Recently, I went for the play Dirty Dancing based on the popular movie. The play had received great reviews and I was expecting all kinds of awesomeness, and was completely astonished to find myself disappointed. Severely lacking was the chemistry between the protagonists Johnny and Baby. The dialogues had been lifted almost entirely from the movie, and yet they sounded hollow. The dancers were accomplished but lacked the sexual energy that characterised the freestyle dancing of the staff.
To restore my original memory of the film, I watched the DVD this weekend and found that the movie has lost none of its appeal for me. At the heart of the film is the hotness of Patrick Swayze playing Johnny and the unlikely attraction that develops between him and Baby.
I was struck once again by how similar I used to be to Baby at the age she played in the movie. A thinker with an idealistic streak, Daddy’s girl, not quite the dancer, a girl with an awkward nose. (A friend told me Jennifer Grey who played Baby later had her nose fixed and it turned out that it made her look entirely plain. My friend was dissuading me from similar thoughts about my own nose).
And then I realised how like my first boyfriend was to Johnny. Before you die of jealousy, he didn’t have a patch on Patrick Swayze’s level of hotness, but he was rough, considered too rough for me, and boy, he could dance. He was my sexual awakening, but he was also the one that taught me to dance, that I could dance. That all I needed to do was put an arm around his neck and join my hips to his and follow his rhythm. And when my hips got the beat, I found that I could do this alone as well. I will never be a great dancer, but being with him freed my body to music.
I realised that Dirty Dancing was the screenplay of my life in my late teens and early 20s. All the men of consequence in my life since have been great dancers. And by wanting to dance with me, me the girl in the corner, I began to move.
The green-eyed monster was not only a looker but a great dancer who was known for twirling women around the floor. And V, the very first time I met him, a complete stranger, did a bit of a grind with me. A little more than a year on, at the party after our wedding, he put his arm around me and pulled me close and we were grinding on the dance floor to the slight shock and embarrassment of all present. It was probably the highlight of a very blah wedding for me.
Seven years on,ot’s been a long time since we’ve been on a dancefloor together. These days we dance with our children, they watch V in awe and giggle at me. It took watching Dirty Dancing to crystalise that what I have been missing is dancing like that, like we did in the beginning and the middle.