Wee Scoops

Measure for Measure

“Dirty Dancing” Watch-along-a Sanstorm: “I’ve had the time of my life…”

After I blog-alonga-ed “The Sound of Music” my readers heaved a sigh of relief that they would never have to watch the movie again. Especially the scary bit in the graves. What effect will this have?

So, you make the tea, I’ll make the pop corn, and come back with me… to 1987…

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A twelve! A twelve? This was a fifteen in my day! (OK OK so I was only fourteen, but that’s another story…)

Here we go…

We start with the song “Be My Baby” which makes my instantly have a flashback to the episode of Moonlighting when David and Maddie finally got together. That ruined the whole next season and eventually killed the show – but anyway, I suppose it was inevitable. And when you watch Moonlighting now, it is mince…

“Big Girls don’t Cry” – now I am having a flashback to “Mermaids” with Cher… taking us back to 1963 pre-Kennedy assassination. Baby narrates, taking us to Kellermans – a kind of holiday camp.

Now, who is the guy with the megaphone? What’s he in? It’ll come to me.

So far we have Baby’s sister characterised as shallow and materialistic. Here comes Mr Kellerman. Baby carries her own bags.

Some sidestepping feet. Not Baby’s forte. And what’s with the blue three-quarter-length socks?

Baby’s off out. Twighlight piano music. Very peaceful. Baby stumbles upon the truth about Kellermans: the waiters are high class college boys to woo the daughters. “even the dogs”. And in comes Johnny. And Mr Kellerman’s intonation spits poison as he sees the “entertainment staff”. Ooh. He’s very angry. Ooh, Johnny, what a one-liner.

Robbie is introduced to the Houseman family. There’s a general ignorance and mocking of Baby’s political and social conscience. Baby in turn mocks her superficial sister.

Baby dances with Neil. It’s a little staid and awkward. Nice tap-dance though.

Mambo! Yeah Come on!

There’s that tone again, as Neil spits “dance people”. OK OK so we get the class distinction. She’s thin, I’ll give her that. Kellerman approaches and growls at them and cuts the routine. The dance-floor re-fills.

Ninety degree perspective and Baby’s being sawn in half. Ta-da!

“Staff Quarters: No Guests please”

So, along she goes. Here’s the wee guy with too many watermelons. “Do you love me?” and here we have it: “Dirty Dancing”. Baby’s jaw drops. “Watch me now-hey!”

Here’s Johnny! And then Baby finds out the dance couple are only a dance couple. Baby starts to get into the groove. Change in track and they are off again. Johnny spots the interloper in their midst and quizzes his cousin.


More feet. Not too sure about that cummerbund. Johnny beckons. Quick lesson and she’s away. Kind of. She’s entranced, following his lead. Even after he’s left. And she looks and looks, and he’s gone…

They are playing with wigs? Here’s Robbie to chat up Lisa. Baby talks to the thin ex-rockette who is in a bit of a pessimistic mood.

Johnny is dancing with an old woman in sequins. Little Neil is looking for Penny. She needs a break, apparently. That’ll be the ex-rockette.

Neil’s chatting Baby up again, but she’s not too impressed. Robbie and Lisa pass by, having had something of a disagreement in the undergrowth. How patronising is Neil?

They are in the kitchen. This time I am having a flashback to Jurassic Park, waiting for a velociraptor to peek around the edge of the kitchen units, but no. It’s Penny, shaking and crying, crouching against the wall.

Baby makes her escape, and runs to get the watermelon guy who gets Johnny. Off they go to the kitchen. Baby discovers that Penny is knocked up. She accidentally assumes it’s Johnny and he is none too pleased with her prejudice.

He gives Penny a nice cuddle and lifts her and her ruby slippers up and takes her home. She is blanketed up and despairing. And blurts out that it was Robbie that got her pregnant… the self same Robbie that is with her sister as they speak…

*MORALITY OBSERVATION – in the world of Dirty Dancing morals are unconvincing and fixed. It seems the top priority is employment, then honesty. Promiscuity is presented as a necessary state of victims. Abortion is seen as “the only option” given the employment priority. Hypocrisy is despised. Class distinctions are upheld. And the moral codes seem unconvincing, but are not questioned within the movie*

Billy tells Baby the abortion plan and she comes up with an immediate solution: cash from Robbie! Robbie is an abhorrent character. Baby threatens to have him fired.

So. Plan B. Money from Dad. Yay! Success. Baby should have used moral imparative number 2: honesty, here – but failed. She was trying to sustain employment. But honesty may have given way to alternatives for Penny. But we don’t know.

Back to the staff quarters. Don’t know about those shorts, Baby. Waistband a little high. And here they are, dancing away and she gives Penny the money. Johnny puts her down.

Then there is the complicating factor of the gig at the Sheldrake Hotel. They can’t miss it, or they lose… everything ( Imperative 1: Employment). Bubbly optimist Baby suggests a replacement. Johnny suggests Baby, as a joke. She rises to the challenge and gets her white jimmies on.

Learning to dance montage.

Change of clothes. More learning to dance.

“The steps aren’t enough FEEL the music”.

Oh no! It’s the gu-gung bit… close your eyes…

In the dance studio in polka-dot pink with thin, thin Penny. And Johnny. Luckily she packed enough dance outfits for her holiday.

Parallel fish-nets. Lip stick. Enormous hands over tiny hips. Seems to be getting warm. I don’t think she’s taking this entirely seriously. OK, maybe she is now.

Now it is raining and she has a horrible skirt on and there’s a bit of tension. She’s angry. Never mind the rain. Off they go. He smashes his own car window, just so that can go out?

Very Edenic. And a bit like Hakuna Matata. He’s all black, she’s all white. And off they go on the balance beam.

Running and jumping. Little House on the Prairie.

In the water – and lift. And in again. But I think it is funner than the tension back at the ranch.

Enter the seemingly innocuous character of Mrs Schumacher that Baby and Penny help when she drops her bag and its contents spill.

Baby is thinking through her routine with last minute panic. Penny should be panicking. She’s about to have an operation that is not going to go well. She is scared. Baby is ever the optimist.

Baby sets her cover story and we cut to the Hotel gig. And off they go. She has too much eye make up on. It’s going ok. Kind of. I don’t think she’s feeling the music. Big licks with the skirt. Lift fail. Random hand jive. One lift works and a kind of half hearted ending. And there’s the Schumachers…

That was the end of that then. They are back at Kellermans – Billy dashes over – Penny is in a state. Dirty knife and a folding table. No anaesthetic.Baby runs off to get her Daddy. She gets his doctor’s bag and off they go.

Then the conversation:

“Who is responsible for this girl” and Johnny says “I am” – which gives all kinds of inaccuracies.

They all stand outside the chalet while he treats her. He takes Baby away. He puts two and two together and bans her from seeing the staff again. He agrees with me about the make-up also.

Johnny’s room. Baby’s at the door. Sparsely furnished. Great room? You decide. He clears a seat for her. He’s impressed with her Dad and thinks he’s nothing. He tells her that she doesn’t understand the way things are. She’s such a crushing optimist; he finds it refreshing.

But she’s scared… “… the way I feel when I am with you…”

Oh. She’s said it now. What’s he going to do? I think she wants to dance. I think this conversation is taking a turn.

*averts eyes*

It’s the morning after. Breakfast. Talent show is announced. Lisa wants to sing in the show. Dr Houseman wants to leave early. He relents. They are going to stay.

Baby goes to see Penny. And here’s Johnny. Ooh. Dingied. All a bit stilted. Awkward. Penny can see right through him. Advises him to stop. She has a fair point. Baby doesn’t look too happy. He smiles. She smiles.

And it’s raining again. Think they built the resort in the wrong state. Baby’s off out again. Off to see Johnny. I think her father would have something to say. And we get a tour of Johnny’s poor self-esteem. He feels used. And he asks her her name. Frances.

Disaster. Lisa has plans for her and Robbie. Baby advised against. Hypocrite.

And she’s having a dance lesson? I thought she was supposed to be avoiding “these people”. Almost rumbled by Neil. There’s a patronising pigeonholing bullying conversation with the conclusion being the Petchanga, however you spell it. Johnny is raging.

Rich and mean.

There’s Dad and Robbie and Lisa. Johnny is feeling used again. He thinks she’s never going to tell her parents about him. Id have thought he’d not want her to mention is as he would get SACKED – and employment is the be all and end all in the world of Dirty Dancing.

She goes looking for Johnny and finds him with Penny. She apologises? What for? Ooh and they are sprung by Robbie. Who Johnny then beats up. I think he feels better for that.

And now the singing. Lisa has high shorts and an ambitious party piece. That she is struggling with. The old sequiny lady moves in on Johnny. But he has other plans, I suspect. Johnny is offered money to entertain the woman, but he turns it down.

And the tuning gets worse.

But Baby is pleased.

Lisa goes out to get her man. There’s a towel on the handle, but she goes in anyway. And that was the end of that.

New music.

Baby and Johnny. Dreaming of acceptance from Baby’s father. And Mrs Sequin sees them – and figures why she was ditched. What will she do with the information? Or will she just silently fume?

There’s a thief on the loose. Sequin woman blames Johnny, knowing he has no alibi. Oh yes he does. Baby isn’t going to let him go down as a thief. She points the finger at the Schumachers. That isn’t going to work.

Dr Houseman is none too pleased. He has a fair point. He hasn’t been watching his daughters closely enough. She accuses him of hypocrisy. She loves her Daddy. She’s sorry. I don’t think she really has a leg to stand on in this argument.

Here comes Johnny. The Schumachers have been sprung. So her optimism…. isn’t going to pay off after all.

He’s sacked. But he goes down anyway, for being with her.

Is she going to lose her pathological optimism?

Johnny chaps on the Houseman chalet. Dr Houseman is not in the mood to listen. You can see his point of view. So can Johnny.

So, it’s time to say goodbye. And the car disappears into the dust…

At least the sisters are friends again. Not that they look remotely related. Glad they’ve made up anyway.

Here’s Mr Annoying singing cheesily into the mic, and Baby’s in the corner and Lisa’s on the stage. She has a rare talent. Here comes Robbie. I think he is about to land himself in it with “the Penny situation”. At least Dr Houseman knows now.

Kellerman laments change. “It all seems to be ending.”

Here’s Johnny!

Hey Johnny!


Johnny sees Frances as an aspirational figure. And they are going to dance.

I’ve had the time of my life…

Her mum and sister are impressed, at least.

Slow motion leap. His knees are all dirty

Unlikely group dance.

Up she goes.

Her dad is smiling now, if awkwardly.

And the dance takes off. Everyone into it, except Mrs Sequin. Dr Houseman owns up to being wrong about Johnny. Penny is up grooving too. And the Housemans.

What happened to the chairs?


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11 thoughts on ““Dirty Dancing” Watch-along-a Sanstorm: “I’ve had the time of my life…”

  1. Terrible, terrible movie, schmaltzy music video. Never understood what everyone loved about it apart from Patrick’s swivelling hips. Admittedly my viewing experience was irrevocably tainted. I spent the entire film terrified of official reprisals after the Gorgons of Muirend reluctantly let us in on the basis that I was quicker at subtracting 1 from 1973 than they were expecting.

  2. Jerry Orbach was a crush of mine, I got to see him play the male lead in 42nd Street on Broadway in New York and he was dreamy, I loved him seeing him spin his wife around on the dance floor at the end. Baby, you nailed it when you said pathological optimism, she definitely suffered from an acute case. People loved it because you get catchy music plus Patrick Swayse who can really dance plus young ingenue and there you have it. When you take the time to really look at it and all the implications consciously or subconsciously stated, it kind of gets a little painful to watch.

  3. A masterclass in blogalonging!

    I love that film. Nobody puts Baby in a corner.

  4. Indeed.
    What would have happened had she never offered to carry the watermelon?

  5. Scotstig on said:

    I have always thought that “Dirty Dancing” was a poor version of “Pretty Woman” with some dancing and much less charm.

    Same dodgy morals in Pretty Woman. It’s ok to be a hooker in LA because a rich millionaire will whisk you off your feet with a Lotus Esprit when in reality you would get whisked off your feet as you got run over. The hooker trade in LA rocketed after the release of Pretty Woman.

    Anyway……. all main characters are “damaged” and solve their problems by meeting their unlikely other halves. What annoys me is the basis of these sort of films that opposites attract when in reality that is the exception rather than the rule. But then romantic comedies would be dead without this.

    I can see why “Dirty Dancing” is admired by many but for me it was one of those films that all the best bits were in the trailer.

    Now if you suggest a Baz Luhrmann movie like Strictly Ballroom or Romeo and Juliet or Moulin Rouge then you are motoring.

  6. Pingback: Portia… Your Point Is…? « Wee Scoops

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