It’s sad news to hear Patrick Swayze died. It was the final bit of bad news about him that began over a year ago when we all learned he had a deadly form of cancer. This is all so starkly opposite from what we knew about him from his screen roles.
Ashton Kutcher smartly (and I think caringly) sent a tweet about Patrick’s death that included a link to the Saturday Night Live scene where Patrick and Chris Farley played shirtless Chippendales dancers. It shows Patrick in fine form and willing to do what it took to make the scene work. Ever the pro, he was the straight man – second banana that helped stage Chris Farley’s comedic highlight.
I liked being around Patrick. It only happened a few times, but it was always fun. The last time was at a mutual friend’s birthday party in a Hollywood restaurant. We had the whole place on La Cienega to ourselves. I became the DJ for the night. The place had a good sound system and everyone agreed we’d need music to make this a party. I brought boxes of CDs from my collection to provide the soundtrack for the evening.
The party worked! There was dancing going on immediately. Some couples. Some groups of women who all hit the floor together. In some ways it was just like the jr. high school dances you remember. Girls on one side of the building. Boys on the other. At this party, Patrick and a lot of the guys were on the street front patio so they could smoke cigars and backslap. Their dates and wives had their own fun inside. I had the music.
I remember this party every time I hear Patrick’s name come up. After the guys had spent a substantial amount of the party hanging out together, they broke ranks and headed through the open air entry back into the restaurant. Patrick came up to me and said “Play some Motown. We’re going to dance with these girls.” I’d been playing Motown throughout the night. They could have danced anytime. But now was the time that they wanted to dance… and now they would sweep in like knights on horseback and show the women who loved them why they came to this party in the first place.