The Dirty Dancing Festival at Lake Lure

September 19th, 2010
Back in 1986, two years after we bought our cottage, a film crew set up on the grounds of the old Boys’ Camp on the shores of Lake Lure.  They were filming a movie.  The cast and crew stayed in The Lake Lure Inn. 
It was October and the water was frigid.
At the time, little attention was given to this movie.  Who had ever heard of Patrick Swayze or Jennifer Grey?  I know that we were not even aware of what was happening at the time.  All of the dance scenes were being filmed in the former boys’ camp gymnasium which has since been torn down.  The cabins where the dancers supposedly lived were the former boys’ camp sleeping facilities.  The steps and the bridge where Baby practiced her dance steps were also part of the camp.  The steps are still in place but the bridge was demolished a few years ago.
Many of the exterior shots of Kellerman’s resort in the movie were filmed at Mountain Lake Resort in Virginia.  We have actually stayed in that resort near Blacksburg, Va.  I was even confused about which scenes were filmed where.  When we entered the Mountain Lake restaurant, I requested Baby’s seat in the corner.  They obliged and David took my picture in the iconic spot.  It was only when we watched the movie again, that we realized we had been duped and that the “nobody puts Baby in a corner” scene was actually shot in Lake Lure.  Here is where I sat in Mountain Lake, Virginia.

Here is where Baby sat on the set in Lake Lure.

Confusions not withstanding, no one can deny that Dirty Dancing, a low budget movie, became a phenomenon with a huge cult following.  Last year, after Patrick Swayze’s death, Lake Lure held a Memorial service for him and over 750  people showed up in the rain to commemorate both him and the movie.
Fans of Patrick Swayze and the movie Dirty Dancing turn out in support of the Pancreatic Action Network and for a memorial service for Swayze held September 19, 2009 in Lake Lure, North Carolina. The memorial was held at Firefly Cove where scenes from Dirty Dancing, which starred Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey, were filmed.
This year, recognizing the appeal of the movie, Lake Lure held the first Dirty Dancing Festival.  We attended the festivities on Saturday.  The headline performers were Maurice Williams and the Zodiacs.  They performed many numbers including their award winning song from the movie Stay.  Also present was Franke Previte, the songwriter for I’ve Had the Time of my Life and Hungry Eyes.  There were performances by The Dirty Dancing Review Dancers,  storytelling by former cast members and extras, and a Gala on Saturday night which was sold out before we thought to buy tickets.  In spite of that, we had the time of our lives.  And we have something that will keep the movie alive for us always.
The landing going down to the lower level of our cottage is made from planks from the floor in the Boys’ Camp where Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey danced.  You will find me there on occasion dancing to  the soundtrack of Dirty Dancing.  Hee hee! 

18 responses to “The Dirty Dancing Festival at Lake Lure”

  1. Pondside says:

    What a picture you paint, of you…..tripping down the stairs to the soundtrack!
    It’s so interesting to read about where your cottage is – what a great bit of cinematic history. I well remember the movie and that incredible dance.

  2. This is a great post, Penny. I loved the beautiful scenery in that movie and always thought what a wonderful vacation that would be! How neat to have some of the dance floor!!


  3. Donnie says:

    I live in H’ville and love to drive down thru Lake Lure (when it’s not tourist season though). Haven’t found the Dirty Dancing location before but your post helps. That’s so cool about your stairs. Patrick Swayze was my idea of a real man and not just from the movie but also his life.

  4. Admin says:

    I really admire Jennifer Grey‘s tribute to Patrick Swayze. She’s doing Dancing with the Stars for him, class.

  5. Kent and I were wondering if you two went to the festivities! We thought about going….should have given you guys a call! I loved the movie. Are you going to watch Jennifer on Dancing With The Stars?

  6. racheld says:

    What a charming tradition!! And what a lovely memory of movie, star, AND location, all linked together.

    My favorite bit is your stairway—my Sis bought the floor when they were tearing down our High School gym, but YOURS!!! THAT’s a winner!

  7. Kate says:

    Wow! That is so cool. I love watching Dirty Dancing!

  8. too funny all… great stories

  9. Susan says:

    Penny, what a lovely post. I really enjoyed seeing your steps!!! Loved that movie and Patrick Swayze has always been a favorite of mine. Thanks for sharing.

  10. cocinadiary says:

    That is so cool! It is great to have interesting stories like that. I just realized that Baby’s mom in the movie is the same actress that plays Emily Gilmore on Gilmore Girls! totally unrelated, I know…lol.

  11. Robin Sue says:

    This is a great story Penny. I had no idea! And your steps are a part of history. We need some pics of you dancing!

  12. Guess what? I have NEVER seen this movie… so I have no idea what you’re talking about! 🙂 But I still love the post. Sorry you weren’t put in the right corner. Jennifer Grey makes her inaugural appearance on Dancing with the Stars tonight!

  13. Barbara says:

    What a wonderful story in your post today, Penny! They must have been sooo cold in that water!

  14. Loved this post – made me smile & I think I am going to go buy the soundtrack on Itunes right now – what a wonderful movie!!!

  15. Oh I loved that movie and still know the words to the tunes. It was one of the best ever.

  16. qandlequeen says:

    Okay, that is freaking cool that your stairs are made out of that wood.

  17. Karen says:

    How interesting and how fun that you have the planks for your stairs!

  18. […] Lure was not the only film location. Parts of the movie were also filmed in Virginia.  I wrote a post about our stay at Mountain Lake, Virginia and the confusion about the scene where Baby was put in the corner. I […]

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