Memories of Dirty Dancing (1987)

by super awesome guest blogger Gill

Remembering a cinema trip in the 1980s...  

The year is 1987, the film is Dirty Dancing and the stars are Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze... 

So I was happy when Dave – the head honcho here at Banzai Retro Club –  asked me to write on my memories of a cinema trip in the 1980s. My first thought admittedly was remembering a trip to a first nonDisney film in the Seventies. As a kid, I’d been to see the Fox and the Hound, Herbie and Digby the Biggest Dog in the World and like most kids my age.. wanted something a bit less sentimental and that didn’t involve an annoying VW Beetle. So in 1978, I saw Grease at the cinema and became transfixed on movies and hooked on their merchandise, I had the soundtrack, the book and a bag with a Grease logo. But not a crush on John Travolta. As a 9 year old girl who most definitely didn’t like boys, he was more of a John Revolting.  

So as a bit of a Grease groupie I entered the 80s… The 80s of course was the age I was more into the doings of J.R. Ewing and his family and feuding in TV’s Dallas than the cinema. Possibly as a very wee (small) girl for 15, I couldn’t get into those 15 rated films. So I thought about the films I saw and their memories with one standing out from the rest. It wasn’t the time my then friend stormed out the cinema in the opening credits rolled in ET The Extra Terrestrial or the time I watched Adventures in Babysitting (A Night on the Town) with my best girlie friend of now over 30 years in a first holiday - without any parents what-so-ever - in Belgium. It wasn’t even my first ever date where I saw Michael Douglas’s bottom in Fatal Attraction (though Michael Douglas was after seeing this a bit of a crush, more so than the date). It was the time I embarrassed my sister during a showing of Dirty Dancing… 

So at this time the 80s were into movies about babies, there was Baby Boom, Look Who’s Talking and Maybe Baby. Even Kevin Bacon got in on the act with She’s Having a Baby. This film is a coming of age movie with Patrick Swayze as Johnny –rechristened the Swizzle after this film - and Jennifer Grey as a Baby (Frances) Houseman. Not that she’s an actual baby, but the baby of the family at 17, the same age I was watching this movie. Grey is an actress who I only recently found out is Joel Grey’s daughter, with Grey appearing in that final Dallas episode (but that’s another review).  

The plot tells of how Baby Frances Houseman (Grey) goes on a family holiday to a resort. falling in love with the apparent bad boy, dance instructor Johnny (Swayze) who indulges in Dirty Dancing. Where you rub your bits against his in a passionate frenzied sexually charge dance which only works if you are as tall as he is (believe me). Of course she grows up, he teaches her how to dance, she teaches him about life. Then he’s implicated in a crime based at the camp with her as his alibi as was with her on the night concerned as they got more than a wee bit intimate. Cue disappointment from her daddy, as his wee baby grew up, and then of course Johnny returns for those iconic –much parodied see Blue Harvest (Seth MacFarlane’s Star Wars parody) – final scenes where he dances with Baby after inviting her to the dance floor in front of her paretns with “Nobody puts Baby in the corner”. A line which is believably more romantic than if he’d been Scottish which would have been “You dancin’,  I’m askin?”. 

So watching this movie, I loved the time of the story, the Swinging Sixties and the outstanding soundtrack, which I (and my poor family / flatmates)  listened to ad nauseum afterwards. Which was a bit sad, as I remembered it in Swayze’s contribution She’s Like the Wind as I watched those contrasting scenes of love and hate in 500 Days of Summer many decades later. Admittedly the Dirty Dancing plot where Baby grew up in her family’s eyes was secondary to the relationship between Baby and Johnny, as we didn’t notice it.  Possibly as there was lots of shirtless Swayze – if you like that sort of thing - fabulous montages and some great lines. So you can imagine just how engrossed I got into this movie. 

And on their romance, as Johnny returns non-disgraced with Baby confessing all of their night of sin to the Holiday Club owner and her father. Johnny dances -  with all the wee dancers behind him in perfect choreography (at this point I remember feeling breathless and catching my breath simultaneously) – he dances towards Frances /Baby and he jumps off the stage. This part as seen in the trailer was not in 3d, as my Darlin’ Huband was surprised to earn on hearing my then reaction. And I scream but according to my sister I stood up and the screamed. But that I’m sure was on another occasion with her, and on seeing Dallas star Patrick Duffy live (see another time I embarrassed my sister). And my sister then sinks into her seat with embarrassment. And probably vowed to never go to the cinema with me again.. But for me, although I didn’t have a soft spot for Swayze, I’d like to thank this film star for I had the time of my life, because I owe it all to him... 

Check out more fantastic content from Gill at Realweegiemidget Reviews blog.


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