So if you don’t already know, I’m probably the biggest Dirty Dancing fan on the planet and that is no exaggeration. It kind of runs in the family. My Grammy passed down her love of Johnny and Baby’s story of dance and love to me, so I really can’t help myself. This movie was actually one of the big reasons I started dancing. The movie has many great themes but the biggest one is that anyone can learn how to dance, and that dance can completely change who you are as a person as well as your life course. I personally know this because dance has changed my life in so many ways. I’m a much more confident person, and I have goals and a passion towards something that I had never experienced prior to dancing. Anyway, enough of the deep stuff. Not only can I quote the entire movie as well as the dance moves, but everything from the music, to the location, to the clothes, Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey…I love it all. I am super lucky to live extremely close to the place where Dirty Dancing was filmed which is Lake Lure, NC.

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An alligator whisperer casually plucks a gator out of the water and lifts it above his head - in a scene reminiscent of Dirty Dancing. Tour guide Lance Lacrosse, 29, was recorded performing the stunt in a swamp in Louisiana, where he works as a tour guide. Amazed onlookers can be heard shouting in disbelief as he dives in the murky, alligator infested waters. And after emerging, he quickly begins playing with the gators as they snap inches from his head and hands. Lance told local media: "I don't disrespect them, I don't try to drag them out the water, hold them down, wrestle them. "As you seen in the video, I pick 'em up and put 'em right back down. I'm never rough with them.'' Lance's antics went viral after he was filmed feeding a marshmallow to a gator using his mouth - but has since been dissuaded from performing that particular stunt after it was pointed out to be against rules in the southern US state. However, Lance - who has been swimming with gators since the age of nine - says he uses quick hands to prevent the gators taking a bite out of him. The closest he has come to being badly maimed was when one nipped his finger. He was also chased back to the boat by a 10ft alligator who narrowly missed him with a snap of his jaw. Father-of-three Lance, from Marrero, Louisiana, told his local newspaper: "Half an alligator's body is his tail. So if he even nips me a little bit, he can drag me under water. "I make sure I got a good foot. When an alligator is coming up close to me, I'm going to reach my hand out under water and I'll judge, just right, to close his mouth. "I'm going to close the bottom. He can swim straight up to my face but I got his mouth closed. "So if he lunges at me, the only thing he can do is push me. He might get a little bit. But he's not going to get a big old face bite.'' Itai Etzman, who shot the spectacular video during a swamp tour last May, said: "Everyone on the boat reacted with shock when he jumped in. We were trying to make sense of what this guy was doing. "We weren't sure if this was a joke or not. There was one point where he had four large alligators approaching him at once and I was nervous as to how he would handle that situation. "The alligators swam up to him and attempted to take his face off. "I think after a couple of unsuccessful attempts, they got bored and left him alone. But he enticed them back for more with some splashing."

The first time I went to this lake was with one of my best friends whose grandparents have a lake house there. Aside from the fact that I was starstruck by the famous location because hello, Dirty Dancing, but the beauty of the area was incredible. The lake itself is surrounding by mountains, and the lake house was back in this little cove that was super private and beautiful. We had so much fun jumping off the boat house and getting thrown off the Gladiator (big tube that is extremely hard to hold on to while being jerked around by a boat, but super fun) and just relaxing in the sun with the beautiful lake view. We went there several summers in a row; it was always something I looked forward to.

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The second time I visited was when my boyfriend Luke and I hiked to Chimney Rock which is a park about two minutes before you reach the lake. The hike was incredible and overlooks the whole lake, town, and mountains. Read more about this hike on my post NC ViewsThis particular trip we didn’t see much of the lake part but we did enjoy dinner at La Strada which is an Italian restaurant that overlooks the Lake Lure Beach. We enjoyed some delicious pizza there that was much deserved after our intense hike.

This last weekend Luke took me back to Lake Lure for a day spent exploring the quaint town of Chimney Rock as well as spending an afternoon on the Lake Lure Beach. The little town of Chimney Rock is mostly a touristy spot full of rustic shops and general store type places, but there are many places to eat so it’s a great stop on your way to the lake. We checked out all the shops (where I picked up a super adorable Dirty Dancing tee) and then had lunch at a little restaurant right on the river called River Watch Bar and Grill.  We sat outside so we had a great view of the river and of Chimney Rock. Not only was the view fabulous, but so was our food! We decided to splurge that day and not eat healthy, so we ordered an appetizer of fried pickles (which I had never had before) and needless to say it was difficult to stop eating them. For my meal I got the Buffalo Shrimp Salad which was HUGE and so delicious, and Luke got the Hickory Bacon Burger which was also fabulous. One really awesome thing about this place is that they get their meat from Hickory Nut Gap which is completely grass-fed!

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After our lunch we headed towards the lake and stopped at the Lake Lure Flowering Bridge which is a gorgeous bridge that crosses the lake that is absolutely covered with beautiful flowers and artwork. It was like being in a beautiful enchanted garden with color bursting from every side.

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Around 4 pm. we finally reached the Lake Lure Beach. By this time in the afternoon it wasn’t super crowded which was really nice. We easily found a spot on this beautiful public lakeside beach that has a great view of the mountains on one side and of the Lake Lure Inn from Dirty Dancing on the other (only a super-fan would care about that). It was great to just lay in the sun with my love and cool off in the water whenever we got overheated. Definitely a wonderful place to spend a lazy afternoon.

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So the whole day I had been craving ice cream, so on our way back home we stopped in the Chimney Rock town for ice cream at the Hershey’s shop. They had so many flavors that it was hard to choose. I debated between the Graham Central Station (which was amazing with chunks of graham crackers) and the cotton candy (one of my all-time favorites). I ended up getting the cotton candy because I hadn’t had that in years, and Luke got the other kind so I had the best of both worlds.

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With our tummies REALLY full and our hearts happy we finally headed home. It was such a wonderful day and I’m already excited about my next trip back there. The Dirty Dancing Festival is coming up soon in August and I really hope that I get the chance to go, it looks like it’s going to be a blast!

Go have the time of your life,

Ashlyn Tori <3

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