- Directors: Emile Ardolino
- Producers: Linda Gottlieb
- Writers: Eleanor Bergstein
- Genres: Drama, Romance
- Actors: Jennifer Grey, Patrick Swayze, Jerry Orbach, Cynthia Rhodes
In the summer of 1963, 17-year-old New Yorker Frances “Baby” Houseman (Jennifer Grey) is vacationing with her affluent Jewish family at Kellerman’s, a resort in the Catskill Mountains. Baby is planning to attend Mount Holyoke College to study economics and then enter the Peace Corps. She was named after Frances Perkins, the first woman in the U.S. Cabinet. Baby’s father, Jake (Jerry Orbach), is the personal physician of the resort owner Max Kellerman (Jack Weston).
Baby develops a crush on the resort’s dance instructor Johnny Castle (Patrick Swayze), part of the working-class entertainment staff. When Baby, while carrying a watermelon, is invited to one of their parties, she observes for the first time the “dirty dancing” that the staff enjoys. Later, Baby discovers that Johnny’s dance partner Penny Johnson (Cynthia Rhodes) is distraught over being pregnant by Robbie Gould (Max Cantor), the waiter whom Baby’s sister Lisa is dating. When Baby learns that Robbie plans to do nothing about the pregnancy, she secures the money from her father to pay for Penny’s illegal abortion. In her efforts to help, Baby also becomes Penny’s fill-in for a performance at the Sheldrake, a nearby resort where Johnny and Penny perform annually.
In the film’s climactic scene, Johnny, even though he has been fired, returns to the resort to perform the final dance of the season with Baby. Excoriating the Housemans for their choice of Baby’s seat, he utters the film’s most famous line, “Nobody puts Baby in a corner,” as he pulls her up from the family’s table. Dr. Houseman learns that the true culprit in Penny’s pregnancy was Robbie, not Johnny, and he apologizes (Robbie having accidentally confessed to his deed earlier in the scene, while talking to Dr. Houseman). The film ends with a major dance sequence, as Baby overcomes her fears to allow Johnny to lift her high into the air, and the room is transformed into a nightclub where everyone, staff and patrons, dances together.