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Life with Lavendar in London town

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

He's Gone with the Wind

It's a sad, old world now that Patrick Swayze has gone. Say what you like about the man and his song lyrics, but he was a marvel to behold when he moved those muscles. On one hand he was a horse-riding, football playing, jock-cowboy and on the other, a pirouetting, hip-shaking, chick-lifting danseur. A dichotomy of sorts but he pulled it off without descending into caricature. He was a man that straddled the worlds of Rawhide and Rachmaninoff with equanimity and a level of grace.

Patrick flickered onscreen as Rob Lowe's brother in The Outsiders before he burst upon us in all his sweaty glory as the tortured dance instructor/gigolo, Johnny Castle in Dirty Dancing. Our hearts swooned when he taught Baby the pechanga (someone tell me what that is. I never figured it out) and showed her how to boogie; upright and horizontally. We wanted him to teach us and would have carried many watermelons and sat in any old corner for the chance.

After soaring into the stratosphere by shaking his booty, Patrick's magic continued in Ghost where he transferred his Art to Craft and swapped Ballet for Bowls. The theme of dirt continued too. By smearing clay all over himself and Demi, Patrick gave the pottery world a makeover that they've never recovered from since. He then starred as the uber-cool Bodhi in Point Break in which he and Keanu swapped personas. Here Patrick was the dude; the surfer- mystic- mask-wearing-bank robber and Keanu was the tortured, trying-to-find- and-come-to-terms-with-himself-Johnny-Castle character-cop called, strangely enough- Johnny Utah. There was not much dirt in that film but if there was, they were always rushing into the ocean to wash it off anyways.

After that, the descent was gradual. We had forgiven him the lyric,She's like the wind, through my tree. We had forgiven him Roadhouse. Fatherhood was pushing it. But when he appeared in Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights, there was no more forgiveness.

But the love never died. When he announced that he had pancreatic cancer, a billion hearts around the world pounded, No! Not Johnny Castle!

I got to see Sexy, I mean, Swayze in the flesh a few years back. He was in London appearing in Guys and Dolls and I happened to be in the vicinity when he exited the Stage Door. Up close his face was leathery and lined as you'd expect from a man who rode horses outdoors and smoked in his fifties. This made me strangely happy. I don't think I could've borne it if he'd had plastic surgery. He was in dancerific shape and seemed like a humble, nice man.

I wish that before he departed this world that Patrick had given us one last dance on celluloid. Despite his work as an actor his true nature was displayed, for me, when he danced. He was in his element. As the man himself said:

There's just something about dance. It's like a primal thing in all of us.
- Patrick Swayze


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