In 1987, I wanted to be Baby in Dirty Dancing. My best friend, Esmeralda and I played mixed cassette tapes on the boom box in the garage and danced. I had permed strawberry blonde hair, freckles, rolled jeans, and I was going to be a dancer. Freedom dripped from our hearts like juice from the popsicles off the ice cream truck. I listened to “Living on a Prayer” by Bon Jovi, convinced that my leather-jacket clad bad-boy older boyfriend and I were in LOVE. My parents hated him, and he was my Johnny. Esmeralda (Ezzy) and I walked everywhere in our small town, and we ruled our universe.
I was going to be a dancer and live without the constraints of my parents.
We cheered for the underdog in movies like Secret of My Success, Mannequin, and Roxanne. That year brought us the cult classic Dirty Dancing, of course but also Predator, The Princess Bride, and The Lost Boys. We fell in love with Patrick Dempsey for the first time in Can’t Buy Me Love, and whispered about how often the word “fuck” was in Eddie Murphy Raw.
The radio waves were thick with sexual energy. Take a look at the songs we were listening to:
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- “I Want Your Sex“ by George Michael
- “I Think We’re Alone Now” by Tiffany
- “Don’t You Want Me” by Jody Watley
- “Let’s Wait Awhile” by Janet Jackson
- “Faith” by George Michael
- “Push It” by Salt-n-Pepa
Big hair bands like Whitesnake and Bon Jovi were also planting themselves heavily into American ’80s culture.
The economic climate in the country was still prosperous. Ronald Reagan was president, and in November, the senior Bush was elected. But I was 13 and I didn’t care about politics at the time. I was busy grooving to my “mixes.” Let’s take it out with an inspirational ballad.