Where Was Dirty Dancing Filmed?

By Antonia Čirjak on January 24 2020 in Answer

Dirty Dancing poster. Credit: 360b / Shutterstock.com
Dirty Dancing poster. Credit: 360b / Shutterstock.com

If you have watched ‘Dirty Dancing,’ it is very likely that you already know that ‘nobody puts Baby in a corner,’ just as you know that you had the time of your life watching it. But do you know where they filmed it?

Where Does The Movie Take Place?

Eleanor Bergstein, the writer and one of the movie’s producers, said that they picked North Carolina and Virginia as locations because they had a minimal budget. In fact, the movie almost did not get made when the MGM studios put it in ‘productional hell.’ Eventually, they went to Vestron Pictures with Linda Gottlieb as a producer.

They went south and picked Mountain Lake Lodge in Virginia, and Lake Lure in North Carolina. It would have been much more expensive to shoot the movie in the State of New York.

The plot of the movie takes place in a fictional resort, called the Kellerman’s, which was inspired by a real resort in Catskills, called Grossinger’s. The Catskills were a favorite vacation location for most New Yorkers. In the movie, a 17-year old Frances “Baby” goes there with their parents every summer. 

1987 film directed by Emile Ardolino and starring Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Gray. Credit: Kraft74 / Shutterstock.com
1987 film directed by Emile Ardolino and starring Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Gray. Credit: Kraft74 / Shutterstock.com

But this time, she meets Johnny, a 25-year old resort’s dance instructor. Their paths cross as Baby agrees to be his dance partner to replace his original partner. During their dance sessions, they become closer, and a mutual attraction develops. Eventually, they fall in love in spite of others and perform their dance with “I’ve Had The Time Of My Life” in the background. Some of the most iconic scenes in the movie happened at the filming location(s).

The Iconic Lake Scene

The Kellerman’s resort is really the Mountain Lake Lodge. The ''resort'' was built in the 1930s, and there were also cabins. Since the plot takes place at the Catskills resorts, which were known for their grandness, Eleanor Bergstein wanted that reflected in the movie, so she chose Mountain Lake Lodge. Since shooting a movie usually means unforeseen developments, they picked a second location. At Lake Lure, they could have more time since Mountain Lake Lodge was an actual resort.

The famous scene where Johnny and Baby were practicing the lift was shot in a real lake. However, Mountain Lake Lodge and Lake Lure claim that the scene happened in their lakes. There are tours you can take in both locations where they show you the 'famous' lake scene. But it happened at only one location. Eleanor Bergstein and David Chapman, the production designer, both confirmed that Patrick Swayze practiced lifting Jennifer Grey in Mountain Lake, Virginia. Today, if you decide to visit this location, you will find the lodge overlooking a dry lake.   

The Success Of Dirty Dancing

In 1987, when the Dirty Dancing came out, it premiered at the Cannes Film Festival and eventually ended up earning over $214 million in the USA. It was also the first movie that sold over a million copies of VHS. The Dirty Dancing soundtrack had multiple singles with The Time of My Life winning the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song, a Grammy Award for Best Pop Performance by a Duo, and an Oscar for Best Original Song. The soundtrack had two multi-platinum albums. Because of its popularity, a prequel came out in 2004, Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights.

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