Johnny, Baby, corners

Dirty Dancing

My earliest memories of “Dirty Dancing” involve a dusty VHS tape propped in my parents’ living room. Our old wall unit with the TV at its core had movies tucked into every nook and cranny. The bright-colored script on the spine of the box always got my attention, but I was told it was a “grown-up” movie.

I wanted desperately to watch it, of course.

I can’t remember my very first viewing (sometime in the ’90s, inevitably), but I remember later ones — and when my grandmother asked if we’d be interested in seeing a stage version at the National Theatre for a girls’ afternoon, we didn’t hesitate.

It was awesome.

Steamy. Very steamy.


In high school, I was the consummate theatre geek — and even headed up our school’s thespian society in my final year. I hung with drama geeks and was a drama geek . . . probably stereotypically so. But I loved the heck out of it. Most of my friends were my partners in crime on stage, and I can’t separate my memories of my teen years without remembering the highs and lows of all those moments in and out of the spotlight. (Fun fact: I was even the lead in Jane Austen’s “Emma” senior year. And I didn’t really know who Jane Austen was at the time, so: progress.)

Going to see shows as an adult is an entirely different experience, of course — mostly because, you know, these are professionals. This performance of “Dirty Dancing” was as expert as you’d expect from a show with an activity in the title. I was mesmerized by the angle of their bodies, how effortlessly they moved across the stage. Given I’m incredibly uncoordinated and feel embarrassed at the mere idea of dancing in public (save my own wedding), I was very impressed.

My sister and cousin said most of the dialogue was straight out of the movie, and I recognized many pivotal scenes. Several of the women to my right were getting quite excited during the performance, whistling and shouting like teenyboppers as the lights came up on a shirtless Johnny with Baby appearing at his door. When Johnny delivers the movie’s most famous line, the audience erupted.

We knew where it was going — and that spoiled nothing. If anything, it made it better.

Though theatre hasn’t been a huge part of my life in the decade since high school, I feel so energized at live performances — and want to remember that moving forward. Time and money can be tight, but there is something electric about great musicals . . . and I was still tapping my foot all day Sunday. Our day was rounded out with lots of time chatting with wonderful family at dinner afterward, all of us buzzing, and our girls’ afternoon at “Dirty Dancing” was very well spent.

Especially as the whole audience sang and clapped along with “Time of My Life.” It’s pretty much mandatory.

And oh, that Johnny.

27 thoughts on “Johnny, Baby, corners

  1. I saw the play with my sister. Spent most of the second half dancing around my seat because the music was so great (and I’d had a wine in the interval!)
    At the end the woman behind me had the nerve to ask me to sit down to which I replied “It’s called a standing ovation”.

    Note to self – maybe don’t have alcohol at the theatre.

    love the blog

    Soph x


  2. I adored this movie growing up. I used to have the poster of Johnny all sprawled out on my closet door. I’m aching to see the show.


  3. I just watched Dirty Dancing a few days ago! I adore that movie. I saw the stage play version a few years ago and absolutely loved it. I love theater and dancing, so it was all my favorite things wrapped together into a single night! I might have been one of those people being rowdy during the final dance…and by might I mean I 100% was. But at least I was not the teenage boys in front of me snickering throughout the entire love scene!


    • Oh goodness, snickering teens would have distracted me for sure. Everyone around me was watching with bated breath during the love scene, haha . . . oh dear. So glad you liked it, too!


  4. When Carl and I dropped Vance off at college (8 hours from home), he was fine but, when we went back to our hotel room, we felt like we had just come from a funeral. It was horrible. We sat on our bed and watched Dirty Dancing and I haven’t been able to watch it since then.


    • Aw, Kathy. Totally understand why you wouldn’t want to see it again now! We all have memories like that — a song or movie or show that played as the soundtrack to a sad/traumatic event. I can’t hear Five for Fighting without thinking of driving home from a family funeral years ago.


  5. This has never been my favorite movie, although I’d love to see the play. Live theater is one of my absolute favorite things – especially musicals. For close to a decade, I had season tickets to the local children’s theater for myself and my daughter, and even my son when he got old enough to enjoy it. We would see four to five performances a year, and they were wonderful. Some of my absolute favorite memories involve taking my kids to see plays.

    I took my daughter to see the broadway touring company performance of Beauty and the Beast and it remains breath-taking in my my memory. The scene where the beast transforms is absolutely amazing.


    • Oh Christine, I’m sure “Beauty and the Beast” was spellbinding. That was a beloved movie my sister and I played on repeat growing up, and I once staged a one-child reenactment of many scenes with a blanket for Belle’s shawl. I was quite the dramatic kid . . .


  6. It is one of those movies that I can watch over and over and over again…like Baby Boom, When Harry Met Sally, or Shawshank Redemption. You never get tired of it. I love the theater too, even though I was never involved at the high school level (nor should I have been). I spent a couple of months in London when I was early in my career, and let me tell you! We saw everything we could get into. It is such a thrill.


    • Sandy, I didn’t know you were once in London — and going to fabulous theatre, no less! Color me quite jealous. And yes, there are just certain movies you’ll never get sick of. I’d add “Sleepless In Seattle” and “You’ve Got Mail” to that list! (Apparently I have a thing for the Meg Ryan/Tom Hanks pairing? But then again, who doesn’t.)


  7. I’m SO JEALOUS! I don’t remember the first time I saw the movie either but I know I was allowed to watch the final dance before anything else. I fell in love and by the time I was old enough to watch the whole movie I didn’t really care about the rest of the storyline. I was actually shocked by how much I love the entire movie because it had become just an amazing dance to me and I thought I would hate every scene without dancing.


    • The dancing is incredible, Jess! Though I’m not much of a “Dancing With the Stars”-type fan, I do love seeing live performances. If you love the movie, you’d definitely like the play!


  8. Meg, after reading your post, went straight to YOU TUBE and saw the whole movie again. Probably have seen it before but your comments gave it a special background. Had a lovely musical evening. Thanks!


  9. You know, I’m not sure if I’ve ever sat down and watched this movie all the way through. That’s something I’ll have to fix.

    And I’m with you, nothing beats a live show.


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