“That was the summer of 1963,” begins the voiceover that opens Dirty Dancing. “When everybody called me Baby, and it didn’t occur to me to mind.”
But boy, does it occur to her by the end of the summer! After just a few weeks at Kellerman’s resort, Baby grows up, falls in love, and, most importantly, learns to dance — and learns to dance dirty. Baby’s coming-of-age in 1987’s seminal romance Dirty Dancing has had audiences swooning — and trying to nail that lift — for 30 years now, teaching three decades’ worth of impressionable teenagers some hard truths about life that sheltered Baby never discovered for herself until that fateful summer in the Catskills.
In celebration of the 30th anniversary of Dirty Dancing, here are 30 important lessons that we learned from watching Baby have the time of her life, starting at the very beginning, with…
1. If people call you Baby, you should mind (unless that is how you introduced yourself to them, in which case, it’s kind of on you).
2. Your dad is not as great as you think he is.
3. Your sister is just as dumb as you think she is.
4. The following things qualify as ‘tragic’: Three men trapped in a mine, a police dog used in Birmingham, monks burning themselves in protest. The following things do not: Insufficient footwear.
5. God wouldn’t have given you maracas if he didn’t want you to shaaake theeeem!
6. The ‘60s were basically the same thing as the ‘80s, except abortion was illegal, and occasionally people played Motown.
7. Never volunteer to take part in a magic show.
8. Always volunteer to carry a watermelon (but, like, try to be cool about it after the fact).
9. Neil Kellerman is the catch of the county, did you know that?
10. Neil Kellerman once stole the lifeguard’s girlfriend, pass it on.
11. Neil Kellerman has two hotels.
12. People who love Ayn Rand are sleazy and bad, and not to be trusted.
13. Men are in charge on the dance floor (if nowhere else, am I right, ladies?).
14. There is no worse look than “beige iridescent lipstick.”
15. No spaghetti arms!!!!!!!
16. Want to learn a skill that takes great physical coordination? Do it standing on a log over a body of water.
17. If possible, lose your virginity to “someone that you sort of love,” or whatever, but more importantly, to someone who can dance really, really well.
18. If you call your lover boy and he doesn’t answer, and then you call him again and he still doesn’t answer, then simply say, “Baby, oh baby, my sweet baby, you’re the one.”
19. If you can’t take your honeymoon at Niagara Falls, the only other option is Acapulco.
20. The one thing Lisa learned all summer: Do NOT open a door with a towel hanging on the doorknob.
21. All rich people are thieves; all poor people can dance.
22. If you ever get fired, just march right back in there and publicly declare that you always do the last dance of the season, and those sorry fools will be helpless to stop you.
23. Don’t… sit in the corner?
24. If you want people to stop calling you Baby, wear baby pink.
25. If you want people to stop calling you Baby, tell them that your name is actually Frances.
26. The most impressive kind of performance is one set to music that won’t come out for another two decades.
27. Always have a group flash mob dirty-dance routine ready to whip out, in case the time comes to stage an end-of-summer mutiny.
28. Just do the lift already.
29. The best way to win back someone’s trust after you lied to their face is to dazzle them with the power of dance.
30. If your boyfriend has been kicked out of summer camp and your sister is maybe sleeping with an Ayn Rand disciple and your dad doesn’t like you anymore, don’t lose hope, all is not lost — but you should still wear a really swishy skirt just in case.