Star-Lord: Dance-off, bro! Me and you!
The Dance-Off is a type of contest, but rather than one anyone can enter, it's a form of duel between two or more mutual antagonists, either singular or more commonly groups.
For one reason or another, one dancer or group of dancers (often the Dancing Royalty) is convinced their moves are the best, the sweetest, the most unbeatable. But someone else challenges them, to knock them down a few pegs, or for the attention of a Love Interest. The Trope is usually a fun or comedy trope but can venture into Duel to the Death territory if the stakes become high enough. The challenge does not even have to be formally made.
Usually the dancers take turns showing off their increasingly elaborate moves until one person or group concedes they have nothing left. Or they can't match the moves of the other. OR one or both dancers themselves into collapsing from exhaustion.
Dance Off is a Sister Trope to Cooking Duel, wherein the duel is usually something silly for silly reasons with silly weapons of choice. Compare Battle of the Bands. When competing over a Love Interest, this trope revolves around Artists Are Attractive.
- Rebloom: Poison Mushroom Cookie and Strawberry Cookie don't particularly want to fight, so Poison Mushroom suggests that instead they have a dance-off and the last one standing wins.
- Cats Don't Dance: Danny and Sawyer conduct one of these during an impromptu talent show near Mammoth Studios, complete with Trash-Can Band. Tillie's hip toss sends Sawyer reeling into the spotlight, where she takes a few blithe steps and poses. "Not bad," comments Danny, "A little rusty, but hey, who's perfect?" Giving Danny a Death Glare, Sawyer snarls, "I'll give you rusty." The two Funny Animal felines then take turns out-stepping each other, culminating in a pirouette and dip finale... and an Almost Kiss.
- Ferdinand: The bulls engage in a dance competition with the snooty horses on the fence's other side. They win after the horses stumble against each other and get shocked on the electrified fence.
- In Gummibär: The Yummy Gummy Search for Santa, Gummy Bear and Allen the alien start a dance competition for decide who keeps Santa Claus.
- Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa: Makunga tricks Alex into challenging his henchman Teetsi into a fight as part of his plan to banish him forever. Alex thinks it's a "dance fight" and when his interpretive West Side Story like dancing proved to be no match for Teetsi; he quickly defeats him. It not only results in Makunga to become the Alpha Lion and banish Alex permanently, it forces him to wear the 'Hat of Shame' (actually a Carmen Miranda style fruit hat). However, it causes him to almost have his friends leave him for what he had done.
- In The Angry Birds Movie 2 several members of the team infiltrate the Eagles' base by operating an eagle costume. However, they are so clumsy with the controls that they cause the costume to breakdance in front of a guard. This puts the guard in a dancing mood. When the team cause this to happen a second time in front of the same guard, the guard promptly challenges them to a Dance Off to the tune of "Axel F" (aka Beverly Hills Cop's Theme Tune). Made even more hilarious since he is joined by every other Eagle guard.
- Trolls: World Tour has a dance-off between the K-pop Trolls and Raggaeton Trolls, Branch included. Branch quickly adapts to their dance styles and also points out to both groups that Barb has no right to choose which music goes and which music stays.
- Earth Girls Are Easy: An unnamed man steps into Deca Dance and sees Zeebo dancing with a pretty black woman. He sneers at Zeebo's moves and tells the girl "why dance with a zero when you can dance with a hero?" The girl is happy to dance with whomever. Zeebo, offended at having been cut in on, attempts to dance with her as well, but the new guy is not having it and challenges him. The new guy pulls out his best moves. Zeebo, who has an incredible mimicry ability because he's an alien, watches for a second, matches him move for move, and then completely mops the floor with him with acrobatic moves the new guy can't match.
- Guardians of the Galaxy (2014): Subverted and Played for Laughs. Peter Quill challenges Ronan to a dance off at the film's climax. Ronan, being a Proud Warrior Race Guy, has no idea what Quill is on about, and just looks on with absolute confusion. Even Gamora is flabbergasted. Quill then reveals that this trope is just a distraction for his friends to attack. An outtake of the scene has Ronan accepting the challenge and dancing too.
- The parodic film version of Starsky & Hutch had a disco scene with a dance-off between Ben Stiller as Starsky and Har Mar Superstar.
- In American Wedding, Stifler nearly got into trouble after antagonizing several patrons at a gay bar. To settle off with the dispute, he challenges one of the patrons at a gay bar for a dance-off where he wins and the loser provided him strippers for Jim's bachelor party.
- The premise of the Step Up movies is this trope where the protagonists had to compete in hip-hop dance competitions against several rival dancers. There's usually a dance-off between the protagonist and the love interest.
- One is used to crown the May Queen in Midsommar, and it's very serious business.
- The Can-Can was choreographed as this in the film Moulin Rouge!.
- Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (2022): While looking for the compass that leads to the Master Emerald, Sonic and Tails end up in a rough-and-tumble bar in a remote Siberian village. After insulting the locals via a faulty translator, Sonic and Tails end up having to face one of them in a dance contest if they hope to get out of there alive.
- In 1932's Taxi! - James Cagney and Loretta Young compete in foxtrot contest and lose. When the winning contestant gloats just a bit too much, Cagney knocks him out.
- In The Way, Way Back, Duncan is challenged to a dance-off when he has to break up a group of water park patrons whose dancing causes a congestion hazard. He dances terribly, but the kids admire his willingness to participate and let him "win" as a result.
- One memorable episode of The Drewcarey Show sees Drew and his friends dressing up to attend a midnight screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. When they get there, they find Drew's Sitcom Arch-Nemesis Mimi and a gaggle of drag queens (including his boss Mr. Wick), because Rocky Horror has been replaced with another cult midnight movie: Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. Each group claims that their film is better, and they proceed to have a dance battle to prove it, with the Rocky Horror team performing "Time Warp" and the Priscilla gang doing "Shake Your Groove Thing." Eventually the two songs are mashed up—just in time for the cops to arrive and cart people off for disturbing the peace. You can watch the excitement here.
- Hunter Street: Anika is practicing to join the school dance team. When her rival Janine walks in on her training session and is unpleasantly dismissive of her skills, Daniel proposes this kind of contest to prove which girl is the better dancer.
- Occurs Once an Episode on Legendary, a Ballroom/vogue reality competition show in which teams of performers called Houses compete for a prize. The two Houses who score the lowest on a given episode must designate their best dancer to participate in a voguing "Redemption Battle" whose loser has their House eliminated from the competition.
- Legion (2017): David does this against Oliver and Lenny who are controlled by Farouk to represent a psychic battle.
- The unforgettable scene in The Office (UK) where Dave Brent tries to upstage a colleague who has just executed a perfect dance move, and ends up doing... that dance. The one with lots of awkward clumsy movements and grunting.
- Oz has rival gang leaders Adebisi, Schibetta, and Alvarez staring each other down in their cells. After a few seconds, Adebisi randomly starts dancing while the other two watch in disbelief.
- Happens in episode 10 of Riverdale, when Veronica challenges Cheryl to a dance-off for the role of captain of the cheer leading squad. The ensuing contest has nothing to do with cheer leading. The two girls flip their hair, shake their hips, and draw as much attention to their chests and posteriors as possible instead of displaying the kinds of skills a cheer captain would need to possess.
- Spoofed during the Saturday Night Live Black Swan parody sketch here. Who gets to be the "Swan Queen" and therefore portray both the White Swan and the Black Swan is decided in a dance-off between Nina (Nasim Pedrad) and Lily (Jim Carrey) in which the latter acts like a real swan. Nina wins because when Lily climbed on Thomas (Bill Hader), the latter finally realized that "Lily" was a man.
- Shake it Up: In Brain It Up, Rocky has a dance-off with CeCe. Even though it is a dream sequence, it is still awesome to see all the dance moves that are shown in the dance-off. The coach appears in the dream sequence before the winner gets decided though.
- The Thundermans: When a shallow girl he is crushing on takes a high school senior to the dance as her date, Max's confrontational attitude causes the senior to challenge Max to a dance off to prove who is the better man.
- Early in the third season of The Umbrella Academy (2019), Jayme uses her hallucinogenic Super Spit to make Diego imagine the two Academies trying to one-up each other with takes on "Footloose", before eventually getting along in a big party. He snaps out of it soon enough and the two groups brawl instead.
- Will & Grace once had Jack try out to be a dancer for Janet Jackson. Janet realizes that she doesn't need another dancer and has him compete with another more seasoned dancer in a dance off. The rival wins, but Janet decides she doesn't need him either.
- The music video for RunD.M.C. vs Jason Nevins song "It's Like That" features one of these between two groups, one male and one female (Battle of the Sexes)
- The video for South African comedy singer Robbie Wessel's Macarena Mambo. note Played straight — or seemingly so — it then exaggerates this trope for comic effect.
- The music video for "Shake It" by Metro Station shows off a number of different groups of dancers showing off their moves both singularly and together while the band plays.
- Stevie Richards and Bubba Ray Dudley had one in ECW in the 90's.
- Dancing was taken very seriously in ECW. An entire feud, The Blue Meanie and Super Nova vs. the FBI (Tracy Smothers, Little Guido Maritato and "The Big Don" Tommy Rich) was started over Smothers being a particularly awful dancer, though very much Played for Laughs
- The Public Enemy belong on that list as well.
- Black Rose and Barbie Boy, during their time in WWC and IWA Puerto Rico, rivaled one another both in the wrestling ring and on the dance floor.
- WWE has had a few over the years, but are usually played for laughs.
- After losing to WWE's resident Faux Action Girl, Stacy Keibler, Molly Holly challenged her to a contest of her choice. Stacy chose a dance-off, as she was a professional dancer (she broke into the business as WCW's new Nitro Girl in 1999). Molly wound up playing the role of Inept Talent Show Contestant.
- While she was Fandango's dance partner, Summer Rae challenged Emma to one in 2014. Emma, who was portrayed as a comedy character when she first came up from NXT, didn't take the contest seriously, doing moves like "The Shopping Cart".
- The Osirian Portal would start these in CHIKARA, sometimes hypnotizing their opponents to get them to dance.
- Kevin Steen ended up attacking The Human Tornado from behind in Ring of Honor when his crappy dancing prompted several other wrestlers to show him up, culminating in Tornado showboating.
- Truth Martini held his own unauthorized ROH event over the fact the promotion wouldn't give him "enough" time to host "pants off dance offs" between his perky female minions. Davey Richards, Silas Young, even Satan disapproved.
- Shane Strickland and ACH's dance off prior to their match at the International Wrestling Cartel's Twelfth Super Indy Tournament.
- Hana Kimura, who had solidified herself as Oedo~tai's sexiest dancer, challenged returning member La Rosa Negra to a dance off in 2017. Zoe Lucas, one of their opponents in the Tag Team match, judged Kimura as boring and Negra as so bad she tagged out. Christi Jaynes decided to try her own dance and inadvertently got Kimura to stop putting off the wrestling match when she invaded their personal space.
- Aja Perera and Kimber Lee had a dance off while they wrestled in SHINE's 2019 Nova Vacancy Tournament. Fans wanted dancing from Lee, who at first declined until Perera started dancing in Lee's holds to show how ineffective they were leading Lee to block, dodge and counter Perera's altogether with dance moves. The wrestling was competitive and ultimately inconclusive thanks to BTY, but the dancing was dominated by the classically trained Lee even though she couldn't twerk.
- Bayonetta does this with an angel who disguised herself as her and tried to take Cereza away. Bayonetta wins, pissing off the angel enough to attack her and reveal her true form.
- The first mini-game in Dexter's Laboratory: Mandark's Lab? is called "Dee Dee's Dance Off". It's a rhythm game where Dexter must copy his sister's dance moves and beat her.
- Mario Party DS: In the minigame Boogie Beam, all players are standing over the lower border of a billboard and dance while listening to the Underground theme of Super Mario Bros.. From time to time, one or more characters will be illuminated by a source of light, and those characters have to show a specific pose while the others (who aren't being illuminated) have to show another. Showing the correct pose yields one point. After 30 seconds, whoever scored the most points wins.
- In SongBird Symphony, the penguins' leader and the blue-footed boobies' chef have a dance off to settle a territory dispute over the beach.
- A substantial majority of Haruka's gameplay in Yakuza 5 involves these. Akiyama also gets in on the action in two of his substories as well.
- At the beginning of the final chapter of The Legend of Heroes: Trails into Reverie, Rixia Mao ends up engaging in this against a Brainwashed and Crazy Ilya Platière in a battle to purify and spread the curse of Erebonia respectively. In a Call-Back to this specific event, the third chapter's climax of The Legend of Heroes: Kuro no Kiseki has two sisters engaging in this with one side inadvertently brainwashing people while the other one tries to break the brainwashing and save her sister.
- In Sonic the Hedgehog 2: Special Edition, Knuckles the Echidna's Battle in the Center of the Mind against Dr. Robotnik takes the form of a dance-off.
Knuckles: I won't let you have the unlimited power of the Stamford branch!
Robotnik: There's only one way to settle this!
Super Sonic Dance Attack!
- In the Auralnauts Star Wars Saga, every serious personal conflict can only be solved by a dance fight. With glowsticks.
Anakin: "While you're relapsing, I'm gonna make money. I'm gonna have a better pad than you. I'll have job security."
Obi-Wan: Anakin, man! Since when did you become a total sellout?!"
Anakin: "I'll be the best dancer too..."
Obi-Wan: "Oh, I see. If it's a dance fight you want... a dance fight you will get."
- Bob's Burgers:
- "Two For Tina" has Jimmy Jr. and Josh competing in a dance-off for Tina's affections.
- In "Bob Actually", Bob and Teddy take a hip-hop dance class and get challenged to a dance-off by the teacher's son. As the dance battle begins, the son hurts himself, so Bob and Teddy win by default before they even make a move.
- Courage the Cowardly Dog: The episode "Robot Randy'' features a breakdance contest between Courage and the titular robot for the lives of Eustace and Muriel.
- The Grand Finale of The Cuphead Show! has Miss Chalice challenge the Devil to a dance competition with the prize being her soul. She loses, thanks to tripping on some marbles Cuphead gifted to her earlier, but Cuphead still manages to save her by beating the Devil at RockPaperScissors.
- Dexter's Laboratory: The episode "Dee Dee's Rival" has Dee Dee facing Mandark's sister in ballet at the beginning. At the end of the episode, they compete against each other while piloting Mini Mechas.
- In the Gravity Falls episode "Double Dipper", Mabel faces off against Pacifica in a dance contest, with the winner to be decided by audience vote. Pacifica wins by one vote, and she bribed Old Man McGucket for it.
- The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy: The episode "Billy Idiot" features a ballet dance off between Billy's dad and Ms. Pollywinkle the Witch Ballet Teacher. It gets parodied quickly as their start switching up dance styles such as Hawaiian Hula and That Russian Squat Dance. Billy's dad manages to win by mastering a powerful dance called "the Mabuhay Shuffle", which is basically the Chicken Dance that somehow causes a tremendous explosion.
- Looney Tunes: The Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck cartoon "Show Biz Bugs" has Daffy attempting to one-up Bugs at everything they try. There's a brief dance-off before Daffy tries to beat Bugs at something new. Bugs gets applause by tapping Shave And A Haircut, while Daffy's more energetic tap routine gets only Chirping Crickets.
- In a short for My Little Pony: Equestria Girls, Applejack and Rainbow Dash compete in one with their little sister and young fan, respectively. Pretty soon, though, they pretty much cut the younger ones out for a one-on-one competition. Then Apple Bloom and Scootaloo team up to upstage the two of them.
- Tom and Jerry Tales: In "Flamenco Fiasco" a suave Spaniard requests dancers compete for a golden guitar. Tom, with a girl cat versus Jerry and a girl mouse please him most and he declares a dance off. In his zeal to beat Jerry, Tom destroys the club. The Spaniard ends up beating him with the golden guitar.
- OK K.O.! Let's Be Heroes: In "Plaza Prom", Rad ends up facing Raymond in a dance battle after the latter crashes the Plaza Prom.
- A sketch in Robot Chicken has the Voltron team settle a battle against a Robeast this way. They defeat the Robeast traditionally via Blazing Sword, but news prioritized more on them getting "served" in the dance-off beforehand.
- Wander over Yonder: In "The Party Animal", Emperor Awesome challenges Wander to a dance-off because he's offended that anyone can party as hard as he can. While he's taking it deadly seriously, Wander treats it like the most fun ever, and easily wins both the contest and the adoration of the crowd. Meanwhile, Awesome tires himself out because he can't keep up with Wander's manic energy and leaves the planet humiliated.
- Vampirina: In "Vee Goes Viral", Vampirina and her friend learn a dance called The Spine Chiller from Gregoria, who can't remember why it went out of style. Vee's father Boris does: if 100 people or monsters do the dance at the same time, the greatest vampire dancer will emerge and challenge someone to a dance battle. Loser can never dance again. It's up to Vee and her friend to defeat the dancing vampire.
- Commonplace in events or situations where new forms of dancing have become popular. They would spontaneously erupt during the breakdancing craze of the 80s.