This week sees the 25th anniversary of one of the ultimate chick flicks, Dirty Dancing. Released in 1987 and set in 1963, the film focuses on the forbidden relationship between Frances ‘Baby’ Houseman, a guest at the Kellerman’s resort, and Johnny Castle, the resort’s dance teacher.
Dirty Dancing was originally a low budget production ($6 million) with no big Hollywood stars to its name. It became a box office hit (as of 2009, it has earned over $214 million across the globe) and catapulted the lead actors, Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze, to instant stardom.
The film has become an institution in the lives of young women, and watching it for the first time is almost as much of a rite of passage as that first ‘time of the month’. An admission that one has never seen Dirty Dancing will usually be met with choruses of “You’ve WHAT?”, followed by one of the ‘girlos’ pulling out the DVD from her collection.
The film had everything that Irish people would have fainted at at the time it was set – pregnancy before marriage, abortion, secret liaisons, and a sex scene that was almost too raunchy for a PG-13 film. Perhaps that was why it was so popular here – it allowed Irish people a chance to see what life was like in the carefree United States.
While the stars of the film notoriously didn’t see eye to eye, women worldwide fell in love with Baby and Johnny. The film contained some iconic scenes, such as the final dance, practising the dance in the lake, and of course, Johnny announcing that “nobody puts Baby in the corner”.
The legacy of the film consists of a 2004 sequel, Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights , and a West End musical in 2007, which came to Ireland in January of this year.
Dirty Dancing is a film that looks to survive the test of time, and will surely be around for years to come.