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Dirty Dancing: (A Male Perspective).



Ever since the heyday of 1980’s action movies, guys worldwide have attempted to recreate the muscle-bound Schwarzenegger-in-his-prime physique, as a means to woo the ladies. Had they spent an evening in a packed cinema - full of ladies screaming at a shirtless Patrick Swayze; holding Jennifer Grey’s stomach as she perched far above his head within a lush summer lake. It may have dawned upon them they were in fact, pumping in the wrong direction.

I have never met a man who likes the movie, Dirty Dancing. Conversely, I cannot remember a single female who didn’t believe it was the greatest slice of Hollywood pie, since Orson Wells explained the meaning of ‘Rosebud’. As a female – and a once hormonal nine-year-old in 1987, my girlfriend loves the movie. Like ET, Pirates Of The Caribbean, and five of the six Star Wars movies, I had never seen it; I never got the fuss with those Lucas movies – boy fights his Dad, has a few wars, saves the sister he wants to shag, and now and again meets a wise distorted Chihuahua - who ended up shilling for Vodafone. 

Anyhow, this Sunday, after indulging my girlfriend in the sheer beauty of Pixar movies The Incredibles and Monsters Inc, I agreed to finally succumb to my doubts, and view Dirty Dancing for the first time in my life. I am wiser enough these days to disregard other’s preconceptions of art, so was coming in with an open mind; or as open as I could allow it to be. After sitting through the oestrogen fuelled romp, here are my thoughts on this Americana classic... 

The story is straightforward; a young rich girl (Jennifer Grey), visits a summer retreat in the country with her family, where she discovers proletarian Mumbo Dancers/Rent Boys who engage in regular bouts of ‘dirty dancing’; publicly for money, privately for their own amusement. After befriending lead dancer (Patrick Swayze), who teaches her to ‘dirty dance’, a love affair slowly blossoms. An hour or so later of shocks, surprises, and a young-girl's coming of age through sex, swing, and simple psychological warfare, and the movie finishes with the two, together as one – dancing, in love, and probably going to engage in lots of wild, passionate, good old fashioned caveman-style sex; hey, I am writing this from how I imagine women imagine, and this is what I imagine.

For women, the appeal is all-encompassing. Dramatic soap opera story-lines, impressions of sexual activity manifested as dancing; the slow grinding in one scene, resembles an odd kind of erotic orgy. A super-fit, confident alpha lead, who knows how to bust a move – find me a woman who doesn’t love a good dancer. Scandal, love crossing all manner of social boundaries, foot tapping music, lavish dress styles… the list is endless. The movie is illogical in parts, impractical in execution, and for females, everything positive about the nature of possibility. It is - in essence, the female equivalent of The Expendables - where instead of buildings and aeroplanes exploding, it is the pulsating beat of the lead characters hearts instead.

In 1987 it was considered pretty raunchy stuff, yet by today’s standards appears tame; it could be sandwiched on a Sunday afternoon between Colombo and On The Buses, and nobody would batter an eyelid. However, it is still the unquestionable King/Queen as the barrier in which all chick-flicks are judged. Besides this, the movie reflects on cinema, post Pulp Fiction; where characters were black and white, good guys wore white hats, bad guys didn’t, and values showing the better nature of the human spirit, were the barometer upon everything we cheered for. Which leaves me to feel there is a simple beauty about Dirty Dancing, which, as well as the expertly choreographed dance moves and funny lines, is how I can enjoy it from a male perspective; how many Mambas has Yoda ever done? 

Very few movies have or will achieve the success of a Dirty Dancing; both financial and cultural. Even less have the capabilities to become a classic, still being viewed and loved by women worldwide, a quarter of a century later; not to mention the speciality nights, merchandise, and varying theatre musicals. As a movie, it may stand as many guys nightmare, but it is - in one way or another, every girls dream; and dreams make our world a much richer place. As a man who dances like his legs are trees stumps, and scoffs at the absurdity of soap operas, I have to admit... I kinda enjoyed it.

And for the guys still trying to get pumped, like an 80’s action hero; remember, girls will always prefer Swayze over Schwarzenegger, rough and ready over cool and cocky, and a man who can Mumbo, over a man who can slay fifty men with his bare Uzi. Dirty Dancing - it seems, is going to be with us for a very long time…

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17 comments:

Anonymous said...

i take it this was a complement from a males perspective.

Anonymous said...

LOL!I love your perspective...and you are absolutely right! Swayze over Schwartzenager any day of the week!

Anonymous said...

Oh boy are you right..Swayze over the ridiculous Schwartzenager any day of the week! I just bought the movie on cd after wearing out the old vcr tape lol...it broke inside the vcr so I actually bought 4 of Patrick's movies (that I've seen many times ) just because I love him even if he crossed over 4 years ago on Sept 14th..which happens to be my birthday..I celebrated it on a Youtube Swayze fest! We both also had cancer & he will always be a star to me.

Anonymous said...

I have been a Swayze fan ever since "The Outsiders" and have bought each movie he has been in.
Loved "Next of Kin" ,Loved "Dirty Dancing" but my all time favorite has been "Ghost"

Anonymous said...

What about the abortion story line?

Lee Gunnell said...

Hi Anonymouses, in answer to your questions: yes, it was a firm compliment to the movie, and also to the cast; I think Swayze had tremendous charisma, and from what people say was a really humble, kind fella. To the person who beat cancer, I salute you for your strength - and also for reminding us how awesome YouTube is for nostalgia.

Lee Gunnell said...

It's certainly an awkward plot-line, but is glazed over enough to avoid ruining all the other enjoyable elements of the movie. I think it's better to let any of the female fans to explain how they feel about this part of the movie, being a sensitive issue which is very personal to a woman. Ladies?

emholix said...

seen it many times, great movie

Anonymous said...

Male here - liked the movie.

Nobody puts baby in a corner.

I refuse to see the remake, though.

Lee Gunnell said...

Quite a few males have stressed how much they like it, so I am glad I am not alone in this. There is a remake? Oh dear. No Swayze, no dice! :-)

80's Forever said...

--> 80's Forever <--
Shared this with my fans, great piece you have here. I am a guy myself lol and have seen it a few times actually. This movie is a great hit with my fan base when ever I post something related to the movie. The new movie is more of a sequel, it's called Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights, have not seen it so can't say if it's anything like the original. If you write anymore articles dealing with the 80's please feel free to post them on my facebook page and I will share them.

Anonymous said...

I have Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights and Patrick is in it for a very short cameo appearance. This one is o.k. but nothing can replace the original. Swayze is the best.

Anonymous said...

I love, I like this movie is one of my favorites with the late great actor and dancer Patrick's Swayze

Anonymous said...

Don't see what the fuss is about... Soundtrack good tho... LOL

Lee Gunnell said...

Hi there. I will make sure to let you know as soon as I write up anything 80's related; which is quite often, being the hub of colourful popular culture as it is. I am currently writing up a Breakfast Club restrospect, so will pas it on once complete. Never seen Havana Nights either; can't really say I want to. :-)

Diana Monholland said...

Swayze was in the remake. He was a dance instructor. But it failed miserably in comparison to the original. My all time favorite movie.

Diana Monholland said...

Swayze was in the remake. He was a dance instructor. But it failed miserably in comparison to the original. My all time favorite movie.