End of An Era

Re-watching Dirty Dancing — a movie far better than its reputation — last night inspired me to do some Internet research. I was pleased to find out that the actual filming location of Dirty Dancing, Virginia’s Mountain Lake Hotel, remains in business and has continued to cash in on its tie to the movie.

On the other hand, it appears that 2008 will be the last season for the last of the major Borscht Belt resorts. (For those living in caves, Dirty Dancing tells the story of the daughter of an affluent Jewish doctor who falls hard for a sexy working class dancing instructor at a Kosher summer resort in the Catskills’ Borscht Belt.)

Newspaper reports last week indicate that the family ownership of Kutsher’s resort (where Dirty Dancing Screenwriter Eleanor Bergstein stayed as a girl) has sold out. Although the name seems likely to survive, the new resort will probably be a big, reasonably anonymous casino. Indeed, the resort will welcome the first guests of its last season today.

It’s sad in a sense — although, judging from the reviews, Kutsher’s is a lousy place to spend a vacation — but, on balance, it’s a triumph for the free market. Were it not for air conditioning (an invention that made cities more habitable in the summer), airline deregulation (which lets people travel anywhere at a reasonable price), and anti-discrimination and assimilation (which ended all meaningful discrimination against Jews), Kutsher’s would probably still be thriving.

Instead, it appears ready to go out with a whimper.