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love out loud: i’ve had the time of my life

I first saw Dirty Dancing at the age of 10, courtesy of my aunt (when I think about it, this is actually a bit of a cliché; my aunt is gorgeous, awesome, happily unmarried, and probably the reason why ‘spinster’ being used as an insult completely flew over my head). I loved it from the first viewing and though there have been various times during which I haven’t watched it for many months, it’s safe to say I have seen it somewhere between 30 and 90 times.

At some point I thought about why I like Dirty Dancing so much. This was partly because I think about why I do (pretty much) everything. But the other part of it was that I don’t typically derive this much enjoyment from movies featuring dancing, summer love or Patrick Swayze. I don’t have an aversion to any of them either, they’re just not themes that tend to come up all that often in my preferred viewing list.

Anyway, after giving due consideration to the issue at hand, I deduced that it’s probably because even though it is unmistakably a chick flick, it lacks several of the crucial factors that generally a) make a movie a “chick flick”, and b) make me hate chick flicks. Namely, it lacks the word, ‘love’.

Now, I think love is great. You might even say I love love. But Hollywood has led us to believe that any romance worth having is going to be so volatile and complicated that it needs 90 minutes of plotline to sort it out (remember people: films are not usually meant to reflect real life, because real life is wonderfully boring). And what is going to make all the volatility and complications worth it? Love!

Leaving aside the fact that relationships shouldn’t be so hard (I believe I already covered that), it seems unrealistic and even a little sad that if two people don’t bust out those three little words to one another, that liaison/relationship/whatever is deemed somehow lesser. Why does there always have to be love?

I certainly don’t think all my relationships have been equal, but there are some that have lasted mere days that I value just as highly, if not higher, than some of the more enduring ones. Depending on which school of thought you subscribe to, who you fall in love with is relatively random or it’s meant to be, but wonderful relationships and romances can exist outside of love’s (often arbitrary) parameters.

And this is one of the wonderful things about Dirty Dancing. It spawned Broadway shows, a few notable phrases, and the relationship between Baby and Johnny is generally held in pretty high regard by lovers of the film. And this is even though there is no bullshit ‘love at first sight’ thing, no one mentions love, and no one talks about what will happen when summer ends.

Of course, not everything about the film is realistic; people cannot pass as professional dancers after mere days of practice (no matter how babin’ the instructor).

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