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Dirty Dancing gala sizzles (literally)
Monday, 03 September 2018 10:47

‘80s nostalgia runs wild at homage to ‘87 movie

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LAKE LURE — Despite blazing heat, the 9th Annual Lake Lure Dirty Dancing Festival, held Aug. 24-25, drew crowds that approximated last year’s all-time record attendance of 3,400 people.

The 2017 turnout was attributed by event organizers to the gala’s 30th anniversary celebration of the 1987 film classic “Dirty Dancing” that was shot — in part — at Lake Lure.

Given that this year’s festival held no particular distinction with the film or its top star, the late Patrick Swayze, event spokespeople expressed delight that the attendance nearly matched the all-time record.

Event spokesman Kevin Cooley, who is Lake Lure’s mayor, told the Daily Planet that the unofficial attendance for the two-day celebration was only off by 100 or 200 from last year’s gala, and that the organizers were pleased.

The festival featured a screening of the film on a huge inflatable outdoor screen on Aug. 24 evening. It concluded on Aug. 25 with dancing to three bands, performances of the film’s dance sequences by the Asheville Ballet Co. and other activities.

The event’s shag dance contest involved a number of competing couples, but Allen Roney and Cindy Foust of Burlington eventually prevailed to win the crown. 

The first night’s screening of the film was preceded by a performance by the Lake Lure Cloggers, a shag social hosted by DJ Jeff Foster, a performance by the Hickory-based Extraordinaires Band and an 18-minute speech by author and special guest Sue Tabashnik.

In an interview with the Daily Planet on Aug. 25, Tabashnik, author of “Patrick Swayze: The Dreamer” (published in August 20178) as well as two other books on the actor, said, “I had the honor to meet him (Swayze) four times... Writing’s my passion.”

However, she noted that writing is a job she does in her spare time, as she her day job is as an ER psychiatric social worker.

“I was an avid movie-goer,” when she first saw Swayze in the 1987 film “Dirty Dancing... Then, in 1988, Barbara Walters interview Patrick Swayze” and she was struck by how he came across as “so sensitive, down-to-earth, a good guy” in the television interview.

“Then, I just started following his career. Then, I found his fan club.”

Tabashnik, who is from the Detroit, Mich., area, said Swayze appeared for two fundraiser benefits in Detroit for a ballet company that worked with inner city youngsters. At each, she was able to meet — and briefly chat with — Swayze. She said she was charmed by him.

The other two times she met Swayze were at film festivals in Houston, Texas, and, around 2003, Nashville, Tenn.

At the Nashville event, “he talked to me personally.” Tabashnik said Swayze’s wife Lisa gave her a worn blue cap that the author modeled briefly at the Lake Lure festival during a photo shoot by the Daily Planet.

Tabashnik said she was on a bus with a number of other fans of the actor after the Nashville event, when, the morning after the film festival, he climbed aboard and spoke with— and fielded questions from — his fan club for 45 minutes. “Whe else does this?” the author asked.

What’s more, she said, Swayze “gave me a big bear hug. So now I’m not going to take a shower for a week,” Tabashnik said with a laugh. “My question (for him) was about dreams.” From that brief conversation, she realized that an aspect of Swayze that she especially appreciated was that he was a dreamer.

Swayze was a “very down-to-earth, sensitive, spiritual guy who wanted to make the world a better place,” Tabashnik said. “He was much more than just an actor... Patrick was a life-changer for me...

“He wasn’t into the whole Hollywood scene. He was caring... He wasn’t just Johnny from ‘Dirty Dancing.’”

Her three favorite Swayze films are (from first to third) “Dirty Dancing,” Three Wishes” and “One Last Dance.”

Meanwhile, besides live dance bands and Asheville Ballet performances of dance scenes from the film, the Aug. 25 (final day) activities included dance lessons, a lake lift competition, watermelon races and a crafts exhibition

The bands that performed Aug. 25 included Randy & Cindy Floyd featuring Gene Pharr, the Flashback Party Band and the Silk Groove Band.

During it’s mid-afternoon set, the 11-piece show group, Silk Groove Band, played a number of beach and soul music hits, including a memorable and crowd-pleasing 10-minute version of the Temptations’ classic “My Girl,” taking it into an extended vocal jam, and then ended it as a mini-medley with Eddie Floyd’s ethereal 1968 hit “I Never Found a Girl.”

At one point, the Lexington, N.C.-group’s emcee noted that it would be performing a song “in appreciation of lasting relationships, as it launched into Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes’ “If You Don’t Know Me By Now.” The showstopping, slow waltz melody filled up the dance floor.

Later in the show, the Silk Groove Band announced, “This next song is No. 5 on the beach music charts — because of you!” To the crowd’s obvious delight, the band then played its most current hit, “I’m Lookin’ for Love.”

The band’s last song of the afternoon was a very soulful and slightly slower-than-the-original version of the 1988 song “Time of My Life” from the film “Dirty Dancing.”

The Asheville Ballet later gave its final and climactic performance of the show, performing — in dance — “Time of My Life.” — prompting an enthused and loud ovation from the crowd.



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