Been wanting to watch Dirty Dancing ever since The Black Eyed Peas’ 2010 hit single “The Time (Dirty Bit)” used the very same starting lines of the classic “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life”. With YouTube already (quite) advanced back then, I looked up on the 1987 film and chanced upon the late Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey’s final dance at the Kellerman’s summer holiday resort. Amazed by the couple’s dance moves and on-screen chemistry, I made a mental note to catch this film if I ever have the time and after a considerably long time – 9 years later- I finally did so.
THE TIME FOR A SUMMER BREAK
The story is based in the summer of 1963 in America where the Houseman family of four chose to spend their vacation in the Kellerman’s holiday resort. Jazz music is at its finest, holiday-goers are swaying to various forms of Latin dances on the dance floor and the Housemans’ older daughter Lisa is only too absorbed in attempting to escalate her relationship (or fling) with Yale medical school student Robbie to the next level of physical intimacy. Everyone seems preoccupied and relaxed at the resort except for our female lead, Frances “Baby” Houseman (Jennifer Grey). While exploring the resort, Baby inadvertently chances upon the entertainment staff’s secret ‘dirty’ dancing parties where the real night actually begins when the guests have gone off. Unsurprisingly, our two main leads meet at this party and Baby fell, thankfully not physically on the dance floor, for the stunning dance instructor Johnny Castle (Patrick Swayze).
And because Johnny’s dance partner Penny got pregnant with Robbie’s child, she is unable to dance for the Sheldrake Hotel and this risks the dance troupe of their salaries for this season and the following year. And (of course) Baby volunteers to fill in for Penny and picks up dancing with Johnny as her instructor.
THE TIME TO FALL IN LOVE
As per every other romance film, the two leads grow attached to each other while training for the performance. The performance goes well except for a lift which Baby fails to perform. One thing led to another and these two soon become an official couple. All’s good for Baby and Johnny. But this relationship is hidden from Baby’s family and especially her father Jake who assumes the Johnny to be Penny’s irresponsible father based on his lower social status.
Love is not all so rosy on Kellerman’s Resort as we later see Lisa fails in her plan to lose her virginity to Robbie after she walks in on him and adulteress Vivian Pressman on bed. Vivian is actually eyeing for Johnny who refused to be her play toy because of his ongoing relationship with Baby. As though lady luck is on her side, Vivian sees Baby leaving Johnny’s cabin and seizes the opportunity to sabotage Johnny of stealing her husband’s wallet.
But they say that love prevails. Indeed, Baby provides an alibi for Johnny during the time frame of the crime by stating that she was in his cabin and doing further strains the father-daughter relationship. Johnny, whose name is cleared off when the actual thieves are caught, is unfortunately still sacked as he is involved romantically with a guest.
THE TIME FOR A FINAL DANCE
All hope is not lost for the Baby and Johnny’s relationship as our handsome male hero sneaks back into the resort to perform the final dance for the end-of-season talent show. The lovey-dovey pair who has overcome class differences then concludes the season with the iconic dance as seen below.
Dirty Dancing is a romance film that is easy to watch and understand and it certainly lives up to its name with many sensual scenes throughout. Love and dance aside, I actually expected to more of a story on class differences and perhaps a more proper narrative for Johnny’s background. Perhaps because I am viewing the film at 2019 where my experiences with films have been clouded with the latest cinematic trends, but I really wanted to see Robbie getting punished for his cold-blooded actions.
At times the movie felt too unbelievable. For instance Jake’s decision to lend $250 (estimated $2,000+ in today’s dollars) to Baby without further prompting her is something we all know would not happen in real life and would be extraordinary great if it did. Even so, this timeless piece is still truly remarkable for its character development for Baby as someone who merely listens to his daddy to one who would stand up for the people she loves.
“Nobody puts Baby in a corner”