Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Dirty Dancing (1987)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Dirty Dancing (1987)

In Emile Ardolino's popular, coming-of-age, sexual awakening romantic tale, set at an upstate New York Catskills resort (fictional) known as Kellerman's Mountain House in the summer of 1963 (Virginia's Mountain Lake Hotel in actuality), that revolved around sexy dance scenes in the staff quarters or the dance studio (or outdoors on a log or in water):

  • the film's opening credits appeared over slo-motion B/W footage of provocative early 1960s "dirty dancers" during a sweaty, off-limits, secret party among the resort staff in their dormitory quarters
  • the voice-over narration provided by 17 year-old Frances "Baby" Houseman (Jennifer Grey): "That was the summer of 1963, when everybody called me 'Baby' and it didn't occur to me to mind. That was before President Kennedy was shot; before The Beatles came; when I couldn't wait to join the Peace Corps; and I thought I'd never find a guy as great as my dad. That was the summer we went to Kellerman's"; 'Baby' was the youngest of two daughters in a wealthy family, with an older sister named Lisa (Jane Brucker); 'Baby' had just graduated from HS and was starting at Mount Holyoke in the fall (and planning to major in "Economics of Underdeveloped Countries"), with future plans to join the Peace Corps
  • 'Baby' was introduced to 'dirty dancing' at a secret party (with reddish light) held in the 'staff quarters' only' facilities, to the soundtrack's playing of "Do You Love Me" (by the Contours) and Otis Redding's "Love Man." There, she watched in awe as Johnny Castle (Patrick Swayze), the macho resort hotel resident dance instructor and streetwise sexy suitor, vigorously danced with his long-time dance partner Penny Johnson (Cynthia Rhodes); 'Baby' was completely intimidated when Johnny brought her onto the dance floor to teach her a few moves, but obviously she thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

Frances 'Baby' Houseman (Jennifer Grey)

Dr. Jake Houseman (Jerry Orbach)

Johnny Castle (Patrick Swayze)

Penny Johnson (Cynthia Rhodes)
  • in a major sub-plot, Penny became pregnant by irresponsible hotel waiter Robbie Gould (Max Cantor) who refused to pay for her abortion. As Penny angrily put it: "Penny got knocked up by Robbie the Creep." The snobbish and uncaring Robbie told 'Baby': "Some people count, and some people don't."
  • 'Baby' chose to intervene and asked her father Dr. Jake Houseman (Jerry Orbach) for a loan of $250 cash. The day of the abortion in New Paltz, NY was scheduled the same day as a dance show ("Mambo Magic") at the neighboring Sheldrake Hotel, meaning that Johnny's partner Penny couldn't dance that night - and cancellation wasn't a real possibility: ("If they cancel, they lose this year's salary and next year's gig"). 'Baby' volunteered to train and take Penny's place. As they began training, he gave her advice: "The steps aren't enough. Feel the music."
  • over the course of about a week, he taught 'Baby' expressive mambo dance moves, in one sequence to the tune of Hungry Eyes. Tempers flared, though, when Baby became fed up with Johnny's harsh training: ""We're supposed to do the show in two days, you won't show me the lifts, I'm not sure of the turns, I'm doing all this to save your ass. What I really want to do is drop you on it!"
Dance Practice Lessons: With Johnny
  • they further practiced balance on a log in the forest (to the tune of "Hey Baby" performed by Bruce Channel), and perfected lifts in a cold nearby lake. Their "Mambo Magic" dance act at the Sheldrake went well, although 'Baby' hesitated to do the lift

Practicing Balance in a Forest

Perfecting Lifts in a Cold Lake

The "Mambo Magic" Performance at the Sheldrake Hotel
  • when 'Baby' and Johnny returned to Kellerman's and learned that Penny's abortion was botched, Baby called upon her father to treat Penny, but then was reprimanded and scolded for lying about the reason for borrowing the cash ("You're not the person I thought you were, Baby"). He also forbid her from further contact with the dance staff or Johnny, who he wrongly blamed for the pregnancy
  • the film's most sexual scene took place next, when she disobediently visited Johnny in his cabin-bungalow to apologize for her father's treatment of him. Surprisingly, Johnny thanked her for her father's miracle cure, and then admitted: "The reason people treat me like nothing is because I am nothing." He claimed he had never met anyone as idealistic as Baby: "I've never known anybody like you. You look at the world and you think you can make it better." He complimented her on her bravery to go seek help from her father, but then she expressed her own fears:

    "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."

    She then invited the shirtless Johnny to symbolically "Dance with me." Incredulous, Johnny asked: "What, here?" and she replied boldly: "Here." To the tune of Solomon Burke singing "Cry to Me" in the dim light, they danced sensuously. After a few moments, he removed her blouse. She was stripped down to her white bra and jeans as he held her when she dipped backwards, before the scene dissolved to them in bed kissing - presumably before sex.

  • the next morning, Dr. Houseman surprised the family by announcing they were leaving early before the weekend's end-of-season talent show, but then he was persuaded to change his mind
  • during the rainy day, Baby returned to Johnny and found herself in bed naked with him. Baby was atop Johnny - when she asked: "Have you had many women?... Tell me, I wanna know," but he was reluctant to talk about his sex partners; but then he did speak about his past relationships mostly at the resort with older rich women, and his own lower-class background:

    "You gotta understand what it's like, Baby. You come from the streets and suddenly you're up here and these women - they are throwin' themselves at ya and they smell so good. And they really take care of themselves. I mean, I never knew women could be like that, you know? And they're so rich - they're so goddamn rich, you think they must know about everything. And they're slippin' their room keys in my hands two and three times a day -- different women -- so, here I think I'm scorin' big, right? And for awhile, you think - 'Hey, they wouldn't be doin' this if they didn't care about me, right?'

  • when Baby assumed that he was just using the rich older women, he claimed it was just the reverse: "No, no, that's not it. That's the thing, Baby. See, it wasn't like that. They were usin' me" - and then they kissed passionately. He learned that her real name was Frances ("the first woman in the Cabinet"), and he called it a "real grown-up name."
  • later, while other resort guests were being entertained, Baby returned to Johnny for more playful cha-cha dance moves, and lip-synching to the tune of "Love Is Strange" by Mickey & Sylvia
  • Johnny was pressured into changing up the final dance routine (for the closing night talent show) from the Mambo to the Pechanga, without being able to offer his own suggestions. When Baby suggested he should "fight harder" for his ideas ("Make them listen"), he disgustedly reminded her that she never had any intention of being courageous enough to tell her family about their serious relationship: ("I don't see you running up to Daddy telling him I'm your guy") before stalking off.
  • however, they soon reconciled, and spent another evening in bed together in his cabin, to the tune of "In the Still of the Nite" sung by the Five Satins. He shared a dream he had of being embraced by her father. When she left Johnny's cabin late that evening after sex, one of Johnny's spurned would-be lovers (amongst the rich guests) spotted her and reported them to the management
  • as the film wound down to its conclusion, Johnny was fired by the hotel's manager Max Kellerman (Jack Weston), a friend of the Housemans, for intermingling with the guests, including Baby. She had been forced to reveal that she had been with Johnny that evening, to provide him with an alibi when he was spitefully and wrongly accused of theft
  • with her father, 'Baby' confessed and apologized that she had lied about the cash for Penny's abortion - for good reason - and then accused her repressive father of elitism:

    "I'm sorry I lied to you. But you lied, too. You told me everyone was alike and deserved a fair break. But you meant everyone who was like you. You told me you wanted me to change the world, to make it better. But you meant by becoming a lawyer or an economist and marrying someone from Harvard. I'm not proud of myself. But I'm in this family, too, and you can't keep giving me the silent treatment. There are a lot of things about me that aren't what you thought. But if you love me, you have to love all the things about me. And I love you, and I'm sorry I let you down. I'm so sorry, Daddy. But you let me down, too."

  • after Johnny informed Baby that he had been let go, she felt her dreams with him had been dashed: "So I did it for nothing. I hurt my family, you lost your job anyway, I did it for nothing!" He was still thankful for her faithfulness to him: "No, no, not for nothin', Baby! Nobody has ever done anything like that for me before." Johnny left the resort with Baby's father still believing that he had fathered Penny's child
  • Johnny's goodbye scene with Baby was accompanied by "She's Like the Wind" (performed by Patrick Swayze with Wendy Frazer), as he told her: "I'll never be sorry." She answered: "Neither will I" - and they kissed
  • in the film's finale during the smaltzy end-of-season show, Johnny returned to the resort and confronted Baby's parents (mostly her protective father). He told him that Baby shouldn't be seated in the corner at their family's table:

    "Nobody puts Baby in a corner!"

    Then, he led Baby to the stage. Although he had been fired from the staff, he interrupted and announced to the crowd:

    "Sorry about the disruption, folks, but I always do the last dance of the season. This year somebody told me not to. So I'm gonna do my kind of dancin' with a great partner, who's not only a terrific dancer, but somebody who's taught me that there are people willing to stand up for other people no matter what it costs them. Somebody who's taught me about the kind of person I wanna be. Miss Frances Houseman."

  • and then to the tune of Bill Medley and Jennifer Warne's "(I've Had) The Time of My Life," he and Baby danced together (performing the dance moves they had practiced all summer), including Johnny lifting Baby above his head in the midst of the audience, and encouraging the many other guests at the Catskill Resort to loosen up and dance with them.
During the End-of-Season Talent Show: (Johnny: "I always do the last dance of the season")
  • Dr. Houseman had learned the truth about Penny's pregnancy and pulled Johnny aside to apologize about misjudging him: ("I know you weren't the one who got Penny in trouble...When I'm wrong, I say I'm wrong"). Then, he congratulated Baby: "You looked wonderful out there."

'Baby' Watching Secret "Dirty Dancing" in Staff-Employee Quarters-Dormitory

'Baby' Dancing with Johnny For the First Time

Baby's Confession of Her Fears About Life to Johnny

Baby to Johnny: "Dance with Me"

The Morning After - Love in Baby's Eyes for Johnny

After Rainy Day Sex: "Have you had many women?

Passionate Kisses

More Cha-Cha Dance Moves

Another Night of Sex Before the End of the Summer

Baby's Tearful Apology to Her Father

Goodbye Scene Between Baby and Johnny

"Nobody puts Baby in a corner!"
Dragging Baby On-Stage


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