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Thirty years after the release of Hollywood favorite, Dirty Dancing, still grabs the hearts of viewers as they watch Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze fall in love. Behind every successful movie has a bucketful of secrets from the set. Here are some secrets that have been revealed throughout the years about Dirty Dancing.

Dirty Dancing made Patrick Swayze a sex symbol of the 1980s. However, in an interview about the movie, he said, “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.”

Jennifer Almost Didn’t Take the Role

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Jennifer Gray almost didn’t accept the role of Baby because she didn’t want to work with a certain actor she had a bad experience with while filming Red Dawn. It was Patrick Swayze who ultimately convinced her.

That One Famous Scene

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Everyone knows the famous scene in the lake where they are practicing the lift. Swayze and Grey really had to commit to filming because the lake was freezing! It was October when they filmed the scene in North Carolina. It was so cold that their lips turned blue.

Proving to Play the Part

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Jennifer Grey had to work extra hard for the part of Baby because she was ten years older than the character. The casting director gave her a total of five minutes to prove that she could act younger and blow them away.

Val Kilmer Almost Played Johnny

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Val Kilmer was offered the role of Johnny after he had starred in Top Gun. He turned the role down, though, because he didn’t want to be type cast. This role could have been a game changer for him.


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The film almost went straight to television and VHS. It’s a good thing they chose to release it in theaters because it made $214 million internationally. The movie only cost $5 million to make. That’s quite a profit.

Set Location

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Baby and Johnny met at a camp in upstate New York, but the filming locations were Virginia and North Carolina. Since they were filming in the autumn, the crew had to paint the leaves green to make it look like it was summer.

Family Acting Bug

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The acting bug runs in the Grey family. While Jennifer cemented herself in Hollywood with Dirty Dancing, she had some help in the entertainment world from her family. Her father, Joel, is a Cabaret performer, so she was around dancing quite often.

Career Decisions

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Dr. Ruth Westheimer, a well-known therapist, was offered the role of Mrs. Schumacher in the movie. She considered taking it, but decided against it because the character was a thief in the movie and Dr. Westheimer didn’t want that image to ruin her credibility or career. The role went to Paula Trueman.

Going to the Stage

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The internationally famous movie was written for the stage in 2004 by Eleanor Bergstein. The show, Dirty Dancing: The Classic Story on Stage, toured through Europe, Chicago, and Toronto.

Television Adaptation

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Since the movie was so popular, producers decided to make a spin-off television series in 1988. It lasted for only 11 episodes and featured celebrities such as Melora Hardin and Paul Feig.

The Time of My Life

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Bill Medley’s song, “The Time of My Life,” almost didn’t happen. He was unsure of how the song would do. However, he changed his mind when he found out Patrick Swayze was starring in the movie because he had so much success from his song, “Unchained Melody” did so well in Ghost. This song changed Medley’s career forever.

Ryan Gosling Fan

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Anyone would be star struck by Jennifer Grey. However, she was star struck when she saw Ryan Reynolds do the famous Dirty Dancing move in Crazy, Stupid, Love. “I’m such a fan of Ryan Gosling and all of a sudden he’s saying my name [in the movie.] I’m just in the theater with my husband, and I look at him like, ‘Oh my God, Ryan Gosling just said my name,’” Grey said.

Themed Vacation Stays

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You can now visit and vacation where Dirty Dancing was filmed. In Pembroke, Virginia, you can experience a Dirty Dancing-themed weekend that consists of a scavenger hunt, dance lessons, a watermelon toss, and a movie screening.

Swayze’s Voice

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Not only can Patrick Swayze dance and act, but he can also sing! He contributed his song, “She’s Like the Wind” to the soundtrack for the movie.

Saying No to a Sequel

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As with any successful movie, people always talk about a sequel. When it came to Dirty Dancing, Patrick Swayze didn’t want to reprise his role of Johnny for a sequel, even when the producers offered him $6 million.

Unintentional Crawl

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The crawling scene wasn’t originally in the script. It was actually inspired when the producers saw Jennifer and Patrick warming up and then decided to make it into a scene and put it in the movie.

Sarah Jessica Parker

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Sarah Jessica Parker auditioned for the role of Baby. While she killed it in Sex in the City as Carrie Bradshaw, we think Jennifer Grey did a monumental performance when it came to Baby.

Borscht Belt

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Resorts in the Catskills, like Kellerman’s, were called the Borscht Belt. Jewish-American families would vacation here from the 1920’s to the 1980’s during the summer. However, when the 1990’s rolled around, attendance was low and the resorts closed down.

Possible Titles

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It’s hard to imagine Dirty Dancing with another name. It was almost called Was a Teenage Mumba Teen because when they tried to get the film to Canada, border patrol though Dirty Dancing was an adult-film.

Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights

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There was a remake of the classic movie, but with a twist. It used Latin music and had brand new characters. While it isn’t the same, it’s worth a viewing!

Popular in Eastern Europe

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The Eastern Europeans love Dirty Dancing. “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!’” Eleanor Bergstein said in 2016.

Co-star Troubles

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Swayze and Grey had undeniable chemistry on screen, but it was a different story off-screen. “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,” Swayze said.

Johnny’s Heritage

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At first, the producers wanted Billy Zane to play Johnny because they pictured him as an Italian-American. When they saw Patrick Swayze’s audition, they quickly changed their minds and made the character Irish for Swayze.

Coming Up with the Title

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It was Eleanor Bergstein’s story of her life that influenced the title for the movie. When Lisa Gottlieb, a producer, asked Eleanor about herself, she answered, “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.”

In the Corner

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While “Nobody puts Baby in the corner!” is the most famous line from the movie, Swayze asked for it to be removed from the script. He didn’t feel that it was impressive at all.

Fear of Heights

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The lift scene terrified Jennifer Grey. When they did the move in their audition, she refused to practice it anymore. So, when it came to filming, they made sure to do the move in only one take.


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Jennifer Grey is very ticklish. So, while filming one scene, Swayze accidentally tickled her and she couldn’t keep her giggle in. The producers loved it so much that they decided to keep it in the movie, along with Swayze’s annoyed reaction.

The 2017 Remake

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Yet another remake of the film was made in 2017 and starred Abigail Breslin as Baby. Unfortunately, it received terrible reviews and criticized Breslin’s performance.

Old Friends

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Eleanor Bergstein would have loved for her old dance partners to be in the film, however she said, “My old partners are either in jail or out on parole… it was a very rough neighborhood.” While they couldn’t be in the film, they did offer inspiration.

Number One Song

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Not only was the movie was success, but Bill Medley’s song “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” reached number one on the music charts and even won an Oscar for it! It sold over 50,000 copies in 1987.

Unexpected Replacement

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Kelly Bishop, who is best known for her role as the Emily Gilmore in Gilmore Girls, wasn’t originally cast for Marjorie Houseman. However, when their first choice, Lynne Lipton, got sick before filming, the producers called Bishop for the role.

Return to Theaters

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For the movie’s 10th anniversary, fans and celebrities like Conan O’Brien wanted to re-release the film in theaters for the next generation to experience. He started a campaign that called for hundreds of letters and it worked!

Written from Experience

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Eleanor Bergstein, the writer of Dirty Dancing, drew on experiences in her life for the story. Her nickname growing up was Baby, would visit the Catskills, and learned how to dance.

Bill Medley Turned Down the Song

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At first, Bill Medley didn’t want to sing for the movie because he thought it was a bad “adult film.” It’s a good thing he changed his mind!

Reality Television Show

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Dirty Dancing: The Time of Your Life was a reality dance competition that premiered in the UK in 2007. Actors from the movie would judge contestants. Unfortunately, it only lasted for two seasons.

Wayne Knight’s Debut

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Most recognized for his role on Seinfeld, Wayne Knight had his debut role in Dirty Dancing as Stan.

Skipping the Theater

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The producers considered putting the movie straight to VHS. It’s a good thing they changed their minds or else Dirty Dancing would probably never have been so successful.

Strategic Costumes

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A lot of thought went into the character’s costumes. Baby wore light colors while Johnny wore dark colors to show the contrast of their characters.

Tight Schedule

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They crew had a tight schedule when it came to filming. They only had two weeks to rehearse the dancing and 44 days to film the entire movie.