Set in the 1950s, Dirty Dancing is the story of a middle class family who take a vacation at a summer camp near a picturesque lake. ‘Baby’ is nearing adulthood but is still treated like a child by her parents and elder sister. However, a chance encounter with one of the dance teachers at the camp leads her into a world where music, dance and sex come together, and a group of youths are desperate to have the time of their lives.
Emile Ardolino’s musical drama sidesteps any postmodern or ironic take on an earlier era, instead offering up a portrait of a seemingly more naïve age and a moment of innocence lost. As dance instructor Johnny Castle, Swayze swaggers in a way that guaranteed his star status, while Jennifer Grey is perfect as the young ingénue who flourishes in a world less conservative than her own.
As guilty pleasures go, this is one of the best.