BY COLLEEN CURRAN Richmond Times-Dispatch
“Dirty Dancing” returns to Mountain Lake Lodge, the southwestern Virginia resort where Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Gray filmed the iconic 1986 romance flick.
But this time it returns in reality TV form with “The Real Dirty Dancing Competition,” premiering on Fox Tuesday at 9 p.m.
In the reality series, eight celebrity contestants like professional wrestler Brie Bella and “High School Musical” actor Corbin Bleu will compete to be named the best “Johnny” and “Baby” dirty dancers.
Known as Kellerman’s Mountain House in the film, the nearly 200-year-old Mountain Lake property is now a modern resort at the center of a 2,600-acre nature preserve and regularly celebrates its “Dirty Dancing” heritage. “.
Viewers will see many movie-inspired resort locations in “The Real Dirty Dancing Competition,” including the Stone Lodge, the Harvest Restaurant and Patio, the Gazebo for salsa lessons, and Baby’s Hut, the fictional home of the Houseman family.
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“Viewers will be delighted to see familiar scenes and settings at this iconic Virginia property, while watching their favorite stars relive some of the film’s most memorable moments,” said Rita McClenny, President and CEO of Virginia. Tourism Corporation. the infamous lake lift scene, of course.
The crew filmed on location at Mountain Lake Lodge last summer for six weeks.
“They filmed with a full resort behind them. We were sold. We have been very busy throughout the pandemic. People feel safe coming to the mountains, with lots of fresh air, outdoor recreation and cabins,” said Heidi Stone, CEO of the lodge.
But things weren’t always so rosy at Mountain Lake Lodge.
Shortly after “Dirty Dancing” was filmed at Mountain Lake in 1986, the owner died and created an endowment to own and operate the station.
“For decades, nothing happened and the station began to decline. It was starting to look like the station might even close in the early 2000s,” Stone said. “I came about ten years ago to help renovate, rename, rebuild and see if we could save Mountain Lake.”
While she couldn’t provide a specific number, Stone said “several million dollars have been reinvested in the property over the past 10 years.
On the show, Stone said viewers would see “a modern mountain lake lodge. The film didn’t feature much of the property. We’re also a bird sanctuary. In the summer, we have thousands of hummingbirds. The reality series shows off much of the natural beauty of the property that you might miss in the movie.”
“Dirty Dancing” fans continue to flock to Mountain Lake Resort for nostalgic weekends of romance. “We’ve seen many proposals and marriages here,” Stone said.
Since the film’s release, the resort has hosted “Dirty Dancing” weekends where guests can experience film-inspired activities, dance lessons and tours of filming locations, parties, lawn games, treasure hunts and film screenings. “Dirty Dancing” weekends typically sell out a year in advance, Stone said, with this year’s sessions sold out.
This week, in honor of the premiere of ‘The Real Dirty Dancing Competition’ and the film’s 35th anniversary, Mountain Lake Lodge will release bookings for ‘Dirty Dancing’ weekends in 2023. Booking can be made at www .mtnlakelodge.com or (540) 626-7121.
Mountain Lake Lodge is located in Pembroke, Virginia, about a three hour and forty minute drive from Richmond.
“The Real Dirty Dancing” premieres Tuesday and runs through Feb. 22 on Fox at 9 p.m. The show is hosted by Stephen “tWitch” Boss and features six other celebrity contestants, including Tyler Cameron, Cat Cora, Howie Dorough, Antonio Gates, Anjelah Johnson-Reyes and Loni Love. More information at https://www.fox.com/the-real-dirty-dancing/.