Dirty Dancing on Lake Lure
Celebrate the now iconic 1987 film at a festival in the North Carolina mountains this weekend.
Set at a resort in the Catskill Mountains, the movie “Dirty Dancing” was actually filmed in Lake Lure, North Carolina. Filming started on September 5, 1986, and since many of the resorts in the Catskills had been shut down by then, the production team chose Lake Lure, along with The Mountain Lake Hotel near Roanoke, Virginia, for their setting. The old Chimney Rock boys camp, now a residential community called Firefly Cove, served as Kellerman’s Resort in Lake Lure. All of the interior dancing scenes, Baby carrying the watermelon and practicing on the stairs, Johnny’s cabin and the unforgettable “lift” scene in the lake were filmed there.
In 2010, Lake Lure decided to celebrate the movie’s legacy with the first Dirty Dancing Festival. With the support of Lionsgate Films, blessing of Eleanor Bergstein, the film’s original writer who based the story on her own summer experiences as a child, and several members of the cast and crew, the inaugural festival drew over 1,000 fans to the lake. Tucked away in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, Lake Lure is just 45 minutes from Asheville and an hour and a half from Charlotte.
Kicking off August 17 with a lakeside screening of “Dirty Dancing” this year, the festival continues on Saturday with live bands and dance performances, dance lessons, games, watermelon and the infamous “Lake Lift” competition. After channeling Johnny and Baby with a lift, fans can dance the night away at the official after party. A self-guided tour of locations from the movie, including the original boys camp and Johnny’s cabin, is also available either by foot or boat. A tour of the actual rooms Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze stayed in at Lake Lure Inn & Spa, Rumbling Bald Resort golf course, where Baby asks her dad for money, and Esmeralda Inn, where interior dance scenes were filmed, are also options over the weekend.
Many choices for lodging, either right near the festival grounds or a few minutes away, are available, and Rumbling Bald Resort and The Esmeralda Inn are both open for overnight guests. The opening night lakeside screening is free, but a $5 donation is suggested and will go to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. Saturday festival activities are $20 for adults and $10 for children 12 and under. Order tickets online here.
Jbs0825 / October 24, 2014
The lake lift scene was filmed at Mountain Lake, Va. Not Lake Lure
Bubba / June 11, 2017
Spoil sport !!! Who cares!!! Let folks have fun!!!
Genie / August 2, 2017
There’s a mistake in your story. Camp Chimney Rock at Lake Lure was not just a boy’s camp. It was for both boys and girls, ages 8 through 12. I should know as I was a counselor there. I still have the jacket! We had canoeing, gun instruction, archery, swimming lessons and lifeguard lessons, baseball, basketball, soccer, hiking and camping. We camped all over, including the top of Mt. Pisgah. We were a “camping” camp and we taught all the skills you needed to live outdoors. I was the one who always chopped down the dead trees for firewood and I always lit the fires and taught them all how to do it. I tried to get Ms. Rankin, the manager, to get me a hunting license so I could teach the kids to hunt and field dress but she wouldn’t let me. A big group of us hiked down Mt. Mitchel when we camped at the base. Across the lake from the camp was a bunch of night clubs, including some teen clubs. More than once some of us counselors rowed across the lake when the camp manager had gone to bed. We’d dance all night and come back exhausted but we had to make it to flag raising at dawn. That was the hardest thing I did there! It was a fantastic camp: right on the lake with great cabins, a wonderful dining hall with great food, a gym, a huge natural rock-lined pool with FREEZING water! Those were wonderful days for me. I taught canoeing, archery, shooting and gun safety, swimming, and I was a life guard. Plus having a cabin of girls. Busiest times of my life but I LOVED it!
Erin Z. Bass / Author / August 2, 2017
Thanks for sharing your story! That does sound like a wonderful experience!
June Camerlengo / October 12, 2019
I attended camp at Camp Chimney Rock too, as a camper and CIT! In 1979 and 1980. I always wondered after having seen the movie if Dirty Dancing was filmed there… but this post makes it clear. I remember Mrs Rankin like it was yesterday. I wish they hadn’t let it get passed on for other purposes. It was a great camp and a great experience.
Bob Freeman / October 3, 2017
would you be willing to sell your jacket? I have a couple interested in purchasing the staircase lot and I would like to give it to them to frame and keep with the property. Bob Freeman 407-496-3435. [email protected]
Michelle / December 14, 2017
It’s actually NC. I had my honeymoon there. Asheville and Charlotte are both in NC. Lake Lure in 45 minutes from Asheville NC.
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Jean / January 23, 2019
The lift scene in the lake was filmed at Mountain Lake in Virginia. A New York Times article confirmed it.
Shirley johnson / January 16, 2020
I went to camp there from 1961-1964……loved it
Will Allen / November 13, 2020
It seems that Deep South Magazine needs to work harder on getting the facts straight; or, maybe it’s defunct by now.
Erin Z. Bass / Author / November 13, 2020
This article is from 2013, so a lot could have changed by then. We’ll try to work on an update.