Guilty Pleasure #3

Nobody puts Baby in a corner.

According to Wikipedia, Dirty Dancing is one of the most watched films of all time. Awesome. That means I don’t have to feel bad anymore about compulsively sitting down and watching it every time I come across it on TV. Because everyone else can’t get enough of this shit! Woo-hoo.

For those of you who’ve never seen this movie— honestly, WHO are you people?— here is the plot: Baby Houseman, whose real name is Frances, is a 17-year-old Jewish girl who lives a comfortable upper class life with her father Lennie Briscoe (who is a doctor here for some reason… weird! He’s a cop, man!) and her classy mother, Emily Gilmore. Baby also has a sister named Lisa with whom she doesn’t necessarily get along because Lisa is starved for attention and resents Baby for being their father’s favorite. Every year, Baby and her family go to a resort in the Catskills for a summer vacation and this year is special because Baby is going to go to college in the fall to study Econ and become “bicurious” and join the Peace Corps. She prepares herself to be totally bored… until one day, she discovers her true passion: ballroom dancing to cheesy 80’s duet songs, which is weird ’cause it’s supposed to be the 60’s. Or something.

Anyway, Baby meets a guy named Johnny who likes to wear tight black pants and tight black shirts and is possibly gay, but no— he just really likes to dance. Johnny is poor and whores himself out to lonely housewives at the resorts whose husbands have abandoned them for golf. And banning black people from country clubs. Anyway, Johnny thinks Baby is just a spoiled rich girl who’s out slumming, so he decides to be mean to her. Baby thinks Johnny is cute and looks good in his tight black pants. The two of them are thrown together when Baby is compelled to help Johnny’s dance partner, Penny, who gets knocked up by Baby’s sister’s boyfriend and needs money for a schmorschmortion. Baby tricks Lennie Briscoe into footing the bill and even talks him into patching up Penny when the schmorschmortion gets all messed up. Lennie Brisco naturally assumes Johnny is the no-good bohunk who impregnated Penny and orders Baby not to hang out with her proletariat friends anymore, which prompts Baby’s rebellious behavior. Behind Lennie Briscoe’s back, Baby continues to see Johnny and learns little by little to dance the meringue very badly.

But soon enough, it’s not just Lennie Briscoe who stands in the way of Johnny and Baby’s developing romance: there are also jealous and spurned housewives, kleptomaniacal old people who steal shit Johnny gets blamed for, and Baby saying shit like, “Me? I’m scared of everything. I’m scared of what I saw, I’m scared of what I did, of who I am, and most of all, I’m scared of walking out of this room and never feeling the rest of my whole life the way I feel when I’m with you!”

[Sample Dialogue]

[Baby and Johnny are lying in bed together, apres-sex]

Baby: Have you had many women?
Johnny: What?
Baby: Have you HAD many women?
Johnny: No. No!

[Baby jumps out of bed]

Johnny: Look, you’ve gotta understand what it’s like, Baby, you come from the streets and suddenly you’re up here, and these women are throwing themselves at ya, and they smell so good, and they really take care of themselves. I mean, I never knew women could be like that, you know? And they’re so rich, they’re so goddam rich, you think they must know about everything. And they’re slipping their room keys in my hands, two and three times day, different women. So here I think I’m scoring big and for a while you think, hey, they wouldn’t be doing this if they didn’t care about me, right?
Baby: That’s all right. I understand you were just using them, that’s all.
Johnny: No, no, that’s not it. That’s the thing, see, Baby. It wasn’t like that… they were using me!

I was 9 years old when I first saw Dirty Dancing and it was the first movie to give me tingly feelings in my girly parts. You know that scene where Johnny and Baby are hanging out at the dance studio and the song “Love is Strange” starts playing and they lip-sync to it as they crawl to each other on the floor? Gets me every time. Oh, and every time I hear that song “(I’ve Had) the Time of My Life” on our local soft rock radio station while driving in my car (which seems to be every other day), I get transported to a magical land where Lennie Briscoe is my dad and I’m wearing this ugly pink thing and I’m standing on a stage in front of a bunch of people and Jensen Ackles is waiting with the audience for me to jump into his arms. And he’s wearing tight black pants and a tight black shirt. And it’s awesome. And then Christian Bale walks in dressed in formal Navy whites complete with a little captain hat and that song “The Lift is Up where we belong” (wow, totally a misheard lyric. It’s “love lifts us up where we belong.” Who knew!) starts playing and somebody is screaming, “Way to go, Paula, way to go!” in the background.

Apparently, Dirty Dancing is “Star Wars for girls.” I don’t know about you guys, but my Star Wars is The Empire Strikes Back. But that’s another post, yo.

Last 5 posts by bam


Bam has been reading romance novels since she was 9 years old. She especially enjoyed the Sweet Valley High series, particularly the romance-centric ones. Her first real romance novel was "Perfect Partners" by Jayne Ann Krentz. She's obsessed with old-school Harlequin Romance novels and reads four or five a week.

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26 Responses

  1. Kaitlin says:

    Eesh….Bam, you slay me! I dunno why DD is that movie every woman goes le sigh for. I actually didn’t see it until long after it came out (conservative parents, dontcha know), but I love this movie. The lift scene in the water….yummy! :)

    Just so you know, I have a contest going on at my other blog ( Hey, it’s a cute guy & you can get a $15 gift card to amazon. Anyone interested?? 😀

  2. katiebabs says:

    Who would have thought the cha-cha would be so sexy?
    And the song, “She’s Like the Wind” was pretty good also.

  3. azteclady says:

    A rewatch is obviously in order now.

    Not my most favorite ever movie, but I do like it. And frankly, cheesy music or not, awkward dialogue or not, and whatever passes for plot or not, Patrick Swayze is sooooooooo very yummy, he’s worth the rewatch all by himself.

  4. Bonnie Dee says:

    It’s a classic all right. But for 80’s teen flicks I still prefer The Breakfast Club and Some Kind of Wonderful. I had such a thing for Eric Stoltz. His offbeat, kind of average guy looks and his soft voice were so different and so attractive.

  5. limecello says:

    Heh – I didn’t see Dirty Dancing until a few years ago, and I stared at the screen and yelled “THAT’S EMILY GILMORE!” It was a great film. :) I haven’t seen any of the other ones… wonder if I should. Sad that Patrick Swayze has pancreatic cancer :(

  6. shuzluva says:

    Man, I remember when DD came out. It was like old people (my parents, who were probably about the same age I am NOW) suddenly rediscoverd the movies. The local movie theater in our town had such a crowd of ‘rents outside the Saturday Night DD premiered that I couldn’t believe it. Then I saw the movie….

    My mom tells me it is a strong echo of her youth: the New York area Jewish population heading up to the Catskills for the summer to hang out, play and look for trouble. For me, it was validation that my crush from North and South wasn’t as unfounded as my friends led me to believe. And the scene in the dance studio? I was singing Love is Strange for months. This movie isn’t Star Wars for girls. It’s crack. I can’t get enough of it.

    I don’t know about you guys, but my Star Wars is The Empire Strikes Back.


  7. Carrie Lofty says:

    Double ditto, dammit.

    And I was 11 when DD came out. My mom insisted she watch it on home video first, to make sure it wasn’t too naughty. It wasn’t. Was sweet with sexin’. And I think she knew it was a girl sorta movie, so we watched it together. Kinda creeped me out that my grandma liked Johnny’s moves too, but that is the nature of the beast–it appeals to XX chromos across the board, no matter the age. Classic, lovely, wonderful.

  8. Lori T says:

    Oh, I can remember the first time that I saw Dirty Dancing…and no I was not nine…I was seventeen and a senior in high school. I probably saw it about four times and I love Patrick Swayze. Everytime this movie comes on, I sit down and watch and own it on DVD.

    I just love this movie!

  9. Jaded_Bee says:

    Man, I lurve me some Dirty Dancing. I think I was about seven the first time I saw this movie and I was hooked. I seriosuly must have watched it at least once every day for months. My mom actually hid it from me a couple times, I kept finding it. I gave my older sister half of my allowance once (it was only 5 bucks) to find it for me. I was addicted, it’s sad, I know. I thought I was in love with Patrick Swayze. But yeah, I also have to sit down every time I see that it’s on. My dad will try to change the channel real fast if he flips by it but I almost always catch it and make him turn it back. He now detests this movie. It’s still one of my top faves.

  10. OMG, Bam, you get TV-trapped by this movie, too! Whenever I come across DIRTY DANCING, JAWS, BASIC INSTINCT, or STARSHIP TROOPERS (okay, yes, I just admitted to STARSHIP TROOPERS), my motor skills freeze and I find myself slack-jawed and unable to change the channel. It’s a delicious disease.

    And I’ve got to know–who said that DD is STAR WARS for girls? Someone who doesn’t really understand girls, I’ll bet….

    (BTW, my friend sent me a link for this STAR WARS rap video this morning. Prepare to be cussed at thoroughly and to laugh your patootie off. )

  11. Ann Aguirre says:

    I own this movie.

    I watched it with my daughter for the first time not too long ago. She got all melt-y too.

    For the longest time, the scene where Johnny tells Baby he’s nothing, and she stammers out, “No, that’s not true. You…you’re everything!” defined my ideas about romantic.

  12. Devon says:

    This movie has to be watched every time it’s on. That’s it.

    No joke, I just booked a weekend in the Catskills in June this weekend. Old school family resort. I’m so excited. I hope there’s a talen show.

  13. deemer says:

    Hmmmm… wonder why you suddenly had a post on Dirty Dancing. I’m sure it had NOTHING to do with recent books you’ve read.

    Which reminds me, better get back to my secret conspiracy to track down your address and break in. My handy team of handsome criminals-with-hearts-of-gold awaits.

  14. bam says:

    Hmmmm… wonder why you suddenly had a post on Dirty Dancing. I’m sure it had NOTHING to do with recent books you’ve read.

    I’ll never tell!

  15. Karen B says:

    I love me some DD and Patrick Swayze. I actually met him in person many moons ago. He is even more handsome and charming in person that on screen and just oozes sex appeal.

    I too must confess to stopping and watching it on TV. I also can’t help but stop and watch French Kiss, From Dusk Til Dawn, Starship Troopers, The Long Kiss Goodnight, Tank Girl, Wasabi and any of the Star Wars movies (just saved I, II and III to my DVR this past week … WOOOOHooooo).

  16. Helen M says:


    Man, I love me some DD. As I’ve gotten older, the faults have become more apparent (anachronistic music, cheestastic dialogue, that bit when they go his car to go practice lifts in the water, and it’s raining over the car but not over where the post he yanks out of the ground is, lol) but that just adds to DD’s charm.

  17. JaimeK says:

    I cannot tell you how many times saw this movie in the theatre when I was in high school – it was a ton. Yep, I am part of the club, every single time it is on I watch at least a part of it.

    I would really watch anything with Patrick in it…I don’t even have to hear the words…just to watch him move. Ahhh, happiness.

  18. Lorelie says:

    I lurve this movie so much. I bought the 20th Anniversary DVD at Walmart not too long ago (yay for the $9.50 rack) and had myself a little sigh fest. Oh and speaking of the 20th Anniversary set, ya gotta check out this one deleted bit. It’s an alternate version of the dance foreplay.

    As I’ve gotten older, the faults have become more apparent

    :::fingers in ears, singing lalalala::::: There are no faults! It is perfect! Perfect, dammit!

    The can’t-flip-by movie I get stuck in every time is Cutting Edge. “But I don’t *own* this one! I have to watch it, honey.”

  19. Ann Aguirre says:

    Do not, ever, except on pain of death, watch Dirty Dancing II. It’s not so bad it’s good. It’s just bad.

  20. I think I’ve seen DD too many times. At least six. My mom has a copy. VHS, baby. But if Starship Troopers comes on, I’m mesmerized. Soo good.

  21. Lori T says:


    I, also, have to always stop on the Cutting Edge. I have admit that I saw it somewhere recently for like five bucks and I had to buy it. I love this movie.

  22. katiebabs says:

    I still have Dirty Dancing on VHS. :)

  23. Samantha says:

    *psst* I’ve never seen Dirty Dancing. Am I still allowed to come here? *g*

    I loved the Cutting Edge and Starship Trooper, but I haven’t seen either in years. It’s amazing how much flak the latter gets from people who take it completely seriously, rather than for the satire that it is. Another one I always stopped on was Flashdance. I had to watch every time; I even had the final dance routine’s timing down flat, so I could come in just for that if I had something else to do.

  24. Jackie says:



  25. Kristie(J) says:

    I’m ashamed to admit it, but I’m one of those “WHO are you people?” persons – or at least I was until a few months ago when it was on TV and I thought “Hey! I’ve never seen this movie and I’ve heard so much about it over the years. I need to sit me down and finally correct that oversight!”
    (OK – I didn’t really think like that – but that was the gist of it)
    Anyway – watched it, loved it will watch it again next time I see it on.

  26. Shannon says:

    I was in 5th grade and watch DD at a sleep over for my little league soft ball team. Our choach showed us the movie. Mom was not pleased :)

    Gawd yes, the studio scene. Yum!

    And no. DD is not Star Wars for girls. It is Top Gun for girls.

    Oooh, and I love your fantasy version of the flick. I would dance with Jensen any day!