On August 21, 1987, Dirty Dancing premiered in US theaters.
Dirty Dancing is a 1987 American romantic drama dance film written by Eleanor Bergstein, directed by Emile Ardolino and starring the late Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey in the lead roles, and featuring Cynthia Rhodes and Jerry Orbach. (Wikipedia).
Baby (Jennifer Grey) is one listless summer away from the Peace Corps. Hoping to enjoy her youth while it lasts, she’s disappointed when her summer plans deposit her at a sleepy resort in the Catskills with her parents. Her luck turns around, however, when the resort’s dance instructor, Johnny (Patrick Swayze), enlists Baby as his new partner, and the two fall in love. Baby’s father forbids her from seeing Johnny, but she’s determined to help him perform the last big dance of the summer (Wikipedia).
No one could have predicted in 1987 that Dirty Dancing would be the box office hit it turned out to be. The movie helped propel Patrick Swayze to stardom. The film featured the Golden Globe and Academy Award winning song (I’ve Had) The Time of my Life. And because of Dirty Dancing, an interested in ballroom dancing was renewed.
I was twenty-two when Dirty Dancing premiered. As a fan of the ABC television miniseries North and South in which Swayze played Orry Main, I knew I wanted to see Patrick in the film. Additionally, I grew up watching Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers movies since my mom was born during that era. So a movie starring Patrick Swayze about dancing fit the bill. But I never imagined the impact Dirty Dancing would have. I remember the first time seeing Dirty Dancing in the movie theater and how the audience got up from their seats to dance during the end part of the film, I’ve never experienced anything like that before. But Dirty Dancing wasn’t just the movie about dancing. It featured a strong message of having confidence in oneself, endurance without giving up and doing the right thing. It showed that even if you are awkward, you can rise above your insecurity and comfort zone to create something magical. Baby’s growth and journey throughout the film spoke to us. I can’t imagine any other actress playing Baby. She displayed all the qualities that made the character work. Her performance was dynamic and ironically the dancing skill Baby learned carried on into real life for Jennifer as she later became a Dancing With the Stars champion ballroom dancer. And Patrick as Johnny was the perfect romantic lead, he was macho but gentle with a sensibility that reached into Baby (and ours) heart.
Thanks Dirty Dancing, you gave us the time of our life. We never felt that way before, it’s the truth and we owe it all to you!