‘Summer of Swayze’ at the Byrd Theatre: A Fundraiser


“If you want the ultimate, you’ve got to be willing to pay the ultimate price. It’s not tragic to die doing what you love.” — Bodhi, Point Break.

Since the dawn of mankind, disparate religions have contemplated the nature of heaven, the afterlife, and the ethereal beings who have guided humanity (for better or worse) — some cultures refer to them as angels or devas; the English poet John Milton, in his magnum opus Paradise Lost, said this in 1664: “Angels content with the face in heaven, Seek not the praise of men.” Whatever our collective views on the celestial hereafter might be, on September 14, 2009, heaven received in their ranks, one more angel — Patrick Swayze. A man who was no mere mortal but cut from the alabaster of the gods. A man who was ‘never seeking the praise of men,’ but was adored from the Sea of Japan to the shores of the Atlantic, and everywhere in between. A man who recognized that pain, indeed, did not hurt.

It is in this spirit that we bring you the Summer of Swayze at the Byrd Theatre, a continuation of our fundraiser series for one of the only three remaining Grand Cinema Palaces in the US — Swayze would have wanted this.

Swayze as Dalton in Roadhouse

Why is this important?

As many of you know, we have been showing a movie a month to support the restoration and revival of the Byrd Theatre. For those unfamiliar with the theatre, it has been showing movies in Carytown since 1928 and has been largely unchanged since then. However, to maintain the original architectural splendor from cinema’s golden age, the Byrd Foundation has to consistently fundraise, which now includes replacing the remaining seats on both side sections and in the balcony. Community support from moviegoers like yourselves is critical to ensuring that we can still enjoy classic cinema in a theatre that values classic cinema.

Summer of Swayze

From July to September, we will be showing three Swayzee films, starting with Road House (July 16), followed by Point Break (August 13), and Dirty Dancing (September 10). Why Swayze? Because in these times of political controversy, global turmoil, and heightened anxiety, we need People Magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive — 1991 — to bring a cool unflappability to our summer malaise. Not to mention the guilty pleasure of indulging in some of our favorite cult films.

Road House: July 16

Karate. Knife fights. A monster truck. Sweaty abs and chiseled pecs, and so much sex. And in the middle of all this, a legendary bar room bouncer with a degree in philosophy from NYU named Dalton, who cleans up corruption in a small Kansas town. That’s literally the movie. The fact that this film even exists is a testament to American culture dominance on so many levels — the 80s were wild, y’all.

There is, however, the proverbial elephant on screen; namely, Amazon’s butchered adaptation of this cherished film, released earlier this year. Despite the affront to nature and the natural order of things, this 1989 classic is where it all started. So if you have not seen the original, now is the time.

Point Break: August 13

Before Kathryn Bigelow was winning Oscars and becoming an acclaimed filmmaker, she was directing movies about bank-robbing surfers in LA known as the Ex-Presidents, led by Bodhi, aka, The Bodhisattva. This was peak Patrick Swayze at his most sublime (and most sexy).

Starring Swayze, Keanu Reeves, Lori Petty, and a masterful performance by Gary Busey, Point Break is more than just a genre-defining crime film; it is a way of life for those recognizing the genius of Swayze’s physicality and on-screen prowess in the 90s. Who else could so elegantly soliloquize the imminent danger of confrontation when Bodhi looked Warchild straight in the eyes and told him to “Back off, seriously”?

Dirty Dancing: September 10

Here is a piece of forgotten Virginia lore: Dirty Dancing was actually filmed at Mountain Lake Lodge in Pembroke, Virginia. Why the Commonwealth has chosen to overlook this piece of ephemeral cinematic history and not made it the centerpiece of its ongoing marketing efforts to attract tourists and top corporate talent to the state is beyond us; nevertheless, we have never forgotten that “Nobody puts Baby in a corner.”

Let’s also not forget that Swayze’s talents were on full display as the vocalist behind the film’s title track, “She’s Like the Wind.” Unclear who was like the wind, since Jennifer Grey’s character Baby could barely dance. A perfect movie to end the summer, and a perfect way to remember that there was a time when Hollywood eschewed sensitive men in touch with their feelings for guys whose only redeeming quality was that they were from the ‘wrong side of the tracks.’

Johnny Castle, you live forever in our hearts.

Join us at the Byrd for our Summer of Swayzee series and support local cinema. All ticket proceeds go straight to the Byrd Foundation for the preservation of the theatre. See you there.

RVA Staff

RVA Staff

Since 2005, the dedicated team at RVA Magazine, known as RVA Staff, has been delivering the cultural news that matters in Richmond, VA. This talented group of professionals is committed to keeping you informed about the events and happenings in the city.

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