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'DIRTY' SECRETS

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'DIRTY' SECRETS

ULTIMATE CHICK FLICK CELEBRATES 20TH B'DAY

By MACKENZIE DAWSON

April 26, 2007 -- EVERY so often, a movie comes along that makes you laugh. Makes you cry. Makes you want to don white Keds and mambo in your underwear with a shirtless man who is wearing incredibly high-waisted tight black pants.

Nobody puts Baby in a corner - and on May 1 and 2, "Dirty Dancing" will celebrate its 20th anniversary by playing in select theaters across the country. The party starts early in New York, where tonight the film will be shown at a drive-in theater as part of the Tribeca Film Festival.

It's time to bring SwayzeBack. While some movies come and go without making much of an impact - 14th anniversary of "Sliver," anyone? Anyone? Bueller? - "Dirty Dancing" tends to inspire nostalgia, excitement and borderline feminine hysteria.

Personally, I have something I call the " 'Hungry Eyes' test." If I really like a guy, I picture us dancing together while the Eric Carmen song plays softly in the background. I have the feeling that I am not the only woman in my age group to entertain such thoughts.

"We're so planning on seeing it!" says Alice Dubin, 29.

"Although it makes me kind of nervous how excited my boyfriend is to see it. Like, it's Patrick Swayze. You're not supposed to be into this movie so much. You're a boy."

I was 10 when the film came out, and it quickly emerged that there were two types of girls in my fifth-grade class: Those Whose Parents Let Them See "Dirty Dancing" in the Theater, and Those Whose Parents Did Not.

The former group was also allowed to wear pearl pink Bonne Bell lip gloss, pastel Esprit miniskirts and training bras.

I was a member of the latter group, blackballed from the Kellerman's Club. Was I having the Time of My Life? Not so much. I was having the Time of Feeling Very Awkward in My Own Skin and Having a Bad '80s Perm.

Of course, I would have related to Baby Houseman's underdog status had I been permitted to watch the film. I didn't see the movie until the following summer, at Kristen MacKenna's sleepover.

"I was 10 when that movie came out, and my sister must have been 12. And that was the only movie I distinctly remember being forbidden to see," says Dubin. "After it left theaters, my sister's friend Karen lent us the VHS tape, and we watched it in small doses in the living room, carefully turning it off every time our parents walked by. It was a divinely guilty pleasure."

Frances "Baby" Houseman (played by Jennifer Grey) may have been 18 years old and about to head off to col lege to major in "econom ics of underdeveloped countries," but something about the movie struck a chord with girls much younger - even if they didn't always know what was going on. The movie is a coming-of-age story, but it was also a coming-of-age ex perience for the girls watch ing it. "Dirty Dancing" is meta like that.

"We were all these young girls watching it together and trying to figure out what was wrong with Penny," says Clare Goldstein, 27, referring to a character who suffers complications from a botched abortion. "Every Passover, all the girls of the family we had Seder with would gather in the living room and watch 'Dirty Dancing' together. It was like this sacred ritual. We were obsessed with Johnny Castle [Patrick Swayze]."

"Around the age of 13, I so desperately wanted my family trip to a 'resort' in the Catskills to be just like Kellerman's," says Arielle Chorney, 26.

"It was not; it was sad. But we did take an aerobics class with a woman who claimed to be a choreographer from the movie. We never saw her name in the credits."

The brilliance of the film is that it holds up - in all its cheesy magnificence - when viewed as an adult. It tackles such topics as class, abortion, sex, infidelity and hot cougar action (note the older "bungalow bunnies" who pay the dance instructors for "private lessons").

It explores class and ethnic differences while maintaining its candy-coated frosting. In the epic "Visit to Staff Quarters" scene, Baby witnesses the goyish townies cavorting wildly - indeed, dirtily - to "Do You Love Me?"

"Where did they learn to do that?" she asks, shocked.

"Kids are doing it back home in their parents' basements," explains Johnny's cousin. Johnny turns to her, gives her a challenging look, and a whole brave new world opens.

"When I first saw it as an adult after years, I was shocked by how tight and high-waisted Johnny's pants were, and how he introduced himself to people by pelvic thrusting up on them," says Rebecca Raber, 29.

While the film may have been mysterious when viewed as a young girl (What exactly was Lisa talking about when she refers to going "all the way" with Robbie? What did it mean to be "knocked up"?), as a grown woman, it's easy to relate. Haven't we all suffered a date with Weenie Neil, obnoxious grandson of the owner of Kellerman's?

And don't forget The Lift.

It's not just the dancing, though, or the romance that makes it so appealing - it's the simplicity of it, the accessibility, and the idea of Baby as the Everywoman.

"I think what makes it so compelling is that it's about the good girl who comes out of her shell to fulfill her desires rather than continuing to live up to everyone's expectations of her," says Chorney. "Plus, who doesn't want to arrive at a big event, perform a choreographed routine and wow the crowd?"

- - - -

Bernie

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OMG! Has it really been 20 yrs? I was 16 when the movie came out and being from a small town in Kansas - what a shocker to see dance moves like that! eyeeek I loved everything about Dirty Dancing - the story, choreography(especially the last dance scene! - wow!) and of course the music. That's when I heard Eric's voice for the first time - that's only the beginning!

Bernie, Thanks so much for sharing the story with us!

Beth(HT from Mo)

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marvin   

I hate to be a spoil sport, but I thought "DD" had a ridiculous story line, and easily one of the worst movies I've ever seen. Would I be wrong in saying that it is a movie that females identified with more than males?

Marv

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darlene   

The movie wasn't a masterpiece, but it was never designed to be one. It was all about Eleanor Bernstein's happy memories of the Catskills and Dirty Dancing. I thought it was pretty cool, what with the music and all, but it wouldn't have mattered WHAT it was about--I would have loved it because Eric sang in it.

It just evokes happy feelings and memories for me, I guess as it did for Eleanor Bernstein. It's not rocket science but it WAS a phenomenon. Since it swept the country and became a huge thing, it had enough going for it.

By the way, I got to see the show in PA, and LOVED Eric's part. VERY cool!

smile --Darlene

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marvin   

"DD" was a phenomenon for sure, but that sure doesn't make it a good movie. The movie "Grease" was a phenomenon, had some fine tunes, but also had an infantile story line.

The reason for "Grease"'s initial success was John Travolta and then "You're the One that I Want." Similarily "DD" can thank Patrick Swayze for it's initial popularity, and then the Warnes/Medley song "The Time Of My Life" pushed the movie. After that, everything associated with the movie ("Hungry Eyes" etc), got caught in it's jet stream.

Marv

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I hereby confess that I've never seen Dirty Dancing from start to finish. I've seen bits and pieces from channel flipping but have not seen it from beginning to end. Ditto - Grease.

"I hate to be a spoil sport, but I thought "DD" had a ridiculous story line, and easily one of the worst movies I've ever seen. Would I be wrong in saying that it is a movie that females identified with more than males?"

Marv

Marv, I'm sure you were not intending to offend us "females".

:p

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marvin   

I didn't mean this as an offense to anyone, but I will say that I know many females who were swooning over Patrick Swayze around the time of "Ghost" and "DD", therefore my unofficial poll tells me that "DD" had more female fans than male fans.

Marv

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All I remember was that after watching that silly DD for the first time with my new girlfriend back then, we had great sex afterwards.

Now, I realize she was thinking of that damn Swayze guy... frown

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I agree with Darlene about the fact that it didn't really matter about how or what story was told. True, it appeals to more females than males but does every movie have to have a hard core plot? Could it be that the movie was just plain fun, entertaining and above all else it makes you feel good(provided that you liked it in the first place) - doesn't that count for something?

Marv, I'm not offended by any means but I acutally have this same discussion with my mom and she thinks the same way as you but what's wrong enjoying a movie just for the sake of getting caught up in something that invokes memories from not only our past but from others as well?

I too saw the DD tour with Eric and thoroughly enjoyed it. The only reason I went was to see Eric. Plain and simple. No need for a complete dissection of the DD phenomenon in my book.

HT

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All I remember was that after watching that silly DD for the first time with my new girlfriend back then, we had great sex afterwards.

Now, I realize she was thinking of that damn Swayze guy... frown

Didn't every girl think of Patrick Swayze while they were having sex with their boyfriends? I know I did. wink

HT

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Peachie   

I grew up with Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds, etc. I was raised on old musicals. In DD, the dancing is just delicious(and so is Patrick) with some great music AND Eric's voice. heartpump Ok, I'll admit it, I'm a dance film junkie...if it has dance in it, I'll watch it.

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Quote:
Originally posted by Tony Cartmill:

Now, I realize she was thinking of that damn Swayze guy... frown

Didn't every girl think of Patrick Swayze while they were having sex with their boyfriends? I know I did. wink

HT [/QB]

Heck, I was even thinking about Patrick...No, Wait...

I kept saying, "Oh Baby, Oh Baby!" So I must have been thinking of Jennifer Grey and/or Richard Marx's hot blonde wife...

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