When Dirty Dancing came out in 1987, I was in 9th grade. It was an awkward, but hopeful time for me. As a high school freshman, the movie played nicely into my imaginary world (along with Sixteen Candles and Pretty in Pink), where the handsome, popular, older guy suddenly noticed quiet, smart, younger (and let's be honest, somewhat dorky) me and swept me off my feet and into the time of my life.
Sadly, that never quite happened in high school. But it didn't stop me from watching Dirty Dancing over and over and over again, particularly at sleepover parties with my girlfriends. Although we never discussed it, I assume we were all thinking the same thing:
"If it can happen to Baby, it can happen to me! No one will put me in a corner!"As it turned out, the handsome, popular, older guy did notice me in (grad) school one day, years later when I'd convinced myself that those things didn't happen in real life. There was less leaping and dancing in my version (and fewer cut-off jean shorts), but just as much knee-weakening and heart-fluttering. Now when Pippi is old enough to watch Dirty Dancing, I'll be able to tell her -- after she finishes mocking the 80s -- to believe in the dream, to trust that true love will find her, to know that she is beautiful.
Of course, then I'll tell her that she has a 10 o'clock curfew and isn't allowed to go anywhere alone with a boy. And just like that, I'll find myself identifying less with Baby and more with Baby's parents. Wow.
Photo from Virgin Media.