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!”
[Baby and Johnny are lying in bed together, apres-sex]
Baby: Have you had many women?
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.
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