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‘Dirty Dancing’ Filming Locations: A Guide

February 2, 2020
4 min read

‘Dirty Dancing’ is one of those iconic movies that can lay claim to having defined a decade when it comes to cinema and popular culture. Released in 1987, the romantic drama dance film was a bona fide hit, managing to rake in a mammoth (at the time) $215 million at the box office on a shoestring budget of $5 million and propelling Patrick Swayze to worldwide fame and even a People Magazine Sexiest Man Alive award in 1991.

‘Dirty Dancing’ stars Jennifer Grey as Frances “Baby” Houseman, a young girl vacationing with her parents and older sister Lisa at a posh resort in the Catskills who falls in love with a charming young dance instructor named Johnny Castle (played by the inimitable Patrick Swayze). The film deals with a number of themes including first love, social classes, the innocence of youth, moral principles and the practical and emotional complexity of difficult procedures such as abortion.

The main cast of ‘Dirty Dancing’ besides Swayze and Grey includes Cynthia Rhodes as Penny Johnson, Jerry Orbach as Jake Houseman, Jane Brucker as Lisa Houseman, Kelly Bishop as Marjorie Houseman, Jack Weston as Max Kellerman and Lonny Price as Neil Kellerman. The film is still fondly remembered today for its foot tapping soundtrack, including the iconic Golden Globe, Academy Award and Grammy Award winning song “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life”.

If you were wondering where Dirty Dancing was filmed, read on.

Dirty Dancing Filming Locations

In ‘Dirty Dancing’, Baby and her family consisting of her father Jake, mother Marjorie and sister Lisa are guests at the swanky Kellerman’s Resort in the Catskill Mountains located in southeastern New York. The resort itself is based on a real life location in the Catskills as well. The Catskills are ubiquitous in popular culture, being a fashionable winter skiing destination as well as the site for the filming of numerous films and TV shows, and the inspiration for Hudson River School art movement in the 19th century.

However, while the setting of the movie is the Catskills in New York, filming was primarily done in a variety of locations across two states – Virginia and North Carolina. Some of these locations have achieved cult status amongst fans over the years owing to the movie’s enduring popularity and status as a true classic of American cinema.

Virginia

The Kellerman Resort featured in ‘Dirty Dancing’ is actually the Mountain Lake Lodge in Pembroke Virginia. More specifically, the exteriors scenes at Kellerman’s, the dining room and kitchen scenes were filmed here. Such is the popularity of the movie that the Mountain Lake Resort continues to host ‘Dirty Dancing’ Themed weekend events for fans of the original movie even today.

Other regions in Virginia where “Dirty Dancing’ was filmed include Mountain Lake, one of only two natural lakes found in the state of Virginia. The lake was previously also known as “Salt Pond”, for its role as the place where cattle were given salt.

Check out this photograph of the exterior of the Mountain Lake Lodge, the resort that doubled as the Kellerman’s resort in the movie:

Photo Credit: Virginia Tourism Corporation

North Carolina

Besides Pembroke, Virginia, the other primary filming location for ‘Dirty Dancing’ was the town of Lake Lure in Rutherford County, North Carolina. A boys camp doubled up as the staff cabins in the movie, whereas a local gymnasium served as the banquet hall for Johnny and Baby’s dance routine. In honor of the movie, Lake Lure hosts an annual ‘Dirty Dancing’ Festival event featuring a lake lift competition even to this day.

The Bald Mountain Golf Course at the Rumbling Bald Resort in Lake Lure also served as a backdrop to one of the film’s more iconic scenes – the one where Baby asks her father for money for Johnny’s dance partner’s abortion while he is out practicing his golf swing.

Check out this picture of the Bald Mountain Golf Course below:

Photo Credit: rumblingbald.com

Other locations in North Carolina where the movie was filmed includes the Grove Park Inn at Macon Avenue in Asheville, North Carolina. Here’s how the lavish hotel looks today.

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