Why Philadelphia adopted ‘Dancing on My Own' as its unofficial anthem


It’s a great time to be a Philadelphia sports fan. 

The Eagles are currently enjoying a bye week after coasting to a 6-0 start behind the electric performance of Jalen Hurts. Meanwhile, the Flyers opened their season winning four of their five first games. Perhaps the most surprising twist in the Philadelphia sports stratosphere is the 76ers, arguably considered Philadelphia’s best chance at a championship this summer, having dropped their first three games. 

Nowhere is the city’s energy and momentum more palpable than Citizens Bank Park where the Phillies are steamrolling the National League in their first postseason appearance in over a decade. 

Philadelphia narrowly edged out the Milwaukee Brewers by one game for the sixth and final spot in the National League. Since then it’s been all Phillies, sweeping the Cardinals, denying Atlanta a chance to defend their World Series win, and most recently, dominating the star-studded San Diego Padres en route to the franchise’s first World Series appearance since 2009. 

Known for its passionate fanbase that sometimes borders on unhinged, Philadelphia has adopted an unlikely anthem down the stretch – “Dancing on My Own.” The song, originally sung by Robyn but covered by Callum Scott, has been blasting from Rittenhouse Square to the Phillies locker room.  

Why are Philadelphia fans playing “Dancing on My Own?”

Philadelphia fans don’t do anything half-hearted and their adoption of “Dancing on My Own” is no exception. Social media is chock full of fans celebrating from the stadium to the comfort of their homes behind the catchy beat. 

So how did the heartbreak hymn become a rallying cry for success? According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the song’s emergence as a baseball staple can be traced back to catcher Kevin Plawecki who chose it as his walkup song during the Red Sox 2020 season.

Plawecki said the tradition started in an effort to annoy one of his teammates, Mitch Moreland, but eventually took on a mind of its own, inspiring Boston through a season of empty stadiums and their 2021 playoff run. While the Red Sox came up short in the Divisional Series, Kyle Schwarber was unfazed by any potential bad mojo when he brought the song with him from Boston to Philadelphia. 

The song is now part of a nearly five-hour playlist – curated by backup catcher and clubhouse DJ Garrett Stubbs -- that includes everything from “Dixieland Delight” to Dua Lipa to T-Pain. Despite the abundance of options, “Dancing on My Own” is the go-to victory song. 

What other teams have adopted unofficial anthems? 

The Phillies are far from the first team to adopt an unofficial anthem, instead joining a long list of college and professional teams synonymous with specific songs. Some of these connections are self-explanatory -- like Frank Sinatra’s “(Theme From) New York, New York,” which echoes throughout Yankee Stadium -- while others have a more complicated origin story. They all, however, share a common quality to rally supporters and intimidate opponents, often defining the gameday experience.

Here’s a look at some other notable unofficial team anthems: 

“Wonderwall” - Manchester City

Leave it to the Brits to convert an emotional rock ballad into the rallying call of one of their biggest clubs. 

The Oasis single is played at the end of every home game. It was written by Noel Gallagher, one half of the estranged Gallagher brothers and Manchester natives.   

Despite reportedly having limited contact with one another, both Gallagher brothers remain lifelong supporters of the Blues and were on site at the 2021 Champions League Final. Chelsea defeated Manchester City 1-0 and the West London club capitalized on the celebrity appearances with some celebratory trolling. 

“You’ll Never Walk Alone” - Liverpool

Arguably one of the most revered traditions in all of sports, this anthem parts from the sheer chaos and energy of the rest of the list. 

“You’ll Never Walk Alone” was originally written and produced by Rodgers and Hammerstein, before being popularized by Gerry and the Pacemakers, a local Liverpool group. Over the course of the next half century, it became weaved into the fabric of the club’s rich history as it played through Anfield, one of the oldest stadiums in the Premier League. 

The song – which is plenty emotional with its lyrics alone – cemented itself as a deeply-moving and even tear-jerking experience following the Hillsborough disaster, a human crush that resulted in 97 deaths. The youngest victim was 10-year-old Jon-Paul Gilhooley, whose cousin, Steven Gerrard would go on to serve as Liverpool’s captain and lead the club to a Champions League title.

To this day, fans throughout Anfield break out into the famous anthem, often lifting scarves in the process. When Liverpool won the Premier League in 2020 in front of an empty stadium, their players made sure to keep the tradition alive.

“Take Me Home, Country Roads” - West Virginia

Similar to LSU with “Callin’ Baton Rouge” or Tennessee with “Dixieland Delight,” this anthem seems pretty self explanatory … at least on the surface. 

The Mountaineers kick off every game with John Denver’s masterpiece with tens of thousands of fans joining in. The only catch, however, is that there’s some debate about whether the song is even referring to the state of West Virginia. Some suggest Denver was talking about the western part of Virginia. 

A technicality? Probably. Some intrigue to an otherwise obvious anthem? Potentially. 

“Enter Sandman” - Virginia Tech

Lots of high school and college teams play the Metallica hit, but none do it as well as the Hokies. Since adding in a new scoreboard in 2000, the Virginia Tech players march from their locker room and funnel into a narrow tunnel while the heavy metal plays across Lane Stadium. 

A year after first introducing the song to Blacksburg, members of the marching band started jumping and thus one of the most intimidating entrances in college football was born. 

“Jump Around” - Wisconsin

The Badgers kick off the fourth quarter of every home game with House of Pain’s one-hit wonder “Jump Around.” The instructions? Simple -- jump around. 

The tradition is so chaotic that school officials briefly tried to suspend the practice over structural concerns, but quickly resumed after confirming that Camp Randall Stadium was built to withstand the jumping of 80,000 fans. 

Wisconsin took the less is more route and it paid off as it was ranked the second-most intimidating gameday tradition by opposing players.

“Don’t Stop Believing” - Red Wings and Giants

This one is a classic case of two cities taking claim over something. 

On the one hand, Detroit -- home of the Red Wings -- is notably name-dropped in the first verse. On the west coast, the Giants play the hit every 8th inning as a nod to Journey’s Bay Area roots. Frontman Steve Perry notably sang during the 2014 World Series. 

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