Dirty Dancing

After more than 15 years the interest in and enthusiasm for this film and music have not waned. At this point Dirty Dancing is considered one of the classic soundtracks the world over by young and old alike. -- Jimmy Ienner, Executive Producer

Dirty Dancing, starring Patrick Swaze and Jenifer Grey, is set in a tacky, up-market version of a Butlins holiday camp, located in the Catskills. It is where Saturday Night Fever and Grease come of age.

Our heroine, a young girl wanting to join the Peace Corp, grows up and comes of age. Her tutor is a brooding James Dean type, a dead beat kid who is the dance instructor, who teaches her Dirty Dancing, and learns some himself.

We see our young heroine change from a dowdy kid to a sensual woman.

It is not only our heroine who comes of age. Music comes of age too. Set in 1963, we are at the transition between the 1950s and the 1960s.

The music is great. The dancing is great. The dancing is sensual.

Several of the dance scenes were cut, to get a distribution certificate. It is a pity they have not been reintroduced on DVD. A double DVD edition with extra features is available. This double disc remastered Ultimate Edition was released at the end of 2003.

More grown up than Grease, less gritty than Saturday Night Fever, Dirty Dancing, is where the genre comes of age.

Dirty Dancing has the feel of a recent release, I was surprised that it was released in 1987. Also surprising, is that it was a low budget film by an unknown studio, Vestron (subsequently acquired by Artisan), using a relatively unknown cast.

Dirty Dancing, released in the hot summer of 1987, went on to gross $170 million worldwide, not bad for a low budget film from an unknown studio, using a relatively unknown cast.

The soundtrack, shot to No 1 in the album charts, selling a million copies in its first five weeks of release. Later, a second sound track was released. Total sales, for both albums, topped 20 million.

The music is very subtly tailored to the different scenes - 'clean teens' and 'dirty dancing'.

Following the success of the soundtrack, a Dirty Dancing live concert tour took place.

That Dirty Dancing ever saw the light of day, is due to the dogged persistence of Eleanor Bergstein, who wrote Dirty Dancing as a fond memory of her time at a holiday camp in the Catskills with her family. But even then, it took a few more years to acquire the rights for the music.

Dirty Dancing won a 1988 Academy Award for Original Song - '(Now I've Had) The Time of My Life'. And a 1988 Grammy for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group With Vocal - '(Now I've Had) The Time of My Life'. It deserved to win more.

What made Dirty Dancing, apart from the stunning dancing, was the music. It took Eleanor Bergstein around ten years to get anyone interested in her storyline, and even then, they were more interested in the soundtrack than her storyline. To accompany her script she had included a cassette of her old 33s and 45s to give the story a sense of time and place. It then took a few more years to acquire the rights to the music. The soundtrack, digitally remastered, has recently been released on CD as Ultimate Dirty Dancing. Nevertheless, the sound quality, is not briiliant. Best listened to through a 1950s gramophone, to get the right sound. And, at a little over six minutes long, Ultimate Dirty Dancing does not include the full length version of '(Now I've Had) The Time of My Life' which runs to nearly 8 minutes.

Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights, set in Cuba, is a remake of Dirty Dancing. Like Dirty Dancing, it is rooted in a true life experience. Like Dirty Dancing, it uses unknown actors. Set in Cuba in 1959, a 17-year-old girl moves to Cuba with her family. Defying the wishes of her family, she takes up with a slick Cuban dancer. Sound familiar? A rarity for a remake, Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights, is better than the original. Although not set in Cuba, it captures the atmosphere of pre-revolution, 1950s Cuba.

Music ~ Moulin Rouge! ~ Chicago
(c) Keith Parkins 2005-2007 -- August 2007 rev 1