Season One, Episode Nine: “Rory’s Dance”

Season 1, episode 9: “Rory’s Dance”
Original air date: December 20, 2000
Directed by: Lesli Linka Glatter
Written by: Amy Sherman-Palladino

IMDb summary: “Rory asks Dean to accompany her to a formal dance at Chilton, but the lovely evening is spoiled when they fall asleep together after the dance, leading to a fight between Rory’s grandmother and her mom over who has been a worse mother” (IMDb).

Indigenous Land Acknowledgement: In beginning my work on this guide, I’ve come to realize just how many references (however subtle) Gilmore Girls contains to the Revolutionary War and the colonial history of the United States. It is important and necessary to acknowledge the people whose lands were usurped when these events took place, though this is not a simple question. Please visit the main page to view the results of my research and read the full acknowledgment.

All References in Chronological Order

+  reference – 00:15
RORY: Did you know that the cell that Václav Havel was held in is now a hostel? You can stay there for, like, $50 a night. Hey, maybe on our big trip to Europe we could go to Prague and stay in a cell.
LORELAI: Absolutely, and then we should go to Turkey and stay in that place from Midnight Express.
— Václav Havel (1936-2011) “was a Czech statesman, writer and former dissident, who served as the last President of Czechoslovakia from 1989 until the dissolution of Czechoslovakia in 1992 and then as the first President of the Czech Republic from 1993 to 2003. As a writer of Czech literature, he is known for his plays, essays, and memoirs” (Wikipedia). His activities as a political dissident in the late ’60s through ’80s resulted in multiple periods of imprisonment, with the longest being from 1979 to 1983.
Midnight Express is a 1978 neo noir drama film directed by Alan Parker and based on Billy Hayes’ 1977 book of the same name. Though the film deviates from the book in some aspects, both tell of Hayes’ experience when, as a young US student in Turkey, he is caught trying to smuggle hashish out of the country and is sent to a Turkish prison.

feature – 01:45
RORY: I’m gonna go get another Coke.
At 27:40, a can of what appears to be off-brand diet cola is visible on the coffee table next to Lorelai. The package design is nearly identical to Coca-Cola’s, but the can reads “Diet Cola” rather than “Diet Coke” as one would expect.
— Cola is a “carbonated soft drink flavored with vanilla, cinnamon, citrus oils and other flavorings. Most contain caffeine” (Wikipedia). Coca-Cola, or Coke, is the brand name cola manufactured by the Coca-Cola Company. It was invented in the late 19th century by John Stith Pemberton as a temperance drink, an alternative to alcoholic beverages. Its name comes from two of its original ingredients: coca leaves (from which cocaine is derived) and kola nuts (the drink’s original source of caffeine).
— Like McDonald’s (previously mentioned), the Coca-Cola brand is highly globalized and considered by many to be symbolic of US culture. The term “cocacolonization” emerged in post-World War II Europe to critique such globalization.

reference – 02:00
LORELAI: Mom, I promise. All I ever said to her about dances is that you go, you dance, you have punch, you eat, you take a picture, and then you get auctioned off to a biker gang from Sausalito.
— Lorelai may be referring to the US film The Born Losers (1967, dir. T. C. Frank), in which a motorcycle gang terrorizes a California beach town, raping four teenage girls and abducting a young woman. The story is based on a real-life incident from 1964, in which members of the Hells Angels motorcycle club were arrested for raping two teenage girls in Monterey, California.
— The film introduces Tom Laughlin as Billy Jack, a fictional half-Navajo Vietnam War veteran. The character would appear in four more films, including the eponymous Billy Jack (1971).
— Sausalito and Monterey are both coastal communities in California. However, Sausalito is located on the coast of Richardson Bay four miles north of San Francisco, and Monterey is located on the coast of Monterey Bay 120 miles south of San Francisco.

reference – 02:40
RORY: No, but I can imagine it.
LORELAI: That’s true. However, not really. Since you’ve never actually been to one, you’re basing all your dance opinions on one midnight viewing of Sixteen Candles.
Sixteen Candles (1984) is a US teen comedy film directed by John Hughes in his directorial debut. At one point in the film, high school sophomore Sam (Molly Ringwald) attends a dance. She has a miserable experience standing on the sidelines, pining after an unattainable popular boy as he slow dances with his girlfriend. Then geeky freshman Ted (Anthony Michael Hall) embarrasses Sam publicly and lies to his friends that they are dating.

mention – 03:00
RORY: Since none of the kids at school like me, I’ll be standing in the back listening to 98 Degrees, watching Tristan and Paris argue over which one of them gets to make me miserable first.
— 98 Degrees (stylized 98°) is a US pop and R&B vocal group. They were among the wave of vocal groups, led by the Backstreet Boys and NSYNC, to become popular in the late ’90s/early 2000s boy band era. However, “unlike most boy bands, they formed independently and were later picked up by a record label, rather than being assembled by a label or a producer” (Wikipedia). Boy bands were also mentioned in episode three at 22:55.
— The lead singer of 98 Degrees, Nick Lachey, would later be known for his marriage to pop singer Jessica Simpson, and for their MTV reality show Newlyweds: Nick and Jessica (2003-2005).

mention – 03:10
LORELAI: Okay. Or it’ll be all sparkly and exciting, and you’ll be standing on the dance floor listening to Tom Waits with some great-looking guy staring at you so hard that you don’t even realize that Paris and Tristan have just been eaten by bears.
— Tom Waits (born Thomas Waits, 1949) is a US musician and actor. “His lyrics often focus on the underbelly of society and are delivered in his trademark deep, gravelly voice. He worked primarily in jazz during the 1970s, but his music since the 1980s has reflected greater influence from blues, rock, vaudeville, and experimental genres” (Wikipedia)

reference – 05:35
RORY: He’s not my boyfriend.
LANE: Really?
LANE: What is he then?
RORY: He’s my…gentleman caller.
LANE: Okay, Blanche.
— Lane’s retort may be an allusion to the work of US playwright Tennessee Williams. In his 1944 play The Glass Menagerie, a middle-aged Southern belle obsesses over finding a suitor (or “gentleman caller,” as she puts it) for her daughter. The play draws on some of Williams’ earlier work, including a screenplay called The Gentleman Caller. However, the name Blanche does not appear in The Glass Menagerie, but rather in Williams’ 1947 play A Streetcar Named Desire.
— While most sources assume Lane is confusing the two plays, I imagine the name “Blanche” simply conveys her meaning more effectively. “Gentleman caller” is the type of prim, demure phrasing a Southern belle would use, and the name “Blanche” is synonymous with Southern belles. Even people who are unfamiliar with theater may know of The Golden Girls‘ flirtatious Blanche Devereaux, an archetypal Southern belle inspired by Blanche DuBois of A Streetcar Named Desire and Scarlett O’Hara of Gone with the Wind (1939). The mother in The Glass Menagerie is named Amanda, but that name isn’t readily identified with the play or with Southern belles, and a reference to it would likely only confuse viewers.
— The phrase “gentleman caller” refers to the custom of making (unannounced) social calls to friends and acquaintances, especially prior to widespread adoption of the telephone. A “gentleman” caller implies old-fashioned courtship rituals.

mention – 06:25
LANE: Because I have to go home soon, and my mom threw out our TV when she caught me watching V.I.P.
— V.I.P.
is a US action and comedy-drama series that ran from 1998 to 2002. Pamela Anderson “stars as Vallery Irons, a woman who accidentally saves a celebrity and then is hired by a real bodyguard agency (V.I.P. aka Vallery Irons Protection) as a famous figurehead while the rest of the agency’s professionals work to solve cases. Her lack of investigation skills ends up defeating the antagonists in every episode” (Wikipedia).

mention – 09:35
SOOKIE: Hey, you know what, I got an ACE bandage in my bag. I’m not sure how we can wrap it, but maybe we can do something kind of creative, and–
LORELAI: Sookie.

SOOKIE: Okay. I got Percodan, Vicodin, Darvocet, and uh– Well, take this one. It’s a muscle relaxer. Very mild, I promise.
— ACE is a brand of injury care products. Foremost among these is the elastic bandage, a stretchable covering designed to reduce swelling and inflammation at the site of an injury by applying localized pressure. The company selected the name ACE in 1918 as an acronym for All Cotton Elastic. ACE Brand is a trademark of the 3M Company, the same company that produces Post-it notes.
— Percodan is a brand name pain medication containing aspirin and oxycodone hydrochloride (an opioid).
— Vicodin is a brand name pain medication containing acetaminophen and hydrocodone bitartrate (also an opioid). On its own, acetaminophen is sometimes sold under the brand name Tylenol.
— Darvocet is a brand name pain medication containing acetaminophen and propoxyphone (once again, an opioid). It was banned by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2010, citing negative effects on the heart.
— Percodan, Vicodin, and Darvocet all contain powerful narcotic ingredients with a high potential for addiction. Presumably Sookie carries these medications because she is so accident prone, and uses them as directed by a physician. In real life, however, carrying a pharmacy in one’s handbag could indicate a chemical dependency problem. Also, it is illegal to share prescription medications.

reference – 10:40
EMILY: And regret can make you bitter. You want Rory to be bitter?
LORELAI: Well, sort of.
EMILY: Lorelai!
LORELAI: What, mom? She can make some cash off of it. Become a crazy Oscar Levant kind of celebrity, go on talk shows, heckle Regis.
— Oscar Levant (1906-1972) was a US concert pianist, composer, conductor, actor, and radio and television personality. “Though he was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for recordings featuring his piano performances, he was as famous for his mordant character and witticisms” (Wikipedia). John Kieran, a fellow panelist on the radio quiz show Information Please, credited Levant with a “positive genius for making offhand cutting remarks that couldn’t have been sharper if he’d honed them a week in his mind. Oscar was always good for a bright response edged with acid.”
— Regis Philbin (1931-2020) was a US television presenter and host. He and Kathie Lee Gifford co-hosted the morning talk show Live! with Regis and Kathie Lee from 1988 to 2001. At this point, Kelly Ripa joined the show, making it Live! with Regis and Kelly. Philbin also hosted the popular US version of the game show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire from 1999 to 2002. He holds the Guinness World Record for the most hours on US television.

reference – 11:10
EMILY: You’re making her dress?
EMILY: You’re not using the curtains, are you?
— Scarlett O’Hara, the protagonist of Gone with the Wind (1939, dir. Victor Fleming), finds herself impoverished following the US Civil War. Desperate for money to pay the taxes on her family’s plantation, she pays a visit to an old social connection to appeal for funds. Wishing to conceal her poverty, and lacking suitable clothing or money for materials, she makes a dress from the heavy velvet drapes in her home. These events also occur in Margaret Mitchell’s 1936 novel upon which the film is based. The film’s costumes, including the “curtain dress,” were designed by Walter Plunkett.
— The scene was famously parodied in a sketch called “Went with the Wind!” from a 1976 episode of The Carol Burnett Show.

reference – 12:45
TRISTAN: You know, the guy’s supposed to buy the tickets.
RORY: Really? Does Susan Faludi know about this?
— Susan Faludi (born 1959) is a US feminist, author, and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist. She is probably best known for her 1991 book Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women. At the time of this episode, she had also written about men’s issues in Stiffed: The Betrayal of the American Man (1999).

reference – 13:20
TRISTAN: Well, look, okay, I’ll confess something to you. I don’t have a date.
RORY: Well, I hear Squeaky Fromme’s up for parole soon. You should keep a good thought.
— Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme (born 1948) was a member of the Manson family, the violent criminal cult led by Charles Manson. Though she was not involved in the group’s most infamous killings (the Tate-LaBianca murders of 1969), she was sentenced to life in prison after attempting to assassinate President Gerald Ford in 1975. She first became eligible for parole in 2005, five years after this episode aired, and was ultimately released in 2009.

feature – 13:55
Rory reads The Group by Mary McCarthy as she waits in line to buy tickets to the dance. The cover of the book is visible when she reaches the front of the line and buys tickets from Paris.
The Group is a 1963 novel by US author Mary McCarthy. The book follows the lives of eight female friends, known to their classmates as “the group,” following their graduation from Vassar College. A film adaptation directed by Sidney Lumet was released in 1966.

reference – 14:00
PARIS: I don’t have enough change.
RORY: Hit me later.
PARIS: What am I, your Versateller?
— Versateller was Bank of America’s name for their automated teller machines (ATMs), or cash machines, in the 1980s. Curiously, a Bank of America webpage detailing the history of their ATMs does not mention Versateller machines. However, they are showcased in Bank of America’s vintage television advertisements.
— Bank of America was mentioned by name in the last episode at 20:50.

+ reference – 16:25
EMILY: “We’re in here”? That’s how you open the door?
LORELAI: Well, I was all out of Saran wrap.
— Saran wrap is a trade name for a polyethylene food wrap, or clingfilm: a thin, transparent plastic wrap that clings to surfaces and to itself, used to store and preserve food. The product was discovered in 1933 by a lab worker, Ralph Wiley, employed by Dow Chemical Company. The trade name “Saran” is currently owned by S.C. Johnson & Son.
The Total Woman, a 1973 self-help book aimed at married women, is perhaps best known for instructing women to greet their husbands at the front door wearing only Saran wrap. However, this is a long-standing myth. While the author Marabel Morgan, an evangelical Christian and anti-feminist, does tell women to greet their husbands wearing sexy costumes, the Saran wrap tip does not appear in the book. Her actual suggestions include “a pixie or a pirate–a cowgirl or a showgirl.” This book somehow became the best-selling non-fiction title in the United States in 1974.
— There is a 1977 episode of the sitcom Maude called “Feminine Fulfillment” in which Vivian opens her front door wearing only a trench coat and Saran wrap. She is expecting her husband but finds herself greeting her friend, Maude, a staunch feminist who likens Vivian’s behavior to Total Woman. Maude and Vivian are played by Bea Arthur and Rue McClanahan, respectively. Both would go on to star on The Golden Girls (1985-1992).
— Lorelai is probably referring to a better-known example from the 1991 film Fried Green Tomatoes (dir. Jon Avnet). In the film, dissatisfied housewife Evelyn Couch (Kathy Bates) attempts to revive passion in her marriage by greeting her husband at their front door wearing only plastic wrap. The film is based on the 1987 novel Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg, who also co-wrote the screenplay. The script for Fried Green Tomatoes actually refers to the plastic wrap as “cellophane,” but it is unlikely that Evelyn is using true cellophane. Cellophane is more crinkly than plastic wrap, does not cling, and is used primarily for packaging party favors or commercial products. It is made from viscose, or wood pulp, and is biodegradable, while Saran wrap is oil-based and recyclable.

mention – 16:40
EMILY: I want to be all ready for the big entrance. How’s the light in here? Never mind. I’ll just take one with the flash and one without to make sure we’ve got it right.
LORELAI: Wow, mom, look at you. You’d think Ann Taylor was having a sale or something.
— Ann Taylor is a US women’s retail chain emphasizing classic, conservative styles and office apparel. The brand was founded in 1954 by Richard Liebeskind. “‘Ann Taylor’ was the name of a best-selling dress at Liebeskind’s father’s store. … Liebeskind decided to go with the name Ann Taylor because Ann was considered a very New England name, and Taylor evoked the image of tailored clothing. The name supposedly created the ideal identity of classic women’s apparel” (Wikipedia).

reference – 19:30
LORELAI: Hey, Dean. Meet my mother, Emily Post.
— Emily Post (born Emily Price, 1872-1960) was a US author and socialite, famous for her writing about etiquette. Her best-selling 1922 book Etiquette in Society, in Business, in Politics, and at Home established her as an authority on the subject, and she founded The Emily Post Institute in 1946. Her name remains synonymous with formal manners and modes of behavior.

mention – 21:05
EMILY: I’ll go start some tea. Please tell me you have something besides Lipton.
— Lipton is a British brand of tea named for its founder, Sir Thomas Lipton. Lipton was once a supermarket chain in the United Kingdom, but the grocery side of the business was rebranded in 1982 after the company was acquired by Agyll Foods, and the Lipton name was dedicated to tea. Today, the brand is owned by Unilever and PepsiCo.
— Emily likely objects to Lipton on the grounds that it is a prepackaged, ready-to-drink grocery store brand of tea–not up to her standards.

reference – 21:30
RORY: And these kids at school? Awful. Have you seen The Outsiders?
DEAN: Yeah, I have.
RORY: Just call me Ponyboy.
The Outsiders (dir. Francis Ford Coppola) is a 1983 US coming-of-age film about the rivalry between two teenage gangs: the working class “greasers” and the wealthier Socs, or Socials. The main protagonist is a sensitive 14-year-old greaser named Ponyboy Curtis, who, like Rory, has a love of reading. The film is noted for its ensemble cast of then-up-and-coming stars, including Tom Cruise, Matt Dillon, Emilio Estevez, Diane Lane, Rob Lowe, Ralph Macchio, and Patrick Swayze.
— The film is based on S. E. Hinton’s 1967 novel of the same name. Hinton wrote the book when she was 15 and 16 years old, and it was published when she was 18.

mention – 22:25
EMILY: I’m trying to find the candlesticks I bought you.
LORELAI: What candlesticks?
EMILY: The Baccarat candlesticks I bought you last year for Christmas.
— Baccarat Crystal is a producer of fine crystal glassware located in Baccarat, France. The company’s history can be traced back to 1764, during the reign of King Louis XV of France. Today, the company owns two crystal glass museums, both named Musée Baccarat, located in Baccarat and Paris, respectively.

feature – 23:40
“We’re All Light” by XTC
Scene context: Emily finishes scolding Lorelai for her choice in home decor, and the scene transitions to Rory and Dean’s arrival at the dance. The song continues as Madeline and Louise approach to investigate the Dean situation.
— From the 2000 album Wasp Star (Apple Venus Volume 2). This album is featured prominently in the second episode at 00:40 and 00:45.

 reference – 24:25
LOUISE: Who’s the dish?
MADELINE: Beats me.
LOUISE: He’s not from the manor born, that’s for sure.
— The phrase “to the manner born” indicates that one is “destined to be suited to something, by virtue of birth or custom and practise” (Phrase Finder). It was likely first used by William Shakespeare in his 1602 play Hamlet: “HORATIO: Is it a custom? / HAMLET: Ay, marry, is’t: / But to my mind, though I am native here / And to the manner born, it is a custom / More honour’d in the breach than the observance.”
— The variation “to the manor born” does not appear in print until much later, and it is unknown whether the change in spelling is a deliberate play on words or a malapropism. This is the meaning Louise more likely intends, as it “stresses manorial birth, that is, it refers to someone born into the nobility.”
— The latter version was further popularized by the British sitcom To the Manor Born (1979-1981), a show about a formerly wealthy woman who finds herself bankrupt following the death of her husband. She is forced to move out of her manor house, which is then purchased by a nouveau riche supermarket owner.

feature – 25:40
“Fade Into You” by Mazzy Star
Episode context: This song begins to play at the dance. Rory and Dean note that it is a slow song and move toward the dance floor. They are intercepted by Paris and her date and exchange tense greetings. Tristan sulks on the sidelines as Rory and Dean dance and share a kiss.
— From the 1993 album So Tonight That I Might See. This is the best-known song by US alternative rock group Mazzy Star.

feature – 28:20
“Mixed Bizness” by Beck
Episode context: This song plays in the background at the dance when Jacob asks for Rory’s phone number and reveals to her that he is Paris’s cousin.
— This song was the second single from the 1999 album Midnite Vultures.

feature – 29:20
EMILY: Oh, look. Barbara Stanwyck. I just love Barbara Stanwyck.
LORELAI: Oh, yeah. She’s good.
EMILY: She had that wonderful voice. That husky, deep voice. Oh, I just love that voice.
LORELAI: You know, mom, you have kind of a Barbara Stanwyck-y voice.
EMILY: Oh, I do not.
LORELAI: I mean it. You could have gotten Fred MacMurray to off dad if you’d really wanted to.
— Emily and Lorelai are watching Double Indemnity, a 1944 film noir directed by Billy Wilder. The film is about a housewife and classic femme fatale (Barbara Stanwyck) who schemes with an insurance salesman (Fred MacMurray) to kill her husband and activate a “double indemnity” clause. Such clauses double the life insurance payout in rare cases of accidental death.
— The audio in this scene from the film can be heard in the background of Lorelai and Emily’s conversation.

feature – 31:00
“Sometimes Always” by The Jesus and Mary Chain feat. Hope Sandoval
Episode context: Paris yells at Rory out of embarrassment over her cousin taking her to the dance. Tristan confronts Dean, and things get heated. The song ends just before Tristan shoves Dean.
— This song was the first single from the 1994 album Stoned & Dethroned by Scottish alternative rock group The Jesus and Mary Chain. This track features guest vocals by the lead singer of Mazzy Star, Hope Sandoval.

reference – 32:30
DEAN: Get out of my way, Dristan.
— Dristan is a US brand of nasal spray medication used to relieve congestion. I’m not sure exactly what Dean is getting at, but it seems like a pretty lame insult.

feature – 34:35
“Thirteen” by Big Star
Episode context: Rory and Dean walk through the snowy Stars Hollow town square holding cups of coffee. They debate whether Tristan “has a thing for” Rory and discuss their relationship status.
— From the 1972 album #1 Record by US rock band Big Star. Rolling Stone describes the song as “one of rock’s most beautiful celebrations of adolescence” and ranked it #406 on their list of the 500 greatest rock songs.

feature – 36:45
DEAN: So, uh, what are you reading?
RORY: The Portable Dorothy Parker.
DEAN: “There’s little in taking or giving, / There’s little in water or wine; / This living, this living, this living / Was never a project of mine.”
The Portable Dorothy Parker is a collection of stories and verse, originally published in 1944. The author, Dorothy Parker (born Dorothy Rothschild, 1893-1967), was a US “poet, writer, critic, and satirist based in New York; she was best known for her wit, wisecracks, and eye for 20th-century urban foibles” (Wikipedia).
— The poem that Dean reads from is known as “Coda” and is easily found in full online, though the original details of its publication are surprisingly difficult to verify.
— The photos that Rory and Dean look at immediately before this exchange, on the wall of Miss Patty’s dance studio, appear to be genuine photographs of Liz Torres. Patty’s extensive experience in show business may mirror that of Torres, whose acting filmography dates to 1965.

References Consolidated by Category

Brand Names

  • 1:45 – Coca-Cola
  • 09:35 – ACE
  • 09:35 –  Percodan
  • 09:35 – Vicodin
  • 09:35 – Darvocet
  • 14:00 – Versateller
  • 14:00 – Saran wrap
  • 16:40 – Ann Taylor
  • 21:05 – Lipton
  • 22:25 – Baccarat
  • 34:35 – Dristan

Famous Figures

  • 00:15 – Václav Havel
  • 10:40 – Oscar Levant
  • 10:40 – Regis Philbin
  • 12:45 – Susan Faludi
  • 19:30 – Emily Post

Film & Television

  • 00:15 – Midnight Express (1978)
  • 02:00 – The Born Losers (1967)
  • 02:40 – Sixteen Candles (1984)
  • 06:25 – V.I.P.
  • 11:10 – Gone with the Wind (1939)
  • 16:25 – Fried Green Tomatoes (1991)
  • 21:30 – The Outsiders (1983)
  • 29:20 – Double Indemnity (1944)
    • Barbara Stanwyck
    • Fred MacMurray


  • 05:35 – The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams
  • 13:55 – The Group by Mary McCarthy
  • 24:25 – Hamlet by William Shakespeare
  • 36:45 – The Portable Dorothy Parker by Dorothy Parker
    • “Coda” Poem


True Crime

  • 13:20 – Squeaky Fromme

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

four × 5 =