Frances Houseman: she had mad dance skills, a fabulous wardrobe, blind ambition and she got to make out with Johnny Castle.
Dirty Dancing wasn’t just another girl-finds-boy, girl-loses-boy, girl-gets-boy-back tale of summer lovin’… okay, maybe it was, but it was also one of the best coming-of-age girl movies, ever in the history of the world, period. Deep down, this privileged rich-kid from the big city knew that boy from the other side of the tracks was worth her time and effort and she was willing to risk everything to prove it.
Sure, maybe she jumped into a relationship a little too hastily (haven’t we all?) and it may not have been easy (when is it?) and who knows if it lasted (it’s okay if it doesn’t), but in that summer of ’63, Baby’s Catskilled summer vacation probably taught me more about navigating relationships than anything I’ve learned or experienced on my own:
God wouldn’t have given you maracas if he hadn’t wanted you to shake ‘em: We have what they want (and I’m not talking about a percussion instrument). Love yourself first and wear a good push up bra. The rest is easy.
Sometimes it’s okay to carry the watermelon: Relationships can be anything but glamorous and even with humiliation at stake, you have to be willing to make sacrifices every now and again. It’s probably the only way you’re going to enjoy the party.
It’s not the Mambo: Slow it down. Enjoy the moment. Sure, togetherness may be a complex dance and though there’s a certain beat to it all, you don’t always have to be in perfect sync as long as you listen to what’s inside. ”It’s like a feeling. A heartbeat… Ga-gungh. Ga-gungh.” <sigh>
Don’t put your heel down: Seriously. This is why relationships fail. Okay, sure, it’s not the only reason, but it’s a big one: we get lazy. I’m not saying that you need to keep on your toes all the time – that’s exhausting. It’s completely okay to wear a comfortable pair of flats every now and again (with a cute pair of cut-off jean shorts and a white shirt tied at the waist as you dance across the wooden bridge)… but when you find your couple-hood falling into a less-than-desirable routine, there’s a good chance one of you has put their heel down.
Watch out for guys named Robbie: Dude, trust me on this.
Your parents will probably always hate him a little bit, and that’s okay: Like a pessimistic duo of Jiminy Crickets, they will sit on your shoulder detailing every fault and/or potential personality flaw of the person you are seeing because in their mind, nobody will ever be good enough for you and if it were up to them you would still be watching Sesame Street and going to bed at 7.
Be aware of each other’s dance space: Look, spaghetti arms, this is probably the single most important piece of advice Frances Houseman could give you. Pursue your own interests. Have your own friends. Do your own things. You gotta hold the frame.
Nobody puts Baby in a corner: As if I wasn’t going to include this nugget. Stand up and dance, girl.
Never end the season with the Pachanga: The Pachanga is boring. Shake it up. Get dirty.
Trust your partner: Running and jumping into someone’s arms is scary. I get it. If you’ve made this far together, though, there’s a really good chance he isn’t going to drop you.
If all else fails, for as long as it lasts or if it lasts forever, just remember:
Have the time of your life.
Image via IMDB