On August 21st, 1987 the film Dirty Dancing was released. The budget for this film was 6 million, but it surpassed a whopping $170 million in revenue. This film won various awards, such as an Oscar for best original music, Golden Globe winner for best soundtrack, and even was a Golden Globe nominee for best motion picture. This film was very influential during its time but was met with great skepticism and criticism.
According to an article from the N.C Department of Natural and Cultures Resources, the filming of Dirty Dancing at Lake Lure was purely by chance, “The filming came to the southwest almost by accident. When the crew began production in September 1986, they found all the resorts in New York mountains were closed, so they headed South”. It was here that, by some alignment of the stars, that they chose Lake Lure as a location to recreate the Catskills. The film crew was “on their hands and knees” asking hotel owners to allow them to shoot their film there. The crew even went as far to tell the locals that the film was named “Dancing” rather than Dirty Dancing, to help attract people to allow them to use their location to shoot. According to an article in The Daily News, locals were even prompted to help with the production. They were used as backup dancers, and standees for some of the films characters. They were paid on average $30 a day and “worked from the wee hours of the morning until midnight for 10 solid days”.
Part of the negotiation between hotel owners and the film crew was that they could see the film prior to its release, so that they would allow their names to be used in the credits. They were skeptical at first, but ultimately gave the “okay” to use the name of Lake Lure in the credits of the film. What was at first judged with skepticism, would soon be a film that changed the towns culture and history forever.
In an article published in the Amarillo Times, nearly 10 years after the filming of Dirty Dancing, it states that the film still sells over 10,000 copies a month! This national impact has also become very local for the town of Lake Lure. Today the town holds festivals dedicated to the film, has renamed buildings in honor of the film, and even has guided tours where you can visit the scenes from Dirty Dancing. The film is featured on BBC’s Travel section and is no longer a small town with a population of little over 1,000 people, but a bustling tourist attraction. According to the website of The Town of Lake Lure, it has over 13,000 visitors over the summer season. Each year the town holds an annual Dirty Dancing Festival, which is a nonprofit festival to raise awareness for pancreatic cancer. According to the website for the festival, it kicked off with more than 1,000 attendees during its initial startup in 2010 and has grown ever since. Although the aspect of tourism was already there, Dirty Dancing had a huge part in transforming this area into what is now a tourist attraction, a way to relieve motion picture nostalgia, and even a way to help raise awareness for a great cause!
Using on site locations, such as Lake Lure for Dirty Dancing, can quickly change the whole outlook of that area. It can take what was then a mediocre location and give it a new sense of purpose. Before Dirty dancing came to lake lure, yes it was a tourist attraction, but it did not have tourism on such a scale that it did after the release of the film. The town exploits the films locations, allowing self-tours, guided tours, and even charging people for the “Dirty Dancing Experience”. Ultimately, a film can leave a lasting impact on the people, and even the locations involved in the making of it. Lake Lure is a prime example of how film can impact culture physically and leave a lasting impression for decades to come.
“About & PanCAN.” Dirty Dancing Festival in Lake Lure, NC, www.dirtydancingfestival.com/about–pancan.html.
“Dirty Dancing Filmed at Lake Lure.” NC DNCR, 21 Aug. 2016, www.ncdcr.gov/blog/2014/08/21/dirty-dancing-filmed-at-lake-lure.
“Doris, Jack Rex in ” Dirty Dancing.’” The Daily News, May 1987, pp. 7–7.Knight-
“Dirty Dancing Just Keeps on Collecting Fans.” Amarillo Globe Times, 1997, pp. 24–24.