Dirty dancing facts and trivia

27 Years Later- Did You Know These Facts About The Movie Dirty Dancing?

One of the best movies ever! On this day, 27 years ago, the movie Dirty Dancing premiered. Who doesn’t love Dirty Dancing? Patrick Swayze, Jennifer Grey, the infamous line….’nobody puts baby in a corner.’ OMG, I wanted to be Baby when I first heard that line. lol

I remember this was the first ‘racy’ movie I was allowed to watch and even then I doubt I had permission, I’m sure I watched it at a friend’s house. Whatever the case, think about the first time you watched it, the dancing, Patrick Swayze and his sexy self, the music, it was just perfection even thought it almost didn’t even happen! The Huffington Post posted five things you may not have known about this iconic movie:

1. It was almost released straight to VHS because audiences hated it so much.

When tested on a select group of people, they hated the film.

Jennifer Grey recalled, “When we did it, it felt like it was so under the radar that no one was ever going to see it and we were just torturing ourselves for nothing.”
2. There was a title for the film before there was even a story.

Linda Gottlieb, someone who worked at MGM Studios in the 1980’s talked about her lunch date with the writer:

I said, ‘Well what’s the story?’ And she said, ‘I don’t really have a story, but it should involve Latin dancing…’ So I switched the subject and said, ‘Tell me about yourself.’ She said, ‘I grew up in Brooklyn, my father was a doctor, I was one of those kids who used to go across the tracks to go dirty dancing.’

I said, ‘That’s a million-dollar title! Now we’ll figure out the story.’ We invented Johnny Castle at lunch.

The Huffington Post added that when asked about inspirations for the film and whether previous dance partners may be able to help, Bergstein said, “My old partners are either in jail or out on parole … it was a very rough neighborhood.”
3. Filming of the movie took place in the fall so leaves had to be sprayed green.

Even though the movie takes place in the summer, it was shot in mid-October. Decorators on the set painted the leaves in certain scenes to hide the changing season.

4. According to Patrick Swayze the lake was “hypothermically cold” and he recalls that closeups could not be filmed of he and Jennifer because their lips had turned blue.

The lake scene was shot in a lake that was 40 degrees. Patrick Swayze explains:

It was horrifyingly, hypothermically cold in that lake, and we filmed that scene over and over. And despite the fact that Jennifer was very light, when you’re lifting someone in water, take after take after take, even the skinniest little girl can feel like 500 pounds. By the time we finished shooting that sequence, my arms were like rubber, my body temperature had plunged.

5. Patrick did everything in his power to get the infamous line from the movie cut….

“I hated that line, ‘Nobody puts baby in a corner,'” Patrick Swayze told AFI. Later on, he changed his mind after finally being able to watch the film.

6. Jennifer Grey admitted she was terrified of practicing ‘the lift’ so her first try was what we see in the movie.

Jennifer is quoted as saying, “The day you see me do it in the movie is the first time I do it.”

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1. Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey had some bad moments

Sometimes we get so attached to the characters that we forget that as soon as the camera stops rolling, that love they have for each other stops. Well, most of the time. Apparently, Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey didn’t quite get along and were fighting each other before every scene.

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In his autobiography, he mentioned, “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 criticized her. Other times, she slipped into silly moods, forcing us to do scenes over and over again when she’d start laughing.” I can just imagine how frustrated Swayze was!

2. They didn’t get along in the past either…

Dirty Dancing wasn’t the first movie that the two stars did together. Grey and Swayze were in the 1984 movie Red Dawn and I guess that is where their tension started. The producers were definitely aware of their relationship and were hesitant to cast Swayze as Grey’s love interest.

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Luckily, the two were able to work things out or, at least, fake it well enough to make it look like they have fantastic chemistry. That’s good acting!

3. Their ages didn’t match up with their characters

This always messes with me when I realize that the actor/actress is so much older than their on screen character. In the movie, Johnny is supposed to be 24-years-old while Baby is 18 but they weren’t actually that young in real life.

Great American Film Limited

When Grey was cast to play the fresh outta high school character, she was actually two years older than Johnny! Swayze, on the other hand. was 34-years-old when the movie was being filmed. I guess the producers figured no one would really notice or care!

4. Johnny was originally Italian

Sometimes, the script has to be adapted to the actor rather than the other way around and Dirty Dancing is a good example of that! In the original script, Johnny Castle was an Italian dancer with a dark exotic look, and 20-year-old Billy Zane was a good candidate looks wise!

Moviestore collection Ltd/Alamy Stock Photo

The problem was, Zane’s dancing wasn’t all that good so they moved on and found the talented Swayze, who was actually a seasoned dancer. He definitely doesn’t look Italian, though, so they changed his character to make him an Irish lad!

5. Dr. Ruth turned down a role in the film

The writer of Dirty Dancing, Eleanor Bergstein, wanted her friend Dr. Ruth Westheimer to play the role of Mrs. Schumacher, an elderly guest at the resort. Besides being a friend of Bergstein, Westheimer was a well-known sex therapist, media personality, and author.

Jim Spellman/Getty Images

She turned down the role, though, because she didn’t want to play a thief. Paula Trueman ended up playing Mrs. Schumacher, who steals Moe Pressman’s wallet.

6. The movie wasn’t actually shot in New York

Most movies aren’t actually filmed in the location of the movie’s setting. As you know, Dirty Dancing takes place at Kellerman’s, a resort in the Catskill Mountains in upstate New York but the characters were never actually in the North.

Great American Films Limited

All the outside scenes were actually shot in at a camp in Lake Lure, North Carolina, whereas the indoor scenes were shot in at a resort in Mountain Lake, Virginia. You can actually visit the resort the movie was filmed in but it is actually called the Mountain Lake Resort.

7. They thought the movie would fail

On October 27, 1986, Dirty Dancing was complete but Vestron executives didn’t think the film was going to be successful. They didn’t get positive results on the screen testings and had a hard time finding a corporate sponsor for the film as many people didn’t like the abortion scene.

Great American Films Limited

When the premiere of the movie was set for August 16, 1987, Vestron was only going to keep it in theaters for the weekend before sending it to home video. It is a good thing they didn’t do that because the film ended up $64 million in North America and $170 million worldwide!

8. Swayze said it didn’t fail because of its heart

The main male lead had a personal belief as to why this film didn’t end up being a flop like it was predicted. When being interviewed by the American Film Institute (AFI), he talked about filming the movie and how he thought it was more than just a “coming of age” film!

Vestron Pictures

“It’s got so much heart, to me. 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 young girl trying to find out who she is in a society of restrictions when she has such an amazing take on things. On a certain level, it’s really about the fabulous, funky little Jewish girl getting the guy because what she’s got in her heart.”

9. Bill Medley thought the movie sounded like a bad porno

When Kenny Ortega and his assistant Miranda Garrison were trying to find the perfect song for the finale, “The Time of My Life,” ended up being the best choice! The music supervisor, Jimmy Ienner immediately wanted Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes to record it but The Righteous Brothers singer was a bit skeptical.

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When he was first told about the movie, his reaction was, “It sounds like a bad porno movie,” and thus, turned down the job. Eventually, Ienner was able to convince him to do it and I bet Medley was glad he did because the song ended up winning an Oscar, Golden Globe, Grammy and becoming a global hit!

10. The title came before the plot

Usually, the title is the last thing to be decided but I guess they really wanted a story to go with the title Dirty Dancing! When producer Linda Gottlieb sat down with Eleanor Bergstein, the writer said, “I don’t really have a story, but it should involve Latin dancing…”

Vestron Pictures

Then she started talking about her childhood, saying, “I grew up in Brooklyn, my father was a doctor, I was one of those kids who used to go across the tracks to go dirty dancing.” Immedietely, Gottlieb replied, “That’s a million-dollar title! Now we’ll figure out the story.” She definitely was right about it being a million-dollar title!

11. Some characters were based on real-life people

For starters, Baby is actually based on Bergstein’s experiences as she used to participate in “Dirty Dancing” competitions when her family spent the summers in the Catskills and Baby was actually one of her nicknames! While some of the characters were inspired by people she used to know, she couldn’t really contact them for help as she mentions, “My old partners are either in jail or out on parole … it was a very rough neighborhood.”

Moviestore collection Ltd/Alamy Stock Photo

While researching the story, Bergstein met the dance instructor, Michael Terrace in the Catskills in 1985 and he ended up being who Johnny Castle’s character was based on!

12. The Lake was very very very cold

Filming started on September 5, 1986, but the weather wasn’t being really cooperative and it caused a lot of delays in production. While they ended to have everything done by autumn, the shooting schedule ended up being pushed in fall and the set decorators had to spray-paint the colorful leaves green.

Moviestore collection Ltd/Alamy Stock Photo

The weather was no longer hot summer weather and temperatures dropped to 40°F, which made filming outside scenes not so fun when wearing shorts and tank. The famous lake that everyone loves wasn’t a favorite for the main characters because, as Swayze describes, “It was horrifyingly, hypothermically cold in that lake, and we filmed that scene over and over.”

13. Swayze didn’t like his famous line

One of the most popular lines from Dirty Dancing was when Johnny says, “Nobody puts Baby in the corner,” during the end-of-season talent show. In fact, it was so iconic that it was seen a lot in pop culture, including being used in song lyrics and TV shows.

Great American Films Limited Partnership

Patrick Swayze, however, didn’t like his line very much and even asked to admit it from the script. In the end, though, he saw that it worked perfectly in that scene.

14. The lift was performed once

Remember how in the movie, Baby was really nervous about performing the lift? Well, that is actually what happened in real life! After Grey and Swayze did the infamous lift for their audition, Grey never wanted to rehearse it again because it was scary!

Sportsphoto/Alamy Stock Photo

So when it came time to film that last dance scene where Baby runs towards Johnny and he lifts her up ever so graciously, they only filmed it once for Grey’s sake. Luckily for the director, they nailed it the first time!

15. Some moments were unscripted!

The director, Emile Ardolino told his cast not to be afraid to improvise and the cameras were always rolling just in case an actor did something the film could use. This ended up working perfectly because some of our favorite Dirty Dancing scenes were actually off-script!

Vestron Pictures

For example, Grey is very ticklish and Swayze was always annoyed when she couldn’t stop laughing at times so that scene where Baby wraps her arm around Johnny’s head while he brushes his fingers down her arm and she burst out laughing, was totally real!

16. There is going to be a Dirty Dancing Remake!

Any time there a movie does really well at the box office, Hollywood starts thinking about making a sequel with hopes that it would become popular too. While sometimes it works, there are times when the original movie should be left alone and Dirty Dancing is one of them!

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The rumors of a remake started back in 2011, Lionsgate said it was in their plans and they hired the film’s choreographer, Kenny Ortega to direct it. It was going to be a three-episode TV miniseries filmed in Asheville, North Carolina but it has been put on hold for a while now…

17. This was Wayne Knight’s first major role!

No one really knew the name Wayne Knight when he was cast in Dirty Dancing to play the minor role of the social director, Stan. After this role, though, he went on to become a very famous TV show face!

Vestron Pictures; Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty

In the 1990’s, he was cast as the mailman Newman, in Seinfeld and appeared in 48 episodes!

18. There was a Dirty Dancing TV spinoff starring Paul Feig

Why am I not surprised that there was a TV show based on the movie shortly after it was completed. In 1998, Dirty Dancing the TV series aired 11 30-minute episodes and was basically the same story as the movie with a couple of variations.


Two characters on the show, though, were relatively unknown but eventually went on to become well-known faces! Melora Hardin played Baby and then went on to play Jan Levinson on The Office and Trudy Monk on Monk. Paul Feig, the creator of Freaks and Geeks and director of Bridesmaids, played Norman Bryant on the show!

19. The UK did their own spinoff

Of course, the UK had to do their own spin-off of the popular movie! Their show, however, was a reality TV series called Dirty Dancing: The Time of Your Life that aired for two seasons, starting in 2007.

Great American Films Limited Partnership

It was filmed in the same location as the original movie and it was about groups of dancers who would compete to get a year-long contract with Bloc, a Los Angeles-based dance agency.

20. Mountain Lake Lodge still pays homage to the movie

Speaking of the film’s set location, did you know that the resort they used, Mountain lake Lodge, is a place you can actually stay in? Not only that but the resort hosts three Dirty Dancing­-themed weekends a year, which includes activities like, dance lessons, a walking tour of the resort, a scavenger hunt, trivia games and more!

Image by Mountain Lake Lodge

Heidi Stone, the hotel’s general manager says, “It is amazing how many thousands of ‘Dirty Dancing’ fans we meet every summer. We have guests from all over the world that come to Mountain Lake Lodge just for the ‘Dirty Dancing’ weekends.”

21. Eleanor Bergstein wrote another dance movie!

Once you write a movie as successful as Dirty Dancing, you really don’t need to write another one, at least for a while! Eleanor Bergstein, though, wrote another script for a dancing movie 8 years later!

Tara Walton/Toronto Star via Getty Images

Not only did she write the movie, Let Me Be Me, but she also directed it! Til this day, she hasn’t written or directed any other films but she did adapt Dirty Dancing into a successful stage show in 2004.

22. Bergstein said Eastern Europe really loved the movie

We know that Dirty Dancing was not only a big hit in the United States but also worldwide. According to Bergstein in a 2006 interview with The Guardian, the movie had a big fan base in Eastern Europe.

Great American Films Limited Partnership

“And in Russia, it’s policy in the battered women’s shelters, when a woman comes in for help. First, they wash and dress her wounds, then they give her soup. Then they sit her down and show her Dirty Dancing. When the Berlin Wall came down, there were all these pictures of kids wearing Dirty Dancing T-shirts; they were saying, ‘We want to have what they have in the West! We want Dirty Dancing!’”

23. Cynthia Rhodes was a pop star at one point

Cynthia Rhodes played the pregnant Penny Johnson who ends up getting an abortion. She was already a well-known actress at the time, having starred in the 80’s films, Flashdance and Staying Alive but Dirty Dancing furthered her career!

Great American Films Limited Partnership

After the film ended, she joined the L.A. pop group, Animotion to replace the singer Astrid Plane, and was their lead singer until the group disbanded.

24. Jennifer Grey was shocked to hear Ryan Gosling say her name!

Considering it is such a classic romantic film, it is commonly referenced in TV shows and movies, even today! The 2012 rom-com Crazy, Stupid, Love, made a reference to Dirty Dancing when Ryan Gosling reenacted the lift scene to woo Emma Stone.

Archives du 7e Art Carousel Productions/Alamy Stock Photo

Jennifer Grey told yahoo that she was shocked when she heard her name! “I’m just in the theater with my husband and I look at him like, ‘Oh my God, Ryan Gosling just said my name. What’s going on?’ I was so scared. I was like, ‘Oh, no. What are they about to do?’ All of a sudden there I was, part of their movie.”

25. On the sitcom It’s Like, You Know… Grey played herself!

It’s not uncommon for celebrities to get nose jobs but when Grey did, it was considered a disaster because no one recognized her after that. When she starred in the ABC sitcom It’s Like, You Know… (1999-2000) as herself, it became a running gag that people didn’t realize she was the Dirty Dancing actress.

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When the main character, Arthur Garment (Chris Eigeman) meets Jennifer Grey in one episode and after she introduces herself, he says, “Oh, like the actress. Dirty Dancing. You spell it the same way as her?” She responded by clarifying, “I am Jennifer Grey,” and then doing a dance move to further prove it. He says, “You look different,” to which Grey replies, “Nose job!”


This movie about the secret underworld of ‘Dirty Dancing’ was released in 1987 and it had everyone talking! It is a love story about two worlds that collide in a sexy tango of dance and drama. No wonder we were mesmerized once we saw Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze light it up with their performances! However, after all of this time, let’s take a look behind the scenes and talk about some of the things we may not know about our favorite film. Take a look:

1. In the scene where Johnny Castle (played by Patrick Swayze) and Frances “Baby” Houseman (Jennifer Grey) are alone practicing their dance moves for the weekly dance at a nearby resort, Johnny runs his fingers down Baby’s arm and she bursts out laughing. This is a genuine reaction from Grey… as is the frustration on Swayze’s face.


Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze have incredible chemistry in the film—and you only need to watch roughly five minutes of the movie to see evidence of that. However, the difficulties and interpersonal struggles they had during the movie are a perfect example of how sometimes chemistry can make for major sparks on screen that do not always translate into friendly chemistry when those cameras stop rolling.

Swayze was older than Grey and a more experienced dancer. The two knew it would be tough to work together from the start, but they both believed in the project too much to give up.


2. It was extremely cold on set during the filming of the lake scene, which would end up becoming one of the most popular scenes in the movie. Still, the actors had to tough it out in order to get through the scene—and their lips turned blue because of it.


Wow! You would never know that either Patrick Swayze or Jennifer Grey were freezing cold in those scenes. Talk about some serious acting chops! The fact that this duo was able to make spending time in a frigid lake look like a nice way to cool off on a boiling hot summer day says so much about their impressive abilities as performers.

People will often think that actors have it easy, but more likely than not they’re on set working long and grueling schedules. To top it off, they are often put in positions that are really uncomfortable—and sometimes even dangerous. Hypothermia? No thanks!

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Behind-The-Scenes Facts About ‘Dirty Dancing’ That Most People Don’t Know

There have been plenty of big-budget blockbuster movies that will remain in our collective memories forever. The writing, the acting, and the story all come together for a brilliant display of cinema. There’s really nothing else like it.

Sometimes, though, a movie with a low budget and unknown actors can have the same impact on an audience. It’s always a nice surprise when a movie with low expectations shocks everyone with an Academy Award-winning effort.

Dirty Dancing, starring Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey, is one of those movies. It had a mostly unrecognizable cast and a very low bankroll, but it managed to become one of the most famous films of all time. Enjoy 24 little-known facts about this great flick, and then go watch it again!

1. In the scene where Johnny Castle (played by Patrick Swayze) and Frances “Baby” Houseman (Jennifer Grey) are alone practicing their dance moves for the weekly dance at a nearby resort, Johnny runs his fingers down Baby’s arm and she bursts out laughing. This is a genuine reaction from Grey… as is the frustration on Swayze’s face.

2. It was extremely cold on set during the filming of the lake scene, which would end up becoming one of the most popular scenes in the movie. Still, the actors had to tough it out in order to get through the scene—and their lips turned blue because of it.

3. There is one scene where Johnny and Baby crawl to each other. The actors were actually just joking around during the filming of this, but the director thought it added a nice touch and decided to keep it in.

4. Jennifer Grey initially refused to work on this film because Patrick Swayze was going to be a part of it. Apparently, she didn’t enjoy working with him previously on Red Dawn. Swayze was able to convince her, though.

5. Jennifer Grey had to prove to the casting directors that she could play a younger woman. Her role of Baby was actually a whole 10 years younger than the actress’s real age. She had five minutes to prove it in her audition, and she did.

6. After the success of the first film, studios wanted to cash in on a sequel. Swayze was offered $6 million to return to the screen as Johnny, but he really wasn’t a fan of doing sequels and he ended up declining the offer.

7. There is one scene where Johnny and Baby are dancing in the woods. Since the film was shot in October, the leaves on the surrounding trees were actually changing color by this point. The crew had to spray paint the leaves green to give the impression that the plot was taking place in the summer season of upstate New York.

8. In the original film, the dance that Johnny and Baby perform during the love scene wasn’t supposed to be in the final cut—it was only meant to be what Swayze and Grey performed for the film’s screen test. However, the director liked it so much that he kept it.

9. The script for Dirty Dancing was penned by a woman named Eleanor Bergstein in 1987. During an interview, Eleanor claimed that the lead characters of the movie, Johnny and Baby, were actually influenced by her own life and her summers spent in the Catskills.

10. Many fans might not have noticed this, but throughout the film, Baby usually wears very light colors and Johnny is mostly dressed in dark colors. This is to help the audience subconsciously note the contrast in their personality types.

11. One of the main songs from the movie’s soundtrack was titled “She’s Like the Wind.” It was actually co-written by Patrick Swayze and also performed by him as well, giving him both acting and singing credits in the film!

12. Jennifer Grey’s father, Joel Grey (below, right), starred in a very short-lived musical called Goodtime Charley. The lead character played the son of Charlemagne, and one of the backup dancers on set was none other than Patrick Swayze!

13. The assistant choreographer for Dirty Dancing, Miranda Garrison, was actually given a role due to a scheduling conflict. The director was, at one point, left without an actress to play bungalow bunny Vivian Pressman. They hired Garrison soon after.

14. Conan O’Brien had a big part to play in the film’s 1997 re-release. He had actually written a petition that asked for fans to write personal letters requesting the re-release. The petition ended up working!

15. In the beginning of the film, viewers learn that Baby would attend Mount Holyoke College. The woman for whom Baby’s character was named, Frances Perkins, was an actual graduate of the Mount Holyoke College class of 1902!

16. The book that Swayze offers Baby is called The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand. The book preaches objectivism, a philosophy that holds the belief that it is better to care for yourself than others. He wants to lend it to Baby as an excuse for not helping Penny.

17. You might be surprised to hear this, but Patrick Swayze wasn’t the first choice to play Johnny. The role was initially offered to actor Val Kilmer, but he turned it down due to other commitments.

Gisela Giardino / Flickr

18. Sometimes in films, certain scenes need to be cut for budget reasons or time constraints, but they can be added in afterwards during special releases. A second love scene between Johnny and Baby that was missing from the original version, for instance, was added back into the film on the 20th anniversary DVD release.

19. The iconic love scene, set to the song “Cry To Me,” has been voted by movie fanatics all over the world as “one of the sexiest movie moments in all of cinematic history.” Considering how many movies are in existence, that is quite a title to hold!

20. The character of Robbie Gould was played by a man named Max Cantor, who was the son of the famous Broadway producer Arthur Cantor. Unfortunately, Max died of a heroin overdose at age 32.

21. When a casting call goes out, all sorts of big names will show up if they think the finished product will be a hit. Case in point: Sarah Jessica Parker auditioned for the lead role of Dirty Dancing.

22. There is a scene where Johnny and Baby are dancing, and Baby is wearing a very uniquely sewn dress. Swayze needed to keep his fingers on her back for the a large portion of the dancing; hilariously, he kept getting them stuck in the seams of the dress.

23. During the dangerous log-dancing scene, Swayze refused to let a stunt man fill in for him while he was high above the ground. He actually fell off of the log several times and had to get fluid in his knee drained because of it.

24. The song “Hula Hana” in the film was co-written by the woman who played Baby’s older sister, actress Jane Brucker. Oddly enough, she was never given credit for the song until March 18, 2002. Better late than never, right?

When actors come together and create a masterful piece of cinema like this, it makes us proud to be a moviegoer—and more than excited to strap on our dancin’ shoes!