Today is the 21st anniversary of the greatest film of all time. 21 years ago, theaters all over the country were blessed with the presence of Johnny Castle and Frances Baby Houseman. The duo dirty-danced their way into our hearts, redefined the romance movie genre, and made us all want to go to Kellerman’s for the summer.
Perhaps one of the greatest scenes from the film, other than the iconic ending dance sequence, is the scene in which Baby goes to Johnny’s room and seduces him through the art of grinding. After personally watching this scene dozens of times, I have come to the conclusion that this is one of the sexiest scenes in the history of movies–and the two do not even kiss until the very end, leaving audiences to imagine the aftermath of this intense dance.
I stress, yet again, that I was quite young and impressionable when watching this film. In elementary school, I remember befriending another boy in school. I don’t remember his name, but I do recall calling him Johnny. Those were the days. Johnny and I would spend our lunches perfecting this dance, taking breaks to eat tater tots and nachos. Next to the monkey bars and stepping over tanbark, I would raise my arms like Baby and Johnny would . . . Well, we never got to that part. I think I was suspended for illicit behavior. Stupid teachers didn’t understand. Johnny! Come back to me!
We are nearing the 21st anniversary of the opening of the greatest movie of all time. This iconic film ignited the country into a dance frenzy and caused millions of people to engage in grinding . . . long before R. Kelly saw nothing wrong with a little bump and grind. Millions of teenagers and preteens all over the world, with grandiose dreams of the future, wanted to cast their square plans aside to embark on the journey of a lifetime. Yes folks–in 1987, I wanted to be Frances “Baby” Houseman. I wanted to run into Johnny Castle, carry a watermelon, and wear a white shirt in a lake while learning the lift. I wanted to dance on a log, spin my foot around, and say, “Whoooo!” when Johnny nearly falls. And most of all, I yearned for Johnny to come to me and say, “Nobody puts Baby in a corner.” For years, I forced my family to refer to me as “Baby” and relegated myself to the corner seat of every restaurant, often sitting alone and staring at the entrance in joyful anticipation. I tossed my hair from side to side and dirty danced with my 8 year-old image in the mirror. I went to the steps at Lake Elizabeth and danced up and down, perfecting the sexy back-bend move Baby did so well, while avoiding the ducks and geese who were prying me for food. I successfully pushed for our Senior Ball theme to be “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life.” Therefore, in anticipation of August 21, 2008, please join me in celebrating the greatest film of all time and the greatest scene of all time.