Dirty Dancing has 11 million Facebook fans, a controversial remake in the works, and a gross of $214 million worldwide. This small independent movie made in 1986 on a shoestring budget of about five million dollars–filmed at two different locations (substituting for the New York Catskills) under sometimes harrowing conditions–remains just as popular now after almost twenty-five years.
The movie has even taken on many different forms–a musical concert tour in 1988 (ninety cities in ninety days), a short-lived television show in 1988, a music concert tour in the United Kingdom in 2007, and a two season United Kingdom reality television show (filmed at Mountain Lake Hotel in Virginia in 2007 and 2008). There is a 2004 prequel, Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights. Probably most striking is that the stage play opened in Sydney in 2004 and since then has continued to be a smash-hit all over the world.
The two main film locations, Mountain Lake Hotel in Pembroke, Virginia and Lake Lure Inn in Lake Lure, North Carolina are still visited by scores of people. A third film location, Rumbling Bald Resort in North Carolina hosts many visitors who enjoy walking on the golf course to see Hole 16 where the golf scene in Dirty Dancing was filmed. Dirty Dancing weekends are held throughout the year at Mountain Lake Hotel. In September 2010, the first annual Dirty Dancing Festival took place in Lake Lure.
Let’s not forgot about the music continuing on. In November 2010, Fergie and The Black Eyed Peas released a new single, “The Time (The Dirty Bit)” which uses part of the chorus of the Dirty Dancing song “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” (written by Frank Previte, Donald Markowitz, and John DeNicola). Furthermore, Franke Previte made the demos of the song (along with “Hungry Eyes”–also written by Franke Previte and John DeNicola and two other songs) available for digital purchase with most of the proceeds going to the Patrick Swayze Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund at Stanford Cancer Center. Patrick Swayze’s song, “She’s Like The Wind” (written by Patrick Swayze and Stacy Widelitz) has been covered by Lumidee, John Wayne, David Hasselhoff, and Pet Shop Boys’ mashup song and video is on You Tube. The Glee cast recorded “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” and performed it on their November 30, 2010 episode. “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” was named the most-played romantic duet during the past ten years per PPL (United Kingdom music licensing company).
I would be totally remiss if I did not mention the Dancing with the Stars 2010 season–had about 24 million viewers per episode–which had so many huge ties to Dirty Dancing. For example, everyone knows that winners Jennifer Grey and professional partner Derek Hough danced to these two songs from the movie–“These Arms of Mine” and “Do You Love Me?”, and that Jennifer carried the watermelon once again. There had been endless discussion whether the finale “lift” dance from Dirty Dancing would be performed by the couple on the last show–which personally I am glad that it was not–as I see no way anyone could beat that classic “lift” done by Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze.
Continuing on regarding cultural influence, the “I carried a watermelon” line was referenced in The Devil Wears Prada. Also, there was a rumor on the internet that Kate Middleton’s sister was planning a Dirty Dancing themed hen party at their family home to celebrate the upcoming nuptials.
In September 2011, the Dirty Dancing Facebook Game was released. In August 2011, it was announced that a Dirty Dancing remake was being done with Kenny Ortega as director. While Jennifer Grey spoke up in favor of the remake, tons of fans expressed disbelief and anger with this development. The latest word is the remake will be released on July 26, 2013.
On a touching, bittersweet note, Lisa Niemi helped unveil the wax statue of Patrick Swayze at Madame Tussauds in Hollywood on October 19, 2011. The wax figure of Patrick Swayze is balancing on a log over a lake, ie the scene from Dirty Dancing in which Johnny teaches Baby the importance of balance in dance. Lisa Niemi commented that the wax figure captures the confident, yet mischievous look of Patrick and his message “to come and be fearless with me…and take a chance in whatever you do.”
In conclusion, what is it about Dirty Dancing that makes it a favorite film to so many people and its influence so pervasive? Based on my personal experience viewing the movie and speaking to others who love the movie and a review of the literature, I think that it comes down to the genuineness of the movie and that it is a solid love story. Of course, it helps that the two main actors–Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze–had amazing chemistry and gave brilliant performances along side with amazing performances by the entire cast, and incredible dancing and music. It is obvious from listening to interviews done by the people who made Dirty Dancing that this extremely talented group of writers, choreographers and actors worked together in a great collaboration and put their own hearts and souls into the movie.
It is interesting that there are no special effects, no weird storylines, and virtually no violence, and the film continues to resonate with filmgoers. Maybe today’s filmmakers can take a lesson from this originally “little” movie that continues to be “big” in so many people’s hearts. I am sure that the movie will be a classic forever.
Link: Patrick Swayze Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund at Stanford Cancer Center – http://med.stanford.edu/cancer/features/research_news/Patrick_Swayze_Pancreas.html
Sue Tabashnik is the author of: THE FANS’ LOVE STORY: How The Movie ‘DIRTY DANCING’ Captured The Hearts Of Millions! The book focuses on the continuing popularity and positive impact the movie has had on so many people’s lives with twenty-seven interviews, influence of the Catskills, photos, author’s trip to film location, and more. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of the book is being donated to the Patrick Swayze Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund at Stanford Cancer Center. Author website/video: http://www.likedirtydancing.com Facebook: http://facebook.com/thefanslovestorydirtydancing
Sue Tabashnik has been an active member of the Official Patrick Swayze International Fan Club since 2000 and has written numerous articles for the club magazine. She brings her thirty-four years of social work experience and her strong personal connection to the movie to write this unique book.