This weekend's Things That Keep Me Up At Night takes us back to the summer of 1994. I was 13, fresh out of seventh grade and deeply, wistfully in love with the idea of being in love. My friends and I spent that summer sleeping over at each other's houses, staying up for hours pouring over our junior high yearbooks and prank calling boys. We were young and hopeful; we believed in true love and were sure that the epitome of romance was slow dancing to the Rockin' Hollywoods at the neighborhood 4th of July picnic.
In the midst of all those raging hormones, my best friend Jenny and I discovered the movie Dirty Dancing. I'll skip the plot synopsis, because if you haven't seen the movie then you're not going to understand the rest of this post anyway. It's enough to say that the movie was about forbidden love, sex, and Patrick Swayze in a tight black tank top. Jenny and I watched Dirty Dancing three times a day for a week straight. We memorized details ranging from the license plate number on Johhny's car (SP2201) to the title of the book Robbie offers to lend Baby (The Fountainhead). We analyzed scenes from the movie and endlessly debated whether or not Patrick Swayze is wearing underwear when he gets out of bed after Baby asks him if he's "had many women." The fact that I can recall all of these details off the top of my head 14 years later is a testament to our devotion. Please stop judging me.
The question born of this obsession is simple; is the summer camp where Dirty Dancing occurs a real place, and can I go there and fall in love?
The answers I found made me feel like an lovesick pre-teen all over again. The summer camp, called Kellerman's in the movie, is wonderfully, stupendously real. It's actually the Mountain Lake Resort and it's located in Pembroke, Virginia. Not only can I go there and fall in love, the fine folks at the Mountain Lake Resort are fully prepared to help me live out my fantasy. The resort has embraced its role in motion picture history and hosts Dirty Dancing Weekends several times a year. For $460 Jenny and I could spend a weekend taking dance lessons, touring the grounds, and trouncing people in Dirty Dancing Trivia. I assume the activities not listed on the itinerary include private staff dance parties and sexy time with a 34-year-old Patrick Swayze.
I was thrilled to find out that Kellerman's is a real place, but I'll never set foot in Pembroke, VA. That wouldn't be fair to 13-year-old Marie. There's no way that spending a carefully scripted weekend in Virginia could summon up the mystery and romance that I longed for when I was a girl. For one thing, two days isn't enough time for me to seduce someone with my naive charm and learn how to fox trot. Also, I have yet to meet the dance instructor that could hoist my 6ft tall frame gracefully above his head.
Still, it's nice to know that Kellerman's is a real place. If nothing else, it makes my junior high romantic aspirations a little more tangible.