy a job—but a job that Judy really doesn't like. Meanwhile, there are romantic complications, in the person of Jimmy Harris (Louis Hayward), a super-rich dude who has just gone through a divorce from his wife Elinor. A depressed Jimmy falls for Judy, but Bubbles sees dollar signs, and sets her cap for the millionaire.
- As You Know: When Mrs. Harris comes home, the maid explains the relationship to the audience by saying "He's here, Mr. Harris. Your husband."
- Burlesque: Judy is just no good at it. When she tries to do it, for an audition with the girls in hula costumes that Bubbles is late for, she can't. Bubbles on the other hand is excellent at it, shaking and jiggling and leg-kicking with abandon, and she becomes a big burlesque star.
- Cat Fight: Judy's "The Reason You Suck" Speech at the show gets her a standing ovation. Bubbles then goes out for the rest her routine, and gets booed. This results in a punching, kicking, hair-pulling Cat Fight between Judy and Bubbles. Eventually they get hauled into night court where Bubbles is sporting a black eye.
- Divorce in Reno: Elinor has a ticket for Reno at the beginning. She seems to want Jimmy to talk her out of it but the conversation goes awry, and she winds up leaving for a six-week Nevada vacation.
- Friendly Enemy: Judy and Bubbles. Judy, with her dreams of being a ballerina, views Bubbles' burlesque with distaste. Bubbles on the other hand is extremely irritated at this condescension. When Judy and her roommate are behind on their rent and actually on the verge of starvation, Bubbles secretly pays their back rent and then gets Judy a job—but an embarrasing job as Butt-Monkey comic relief in Bubbles' show. Bubbles seems to take satisfaction from humbling Judy.
- Gold Digger: When Bubbles finds out that Judy's beau Jimmy is a fabulously wealthy society guy, she's furious, saying "She didn't tell me he had money!" Sure enough, she manages to maneuver a drunk Jimmy in front of a clerk that marries them. She accepts an annulment the next day—for a $50,000 payoff.
- Love Dodecahedron: There's Judy, who likes James, and Bubbles, who wants James's money. Then there's also James's ex-wife who obviously regrets getting divorced at all. There's also Steve, who seems to like Judy—but it's sexless Ralph Bellamy so never mind.
- Madonna-Whore Complex: Judy is the Madonna. She is beautiful but innocent and chaste, dreaming of being a ballerina, uncomfortable in burlesque routines and totally unable to star in one. Eventually she gives a famous "The Reason You Suck" Speech directed at all the men who like to gawk at scantily-clad ladies. Bubbles is the Whore—the sexually predatory Gold Digger, the one who will slap her own backside during a routine, the one completely at ease wearing a corset on stage. During the hula burlesque audition Judy bombs, after which Bubbles shows up, knocks it out of the park, and gets the job. A rueful Madame Basilova explains that while Judy is a graceful dancer and would be great at ballet, Bubbles has "oomph", and Judy just doesn't.
- Marilyn Maneuver: Part of Bubbles' stage show involves using the Maneuver to blow up her skirt mid-song.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Judy ends up becoming the "stooge" of Bubbles' burlesque act, performing her beautiful dances in between Bubbles' stripteases, as the audience hoots and calls for Bubbles to come back. One night had her twirling and the usual hecklers jeering at her, when Judy boils over with frustration.Judy: Go on, laugh, get your money's worth. No-one's going to hurt you. I know you want me to tear my clothes off so you can look your fifty cents' worth. Fifty cents for the privilege of staring at a girl the way your wives won't let you. What do you suppose we think of you up here with your silly smirks your mothers would be ashamed of? We know it's the thing of the moment for the dress suits to come and laugh at us too. We'd laugh right back at the lot of you, only we're paid to let you sit there and roll your eyes and make your screamingly clever remarks. What's it for? So you can go home when the show's over, strut before your wives and sweethearts and play at being the stronger sex for a minute? I'm sure they see through you. I'm sure they see through you just like we do!
- Title Drop: Sort of, with Madame Basilova's dying words after she's hit by a truck, telling Judy to "dance...dance...dance."
- What Did I Do Last Night?: Jimmy is startled to wake up from a bender and be told that he got married to Bubbles. He pays $50K for an annulment.
- Worst News Judgment Ever: All the newspaper headline coverage about Bubbles' burlesque show is pretty impressive. But the capper has to be when Jimmy punches his ex-wife's new husband at a night club, and the whole front page of the next day's paper is dedicated to the story.