Episode 14

Flashdance, Fashion, and Feminism - The 1980s!

Flashdance had a profound impact through fashion, dance, and as an example of woman's rights and independence. As a Steeltown girl myself, this was one of my favorite movies growing up and I hope that you enjoy seeing the modern day locations of this iconic 80's movie.

Video: Filming Locations of Flashdance

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Transcript
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[Music]

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to give ourselves cute

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greetings and welcome to the talk with

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History Podcast I am your host Scott

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here with my wife and historian Jen

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hello on this podcast we talk about

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history's continuing impact on us and

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our personal journey through YouTube as

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we continue to explore record and share

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our history walks with you

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with history or through our website talk

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with history.com

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also don't forget to check out our other

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podcast the history Buzz it's a little

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more relaxed when it's where we sit down

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and interview folks while chatting about

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history over a couple of drinks and we

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just let the conversation wander where

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it may it's a lot of fun

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[Music]

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if you love 80s movies music and the

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fashion that came with it all I think

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you're going to love today's topic

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Jen she's a Pittsburgh native and loves

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all those things I just mentioned

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so it's a natural fit that we're going

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to talk about one of the biggest movies

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of

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1983.10 what is the movie we're talking

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about today the last dance flash dance

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and why are we talking about Flash Dance

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well Flashdance had a huge impact on me

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as a young girl especially growing up

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in the 80s so much so that when I had an

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answering machine when people still had

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those and you could make your own

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recording part of it was that song just

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a steel town girl on a Saturday night

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looking for the time of her life that

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was on my answering machine yeah because

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it was so fitting for Pittsburgh girl

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and having fun because the movie

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Flashdance it takes place in Pittsburgh

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it takes place in Pittsburgh and it's

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really great in the 80s with the steel

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industry I mean she's a welder It just

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fits in with everything that's it is

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it's like the classic 80s movie it hits

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It's got good music it's it's it's so

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great and blue collar yeah right so we

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go in the video

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we go to a lot of those filming

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locations and for me that was a dream

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come true yeah that was that was super

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we try to recreate some of those we

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tried to recreate some of the shots like

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her biking to work you know across the

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bridge you know into the city like down

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the street around the corners and none

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of it had continuity because they're

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really looking for really great

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locations and scene settings in

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Pittsburgh and I talk about how she's

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not biking she's not living over here I

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think you said like she had the reason

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she has such great legs is because she's

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biking all over the entire city I love

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the city and like the Steep Pittsburgh

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Hills right and at one point one of the

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great scenes that they're going down the

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hill and it's right beside the hospital

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Allegheny hospital so you see a nurse

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walking up in the scene yeah and I tell

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you that's because she's right beside

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the hospital yeah and if you're if you

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haven't seen that episode go to our

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YouTube channel and look up and just

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search for Flashdance

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um but but we actually so we show the

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movie clip and then we show us doing

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that it's either is it that we should

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movie clip first and then we show you

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yeah so I so I so not only are you kind

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of standing in the spot where they

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filmed it but I'm trying to recreate as

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best I can with my amateur you know

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equipment and and technique to really

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recreate those shots it was just a dream

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come true for me it was super fun for a

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girl who always loved that movie yeah

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and we go to the Carnegie Museum where

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she it's supposed to be the ballet

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school in the movie and she gets

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intimidated filling out the application

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for ballet school she runs away she runs

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out yeah and so I kind of like recreate

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her running out and she's running out of

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the gallery basically of the museum yeah

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and again we try to recreate the shot so

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the move the shot in the movie is her

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running kind of that's the second floor

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and then it's like she must have to

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backtrack and then she's running the

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same

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way in the same distance on the bottom

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floor yeah yeah basically just to get a

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really good shot of that whole Gallery

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yeah but we recreate all that stuff

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right you're walking down down the thing

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I'm trying to do it where it's yeah the

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pillars are going by I'm doing the shot

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there yeah so it was and even like uh

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when she rides her bike up to the

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Carnegie Museum yes right in front so we

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talk about that's where she sees the

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ballet and she's leaving with Hannah and

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she sees uh Mick or she sees Nick with

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his ex-wife oh yeah you know so she's in

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front of the museum there so we talk

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about the front of the museum and the

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statues that are out there they use the

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Carnegie Museum for everything that's

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where she does her the side of the

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museum is where she does her dance

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practice Yeah right so they use that

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whole museum for a bunch of different

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things uh but it was really fun we go to

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like Hannah's house yeah which is still

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there I mean it's still like the house

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it's I mean it's it's awesome we've

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barely changed yeah there there's no

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Portico anymore and there's no Ivy yep

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on the side of the building we ride the

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Duquesne Incline that was neat that was

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neat and we talked about her riding the

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incline with her bicycle and if you're

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not familiar with Pittsburgh again let

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me let me step back and paint the

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picture so the decane incline and

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correct me if I'm wrong Jen but let me

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see if I I've actually learned something

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while we were out there filming they

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used to use it for the coal miners and

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they would transport all these materials

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up this super Steep Hill so if again if

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you're not if you've never been to

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Pittsburgh or certain parts of

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Pennsylvania

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very common for super steep hills there

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which is Nightmare driving in the

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wintertime

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um super steep hills super sharp turns

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so they're The Duquesne Incline it was

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actually originally to help transport

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materials and equipment and this that

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and the other up this super steep hill

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and then it basically turned into a

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tourist attraction yeah and then people

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would take it home after work and things

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like that so it was used for that as

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well and so most people

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Pittsburgh is on Three Rivers it's

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connected there's

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there's Bridges they call it the city of

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bridges because there's so many bridges

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that go across the rivers that kind of

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connect the whole city together yeah so

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you have the Monongahela

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the Allegheny in the Ohio

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and those are the three rivers that make

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up the and we used to have Three Rivers

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Stadium there and so all of that area is

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Pittsburgh all around those rivers and

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all around those bridges and it's very

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Steep and it's very hilly and The

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Duquesne Incline it has a beautiful view

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it's where we shoot the very last um

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scene yeah at the top of it if you ever

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go to visit Pittsburgh I mean you should

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go do it it's it's pretty neat it's not

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like some fast ride it's very slow you

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know in the movie she actually uses it

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and she takes her bicycle she uses it to

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take her bicycle she's going to see

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Hannah she's ridden all she's written

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all over the city all over the city up

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these Hills and around the corners and

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she doesn't want to ride a little bit

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further you know up the hill but I get

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it

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so for a young girl to see this movie

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right Alex is supposed to be 18. she's a

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welder her dream is to be in the ballet

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but she's uh she's a welder by day and

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then she dances at night and she she

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dances in a place where it's not

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nudity yeah so it's not quite a strip

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club that's quite a gentleman's club

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yeah she dances and but that's kind of

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her way to kind of keep her dream alive

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yeah to practice her love dancing on

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stage with like the super uber famous

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you know scene with the water scene you

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know she drops of water on herself yes

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like the bucket of water on herself and

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dances around like and that scene I mean

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the weight of that water must have been

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intense it has a lot of water it's a lot

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of water that's a lot of weight

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um but so here we have like this

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conflict yeah right where oh not only is

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she doing a job that is a predominantly

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male job in a huge industry in

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Pittsburgh Pennsylvania especially then

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especially then you can imagine the

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money she would be making now at that

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at that age she wouldn't be a full

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welder she'd be an apprentice welder but

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you would still be making a ton of money

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based on her age yeah you can talk about

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it yeah based on her age because you

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have to have so many years experience

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welding to to be a master welder and so

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Apprentice welder but you're still

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making a ton of money Pittsburgh is a

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city of Steel yeah it's this welding

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everywhere and so we go to the location

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where she's working and she gets the

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sandwich yeah her lunch her lunch break

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yeah and you see all this the steel yeah

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and it was very interesting again kind

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of from a behind the scenes perspective

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so that's definitely that's absolutely

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the spot but the building has actually

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been kind of added on to a little bit

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and so we really had to kind of do some

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double takes because I was trying to

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recreate this shot and I couldn't quite

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get it to match because there's like a

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different building in the background now

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where there wasn't back then and they've

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built on they've kind of added this uh

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kind of truck dock station

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um actually on to the onto the building

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where she was next to so we do like the

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best job we can but like there's just I

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mean think about it was filmed you know

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in the early 80s it was released in

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1983. sure and uh here we are 40 years

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later which is crazy

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um and uh

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you know and so so the the cities change

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so the city's changed yeah so

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and here She Wants to Be a Dance she

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wants to be a ballet dancer so she wants

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to be a classically trained ballet

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dancer and the whole premise is she

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hasn't had any schooling right right and

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so she meets a guy and this is you know

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this movie I think does a lot for

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feminism but it also does a lot from

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misogyny it absolutely does it's super

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80s in that we're in that way because

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here's this guy who comes sees her dance

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yeah he's like oh she's hot and he and

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his friend tells him her social security

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number oh does he really and he goes

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what is that her phone number he goes to

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her social security number she works for

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you and it's like dude how do you have

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her social security number memorized

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like are you stalking her I forgot about

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that like you you know her you have her

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social security number just you can just

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rattle it off so there's some issues

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there right so then he sees her the next

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day and he's like I saw you dancing and

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she's like what like okay so that's kind

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of how they start talking and yeah

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there's some issues right and then they

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start dating they start dating and she

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kind of lets him in on her dream right

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like I want to study ballet it's always

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been my dream and then he

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being her boss of a welding industry you

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can imagine he has money heck yeah so he

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has connections and this is the art and

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culture of Pittsburgh so he has

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connections to that ballet industry and

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so he tries to help her get an audition

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and she loses her mind because she

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doesn't want help right she wants to do

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everything on her own feels like our

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daughter

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I she doesn't want help she can do it by

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herself she doesn't need anybody's help

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she's she's gone she's come this far on

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her own like you don't really get into

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family background but she's you can

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pretty much she's independent and

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isolated yeah right she's in Pittsburgh

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she's living in a where I mean I don't

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know how they can

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like I don't know how they can

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symbolize any more than that yeah that

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you're more alone and on your own than

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that

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so she gets upset that he helped her and

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because of that she doesn't want to do

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the audition right and so he really is

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passionate he is in the end of a good

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guy and he's really passionate that

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if you don't follow your dream you die

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and all I did was get you the audition

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you've got to get into this point and

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there's and there's there's part of the

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conflict is too is like she sees him

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with his ex-wife right because they have

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some business dealing or something like

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or some prior commitment ballet

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committee together because she sees him

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at the ballet right and he wasn't doing

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anything bad he was just literally there

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she's of course jealous and you know she

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doesn't want to be taken for a fool

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right and then she has a best friend who

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is also following her dream of being in

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the ice capades that's right and she

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falls and doesn't get into the ice

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capades and she basically throws

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everything away and starts working at

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the strip club and then doesn't she kind

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of encourage then from there she

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encourages her like hey you need to

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follow your dream do your thing well

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she's she just she gets her friend out

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of the strip club and she realizes how

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far her friend has lost her Focus yeah

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because she's lost her chance and so I

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think she sees all of that and

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goes for the audition and what I love

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about the audition

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is first of all the auditions filmed in

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La not even filmed in Pittsburgh so yeah

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there's there's big chunks if you look

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it up so actually

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this one wasn't as difficult to research

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for locations because there's a there's

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a website that that does a lot of this

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stuff yes and we were able to find a

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good portion of them some of them we

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kind of had to do some hunting yes

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because Nick's house is in La yeah yeah

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the where she dances is in La it's

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actually like a Bob Hope Center because

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if you look on the wall there's all

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these pictures of service members and

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it's actually a Uso Bob Hope Center that

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she dances at and

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I I think her Warehouse place is

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actually in La like so a couple of these

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places they actually filmed in the bar

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I'm pretty sure is is oh yeah not in

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Pittsburgh either so a couple of these

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places are not yeah local

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but one of the cool things and of course

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is the dance yeah right so at the very

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end of the song and I think the song was

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nominated for the Oscar I think it wins

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the Oscar What a Feeling yeah I think

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that song in Maniac we're both nominated

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yes and What a Feeling wins right but um

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so she dances at the end and of course

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you're watching this girl who has had no

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training whatsoever Rock This Dance and

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then would you come to find out is

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actually three people actually four

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people yeah do this dance before

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including her including her yeah do this

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dance so here's a person who's

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pretending to not have any dance and

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actually this so it's the the dancer who

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does all the dancing right the

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professional the professional who her

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face is kind of skewed in most things

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because Jennifer Beal is not a dancer so

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there's a woman who does all of her

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dancing and then there's a gymnast

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so they have a gymnast do the leap yeah

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yeah she has like this beautiful perfect

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Super Famous shot yeah just a gymnast

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for that one shot and then you have a

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break dancer right who's actually a guy

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yeah who's doing the break dance move

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and so and then you have some Jennifer

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Beal so you have four people creating

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this one dance

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of a person who's never took and dance

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in their life yeah that was great and

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and part of the and one of the things

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about this movie too as I was as I was

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editing it and things like that

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[Music]

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it was all the different kind of fashion

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that came out of this so the fashion was

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like so there's the there's the movie if

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you Google Flashdance if you've never

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seen it if you've never seen it

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after you're done listening to this

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podcast go go watch Google it because I

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can just the off the shoulder yeah the

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the holes that's that's from her that's

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all from Flash and didn't she kind of do

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some of that hers so she claims that she

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cut the hole so basically she said she

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couldn't fit her head in her sweatshirt

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it was too small so she cut the hole and

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they just kind of went with it hung off

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her shoulder yeah and they just kind of

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went with that and that's that's the

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move that's the cover of the movie yeah

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and she wears the rat of jeans yeah and

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this changes fashion for the 80s like

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yeah and then she did the leggings the

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wart like the warm-up leggings yes with

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like the leotards she wore those like on

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from the calf down yes like it's just so

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great so much fashion influence from

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this movie and you might think well no

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that was 80s no that was Flash Dance

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yeah like people think that the chicken

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came before the egg or no Flashdance

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came and then fashion caught up with it

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yeah it was like this whole kind of

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dance Jazzercise aerobic after

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Flashdance with the leg warmers and all

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that stuff but the cutting off of the

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sweatshirts hanging off your shoulder

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the holes in your jeans that's all

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Flashdance influence yeah it was it was

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it was really cool just kind of doing

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like finding pictures and and finding

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the shots and

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um and all this stuff and just there's

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so many classic scenes and classic shots

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in this movie and classic songs people

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still recreate the water on you still

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see that today recreate or Maniac people

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trying to like Yeah Yeah Chris Chris

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Farley you know for for my guy listeners

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out there you know Chris Farley and uh

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and what is it Tommy Boy yes right

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um you know so it's it's famous more

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than just outside of the 80s yes and

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it's so you get that it's the high it's

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the third highest grossing film of the

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80s so I was having this of 83 yeah so

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it's having this influence on people but

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the story of Alex is supposed to be

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based on a real character I think I

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talked about this that was very

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interesting so it's her name was Maureen

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martyr and she was a construction worker

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welder in Toronto yeah and she danced at

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night so just like Alex right and she's

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she sells her story

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for twenty three hundred dollars

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somebody in Hollywood Universal I don't

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remember wants to just kind of pitch it

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pitch the story so she sells it for

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twenty three hundred dollars so then

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when it's the third highest grossing

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movie of 83 she tries to come back yeah

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and get reimbursed like some back and

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money right and takes him to court and

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everything and the court finds no you're

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2300 by the way yeah you sign it away

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that's what you got to read that fine

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print yeah I mean it Crystal 200 million

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oh my gosh that's crazy 200 million

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dollars and so the court told her sorry

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I mean I don't even think they gave her

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even a kickback just to be nice probably

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not I mean legally they don't have to

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right that's kind of that's business

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right that's if you sign it away you

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know it could have been it could have

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never made it into a movie at all and

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she would have made twenty three hundred

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dollars but it did and it became an

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enormously influential and popular movie

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sure and so we talk about its influences

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on feminism yes so I talked a lot about

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the bicycle yeah right because Susan B

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Anthony was very

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adamant about women learning how to

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Bicycle she wanted the bicycle to be the

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symbol of the feminist movement and she

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wanted that because it showed women

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having real Independence in their

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transportation because at the time women

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were very much

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you just had to be

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whatever you're Reliant yeah you're

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reliant on your husband or your

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significant other or whatever yeah

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whatever they had for a carriage or

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maybe a trolley you know so it wasn't

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like you're reliant on mass

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transportation you don't have your own

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individual it was very symbolic right

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the bicycle kind of became the symbol I

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mean they were like when I was again

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when I was looking at pictures yeah of

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kind of the women's right rights

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movements and stuff like that

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um they were they're posing there with

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their bicycles yeah so you it's so

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evident in the movie another like

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another symbolism she's bicycling

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everywhere in this movie she doesn't

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have a car she could easily afford a car

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she's a welder she was making 1980s

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actually making really good money in

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Pittsburgh Pennsylvania she could buy a

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car but she's not she's using her 10

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speed from her dance studio at night in

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the rain right at one point Nick is

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following her in his Porsche and she's

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bicycling home in in the rain so they

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make a point to really show this symbol

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yeah that she's that she's independent

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they drive that that's if there's one

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theme that they're driving through this

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right it's being independent and for her

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following her dream yes following her

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dreams so that that's the whole momentum

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here is that you're there it's a huge

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influence in pop culture is following

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your dreams maybe sometimes you do need

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help from other people it's okay to take

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the help from other people yeah the

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story of struggle yes we all need help

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every now and then that's okay you can

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still make your dreams come true and you

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know that you need people to believe in

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you in the end but I think the biggest

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thing is like opportunity when it meets

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preparation yes equals success

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absolutely and I think that's kind of

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what it was trying to show there like

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she's still doing it on her own because

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she was prepared for that moment right

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she had the opportunity she got it the

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opportunity from help but her

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preparation led to her success so I

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think

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that was the huge message that they were

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trying to get across especially for

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women in the early 80s you can do it

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yeah you know make sure you're prepared

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for when opportunity presents itself to

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you yeah and there was there was one

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other thing before we finish up that I

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want to talk about that I thought was

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really neat

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and that was the crossing guard oh yeah

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so we we go there the crossing guard

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what was this do you remember his name

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that's right and so I actually was able

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to find like original old footage on

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YouTube of vixianka he did it for 30

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years he did it so and if if you again

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if you haven't seen the movie finish

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this podcast then go watch the movie if

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you have seen the movie if you remember

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when she's crossing the street with her

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friend and they're kind of being playful

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with their play being playful with this

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crossing guard who's making him he's got

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very big arm movements and he you could

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you can tell he's got white gloves and

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he's being very he's having fun with it

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right he's kind of a little bit of a

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character sure but I didn't realize like

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he was a Pittsburgh staple yes for 30

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years he did that because you can

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imagine the traffic at rush hour yeah

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and he's he directed traffic for 30

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years getting people in and out of the

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city now that location was actually

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difficult to find very difficult because

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things have changed we we we're pretty

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sure we found the right spot where we

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were filming someone I think came back

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to us later and said hey no he actually

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used to stand over here that's where the

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shot is we're at

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537th Avenue were raid by the the

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Benedum theater yeah

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um word wood and Liberty like we're

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right there but I think the person said

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maybe it was Atwood and Liberty yeah I

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think we're like once again things have

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changed Bridges have been updated and

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stuff like that right since the you know

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the early 80s

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um but that was just such kind of a neat

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little tribute to to Pittsburgh history

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yes and he was in maybe so we say good

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that's right that's right he was a Navy

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guy

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um and little things like that are for

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me always kind of like a real pleasant

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surprise because here's this neat

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piece of History this neat character he

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wasn't seeking fame right he was just

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serving his community he was a police

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officer he was directing traffic and

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here here he is and now he's featured in

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a movie and he had he was well known

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before that right and now here he is

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cemented and another classic That's a

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classic scene it's not a big scene it

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doesn't really contribute too much to

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the story other than she's just having

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fun around Pittsburgh and here's his

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crossing guard they're being playful and

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he's having a good he's being playful

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right back that was just to me that was

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just like something that I that I took a

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lot of joy out of yeah just like it

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shows you very Community oriented

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Pittsburgh is just that loves its people

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yeah and he's got like classic 80s

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mustache oh man he's got the Tom Selleck

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mustache all day and he's pulling it off

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like a champ it was that that was just a

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ton of fun for me like that little piece

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I just got a ton of enjoyment out I

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loved filming this one I just loved

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being in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania it was

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fun it was fun driving her on Pittsburgh

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and again it's just such a fun movie so

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again if you haven't ever seen the movie

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or you haven't seen our video

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stop listening to this podcast once

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you're done go watch our video then go

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watch the movie

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um but because it's just such a blast

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it's a classic 80s movie and and filming

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it and driving around Pittsburgh was a

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ton of fun

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so Flash Dance was not only a great

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movie that showed how women and their

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independence were on the rise

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shifting out of that era of the 50s 60s

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and 70s

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but some of the underlying messages of

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women's rights and feminism while not

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giving up what makes them unique as a

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woman is what Flashdance is truly about

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that

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and that a steel town girl can still

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love a guy that loves her enough to not

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let her dreams die

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so thank you again for listening to the

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talk with History Podcast and please

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reach out to us at our website talk with

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history.com but more importantly if you

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know someone else that might enjoy this

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podcast any of these fans out there

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please share this with them especially

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if you think today's topic would

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interest a friend shoot him a text and

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tell them to look up the talk with

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History Podcast because we rely on you

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our community to grow and we appreciate

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you all every day and thank you Scott

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for loving the skilletown girl enough to

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not let her dreams die we'll talk to you

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next time

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[Music]

About the Podcast

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Talk With History
A Historian and Navy Veteran talk about history inspired travels, their YouTube channel journey, and examine history through conversations with the curious, the explorers, and the history lovers out there

About your host

Profile picture for Scott Bennie

Scott Bennie

Host of the Talk With History podcast, Producer over at Walk with History on YouTube, Editor of the Hashtag Historic newsletter.