If you’re a girl born in the 80s, most likely you’re obsessed with at least one of the following: Michael Jackson, Madonna, Thundercats, snap wrist bracelets, and Dirty Dancing.
I’ll never forget it: TMLA Class of 2000 Sleepover party. Dirty Dancing was playing in the auditorium. At 3am, as a result of pizzas and all you can eat ice cream sundaes, we thought it was a great idea to reenact the movie in its entirety. I’m talking a bunch of girls dancing down the aisle as Johnny’s crew, and a Baby set to leap off the stage for the classic lift. Before our Baby went for it, Sister Kathleen walked in and kept us from breaking our necks before graduation. But we didn’t stop there. We loved Dirty Dancing so much that “I Had the Time of My Life” by Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes was the theme of our prom.
Aside from the animated Prince Charmings of Disney movies, Dirty Dancing is the first romantic movie I can remember watching. Patrick Swayze’s character Johnny had the qualities of the ideal guy women swoon over: the perfect balance of toughness and sensitivity. I loved Jennifer Grey’s character, Baby, the “I carried a watermelon” intelligent brave dreamer ready to change the world for the better. I think most women could relate to her at some point in their lives. Everyone loves the big lift during the final scene, but my favorite part comes at the very end of the movie, right before the credits. When everyone is dancing, Johnny lifts Baby in the air, and it’s as if they’re in their own world.
After reading more about Patrick Swayze, he had a lot in common with Johnny. One normally wouldn’t put a leather jacket wearing tough guy in the same sentence with ballet dancer, but Swayze was the perfect combination. He was a classically trained ballet dancer who had the ability to make grande jetes masculine and sexy. He met his wife, Lisa Niemi, when they were just teenagers, and have been in love ever since.
I didn’t know much about Patrick Swayze other than his roles in Dirty Dancing and Ghost. But after he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer I saw his determination to fight and to continue to live fully. He underwent intensive chemotherapy treatments and still made it to the set of the A&E series The Beast. When he could have given up, he persevered. And he was also so appreciative of the life he got to live. He had the most admirable traits of a wonderful human being, and he surely be missed by all those whose lives he touched.
Thank you, Patrick Swayze, for making me fall in love with the idea of love.