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The reality of doing 'The Lift' from Dirty Dancing

Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze perform The Lift in the film ‘Dirty Dancing’ (Photo: SEAC/Lionsgate)

The Wedding Dance Company is receiving an increase of requests to do 'Dirty Dancing's 'Time of your Life' for their first dance. While this is a fabulous dance to perform, it isn't easy and needs a lot of practice! It just goes to show how fantastic they were in the movie, they make it look so easy however, it is extremely difficult, technical, and can take a long time to get right. The Wedding Dance Company has lots of experience working with groups and couples in creating this routine however 99% of the time, compromise is required when it comes to the steps and of course 'the lift'.

Points to consider are-

  1. Do you both have dance experience?

If you don't it is not a problem, a easier, manageable adaptation can be created. If you do, the routine can be taught at a quicker pace.

2. Are you both physically strong enough to do the lift?

To do this lift, you both need to be incredibly strong. It is not all about the person doing the lifting. The person being lifted needs to be equally as strong as they need to be able to hold themselves in a flexible, held position. This lift requires partnership and teamwork both working in alignment. If this lift is attempted without the correct direction and technique, the outcome can be quite dangerous. You will have seen online, many attempts going horribly wrong. This is the last thing you want on your wedding day.

As this is such a difficult lift, there are ways around it. There are a number of simpler lifts that can be added, which do not require as much technique and strength or couples can utilise the strength of the groomsmen or bridal party to assist. This concept is utilised in our hen parties which is always a success!

3. What style of dress is going to be worn?

Another consideration is the dress. In the film, 'Baby' wore a short free-flowing dress, quite different from a wedding gown, therefore, adaptions to the dance steps and speed will need to be made to work around a large and sometimes heavy skirt. Some couples have opted to do a dress change for their dance, if this is the case, it will make it easier for both of you to dance at a quicker pace.

4. Equally important, is footwear, what style or height of heel are you wearing?

The height of a heel can really impact the scope of what can be achieved in a first dance. Similar, to the film, a lower heel is far more manageable. A higher, slimmer heel, can lead to loss of balance and stability on the feet. We recommend a low, wider manageable heel.

5. And finally, what kind of dance floor are you having?

The last thing a couple undertaking this routine needs is a slippery or overly shiny dance floor. This will make the dance harder as you won't have the grip required for fast movement and especially stability when doing the lift. A wooden floor is the safest.

All the points above are not to dishearten couples that may be really passionate about doing this dance, we understand how important this can be and we will do all we can to create something beautiful. However, here at The Wedding Dance Company, we are pride ourselves on being honest and realistic, we would not want couples to be disappointed if the exact routine was not achieved.

All the couples we have worked with who have decided to do this routine, have loved the outcome and have loved the experience of learning it. It can be a lot of fun but be prepared, you do need to practice!

The article below shares our view and explains the difficulty of this dance, presenting that even professional dancers who are strong and technically capable struggle to do the lift!


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