15 Things You Didn't Know About 'Dirty Dancing'

From bickering on set to the one line Patrick Swayze really hated, you'll have the time of your life reading through these fun facts about the beloved 1987 film

Patrick Swayze, Jennifer Grey
Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey in Dirty Dancing (1987). Photo: Courtesy Everett Collection

Years ago, Dirty Dancing foxtrotted onto the silver screen and cha-cha-cha'd straight into our hearts.

Starring Jennifer Grey and the late Patrick Swayze, the movie became a pop culture staple, referenced in television, film and at every other wedding you've been to. Heck, I can't even carry in groceries without mumbling to myself, "I carried a watermelon." If you haven't seen Dirty Dancing — first of all, how? Second, you have certainly heard at least one line from the film (we'd bet it's "Nobody puts Baby in a corner") or had that iconic final song stuck in your head.

Regardless, we hope you have the time of your life reading through these fun facts about Dirty Dancing.

It's (loosely) based on screenwriter Eleanor Bergstein's real life.

Emphasis on "loosely." Bergstein did spend her summers in the Catskills, her father was a doctor, she did go by "Baby" and, naturally, she loved to dirty dance.

The film is well known not only for its story, but for its amazing soundtrack.

Patrick Swayze, Jennifer Grey
Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey in Dirty Dancing (1987). Courtesy Everett Collection

Before the film's music won awards though, the crew had to scramble to afford the music that Bergstein insisted on including. Eventually, all of the songs she asked for made it into the film, including original songs like "She's Like the Wind" by Patrick Swayze, "Hungry Eyes" by Eric Carmen and "(I've Had) The Time of My Life" by Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes. The soundtrack sold over 30 million copies.

The song's final song, "(I've Had) The Time of My Life" was chosen literally the night before the cast and crew shot the finale.

The song would go on to win the Academy Award for Best Original Song — and the unofficial award for "best way to end a wedding reception."

Jennifer Grey was 26 at the time she accepted the role to play 17-year-old Frances "Baby" Houseman, while Patrick Swayze was 34.

Globe Photos

Winona Ryder and Sarah Jessica Parker were also up for the role of Baby.


However, according to the film's producer, Linda Gottlieb, "Jennifer Grey was pushed into the audition room by her father and we were in love." Bergstein says, "As she walked in, she said, 'Wish me luck, Daddy,' and she just closed the Baby's face in my mind, and from that moment on she was the only person I wanted."

Benicio Del Toro, Val Kilmer and Billy Zane were up for the role of Johnny Castle.

TITANIC, Billy Zane, 1997, TM & Copyright ©20th Century Fox Film Corp. All rights reserved, Courtesy

You know, the same Billy Zane who played the villainous Cal in Titanic? "But he danced like someone who looked like he had learned to dance beautifully for his bar mitzvah," Bergstein said in Netflix's Movies That Made Us, and they needed someone who could really sell it as a dancer.

Bergstein picked out Swayze for the role of Johnny Castle from a Rolodex of photos of eyes.

Patrick Swayze shirtless

"I wanted hooded eyes," Bergstein said in Movies That Made Us. "So we went through picture after picture and I said, 'Ah! Those are the eyes I want.'"

Grey and Swayze had plenty of on-screen chemistry, but off-screen were not friendly. In fact, he had to convince her to take the role.

"She begged us to have anyone but Patrick," Bergstein said of Grey's animosity toward her costar. The pair had worked together on the 1984 film Red Dawn and had not gotten along. When Bergstein explained that Grey did not want to do the film with him, Swayze offered to talk with her. "He went in alone and he sat with Jennifer about half an hour and they came out with their eyes red," and the pair were solidified as Johnny and Baby.

And you can see them clash on-screen.


Swayze had been a dancer for his entire life, much like his onscreen character, while Grey had very little experience. That meant that all of their pent-up frustrations were channeled into their roles, and we can see them really working together (and arguing) on-screen. They do say that art imitates life, right?

But you can also see them having a great time together.

The famous "Love Is Strange" scene was really just footage of the pair rehearsing and fooling around before filming the real thing.

During filming, they called it "Dancing Film Productions" so that the Mountain Lakes Resort where they filmed didn't think they were making a movie about a different kind of dirty dancing.


PS: You can stay in the hotel where they shot the film, though it's not in the Catskills!

Swayze hurt himself while filming one of the film's many iconic scenes.

Swayze refused to use a body double during the scene when the pair dance on a log over a ravine. His injury ended up holding up production for the film, which already had a minuscule budget. It also aggravated a knee injury he sustained while playing football in high school, making that final dance all the more difficult for him.

It was so cold while they filmed the scene where Johnny lifts Baby in the lake that they couldn't have any close-up shots of the pair.

Pacific Title and Art Studio.

Though it took place in the summer, the movie was filmed during October, and the water was so cold that the actors' mouths were blue.

Patrick Swayze hated the film's most iconic line.

I mean, to be fair, "Nobody puts Baby in a corner" doesn't really make sense for the scene. There's not a corner in sight! But go ahead and watch it again, you know, for old times' sake.

That big lift at the end? It was never rehearsed.

"I only did it on the day I shot it," the actress revealed in an interview with The Guardian. "Never rehearsed it, never done it since."

"I would never practice the lift — I was too scared. The day you see me do it in the movie is the first time I do it," Grey told SELF of the iconic lift. She also told The Guardian, "I don't know how all these people who re-enact it have the guts to throw themselves into the arms of anyone other than Patrick Swayze."

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