Sorry this is so long...it just came out, and hey, he deserves
it.I’ve been so many places in my life and times
I’ve sung a lot of songs I’ve done some bad rhymes
I’ve acted out my love in stages, with ten thousand people watching
But we’re alone now, and I’m singing this song for you” …Leon Russell
I heard this song by chance on the radio today, after hearing about the passing of Patrick Swayze, and I couldn’t help but picturing, in my mind’s eye, not Demi Moore, but Swayze slow dancing and holding his grieving wife Liza, her head on his shoulder and he was softly singing her this song.
Don’t ask me why, but it was a calming moment.
That was the funny thing about Swayze…millions of women of every age had a crush on the man, even though everyone knew that he had mated for life. That certainly didn’t stop women of every age falling under his spell, and enjoying every celluloid minute of his masculine grace.
I personally owe Patrick Swayze quite a bit.
The first time my dear 74-year old mother saw “Dirty Dancing” she finally had a reason to live. Her husband had passed, her company was gone, her body ached, but she always
had her imaginary lover to look forward to. She must have watched that movie at least 250 times before her end.
She would pass me in the kitchen, grab her bowl of popcorn, and smile at me, and I’d say, “Don’t tell me…Dirty Dancing is on again?” And she would have the cutest
little girl smile on her face and say, “Yep!” And off she would go…she was sixteen again and going dancing with her Johnny Castle.
Her second reason for living was watching “Ghost.” She saw that abut 3,985 times.
Some days I used to think she had a direct line to God…”Okay, I’ll play them again--- just
for you dear.”
And I can’t blame her. Try as I can, I can’t remember any man alive, before or after, who looked
better dancing than Patrick Swayze, and for that we can thank his mother.
Fred Astaire was a genius, but…sometimes he looked like a broomstick walking. I saw Rudolf Nureyev (with Margo Fonteyn) He was graceful, but looked stiff. Mikhail Baryshnikov …was a brilliant dancer, but...sorry. Michael Jackson, fun to watch…but he danced alone. Not Patrick. His very posture poured out confidence and passion for the music, for the girl he was dancing with, for the moment, and for just the sheer joy of moving in time.
There were technically, many other dancers that were and are better. But it’s not just being able to do the technical leaps and bounds, or to show that you can twirl on your head. To dance is to celebrate life, to actually celebrate your soul
. And Patrick expressed the his soul's concept of “life" more than any dancer I’ve ever seen. You see, Patrick learned to move his hips…not a very easy thing for a man. He was limber, lose. It makes all the difference in the world to a dancer. You think it WOULD be easy for a man wouldn’t you? But... no.
And then ….ooooooooo, he would wag that finger…and any
girl would follow.
Got that guys? If he would have asked me to jump down into a rat-infested sewer with him, just to dance, I would have gladly dove into the muck and said…let’s do it!“Do ya love me…Now that I can daaannnccceee, watch me now oo….work..work!”
Move over rat! (Sorry, I lost control for a moment.)
I met his mother once. I was the lounge act at a Doubletree Hotel where she had come from Texas to judge a children’s dance expedition. I was getting ready to start work, and she was getting a drink at the bar. Since there was no one else in the bar, I went up to her to tell her that over the years, I had sang, “She’s like the Wind” and that it was one of my most requested songs. I also told her, I understood that she had more than one child and how proud she must be of all of them. Needless to say, she was having a hard time being polite, and it was obvious to me that Patrick Swayze did not get his demeanor from his mother. I quickly shut myself up, and left her alone. This was one tough, American, no-nonsense woman, but thank god for her.
He must have gotten all that passion and emotion from his dad
, or so I told myself.
That day at the Doubletree, I wanted to tell his mom that I actually knew quite a bit about dancing. My brother and I started “ballroom” dancing professionally when I was five, at the Fontainebleau Hotel on Miami Beach. Later when I was a teenager I taught at Arthur Murray’s. I was probably one of the few people in the world who actually knew not only how
to Pechanga, but didn’t think it was an Italian side dish.
Remember that famous scene when he takes ‘Baby’s’ hand and holds it over his heart and tells her the music beat is like a heartbeat? “Con-con…con-con…con-con”
I just about died
when I saw that scene.
Because, when I was five, my first dancing teacher, Diego…did that very same thing to me…. (Diego and his wife DaVita were the ballroom teachers at the Fontainebleau Hotel back in the 60’s) Diego took his hand and placed it over his heart and said exactly the same words…con-con…con-con...
“You seeee..yo heat beats…here, then he took my hand and put it on his heart, and sure enough, I could hear the beat to the music, con-con.”
Talk about freaky. Did the chirographer of “Dirty Dancing” take lessons from Diego and DaVita too? Or was this the way everyone in Latin America was taught?
It wasn’t as a dancer that I first got hooked on Patrick Swayze. It was his stupendous performance in the TV miniseries North and South
. I still have that on tape. (And no, my sister-in-law cannot have it.)
In his later years, we all missed him…men missed his action films, women wanted to see him dance again---it was not to be.
When he did come back in the TV series The Beast
, we all saw that Swayze magical light flickering, and were amazed at his sheer will and strength.
This morning, they replayed an old interview. He got mad and told Barbara Walters that they (the media) had no right
to take hope from his love ones.
They should plaster that philosophy on all hospital walls. Hell--they should plaster that all over Congress
and the White House.
Patrick Swayze did NOT go gentle into that good night. He not only bared the pain…no Obama pill for him, he dove straightforward into life…and that’s what we all loved about him. He was a Texan, a lover, a fighter for justice, he was a moral man. By sheer example he showed us all how to live, and how to die.
And, “yep” when I’m 78, I will be just like my mom. I won’t have a daughter to tease me to share a movie with…but it won’t matter. I’ll be sixteen again, and I will be ‘Dirty Dancing’ with Swayze.
Patrick Swayze…I’d be singing this song for you:Do ya Love Me? (I’m In the Groove), Do Ya Love Me? Now that I can daaannnnnce?