Save the Last Dance

USA | 2001 | 112 mins | PG

Sara (Julia Stiles) is moved from a small Midwestern town to the south side of Chicago when her mother dies in a car accident, and must live with her father. She soon falls for an African American teenager (Sean Patrick Thomas) at her new high school and he has less than an idyllic past. They share a love for dance (ballet and hip hop respectively) and together they tackle the problems that go with an interracial relationship.

Director: Thomas Carter
Cast: Julia Stiles, Sean Patrick Thomas, Kerry Washington


New city. New life. New school. New vocabulary. New… perspectives on 21st century race politics? This month, Hold Up is celebrating a movie as iconic as Julia Stiles’ blue and red sneakers (seriously, I’ve googled them so many times, can anyone help me find a pair?) Save The Last Dance (2001) is an exceptional highlight of 2000’s era teen movies, with a legendary soundtrack, unforgettable dance moves, and a healthy dose of cultural appropriation – just like the real 2000’s!

Sarah (Julia Stiles) is a Midwestern white girl who moves to a predominately black neighbourhood of Chicago. Her new boyfriend, Derek (Sean Patrick Thomas), a black teen from the South Side, tries to invite her into his life by taking her to Steps, a cool – no, slammin’ – local hip hop club. Everything about them seems to be different; their language, their music, their dance styles, but with the help of Derek’s sister Chenille (Kerry Washington), Sara learns to code switch just enough to get by. When Derek learns about her traumatic past, and her hidden talents as a ballet dancer, he helps her prepare for her upcoming audition to Juilliard, causing Sara to learn that the world isn’t always – wait for it – black and white. – ALICE ROSE

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