There were two distinct flocks last night at the party following the Washington premiere of the film "Dirty Dancing" -- those who danced, and those who sat on the sidelines and made fun of those who danced.
The film is a dance epic along the lines of "Saturday Night Fever" but told from the female point of view. The premise behind the party: Go and watch a dance film, then afterward, go dance. That they did, most of them anyway.
Tamera Singleton was ready, willing and able to get into the scene. "There's something going on here," she said as she surveyed the six Arthur Murray dancers brought into the Dakota nightclub in Adams-Morgan at the beginning of the packed soiree, and then joined them on the floor.
Others were not as nice.
"Hmmm," mused another observer, chewing his lip. "I'd give them a 2.5."
He wasn't the only one keeping score at the "hottest party of the summer," the billing it received from Premiere, the fund-raising division of the American Film Institute, which sponsored the event. Everybody checked out everybody. Looked at the clothes (surprisingly understated), looked at the pelvis thrusts (again, surprisingly understated -- the eroticism in the film didn't make it to the dance floor), looked at those looking at them to make sure they were being looked at. Looked for the promised star.
Unless they were part of the upstairs invitation-only brigade, they didn't see her. Cynthia Rhodes, the film's bad girl, was guarded, pampered and fed blue corn chips and guacamole while the rest downstairs made do with carrot and celery sticks. She thought the attention was great, just great. The film's main stars -- Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze -- were busy elsewhere, so she got the glut of attention.
"Tell me what you need, just tell me what you need," said a waiter, shoving a drink into her hand.
"Car insurance," said Rhodes, deadpan.
Kenny Ortega, the film's choreographer, also enjoyed the attention. He fielded compliments about the young-love-expressed-through-movement film and his outfit, a black number by MA-JI.
"That's MA-JI," he said. "Talk about him. He's going to be very big, I know it. He's a Japanese designer."
Designer clothing and insurance, of course, weren't the only topics batted around the upstairs room, haunted by some 30 of the crowd of 300. "Dirty Dancing" also received conversational airtime. Executives at Vestron, the film's production company, have been so pleased with advance audience reaction (the SRO crowd at the Embassy Circle was indeed very enthusiastic) that they're upping the number of prints released nationwide Friday by some 300. They believe it's going to bring back an old favorite -- touch dancing.
"I hope we get the idea through," said director Emile Ardolino, gin and tonic in hand, "that it's a great idea to be close to somebody you care about."
Those downstairs seemed to agree. After the Murray demonstration, the amateurs poured onto the Dakota's expansive dance floor, some couples dancing close and exotic, others dancing apart and robotic. Dana Rohrabacker and his date were one couple motivated by the film they had just seen.
"That movie was great," said Rohrabacker from the sidelines, hands on his partner's hips, feet tapping wildly on the floor. "It was a terrific movie, a good story, good cinematography, great dancing ..."
Did it have a good beat? Could he dance to it?
"Yes," said Rohrabacker. And he did.