“Lake Lift” in Perpetuity

This "lake lift" did not happen in Lake Lure, but the classic dance move shows just how widespread the Dirty Dancing cult has grown over the decades. See the real thing go down in the eponymous town this weekend.

This “lake lift” did not happen in Lake Lure, but the classic dance move shows just how widespread the Dirty Dancing cult has grown over the decades. See the real thing go down in the eponymous town this weekend.

It’s been a long time since anyone put Baby in a corner, as it were, thanks to Lake Lure’s Dirty Dancing Festival. The local event, which draws attendees nationwide, celebrates its sixth go-round this weekend, August 14 and 15.

Fans of the world’s most popular chick flick (according to data collected by the BBC) might be surprised to know it was conceived as a low-budget indie film. But the 1987 story, starring Jennifer Grey and the late Patrick Swayze, bloomed full throttle, spawning platinum hit singles and becoming the first movie to sell a million copies in video.

The story of a rich, bored young woman (Frances “Baby” Houseman) who has a summer romance with a working-class dance instructor (Johnny Castle) – learning about real life, busting some really hot moves, and, at one point, risking her reputation to help her lover escape a false accusation – somehow never quit resonating. It’s been reinterpreted on Broadway to international acclaim, and rumors of a sequel surface every few years, keeping fans on orange alert.

The script unfolds at an affluent resort in New York State’s Catskills, but the action was filmed at our own Lake Lure in Rutherford County. When statistics about the smash movie are rattled off, it’s often noted that Lake Lure can claim its own prize: National Geographic once listed it among the world’s most beautiful manmade lakes.

The two-day festival includes a free outdoor screening of the film Friday night and a full day of entertainment on Saturday, including live music, a watermelon-carrying contest, and a “lake lift” competition – the latter two events inspired by famous scenes in the film. It’s about having the time of your life, as well as helping the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. (To honor Swayze, who died of the disease in 2009, a portion of event proceeds and all on-site fundraising efforts support PANCAN).

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