It was the 80s masquerading as the 60s. The air is fresh. The sun is shining. The lawns are manicured. Cars are well maintain. Jars of gel keep every hair locked in place. ensible cashmere sweaters cannot conceal perky young breasts. And everyone is pretty and acne free.
What a time to be alive.
Kellerman’s; a bland name for a transformative place. Nestled on a mountain top, Kellerman’s is the holiday destination for the well-to-do and well maintained. Perfect families. Perfect bone structure.
The Perfect place for dreams to come true.
And this summer – this one magical summer – it is the Houseman’s turn for a life altering stay in paradise.
Patriarch Jake Houseman is a fine man. A noble man. A doctor no less! But most of all a devoted family man who wants to get away from hubbub of the big city. To a place where he and the family can frolic safely. Somewhere where the owner of the place can give you a firm handshake while maintaining eye contact. Somewhere like Kellerman’s.
Jake brings wife Marjorie and their two beautiful daughters, precocious Lisa and innocent fresh faced teen Baby (Jennifer Grey). Yes ‘Baby’, because sometimes parents go the extra mile to stunt a child’s emotional growth and willingness to interact with society. That or things were just backwards in the 80s masquerading as the 60s.
Baby. An infantile inference thrust upon a girl blooming into womanhood. Thin lips and innocent eyes under a guileless Annie style hairstyle not yet bold enough to brush against her slender shoulders. Baby, with her flat sensible shoes and a nose you could slalom down. Baby; not a baby, no longer a child, but also not yet ready to be a woman. Just a Houseman being homogenised and packaged as yet another entry to polite society. Another marriageable product who blindly follows the rules.
But Johnny Castle (Patrick Swayze) has never followed no rules. All American handsome with piercing eyes and chiseled cheekbones – and torso – Johnny is but another of the ‘hired help’ at Kellerman’s. A charismatic hurricane of testosterone, there to dance like a trained monkey for the entertainment of the masses; nothing too sexy thigh, just enough to titillate, not offend. Hips are made for holding one’s belt up after all, and NOTHING else.
Johnny is just another servant of the wealthy. Working season to season, displaying his wares for the paying clients, before letting his hair down in the staff quarters at the far end of Kellerman’s, where the music is more uptempo and the dancing is more down and… dirty.
The one rule demanded by Kellerman and imposed upon these dancing Adonis’ is simple; keep the wives happy but stay away from the daughters…
… But remember that relationship between Johnny and the Rules?
Watching Johnny strut about with his swagger and confidence made Baby reminisce about that time she sat on the tumble dryer on high speed. All of a sudden all Pa’s sage advice sounded like orders. His suggestions now unfair edicts.
Baby was tired of being handed cute little puppies, now – for reasons known only to her three quarter length pants – now Baby wanted to take down this wild and unruly gazelle.
But how to tame him?
As is always the case unwanted pregnancy provides Baby with the window. Not hers of course, but opportunity knocks but once. With Johnny’s dance partner laid up and unable to perform at the Big Presentation, Baby has but two days to learn to dance. And this isn’t the awkward left-two-three stuff with the creepy uncle at a wedding, this is the other stuff. The sexy stuff. The… *gulp* dirty dancing.
In these few montages Baby will learn about ‘dance space’, of heels, of ever diminishing midriff tops. Baby’s increasing ability and confidence own in proportion with the shrinking of her attire. Each costume, each new dance, more forbidden than the last one.
She will dance solo on a bridge, then accompanied in a field, in the lake, on a felled log atop a creek. They will crawl toward each other on the floor. All the while moving parallel with the shirtless God of breathless 80s sex.
Of course vertical parallel behaviour succumbs to the horizontal, and while Baby must continue to play coy and controlled back at stuffy old Kellerman’s while the family holiday charade plays out, she yearns to scream to one and all each delicious detail of her astonishing transformation.
But no one can know. Not the other holidayers. Not the other staff. Certainly not the family. They wouldn’t understand. Couldn’t. Two lovers from opposite side of the tracks. It’s just not the done thing. And they certainly couldn’t perform an elaborately choreographed finale sequence that would convert all the doubters in four and a half minutes of Bill Medley lead commercial pop.
Whatever the outcome, this would be a summer to remember.
Final Rating – 6 / 10. Obviously not a guy flick. This is straight cheese; but some people really like cheese, so who am I to tell them not to?
Oh, and for all of it’s cheese, much of the soundtrack is very good.
Happy Birthday Baby…