The 'Dirty Dancing' Remake is Making Me Feel OLD

by Wendy Wisner
Originally Published: 
dirty dancing
Wendy Wisner

My dad and stepmom were moving this past summer, so my younger sister and I had to clear our stuff out of their attic. We went through boxes of old notebooks, letters, mangled school projects, dusty books, and other totally rad artifacts. At the bottom of one box, I found an old VHS tape of Dirty Dancing.

“Look, it’s my Dirty Dancing tape!” I exclaimed.

“Wait, that’s mine,” my sister said.

“No, don’t you remember? I used to watch it every day after school. You were too young then.”

“Umm…well, you eventually lost interest, and I did the same thing.”

My sister and I eventually called a truce, but somehow I managed to smuggle it back home. (Big-sister power still at work here; she can borrow it whenever she wants.)

I’m obviously a diehard fan of the movie. Baby’s cutoff jeans, those dark summer nights sneaking away to dance (the dancing truly was dirty, especially to 11-year-old me), and the undying love between Baby and Johnny. Add an amazing soundtrack, and you have movie gold, especially to girls who grew up in the ’80s.

I think people have felt especially nostalgic about the movie since Patrick Swayze died. Many of us remember him as Johnny—strong, majestic, resilient—and it still seems impossible that he’s gone.

When I heard recently that they were remaking the movie, I was excited. I mean, any chance to go down memory lane and relive the movie—I’ll take it. But when I started reading more about it all, I began to feel…well, kind of ancient.

First, there’s the cast. I only vaguely know of Abigail Breslin, who will take Jennifer Grey’s role as Baby. I’m pretty sure I saw Breslin in Little Miss Sunshine in the 2000s before I had kids.

But the rest of the cast? Never heard of them. Colt Prattes, who will play Johnny, looks pretty smokin’ hot, but it’s hard to imagine anyone replacing Patrick Swayze. No offense to Prattes—a Broadway actor and dancer—but even if he’s amazing, he has some big, big shoes to fill.

There is one actor I’ve heard of, though! Debra Messing, whom many of us will remember from Will & Grace. But guess who she’s playing? The mom. Yep. And in just a few years, my tween will be a teen and I will be exactly like Mrs. Houseman, wondering where on earth my kid has gone and hoping to God he’s not out doing something scandalous…like dirty dancing.

The remake is supposed to air on network TV (ABC), which is cool, because I remember when I was a kid and made-for-TV movies were a staple. I’m actually happily surprised that it’s still a thing. But, the catch is: When on earth will I be able to watch it? I’m a slave to my kids’ bedtime (and yes, I’ve heard of DVR-ing something, but we’re too cheap/broke from all the parenting and adulting to add anything extra to our cable bill).

Also? The movie is supposed to be three hours long. How is your average working parent like me supposed to have time to watch that?

I have come to the conclusion that the movie is being remade for folks much younger than me. This is cool and great, I guess, and I do want the next generation of young people to fall in love with the movie, but the whole thing makes me think I’m much older than I actually feel.

However, given that the original Dirty Dancing was released in 1987 (which means that next year marks 30 years since its release), I suppose it was a long time ago that I would rush home from school to watch Johnny effortlessly lift Baby up over his head without dropping her. So I will now officially admit that I am, in fact, old—even though I swear I was 11 years old just yesterday.

I plan to watch the remake one way or another, and I’m eagerly looking forward to its release. But I will also be dusting off my old VHS cassette of the original, popping it in, cuddling up with my husband after the kids go to bed, and giddily reliving my tween years all over again.

(And yes, we still have a VHS player and a closet full of VHS tapes because we are old. Did I mention that?)

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