The screenwriter Eleanor Bergstein based the movie on her own adolescence. Her father was a doctor and her family vacationed in the Catskills every summer. One summer she had a steamy experience “dirty dancing” with a bad boy dance instructor. She remembers it so clearly that she wrote a screenplay about it. She was also nicknamed Baby in real life and was called that until she was her 20s.
While the movie takes place in the summer, all of the shooting had to take place in the fall. Because of this the actors were freezing on set, especially when filming the famous lake scene. They also had to spray paint all of the autumn leaves green in order for the background to look like it was summertime.
Jennifer Grey was not too fond of Swayze from her experience working with him while filming Red Dawn. When she expressed that she may want to pass on Baby, Swayze warmed up to her and convinced her to stay.
While they did end up getting along on set, they had their fair share of moments annoying one another. If you watch the scene where Johnny looks annoyed with Baby when they are rehearsing those were actual reactions from Swayze being annoyed with Grey. Those moments were not planned and the producers kept them in.
When the movie was first screened and tested in front of an audience, it did not go over well. The audiences did not like the movie and the producers considered a direct-to-video release instead of releasing it in theaters.
The lift at the end of the movie was never rehearsed. Why? Because Grey was so afraid to do it, that she refused to practice it. They nailed it in one terrifying take.
8. Landing The Role Of Baby
Jennifer Grey was 26 years years old when she landed the role of 16-year-old Frances “Baby” Houseman. In her audition the producers gave her five minutes to show them that she could play a high schooler convincingly. I guess she did a good job!
Everyone loves that famous scene when Johnny and Baby are rehearsing and crawling towards one another, right? Well, that wasn’t really supposed to be in the movie. The two were messing around when they were warming up to get ready to actually film and the director loved and kept it in.
Swayze, who insisted on doing his own stunts, hurt himself while filming the movie. During the log scene, he kept falling off the log and he fell on his knee during a take and hurt himself so badly that they had to drain the fluid from his knee because of the swelling.
Val Kilmer turned down the role of Johnny Castle and then the role was offered to Billy Zane. When Zane and Grey rehearsed in front of the producers it was clear that they didn’t have much chemistry and Zane was replaced with Patrick Swayze.
13. Nobody Puts Baby In The Corner
The most famous line of the movie, "Nobody puts Baby in a corner” almost didn’t make it into the movie. Swayze hated the line and he suggested that they cut it. We are glad that they didn’t listen to him.