The Dirty Dancing Guide To Romance

Scene from Dirty Dancing

Love, Self

Men could learn from the moves of Dirty Dancing's Johnny.

Because what does Baby get from Johnny that makes her fall so hard for him? She gets exactly what all women want from their lovers: patience, dedication, and decisiveness; confidence in themselves and their partners; the good sense to share the spotlight—and even step into the shadows occasionally—and, finally, strength.

Did Baby feel good about her first few turns around the room with Johnny? No. Did he believe he was quite possibly making an enormous mistake? Yes. Does that sound like countless first dates? Or maybe the first few years of your marriage?

But they made it through the toe squashing and the missed moves. Somewhere along the line, Johnny's patience as an instructor paid off. His confidence helped Baby polish her own natural abilities, and they became each other’s perfect partners. (Politically Correct Alert: Yes, Baby taught Johnny a few things, too. But that's another article.)

And the climax of the aforementioned, never-to-be-missed final scene? The lift! The scary, you-better-hold-on-tight-and-not-drop-me, I’m-not-sure-I-can-do-this lift! With grace, trust, and a look of exquisite joy, Baby flings herself into Johnny's waiting arms and is... what?

Elevated above and beyond anything she's dreamed of, truly glowing with pride and confidence, nurtured and encouraged all along the way by her lover and trusted friend. Any man who has seen the face of his woman watching this scene will want to see that look again—with himself, instead of Swayze, as the cause.

So what’s the secret? Arthur Murray? Maybe. But if you're not ready for the "first lesson is free" route, here's the big-picture takeaway:

Hold her. Hold her tight, hold her lightly, hold her passionately. Never think your touch is old and unwanted. When you stop holding her, you start missing even the easy steps together.

Let her go. A woman is nothing if not contradictions. She’ll need to take some solo steps, and it will help to know you're in the wings, cheering her on, watching her make her own moves from time to time.

Dedicate yourself to getting it right. These "man/woman" steps get tough sometimes. When either of you makes a mistake, even a pretty bad one, move on together. Try real hard not to make it again.

Lift her up. When the rest of the world tries to defeat her, remind her through your indefatigable confidence in her that she's a goddess who can soar above mere mortals.

Look her in the eye. Fancy footwork only gets you so far. Gaze deep into her eyes and silently tell her, "I want to take these steps with you for the rest of my life."

Renée A. James lives and works in Allentown, Pa. She writes a weekly column for The Morning Call in Allentown.



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