Dirty Dancing

Old Skool - Dirty Dancing - Poster“Nobody puts baby in a corner” and certainly nobody will put shove their Dirty Dancing DVD in the corner. As the opening credits begin to role the catchy song “Be My Baby” by the 1960s group The Ronnettes plays in the background as Baby (Jennifer Grey) narrates the setting of the story which takes place in the summer of 1963. Right of the bat the character development takes off as Baby’s personality is easily captured as a young, strong willed girl about to head off to the peace corps once her summer at the Mr. Gellerman’s resort with her family is finished. A few days after arriving Baby takes interest in Johnny (Patrick Swayze) an older dance instructor at the resort. The story revolves around their unexpected situation due to Johnny’s old partner’s inability to perform in dance show. Ultimately, resulting in Johnny teaching Baby as a substitute.

Baby reluctantly attends some of the kick off summer events at the resort which to any recently graduated teenager would be quite underwhelming. Once settling into the family’s cabin, she heads out to explore the property herself where she peers into a room listening to Mr. Gellerman explaining to his staff the importance of making all guests feel special even the “dogs.” Just then Johnny Cassel sporting black pants, leather jacket, and dark glasses enters followed by his dance crew. Snooty Mr. Gellerman strictly instructs them all to not get involved with the guests in any personal ways, emphasizing their job is to strictly teach dance lessons. At this moment in the story audiences see Baby’s interest in Johnny sparked along with foreshadowing into the involvement between the two. As Baby exits and makes her way home, she hears dance music radiating from the distance as Johnny’s cousin Billy comes stumbling by carrying a handful of watermelons up to where the music is coming from. Accepting Billy’s invitation and promise to secrecy, Baby follows him up to a cabin where a less than traditional party at least from Baby’s eyes, is occurring with all the dancers. Twists, dips, lunges, and skin to skin contact is what the camera angles show as the dancers get up close and personal to their partners swaying to the music. The artful filming of the dance scene paints a picture for what the movie is about which is dancing, specifically dirty dancing. Most importantly, this is a safe haven for the dancers to demonstrate their freedom of expression they are forced to suppress due to the traditional Gellerman’s standards. Once again Baby’s intrigue is sparked as Johnny pulls her onto the dancefloor showing her a few steps before abruptly exiting, leaving Baby mindlessly spinning.

Not only is Baby described as innocent in the beginning credits of the movie, she is consistently viewed in that manner by Johnny and his dance partner Penny as they scold Billy for bringing someone from her class up to their after hours dance spot. Later on, Baby learns from Billy that Penny is pregnant and the father is one of the upper-class waiter staff, Robbie. After Baby boldly confronts Robbie, he informs her of his cold opinion that Penny is not worth helping. Ultimately, Penny does not want to keep the baby but does not have the means in money to see a doctor. Baby takes it upon herself to ask her dad for $250. An emotional bond between Baby and her father is prevalent proven by her choice to confide in him and the fact he provides the money without a further explanation from her. Leading up to Penny’s sketchy surgery, Johnny and Baby’s bond slowly forms into a strong relationship. Hot headed Johnny is frustrated with Baby’s lack of dance skills yet he takes the time to teach her with patience. As she begins to sneak off for dance practice lessons her sister takes notice in Baby’s growing confidence and frequent outings. One of the most memorable and iconic dance rehearsal scenes takes place as Johnny wisps Baby off into the forest to get fresh air in order to eliminate the frustration of the confusing dance moves. The pair carefully balance on a fallen tree over a stream as Johnny instructs Baby to balance and feel the moves. Many of the dance practice scenes are shots of footwork, hand placement, and their bodies only emphasizing the closeness between the couple but the deep artistry of dance.

Penney’s surgery causes unexpected consequences and her health takes a turn for the worse. Baby once again summons her dad who luckily happens to be a doctor, to help. Genuinely a caring man, he assists Penny back to health but not without assuming Johnny is responsible for Penny’s unfortunate situation and feeling severely hurt from Baby’s dishonesty. Dirty Dancing not only portrays a love story, but a struggle and clash of the different classes of the rich and poor. The judgement and unfair treatment from differing classes presents itself as timeless problem the world struggles with today. In addition, the growth between Baby and Johnny as individuals ties up the story. Baby starts out as an innocent young girl yet grows into a young woman who finds a passion, love, suffering, and sacrifice while Johnny learns his self-worth.


Release Date: August 21, 1987

Rating: PG-13

Duration: 1 hr 40 minutes

Genre: Drama/Romance

Director: Emile Ardolino

img_1466-1.pngCathleen Meyer | Writing Contributor
B.A. | Communications | Cal State Univ – San Marcos
Cathleen is a college student who places an importance on being active and is an old soul at heart. Her music taste is a jumble of different artists with favorites like ABBA, Def Leppard, Journey, and Fleetwood Mac. When it comes to movies, musicals and 80s are her first choice. Cathleen wrote for her school newspaper for two years in high school and since then has participated in a government and human resources internship. She enjoys delving into a good book whenever possible, with time period pieces being her favorite type of literature to explore. Being a Disney fan since birth, her favorite time is spent with her family at the happiest place on Earth. A personal hobby of Cathleen’s since she was young, is hairstyling and makeup. Once she completes college, she plans to attend Paul Mitchell Beauty School to follow her passion. Cathleen hopes to apply her communication and literature degree to a variety of career paths most importantly including public relations. | Instagram @Cat17CatView My Articles 

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