Ages and Stages of Watching “Dirty Dancing”


I kept changing the channels, barely noticing what was on… nothing was interesting anyway… not the book I was reading, not the homework I knew I was never going to finish, not the outfit I was going to wear the following day, and certainly not my life that evening. A movie was about to start and I decided to give it a chance. And this is how I got to watch experience Dirty Dancing for the first time.

I would have been too young to understand or show the slightest interest in it in the 80s, but the 90s teenager was absolutely fascinated by the romance unfolding on TV. Of course, the fact that Patrick Swayze was absolutely yummy didn’t hurt; I also loved the dancing, but it was the passion between the characters that I envied. Their story wasn’t exactly what I would have imagined as the dream romance, yet it was subjugating nevertheless. I wanted to feel something like that, the kind of consuming, overwhelming, out of control love which gives you wings and the strength to defend the object of your affection, no matter what. Such an ecstatic experience was definitely one worth having, I decided. But the ending… it made me sad. Sure, he came back for her, he didn’t allow for anybody to put Baby in a corner, they had one last amazing, unforgettable dance, but then I was left with the feeling that the end of summer was also the end of their romance. Why couldn’t that sort of love motivate two beautifully passionate people to try and find a way to be together? The movie ended on a cheery note, but I was sure that was the end for Baby and Johnny. It couldn’t have been any other way, yet I didn’t want to look beneath the surface and acknowledge the obvious answers to my questions.


I had experienced that unbelievable, unexpected, overpowering passion, I had even done some dirty dancing of my own by the next time I watched the movie, in my very early twenties. Sometimes, when we get to experience the materialization of one of our dreams, the reality doesn’t meet the expectations. That wasn’t such a case. The reality was every bit as deliciously amazing as the dream. In some instances, it might have even been better, because some sensations cannot be fully understood if only imagined and not even once perceived.

Come the end of summer, came the end of romance as well – a known, anticipated and planned ending. The truth couldn’t be denied. It was exactly that pre-established ending that increased the intensity of our passion. The awareness that our infatuation wouldn’t last forever allowed us to give everything and open our hearts, souls and bodies to each other’s desires and feelings. It was the kind of passion that would haunt us for years to come. It was the kind of passion that would make us see the other person’s features everywhere. It was the kind of passion that brought tears to our eyes when hearing a certain song, knowing we wouldn’t see the other person anymore. It was the kind of passion which even when no longer felt, but only remembered, would make us pick up our phones and send the other a text, sharing a memory or an instance which triggered a feeling. We both had our own separate lives, yet those texts never went unanswered. It was the kind of passion that needed no explanation between the two persons who had once shared it.


I watched Dirty Dancing that second time, melancholically wondering if I would ever find that sort of passion. Experiencing it only once was never going to be enough for me, few things could compare to it, few times had I felt that alive. I had a feeling I would experience it again, just as I knew I would watch that movie over and over again. I didn’t question the ending anymore. The ending was absolutely necessary… but perhaps it could be changed in real life, under the right circumstances… or so I liked to think, even if I didn’t really believe it.

I couldn’t see past that happy ending separating the couple. Actually, I could, but I preferred not to look. I didn’t want to see a drunken, aged, frustrated Johnny, unable to cope with Baby’s successful career, incapable and unwilling to be part of her world. I didn’t want to see a sad, lonely, frustrated, prematurely aged Baby trying to make ends meet, regretting her choices, wishing she hadn’t given up her future and squandered her potential for a man she barely knew. They had made the right decision, the only smart one.


I watched Dirty Dancing many times since. I got to experience that passion again, more than once. I don’t know if I’m luckier than others or that kind of passion is out there, available and real for everybody, as long as we allow it and accept it for what it is. What I do know – now that I’m in my thirties – is that I could live it again, if I decided it was worth it. Knowing the inevitable ending, being able to recognize the stages deprives it of some of its magic. Watching Dirty Dancing again makes me realize I’ve become more jaded and cynical than I thought I was. I no longer feel that strong wish to live such a story, and not because I don’t think it’s worth it – it definitely remains an incredibly great mixture of emotions and surprising moments – but because I now know it’s not as unattainable as it might seem. While each and every one of these stories is special in its own way, none of them is really unique… And they all die out the same way. It’s passion able to regenerate its strength that’s truly hard to find, not consuming passion that burns out with a bright, short lived flame.

So what I wish now while watching Dirty Dancing is that I hadn’t lost all my naiveté, what I dream is to occasionally forget how jaded I am. That way, next time I am presented with a Dirty Dancing kind of passion, I wouldn’t stop and wonder, Is it worth it?… even if I’m pretty sure the answer would still be Yes.

7 Replies to “Ages and Stages of Watching “Dirty Dancing””

  1. wow – enjoyed this – and the movie was just on at our house – and would you believe i have never seen the movie all the way through. and even this time – I came and went during the show. But after this post….
    well i will try and watch it all.

    but the reflection and ending paragraph had some meaty stuff… like this ” It’s passion able to regenerate its strength that’s truly hard to find”

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Absolutely loved this! I was never into Dirty Dancing, except for the beauty of the dances which captivated me. I, like you saw beneath the surface, and wondered how it could be called a romance, when you knew, it wasn’t, couldn’t last. It was a “summer fling” I believe they call them these days. I wished I could be that carefree, to enjoy, imbibe in that kind of freedom. Alas that was not my journey. Still, the romantic in me, believes it’s possible, when deep all abiding love goes along with the passion, it won’t burn out, but blaze immediately, sparked by a look, a touch, a shared feeling, memories shared. Together, forever, that kind of passion, kindled again and again, would make that someone special, and a forever kinda “guy”. Delightful read, absolutely loved it, and my take on it, for what it’s worth.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, yes… the intense, “for now” passion and that much more elusive and priceless “forever” passion, which definitely needs to rely on love to survive. Some are made for one kind, some for the other and some can have them both, under the right circumstances, at the right time, with the right person. As long as we don’t mistake or try to turn one into the other, we might just have the time of our lives 😉 . Thank you for reading and I’m glad you shared your opinion. Oh, and it was definitely a summer fling 🙂 .


      1. Snickers conspiratorially, Heart felt and enjoyed, no doubt. You are wise beyond your years it seems. Too old for that kind of passion now, but once, it would have been welcomed. If only! sigh of pleasure at the thought. I can still dream! and I shall read more for your words are full of delight!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I don’t think they put an age limit on dreaming… not yet, at least 😉 and if they did, I don’t want to know about it. At the right time, that kind of passion can be just what the doctor ordered… and then it becomes a nice memory that can bring a mysterious smile.


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