No matter what, no matter when, I have to watch the final scene of Dirty Dancing if I come across it on TV. The goofy end-of-season Catskills resort talent show, the disgruntled dancers scowling in the back of the room because their leader has been unceremoniously fired, the awkward table for three where our heroine, Baby (Jennifer Grey), and her parents self-consciously sit to watch the pageant.
It doesn't matter that I've seen this mid-80s sleeper hit, oh, let's call it 50, 60 times—I always have to watch it again. Not because it's classic cinema. Not because I have to hear Patrick Swayze as Johnny Castle (is that a great name?) say, "Nobody puts Baby in a corner" before he hauls her up on stage, although that line makes my husband laugh every single time he hears it. Not even for the excruciating singing of Baby's older sister.
No. I watch because, deep down, I believe with all my heart that with just a few turns around the floor I could learn those steps from Patrick Swayze, wear the flowing dress like Jennifer Grey, and do an unbelievable job with that final number. If you’re a woman reading this, you're nodding your head, saying, "Yes! Yes!" Any woman worth her strappy high-heeled sandals would agree: There but for the grace of a good dance partner go I.
And guys—what does Dirty Dancing do for them? My husband may laugh at Johnny's big line, but shouldn't a movie that has captivated so many women have something to say to men?
Try just about everything. The teaching and the learning of the dance steps. The early challenges of Baby and Johnny's partnership. The slow build, from the first time they perform in public at a nearby resort to the climactic scene where they put it all out there for the world to see, is a road map for what women want.