Dirty Dancing is a 1987 romance film charting the coming of age of a New York teenager named Frances Houseman, nicknamed Baby, during the 1960s. Â Baby (played by Jennifer Grey) is a 17 year old middle class Jewish girl who goes on holiday with her family to a mountain resort.
Baby’s life already seems mapped out for her with plans to attend college to study economics, but things start to change when she meets the resorts dance instructor Johnny Castle (Patrick Swayze). Â She is invited to a party where she first witnesses the style of dancing known as “dirty dancing”, so called due to the way the dancers are held close together in intimate looking ways whilst dancing.
Soon after, Baby learns that Johnny’s dance partner Penny (Cynthia Rhodes) is pregnant by her sisters boyfriend Robbie. Â When she learns that Robbie intends to do nothing to help support the child, Baby borrows money from her father to help Penny have an illegal abortion, and also becomes Johnny’s new dance partner whilst Penny is unable to perform.
By this time Baby has started to fall in love with Johnny, and despite some tempers flaring whilst practising their dancing, the romance blooms. Â The love is soon threatened when Baby’s father takes a disliking to Johnny and bans Baby from seeing him. Â The reason for this is that Baby’s father is a doctor, and when he treats Penny who is in pain from her abortion he mistakingly believes that Johnny was the father.
Johnny and Baby continue to see each other despite this, though more trouble looms when Johnny is accused of stealing a wallet from one of the resorts guests. Â Baby stands up for Johnny despite knowing that her father will find out about her continuing relationship, but Johnny still ends up being fired.
The film ends with Johnny returning to dance with Baby at the resorts final dance of the season, lifting her high into the air at the climax of the dance, a move which Baby has been too scared to carry out until now. Â Baby’s father also finds out the truth about the father of Penny’s aborted child, and apologises to Johnny for his misunderstanding.
Dirty Dancing made household names of its then relatively unknown stars. Â It also made the depicted dirty dancing style very popular for a while, with people signing up to courses to try and emulate the film, though probably with less acrobatic moves it has to be said! Â The ending move of Johnny and Baby’s dance, where she is lifted high into the air has gone down in movie history, especially due to the scene where the couple practice the move in the middle of a lake!
The movie also had a very succesful soundtrack, with two platinum selling soundtrack albums and of course its most remembered theme song “(I’ve Had) The Time of my Life“, sung by Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes, which won multiple awards and will always conjure up images of the film for anyone who has seen the final dance sequence.