If there’s one summer romance film I can definitely relate to, it’s the 1987 film Dirty Dancing. I mean, who hasn’t been stuck at a Poconos retreat with their parents, bummed out and bored, only to be taught valuable lessons in love, life, and dancing by the hunky dance instructor and his gang of fellow ne’er-do-wells?
… I’m kidding, of course. In fact, in the early-’90s while all my friends were swooning over Patrick Swayze and his perfect, perfect hair, I was rolling my eyes and quitting dance class. It wasn’t until much (much) later that I saw the appeal of this movie, which stars Jennifer Grey as the unfortunately nicknamed ‘Baby’ and Patrick Swayze as the much better moniker-ed Johnny Castle (I mean, really). Set in the ’60s — but very clearly filmed in the late-’80s — Dirty Dancing follows Baby as she falls in love and learns to speak up for herself and what she wants.
When we’re introduced to Baby, it’s clear she’s been dragged along on this trip with her parents (played by Jerry Orbach and Kelly Bishop) and her sister Lisa (played by Jane Brucker), and would much rather be spending the summer before college doing anything other than conga lines and cookouts. Pursued incessantly by Neil (Lonny Price), the slimy son of the resort’s owner, Baby is far more interested in what’s going on behind the scenes, which is — you guessed it — a lot of dancing that is far spicier than the steps taught to paying patrons of the resort.
As Baby, who, up until this point has lead a sheltered and safe existence in the shadow of her father, wins over Johnny and the hotel staff, she also begins to speak up and take responsibility for what she wants. Under the guise of dancing lessons, she pursues her romantic interest in Johnny and gets what she wants, though not without her relationship with her father suffering.
While the costume design in Dirty Dancing is meant to evoke the late-’60s, it’s obvious — from the hair, to the makeup … the music choices don’t help, either — that the film was created in the ’80s. While this could bother some, I love the relaxed, low-key vibe that this decade mash-up lends the outfits worn by the characters, especially Baby.
+ Do you have a favorite summer romance movie? Let us know in the comments!