DIRTY DANCING – HOLLYWOOD STYLE
Well, the Fluff Factory did it again – Dirty Dancing,
Havana Style is another formula creation fed to the public. Studio moguls
never bother to venture outside and see that there are different winds blowing
out there. The popularity of salsa and real Latin music, not its hip-hopped
and ballroomy concoctions, can be witnessed in overcrowded Latin music clubs
whose patrons include Americans of all ages and ethnicities. The overwhelming
success of the documentary Buena Vista Social Club only confirms that. Most
likely, the film producers wanted to ride the wave and bring something more
entertaining to average Joe and Jane out there.
If only they could hear viewers’ laughter in what was
supposed to be the film’s most touching moment. Maybe it’s time to shake your
dusty visions of dumb public and offer something more creative? After all, in
its golden past Hollywood did produce fabulous musicals with breathtaking
dance numbers – West Side Story, 7 Brides for 7 Brothers, even Saturday Night
Fever, just to name a few. Remember John Travolta’s walk on music’s beat? The
dance numbers were complete, well choreographed and perfectly matched with the
music at hand.
Seen through dancers’ eyes, this movie is not a treat.
You’ll be hard-pressed to find a few notes of original music of the 50s Cuba.
Most of the soundtrack is modernized to fit contemporary American tastes (as
perceived by producers) and sung in English most of the time. (Recognizable
American pop-star Maya is featured in some numbers). But worst of all, in most
dancing scenes music is only a background. The choreography has nothing to do
with it, actors dance off-beat; even in Cuban club dance scenes the main goal
was to show the sexy slithering of sweaty bodies, not the actual partner
dancing. Even the peak moment of the entire picture – the main characters’
dance performance – was cut short and never given a chance to make a lasting
impression. As if the producers hated dancing and hurried to return to the
story. The film is short, what’s the rush?
However, salsa dancers everywhere will benefit from this
film’s residual side effects. It IS entertaining and visually impressive. How
could you not succumb to the charms of Cuban scenery and its music, even
modified? Salsa clubs, instructors and dancers – brace yourselves: Havana
Nights will create an avalanche of newcomers eager to immerse themselves into
the salsa club scene. Let us be clear though, many of them are not coming for
the fancy dancing (they hardly saw it in the film) they’ll flock to clubs
hoping to touch and be touched like in the movie. Most hopefuls will
eventually give up realizing that actual dancing takes time, money and effort
to learn. Nevertheless, even those will, most likely, remain salsa clubs’
social butterflies and crowd the dance floor irritating the dancers.
(Necessary evil assuring the clubs’ survival) Remember the Gap commercial with
swing music? It produced a similar effect, but most of those swing newcomers
left discouraged by the dance’s difficulty and lack of social club scene.
However, those who do remain and persevere will become truly addicted dancers,
inspired by this incredible music.
This film will do for salsa more than all our efforts
combined: after all, we’re preaching to the converted. Havana Nights will
bring in new blood, those previously unaware of this addictive music and
dance, and for that we’re grateful. It is a good date movie and if some
people get so inspired that they come out dancing on the sidewalk like some
did after the preview, this Dirty Dancing revisited has done its job.