There is something about Dirty Dancing that I can’t quite put my finger on.
There are several movies that have a kind of Svengali hold on me, and I find no pattern among them. Urban Cowboy. The Shawshank Redemption. When Harry Met Sally. The Way We Were. Tombstone. The Sting. (To name a few.)
These are the movies that, if I am flipping channels and land on one of them, I lay down the remote and watch from that point to the end. Some of them I’ve seen 10 times I’m sure. But for whatever reason, I cannot resist the urge to watch them over and over again. Like something in the story line is going to change.
Dirty Dancing (DD) is one of those movies. You can say what you want about the movie. Its inside look at the seedy side of life. Its political statements (actually, there are a few). Its good guys vs. bad guys theme.
But I’ll confess – it’s the dancing that makes me lay down the remote. And Patrick Swayze was the real thing.
I’m certain there have been better dancers. Michael Jackson. Fred Astaire. M.C. Hammer. Gene Kelly. Mikhail Baryshnikov. Their talents seemed far too distant. But Swayze was the dancer of the common man. His style looked approachable. He made you think, “hey, I could do that,” even though you were nowhere – Nowhere! – close. If Swayze could have given me 5% of his dancing ability, he would have still been one of the greatest dancers I’ve ever seen, and I would be sending my tux to the cleaners and looking for the next black-tie benefit that promised “dinner and dancing” to show off my new skills.
And he just seemed like a good guy on top of it.
It comes with its downside though. If I’m surfing the channels and I happen upon the SNL skit with Swayze and Chris Farley trying out for the Chippendales, I watch that, too.
Rest in peace, Patrick Swayze. I’ve had some of the times of my life watching you dance.
Oh, and don’t worry. I’ll always remember. “Nobody puts Baby in a corner.”