November 1958, my senior year of high school.
While other girls were dancing to Elvis and dreaming about prom dates, I was reading Jane Austen and dreaming about college.
And then my parents announced we were moving to Cuba.
In a week.
Slamming doors and giving the silent treatment couldn't change that, but it was easier than admitting I was really scared.
At least everyone else was happy.
Dad got his big promotion from Ford, Mom got to travel in style and Susie...
I swear that girl could adjust in a hurricane.
Welcome to the Hotel Oceana.
Not too shabby.
Here's what I know about Cuba.
My high school French wasn't going to help me, I didn't know a single person, and though no one would talk about it, Fidel Castro was leading the people in a revolution against President Batista.
Not that you would know it from this place.
This is Cuba. Nobody cares what you do here.
Susie, you want a smoke?
Watch out for this one. She's a bad influence.
I'll take that as a compliment.
She'll have you ditching classes in no time.
As I recall, there's a certain someone that likes to ditch them with me.
Don't forget to sign up for mambo lessons. Mambo classes are held every day...
My God. June Cleaver is in Havana.
Actually, that's my sister Katey. She's a real brain.
Yeah. She's probably going to Radcliffe.
What, majoring in fashion?
Why don't you join us?
There's room here.
I'm James Phelps.
Hi. Katey Miller.
Pleasure to meet you.
Are you the... Yeah.
Your dad works for my dad.
This is Sheila, Eve, Polly and Steph, and I guess you know Susie, right?
So, are you really going to Radcliffe?
I won't know till spring.
Watch out, girls.
I guess if your head's in your books, you really don't have time to think about silly things like the weather.
Shit! I'm so sorry. It's my fault.
No, just go get new drinks.
Excuse me. Señor?
How may I help you, señorita?
I knocked into those drinks. I'd like to pay for them.
That will not be necessary.
Accidents happen. Excuse me.
I speak English.
And I don't need your charity.
Don't worry about it. It's okay.
I'm sorry for what she called you.
That was nothing. Not to me.
Then why are you apologizing?
You guys were so good.
Your mother was good. I was...
I'm sorry I haven't been excited about all of this.
Sweetheart, it's okay.
Senior year is a terrible time to drag you out of school, especially when you're the star of the class.
Dad. Come on. Don't deny it.
Be proud of it.
You'll do great here, too.
I can't stand on your feet anymore.
Hey, you remembered that.
Let's continue where we left off.
Book 18, page 285.
Katey, just do your best to follow along, all right?
It's okay. I read it last year.
Knock it off.
Well, then perhaps you'd like to begin reading at line 342.
"Now the suitors turned to dance and song, "to the lovely beaten sway, "waiting for dusk to come upon them there, "and the dark night came upon them
"lost in pleasure."
Can anyone tell us the significance of this passage?
It's a bunch of drunk guys doing it.
Athena wants the suitors to keep invading Odysseus' house so that he'll get angry enough to kill them.
And why does the goddess want that?
She wants Odysseus to find his strength and courage?
Need a ride home?
No. I'm okay. I got a lot of catching up to do.
You know, a lot of girls don't like to let on when they're smart.
I know. I shouldn't have said that. No. No, I like that.
I like that about you.
A bunch of us are going to our country club on Saturday night.
There'll be a band. The music's pretty cool.
Would you like to go with me?
I really do have a lot of work to do.
On a Saturday night?
Come on. I'm sure even Homer took some time off between The lliad and The Odyssey.
Well, sure. Okay.
We're all here now. You can go.
You felt a sudden urge for Cuban music?
The van left without me.
I've been walking for an hour.
I can walk you back. No. You don't have to do that.
Yeah, you're right.
You'll find your way sooner or later.
Maybe in a week or a month.
Let me just say goodbye.
What was it you called him?
Abuelito. It's my grandpa.
I'm Katey. What's your name?
So what, you know, like, five words in Spanish?
And what are you studying so hard to do?
I haven't figured it out yet.
Here. Let me take that.
I've never seen dancing like that.
I don't know.
I like it.
We should get off the street.
Why? You don't understand what they're singing.
So you've got... Okay. Here she is.
Thank you so much.
Thank God. Katey, where have you been?
I missed the bus.
I'm fine. I walked.
For heaven's sakes. Katey, why didn't you call me?
For all I knew, you could have been kidnapped by rebels.
It's not the rebels you should be worried about.
What did you say?
I'm sorry. I should have called.
Honey, where's your book bag?
I left it at school.
It was heavy.
It was good I had all these boring American books with me.
They realized I couldn't be a revolutionary.
I don't understand.
They were just singing.
There's not such a thing as just singing here anymore.
You know, you're a pretty good dancer.
I was terrible.
Yeah. Yeah, you were terrible, but for an American, you move well.
Why do you look in the mirror?
I was trying to remember the steps I saw.
But what does looking have to do with it?
Just... Just feel the music.
You should see for yourself.
The real dancers are at La Rosa Negra on Saturday night.
I got invited to this country club thing.
Hey, that was fast. Yeah.
Is that why you want to learn Cuban dancing?
Just to impress your date?
No. I wanted to... Don't worry. Don't worry.
They won't dance like that at the club.
Just learn the foxtrot instead.
I already know the foxtrot.
Do we need to go shopping?
I just thought you might be going to the country club Saturday night.
You just thought?
Mrs. Phelps took me to lunch.
You two aren't planning an arranged marriage, are you?
No. I should have thought of that.
He's so cute.
Do you, do you, do you do you wanna dance?
Is this square?
Yeah, you know, like a square?
Is a square good or bad?
Is a square.
I don't know.
You're smaller than me. Your dresses'll be...
Why? Is it square?
It's not fair!
All of my friends are going.
So why would you go, and I can't?
I am older than you.
Such a waste.
You don't even know how to have fun.
Sure you don't want me to stay?
God, what'd she do? Paint it on?
I don't know.
I would like to invite you all to the Club Palace on Christmas Eve...
You been to the Palace yet?
...to attend the annual Latin ballroom amateur dance contest.
I'll have to take you.
You feel really good.
Am I making you nervous?
Well, you make me a little nervous, but don't tell anyone.
It'll ruin my reputation.
Listen, we're going over to Polly's for a little mojito party.
Yeah, her parents are out of town again.
What do you think?
Steph can make a wicked mojito.
Hey, I'm sure we can get someone to rustle you up a Shirley Temple.
Actually, James and I are gonna go to a Cuban club.
La Rosa Negra.
Yeah, we're going to the La Rosa Negra.
Look at the way they feel the music.
They're feeling it, all right.
I'll get us some drinks.
You look so Cuban.
So do you.
Hi. I'm Javier.
Yeah. I know you.
So, the country club wasn't all you expected?
We thought we'd expand our horizons a little bit.
You mean actually experience Havana?
Do you mind if I dance with your date?
Well, you'll have to ask her.
Te quiero, Havana The rhythm pumpin' in my heart In La Rosa We dance to the tempo of love Shall we give your boyfriend a show?
He's not my boyfriend.
Let your body talk Till the voice in you says Say, baby I'm the one you find deep in the groove That drives your body and your senses I'm the heat inside When rhythm and love collide Cuba Let me introduce myself Cuba Represent, represent Cuba
Represent, represent Cuba Hey Mi música Represent, represent Cuba Represent, represent Cuba Hey Tu música
Lose your date?
Must be that Yankee dancing with my brother.
Good of you to bring your girlfriend to Havana while you still have the chance.
Are you gonna run us gringos out?
That's right, comebola, so keep smiling.
Let me introduce myself Cuba Represent, represent Cuba Represent, represent Cuba Hey Mi música Represent, represent Cuba Orishas underground de Havana Represent, represent Cuba Hey Tu música
Raoul y Esmerelda, king and queen of La Rosa Negra.
When they dance, the floor is theirs.
You're as good a dancer as he is.
Katey, this is my brother Carlos.
Arturo and Miguel. Hola.
We were just talking politics.
Really? Well, my brother loves talking.
Javier doesn't like to talk politics.
After all, the revolution would screw up his job kissing your asses.
And where's the revolution tonight?
On the dance floor?
While you boys kiss and make up, we're gonna get some fresh air.
I was enjoying the dancing.
You were very hot.
It's not the safest part of town.
Take me home, will you...
You didn't say no to him.
Katey, get back in the damn car! I'll take you home.
Where is he?
He's gone. He's gone. It's okay. It's okay, I'm fine.
My dad works for his dad.
I just want to forget about it.
I'll take you home.
I should have seen it coming.
I guess I'm not used to...
What? You never had a boyfriend in America?
No. I liked this one guy, but it didn't work out.
He didn't know I existed.
Yeah. That could be a problem.
This is as far as I go.
The staff is not supposed to mix with guests.
It took me a long time to find this job.
You'd be in trouble for walking me up there?
Thanks for walking me home.
I'm sorry your evening was so difficult.
Not all of it was.
My job is to make you look beautiful.
Your job is to make our bodies like one. Watch.
Okay, that's it for today.
Who's gonna enter the big dance contest?
Isn't it just for locals?
Actually, it's for anyone who has the guts to try.
What about you?
No, I can't. I'm not good enough.
Sure you are. I've seen you practicing.
Think about it.
You left your sweater in my car. I...
Just bring it to school. Hey, wait a second.
I'm really sorry.
I was drinking. I would never hurt you.
He's not here.
They fired him.
Lois and your sister, they saw you.
I gotta go.
You know, you need to keep your mouth shut.
The things you do have consequences.
Lois is the one who blabbed it.
And you had nothing to do with it.
Well, what were you doing with that guy, anyway?
Is that you talking, or is it those other girls?
He's not like us.
There is no us, Susie.
I'm a friend of Javier's.
From the hotel.
I didn't know he had friends in the hotel.
Is he here?
No. He's working there now.
You don't see him?
What do you want with my brother?
I need to talk to him.
You got him fired. Isn't that enough?
I know a way he can make some money.
You Yankees, you come here, and you pour money into the casinos, into the pockets of the gangsters who run this country, the same gangsters who murder innocent people, like my father.
I didn't know.
That's right. You don't know.
I feel terrible about what happened.
I went to your house... My house?
You told my mother I was fired?
No, I didn't. So what do you want?
I told her I wanted to talk to you.
I'm sorry you got fired.
Don't worry. It's my fault. I knew better.
Is this your new job?
That's right. You make them. We steal them.
Isn't that right, Javi?
This dance contest at the Palace, Christmas Eve.
I think you should go.
And see if they need any busboys?
That's not what I mean.
You know what kind of people goes to the Palace?
I could get you in.
You'd have to be my partner.
You mean dance with you?
God, I'm not that bad.
You didn't seem to mind it last night.
I wasn't trying to win a contest.
I'm sorry, but I have a lot of work to do.
The prize for the semifinals is $300.
The grand prize is $5,000.
The winners get to go to America.
I don't have time.
This contest, does it cost money?
You know that it's ballroom dancing. It's not what I do.
It's Latin ballroom.
If we mix what you do with what I do, I really think we'd have something.
I still have to teach you everything.
I'll have to teach you a few things, too.
Can we do this?
What? What are you doing?
But this is a routine.
You can't just do what you feel like when you feel like it.
When I dance, I have no routine.
But this is a contest. We need a structure.
Can I see that?
First you learn to move, and then we worry about lists and words.
How do you call this?
Move your hips.
Come on. And circle.
That's a box.
What, are you crazy? Why should I cover for you?
You want me to tell them what happened?
Well, hello there.
We're just heading over for some lemonade.
Would you care to join us?
We'll take a rain check.
Okay. You two have fun.
I'm gonna help Javier, and you're gonna help me.
Your frame is really weak.
I could do without the bruises, thanks.
I can fit another couple between us.
It's not gonna be a crowded club.
We've gotta sweep across the dance floor.
Okay, I can sweep.
What are you doing? Your steps are too big.
No, I'm sweeping.
How's it going with James?
I got homework to do.
You know what, sweetie?
I've been wanting to ask you if you have any questions or concerns, you know, about you and James.
It's like dancing with my mother's ironing board.
Just close your eyes.
Why? Just do it.
It's awkward to talk about, but...
It's important that you not let a boy pressure you.
And even if you have certain feelings when you're with James, feelings that you aren't used to having...
Oh, God! Do you have to be such a guy?
Okay, I'll be the girl.
The decisions you make now, the choices you make, could affect your whole life.
Do you understand what I'm saying?
I didn't want to waste the music.
Of course not.
What's the problem?
Why are you so afraid to let me lead you?
When you're ready to say you're afraid, let me know.
No, no, no. Stay.
I'm almost done anyway.
So, what did you decide?
I entered the contest.
Good for you. So how's it going?
Great. It's going great.
No, it's not.
God, I must have been crazy to think we could do this.
It's in two weeks, and whenever he pushes, I pull, and I'm flowing, and I'm being free, and I'm making a circle, and I'm not an ironing board anymore, and it's still not working.
And now he says, "You're afraid."
That's too bad.
Un momento. Stand right here.
Let me see your frame.
A little pressure.
So where'd you learn this?
My parents. They were dancers.
Drop your arms.
Now just basic.
What did you mean when you said, "That's too bad"?
If you can't move through your fear and connect with yourself, there's absolutely no way you're gonna connect with your partner.
Listen to me.
I know that it's scary as hell to let another person touch that part of you.
But if you do, it's worth it.
Now forget everything I just said and dance.
The floor is yours.
I'll see you.
Okay, I am.
So, the movement has to be fluid, like the water.
Afro-Cuban dance, it's the dance of slaves.
When they danced, it was their only time to feel free.
So, they could be a bird, you know, or do a flamenco step and make fun of their owners.
Or just be in the sea instead of being stuck on an island away from home.
It's a dance about being exactly who you want to be in that moment.
It has to feel and look as natural as the waves.
We were having dinner, and there was a knock on the door.
Suddenly, two policemen were taking my father away.
The traitor could have been anyone.
Batista has his spies everywhere.
That's the thing, you know?
My father never hurt anybody.
He was just a free thinker, but someone didn't like his thoughts.
We had a funeral, but we never found his body.
Carlos disappeared for a while, afraid he would be next, and then, this girl shows up with a baby, says it's his and she cannot afford it, and suddenly I'm in charge of my whole family.
Maybe it's not what you want for yourself, but you are making a difference.
There's a revolution out there, and what am I doing?
Just painting stolen cars and babysitting.
No, you're keeping your family alive.
That's the most important thing you could do.
If we could really win this contest,
maybe I can bring my family to America with us.
Your parents, they're perfect.
You see how much they want to be in each other's arms?
For us to dance together, I mean, really dance, that's how it has to be.
Don't let us interrupt you.
No. No, we were just...
Yeah, we saw. Listen, we have more stuff in the alley if you want to do something useful, Javier.
I should get home.
Thanks for stopping by.
It's half an hour before curfew.
What'd you do, join the circus?
You gonna tell me you were out with James?
That's what you told your mother.
I never told her what Susie said.
Susie was wrong.
Good night, Dad.
How long are you gonna be mad at me?
The girls here...
I told Lois that I liked Jane Eyre, and she asked me what movie she was in.
I'm really sorry that I told on you.
And what I said about Javier.
I was wrong.
You gotta think for yourself, Suze.
I miss you.
Well, I've been dying to tell you.
Can you keep a secret this time?
Susie, your mother and I have some very disappointing news.
Now, I know how you love to decorate the Christmas tree and sing carols and watch home movies, but I'm afraid tonight, we're all gonna have to go to the Palace.
All of us?
Yes, Susie, all of us.
I know it's your big night with James, but you think you could save your old man one dance?
When did this happen?
Well, you know your father.
Blabs to everyone we were dancers.
So the Phelpses invited us to the Latin ballroom contest.
Where, I hear, the dancing is supposed to be pretty good.
But your mother and I'll be looking out for mistakes.
I can't wait to see the looks on your parents' faces.
Don't remind me.
I really should be scolding you for keeping her out till all hours.
Don't worry, ma'am. We've done nothing you'd disapprove of.
I can promise you that.
You two make a very cute couple.
So many of the girls coming over from the States these days get a little, you know, wild.
You're lucky to have such lovely daughters.
Ladies and gentlemen, merry Christmas!
Injust a few moments, we'll begin this evening's special event.
So, when do we get to see the championship dancers?
We're hardly champions.
You're just being modest.
Come on. I've never seen you guys dance in public before.
Actually, I thought if your husband didn't mind, you and I might...
Maybe Katey would like to dance.
Would you like to dance?
I have to find a ladies' room.
I'll escort you.
No, no, I'm fine.
Where have you been? I'm sorry. I was...
This is a crazy idea.
No. We're gonna win.
This is the moment you have all been waiting for, the Latin ballroom competition!
Three talented couples will be chosen to compete in the finals on New Year's Eve.
Qué bonita. Gracias.
Señoritas y señores, presenting the brightest star of the Havana night, Lola Martinez!
Oh, my God!
Funny thing is when I look into your eyes I sense something so sincere in your disguise You whisper secrets I hear only in my dreams Then I wake up to your tele-smoke screen I wait patiently while you play your game
'Cause in the end I'll be the winner all the same You'll see clearly when the song comes to a stop I'll be the one blowing kisses from the top So, baby, stop You're surrounded I got my love all around ya One wrong move... Move and I'll drown ya And that'll end ya You should surrender You'll never win unless you give in So baby, stop Stop, you're surrounded I got my love Love all around ya One wrong move Move and I'll drown ya And that'll end ya You should surrender You'll never win unless you give in So won't you give our love a chance?
Or do you only wanna dance?
You put your lips very closely to my face And then you run away And so begins the chase I'll be the hunter But, boy, you better pray
'Cause when I want ya I'll get you anyway You know what I wanna do It ain't anything new I'm tired of dropping clues So when I step to you Will you rise to my occasion?
Or will you make me change your station?
Stop, you're surrounded I got my love Love all around ya One wrong move Move and I'll drown ya And that'll end ya You should surrender You'll never win unless you give in So stop Stop, you're surrounded I got my love Love all around ya One wrong move Move and I'll drown ya And that'll end ya You should surrender You'll never win unless you give in So won't you give our love a chance?
If you take my hands And follow my lead I'll make you dance I can make you dance But if you get my feet and miss the beat Then I can't take that chance I can't take that chance If you take my hands and follow my lead I'll make you dance I can make you dance But if you get my feet and miss the beat Then I can't take that chance I can't take it Stop Stop, you're surrounded I got my love Love all around ya One wrong move Move and I'll drown ya So, stop Stop, you're surrounded I got my love Love all around ya One wrong move Move and I'll drown ya And that'll end ya You should surrender You'll never win unless you give in So won't you give our love a chance?
Ladies and gentlemen, the judges have chosen our three finalist couples for next week.
And they are couple number five, Jose Velarde and Iris Mesa!
Couple number nine, Tino and Lourdes Martel!
And, couple number two, Javier Suarez and Katey Miller!
What could we have possibly done to make you want to hurt us so much?
You humiliate us in front of everyone, including your father's boss.
What, did you figure that he'd lose his job...
No one's losing their job. ...and we'd have to go back?
You're going to lose your job? No. Please, go to bed.
I didn't do anything.
You lied to us. I know, and I'm sorry, but I knew you wouldn't let me try...
Kiss a Cuban pool boy in front of everyone?
You're damn straight we wouldn't.
And why in the world would you wanna hurt James?
I thought you liked him.
No, you liked him.
Because he fits into your perfect country club world.
There's nothing wrong with that world.
No, but he couldn't keep his hands off me.
What? What happened?
Nothing happened. I'm fine.
Why didn't you tell us?
Because I didn't want to mess up your job.
Katey, how could you think that my job would be more important than you?
I didn't want to hurt you.
I just wanted to help Javier, which is his name, by the way.
Oh, God, I love dancing with him.
Did it ever occur to you that that boy might be using you?
A nice American girl who can be his ticket out of here.
That's not true. You may love dancing with that boy, but there are more important factors here, like your family and your future!
Why does it have to be either-or? Just because you gave up your passion, why should I?
Honey, wait! I'm going to Javier's.
Your mother's just trying to protect you.
I'm gonna be out there on New Year's Eve, no matter what you and Mom think.
No more lies.
He's out celebrating, so if you want to wait for him...
That was Katey.
It's okay. She's with his mother.
Was I wrong?
But neither was Katey.
Sometimes I wish we...
Just try to imagine what it would be like if we hadn't had...
Does it make me a bad mother?
Of course not.
You were good.
It's okay to miss it.
They sure spiced up our old routine, didn't they?
That wouldn't have gone over too well at Roseland, would it?
Bert, she's not a little girl anymore.
What are you reading?
It was my father's.
We got rid of all his books just to be safe, but I kept this one.
If we don't win the finals...
But if we don't, I'm not gonna go to college in six months.
You don't know how you're gonna feel in six months.
Yes, I do.
No, you don't.
I don't want you to give up your dreams for me.
But I have new dreams now.
Susie, why don't you and I go raid that buffet by the pool?
Tree looks nice.
Your father and I discussed it.
And we think that you should do a double turn at the finals.
You like the way I danced?
If you're asking me to approve of you and this boy, I can't.
But the dancing...
The dancing was incredible.
I think I should take a little credit for that.
I think you should, too.
Javier, these are my parents.
Hi, Javier. It's nice to meet you.
Nice to meet you, too. It's an honor to meet such wonderful dancers.
This is from my mother's garden.
Thank you. That was sweet of you.
This is for you. Thanks.
Ready? Happy New Year, ladies and gentlemen. Yeah.
Tonight we bring you the three winning couples from the Latin ballroom competition.
Do you wanna dance?
Don't you dare!
Feliz Año Nuevo, ladies and gentlemen.
Welcome to our Latin ballroom amateur dance contest final.
You will dance on the stage one couple at a time.
Tonight's winning couple will win $5,000.
You are up first.
Our first couple this evening is Mr. Jose Velarde and Miss Iris Mesa!
Don't forget to look at the judges.
Don't worry about the others.
Remember, you're the queen of La Rosa Negra.
Our final contestants this evening, Miss Katey Miller and Mr. Javier Suarez.
He's got a gun!
Go! I'll find you!
Attention, all hotel guests.
President Batista has fled the country.
There is no immediate danger.
Please contact the front desk for further information.
I can't believe it's real.
Don't you wanna be out there celebrating?
No. I wanna be right here with you.
We didn't win the contest.
But the consolation prize was pretty good.
I'm so happy I can see all this with you.
Carlos, he always said that when the revolution came, Castro will kick out all the Yankee companies.
But you don't really know that.
No. I'm just saying that...
What, that I might have to leave?
It could happen.
But they wouldn't do that, not if the whole idea is to give people their freedom.
Well, then you'll come with us.
I'm sure my dad can work it out.
And my family?
We'll send for them, just like we were always gonna do.
Katey, I wanted to leave because of Batista, but now... But you don't know what life will be like here. I mean, what if it doesn't get better?
My father died for this.
I have to believe it will.
I can make a difference here.
You showed me that.
This is my country. It's my home.
Oh, thank God.
Katey, are you okay?
Yeah. Your father's making arrangements.
Give me that comb.
When you were little, you used to hide under the bed when I'd try to comb out these knots.
Katey, your father's been the only man in my life, so I don't know what it's like to say goodbye to someone.
Saying goodbye to dancing, the other love of my life,
it broke my heart.
Then you were born, and then Susie, and I loved you both so much that I...
You're saying I'll get over it.
No, I'm not.
No. I'm saying I know you're hurting.
Everything's such a mess.
You have a choice.
You can do nothing, you can hide under the bed.
Or you can work through the knots.
I'm gonna miss you.
I'm gonna miss you, too.
I am taking you with me.
I am keeping you here.
Javier once said that dancing is about being exactly who you wanna be in that moment.
Dancing with him, I realized I was becoming exactly the woman I wanted to be.
We didn't win the contest, but we did win something more important to us.
On my last night in Havana, we were king and queen of La Rosa Negra.
Hips start shakin' and movin' all around Get them hips shakin' around Let's dirty dance right here on the floor, girl Let's do our thing Let's give 'em a show, girl But I don't know Don't think they're ready for this Let's give it to 'em I hope they're ready for this You put your hands on my hips I put my hand on your hips Baby, I'll follow your lead Check it, it goes like this Baby, just follow the motion Dancing is sexual motion Moving with so much emotion We gettin' dirty now It's how we dance It's how we dance Yeah, yeah, just dirty dancin'
Just sexy dancin'
Dirty, dirty dancin' Come on I just wanna be dancin'
Dirty, dirty, dirty dancin'
I just wanna be dancin'
Dirty, dirty, dirty...
Bailar Yo quiero baila la la la la lar Bailar Let's dance, girl Shake it, shake it, shake it, gonna shake it
We didn't know when we would see each other again, but we knew that this wasn't our last dance.