It wasn’t the first time Jeanne Heintz of St. Paul got up and danced with Bruce Springsteen on stage, but we’re guessing last night’s Xcel Energy Center concert had to be the first time the Boss pulled a dancing partner out of a crowd who’s 91 years old.
With the arena’s house lights up and his target sitting a few rows up from the stage, Springsteen walked into the audience as his E Street Band launched into the instrumental section of “Dancing in the Dark,” two songs into their half-hour encore (for a show that was already three hours long). He came back on stage with a smiling, cool-as-beans Heintz in tow. She proceeded to take off her jacket and got down to business, leading the 66-year-old rock icon through a polka-like dance – so Minnesotan! – as the sold-out crowd and members of the band looked on beamingly.
Per a St. Paul Pioneer Press story on Heintz in 2008 – after she first joined Bruce on stage in Des Moines -- she and her daughter Jackie have attended more than 100 Springsteen shows together. Jeanne got his attention that time with a sign that read, “I drove all night to dance with you.” This time, the Boss' crew set her up with the good seats, and he seemed to know exactly where to find her.
Jackie Heintz, who was unable to attend the show, said her phone was ringing off the hook late last night as friends called her from the concert to tell her about her mom's latest escapade. In lieu of her daughter, Jeanne attended the show with the priest from her church, the Rev. John Paul Erickson.
"We knew there was a chance he'd call her up again, but didn't know for sure," said Jackie, who helped arrange tickets through a representative of E Street guitarist Steven Van Zandt. Jeanne also got to go backstage and meet some of the band members again. Van Zandt was reportedly amused she came with the family priest and cracked to Jeanne, "Did you think something bad was gonna happen here tonight?"
Jackie noted that this could be her mom's last time getting to see Springsteen in concert: "What a way to end it. His music has meant so much to her."
Coincidentally or not, the most famous “Dancing in the Dark” dance scene took place on the very same location back in 1984.
Springsteen filmed the original music video for the song – which MTV would go on to play about 18,000 times by year’s end -- during the day before his performance at the St. Paul Civic Center (Xcel Center’s predecessor). Famously, his dance partner in that case was future “Friends” TV star Courteney Cox, then only 20. Considering the 71-year age difference, we’re thinking Heintz should be the winner if anyone were to make this a dance-off competition.
Here’s a little video of Heintz in action, along with the original 1984 video.