The Things Dirty Dancing Taught Me about Life

In my twelfth year, Dirty Dancing came to theatres. Trailers for the movie played with epic momentum for months luring moviegoers with Swayze’s charm and vigorous hip movements and swagger while offsetting that to Jennifer Grey’s innocence. Who wouldn’t want to see this movie? Just the name made my twelve-year-old self want to go. My girlfriend asked if I wanted to go to the movie with her and I knew, without even asking, that my mother would never let me see a movie with the word dirty in the title.  So we waited, impatiently I might add, for the movie to come to VHS. Luckily for me, her parents rented it for us. Both of our sets of parents were oddly strict in differing ways.

Anyway, the first time I saw Patrick Swayze, instantly I knew he was too old for me. I was not attracted to him in the least. But the story of he and Baby resonated with me in some capacity. Seeing Johnny (Swayze) sweep Baby (Grey) up in arms did something to me. All the sudden, I wanted some guy to hold me like that and dance with me like that. There were certainly no boys my age living in my neighborhood that could dance with me like Johnny did with Baby. So I’m hooped right?

No not totally. I studied that movie and studied the moves enough to teach the boys in my neighborhood. I held impromptu dance classes in my backyard for all my friends. Do you remember that famous lift at the end of the movie? Well I successful taught my friends how to do it and we spent all summer getting the boys to lift us in the air. My poor parents…I’m sure I was the spectacle of the neighborhood.

In Dirty Dancing, Baby is shown the forbidden dance hall that Swayze and all the dance instructors go to after hours. The dancers are all over one another and there is some sort of foreplay happening in this PG rated movie that I don’t really understand. Is this how men and women interact with one another? Does he really rub against her like that? My twelve-year-old mind—blown.

Moreover, Dirty Dancing also taught me about abortions. Seriously, I had just figured out how babies were conceived a year before that and now I know that there’s a way to terminate a pregnancy. I also learned that you should never have one done in the back room of some disreputable business for a few hundred dollars. Thankfully I live in Canada and in the 21st Century. Baby's famous monologue may have been what turned me for good:

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.

From this I realized that when you love someone you have to take the risk of getting hurt. Without risk there is no reward. I also learned that relationships are not perfect and sometimes together you can overcome what seems like insurmountable challenges like not being able to dance but having to learn how so you can help a friend/lover win a contest; getting through and over an unwanted pregnancy; when love is present age difference is okay; employment instability doesn't matter because love conquers all; and differing socio-economic statuses are also not a factor if you love someone.

Thank you Dirty Dancing because...

nobody puts Baby in a corner 

 And this is pretty much how I've lived my life. 


 ~Jennifer Ward

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