The Time of My Life: Dirty Dancing

Warner, Andrea

  • An engaging exploration into the enduring popularity of Dirty Dancing and its lasting themes of feminism, activism, and reproductive rights

    When Dirty Dancing was released in 1987, it had already been rejected by producers and distributors several times over, and expectations for the summer romance were low. But then the film, written by former dancer Eleanor Bergstein and starring Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze as a couple from two different worlds, exploded. Since then, Dirty Dancing’s popularity has never waned. The truth has always been that Dirty Dancing was never just a teen romance or a dance movie — it also explored abortion rights, class, and political activism, with a smattering of light crime-solving.

    In The Time of My Life, celebrated music journalist Andrea Warner excavates the layers of Dirty Dancing, from its anachronistic, chart-topping soundtrack, to Baby and Johnny’s chemistry, to Bergstein’s political intentions, to the abortion subplot that is more relevant today than ever. The film’s remarkable longevity would never have been possible if it was just a throwaway summer fling story. It is precisely because of its themes — deeply feminist, sensitively written — that we, over 30 years later, are still holding our breath during that last, exhilarating lift.

    About the Pop Classics Series

    Short books that pack a big punch, Pop Classics offer intelligent, fun, and accessible arguments about why a particular pop phenomenon matters.


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  • Andrea Warner lives in Vancouver on the territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations. Her books include Rise Up and Sing!: Power, Protest, and Activism in Music and Buffy Sainte-Marie: The Authorized Biography. Andrea is also the co-writer and associate producer of the documentary Buffy Sainte-Marie: Carry It On.

  • Published: April 2024

    ISBN: 9781770417410

    Dimensions: 4.75 x 7 in.

    Pages: 136

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“It’s a fun commentary on an enduring pop culture touchstone.” — Publishers Weekly

“Many people consider Dirty Dancing an absolute masterpiece, and The Time of My Life’s revisit is the deeper dive into Ardolino’s film that we need. Andrea Warner is a down-to-earth, funny, and competent feminist arbiter of culture. What she has to say about Baby in Dirty Dancing is equally apt as a description of her own critical capacity to nail it in the here and now.” — PopMatters

“Andrea Warner is a gift to pop culture commentary, and The Time of My Life is even more proof. Through her rich and thoughtful analysis, Warner reminds us that Dirty Dancing is more than a love story, it’s an absolute triumph, just like this book.” — Anne T. Donahue, author of Nobody Cares

“What Andrea Warner has achieved here is masterful: taking an iconic cultural touchstone and inviting readers into a timeless conversation on how it marked not only her own life, but also our collective hearts. The Time of My Life is heartbreaking and sweet, thoughtful and radical.” — Niko Stratis, culture writer

“Andrea Warner opened my eyes to everything that I missed in the film. I can’t wait to watch Dirty Dancing again, but this time…I am taking notes. Thank you, Andrea, for teaching an old dog new tricks.” — Biff Bam Pop!

“Film studies and Dirty Dancing fans will find this monograph useful.” — Library Journal

“When Dirty Dancing showed up on cable, I watched it only half-heartedly, but Andrea Warner’s The Time of My Life brilliantly explains how wrong I was. With memoir, music criticism, reception theory, and feminist politics, she foregrounds how vital a movie this was and especially (but not only) how its depiction of abortion and bodily autonomy has today become even more radical.” — Steacy Easton, critic and author of Why Tammy Wynette Matters and Daddy Lessons

“I had the time of my life reading Andrea’s smart, funny, and insightful take on Dirty Dancing. Meticulously researched, this book expertly explains how Dirty Dancing is more than just a dance film or a love story. Like Baby, this book should never be put in a corner.” — Lisa Whittington-Hill, author of Girls, Interrupted

“If you are a fan of Dirty Dancing and its significantly timeless story, this book is for you.” — The British Columbia Review

“Warner's prose reads like a conversation with a friend about all the ways this cultural comfort movie imperfectly captures the human experience in this authentic, frank love letter to Dirty Dancing.” — Shelf Awareness