At eight o’clock it was time for the big dance, and almost every guest was certain to attend. A few guests spent the whole day sitting in the tavern, watching the movie repeatedly (it played about eight times each day) on the TVs, and some would continue to do so while the dance was taking place. I would leave the tavern under the supervision of the second bartender and head out to the barn to run the bar for the dance out of the old beer hut. The beer hut had been built under the covered back porch of the barn many years before to serve beer to guests who attended the Oktoberfest festivities we used to hold. After the dance concluded at midnight, I would return to the tavern and reopen it for the guests who still had some party left in them. I would have preferred to go home, as I had to be back by eight in the morning to serve mimosas and Bloody Marys, but I was in the hospitality business and all about the guests’ wants and needs. There were weekends when I would leave at two thirty, only to return at eight.
One of the aspects of the big dance that I really appreciated was the Sapphire Ballroom dancers. Having already taught group and individual lessons, they would stay, eat dinner with the guests, and then dance with the guests all night long. Very reminiscent of the movie. I don’t know how they did it. The hotel is old and rustic, not a fancy, modern resort resplendent with amenities. Rustic also means no air conditioning. All those swaying and gyrating bodies in the barn on a warm July night generated a lot of heat. Selling cold beer and cocktails was so easy it wasn’t fair, and I sold a lot. The Dirty Dancing–themed libations were available along with standard highballs, margaritas, wine, champagne, beer, and ciders. Those with more refined palates, craving top-shelf liquors or other spirits and cocktails, would make the short trek back to the hotel tavern to quench their thirst. They would return to the dance with a roadie—I had long ago learned that sending guests out of the tavern with beverages in a glass often resulted in the glass not coming back to the tavern for a long time, if at all.
All night the Sapphire dancers would play out the movie by dancing with any guests needing a partner, and the guests really enjoyed it. One of the reasons the guests were so excited to dance was because of the energy generated by the opening floor show. It really, and I do mean really, got the attendees into a Dirty Dancing frenzy. The Sapphire dancers had a whole routine during which all the major songs from the film, albeit shortened for time, were played in order and the dancers would perform a routine choreographed for each song, rotating dancers in and out to keep themselves as fresh as possible. There was a little monologue, a narrative that paralleled the progression of the songs with what would be happening if the movie was playing. The floor show naturally culminated with the song “Time of My Life.” It brought everyone to their feet, applauding and cheering, and set the tone for the rest of the evening. Everyone had fun.
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