10 Dirty facts you probably didn’t know

6 April 2017

10 Dirty facts you probably didn’t know

Update: Dirty Dancing is no longer on Showmax. Find your next binge in the full movies catalogue here.

Nobody puts Dirty Dancing in a corner … Especially since it’s celebrating its 30th birthday this year.

But the 1987 classic, available on Showmax until 11 April, almost never made it to the big screen because the producer didn’t think the test shots were good enough. Luckily, they took a chance and the movie made $64 million in the US alone – and back then, $64 million was a lot more money than it is today!

Take the chance to watch it one last time (or two or three more times) on Showmax, which you can do until 11 April.

In the meantime, here are 10 unusual facts about Dirty Dancing.

  1. It’s loosely based on the life story of its screenwriter Eleanor Bergstein. Says Eleanor, who was nicknamed “Baby” in her 20s, her family regularly visited a resort called Catskills in the ’60s and she learnt to dance “dirty” by going to house parties at the resort.
  2. Dirty Dancing’s lead actors – hunky Patrick Swayze as Johnny Castle and innocent Jennifer Grey as Baby Houseman – were actually 10 years older than their characters. Jen was given just two minutes to convince the producers that she could play a youthful and sweet 16-year-old.
  3. Patrick was up against Billy Zane (also in Sniper from 1993) for his role as Johnny. As Jennifer recalls, “Billy was one of my partners and I thought he was going to get it because he was very like Marlon Brando … and his dancing was pretty good. But then I remember Patrick and I dancing together, and all of a sudden it was very easy.”
  4. The famous lake-lift scene was shot on an autumn day, not a warm summer one. It was October and the trees surrounding the lake were actually sprayed green to create a summery atmosphere. “I remember swimming in the lake was very, very, very cold,” Jennifer laughs. “You have to be really young and hungry to get in water that cold for that long. It wasn’t fun but I think it came out amazing!”
  5. Patrick slipped and injured his knee while filming the dance scene on the tree stump – the on-set doctor drained fluid from his knee daily to get through filming.
  6. And just because the dancing looks easy doesn’t mean that it was – Patrick and Jennifer rehearsed for a month and a half before filming to get in sync and they also trained daily to make sure every step was in its place.
  7. The camera crews kept the cameras rolling between scenes takes so that they had extra footage. And it came in pretty handy – the scene where Baby and Johnny crawl around the dance-floor was actually the two actors just fooling around between takes.
  8. Another improv scene is the one where Baby can’t stop laughing because she’s ticklish and Johnny runs his hands down her arm. Jennifer really is super-ticklish and, despite being annoyed by her non-stop giggling, Patrick couldn’t help himself and continued tickling her.
  9. Not that the couple got on all the time. In his autobiography The Time Of My Life (published in 2010), Patrick wrote that “we did have a few moments of friction when we were tired or after a long day of shooting. She seemed particularly emotional, sometimes bursting into tears if someone criticised her. Other times, she slipped into silly moods, forcing us to do scenes over and over again when she’d start laughing.”
  10. The late actor also revealed in his book that he thought the movie was so popular because viewers could relate to the characters and not for the then-taboo love story. “It’s not about the sensuality; it’s really about people trying to find themselves – this young dance instructor feeling like he’s nothing but a product and this younger girl trying to find out who she is in a society of restrictions when she has such an amazing take on things.”

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