Madame Curie and Jennifer Lopez

PARIS: Yeah well, I doubt highly that Madam Curie was voted most likely to dress like Jennifer Lopez.

Marie Curie, born Maria Skłodowska (1867-1934) [pictured] was a Polish-born French physicist and chemist who conducted pioneering research on radioactivity. She was the first woman to win a Nobel prize, the first person and only woman to win it twice, and the only person to win it in two different sciences. The Curie family, including Marie, her husband Pierre, daughter Irène Joliot-Curie, son-in-law Frédéric Joliot-Curie, and son-in-law Henri Labouisse, has won more Nobel Prizes than any other family. She was the first woman to become a Professor at the University of Paris, and the first woman to be entombed at The Panthéon in Paris on her own merits.

Jennifer Lopez (born 1969) is an American actress, singer, dancer, and fashion designer. She began her career in 1991 as a dancer on television before branching into acting in 1993 (although she’d made her film debut as a teenager in a low-budget film). Her first starring role was in Selena (1997); she went on to star in other films in the 1990s, becoming the highest-paid Latina actress in Hollywood. She ventured into the music industry in 1999, with her debut album On the 6, which had two Top Ten singles. In January 2001, a few weeks before the events of this episode, she brought out her second album, J.Lo, around the same time as the release of her romantic comedy, The Wedding Planner, becoming the first woman to have a #1 album and #1 film in the same week.

We learn here that Paris’ ambition is to work in medical research toward the better understanding and treatment of cancer. It apparently doesn’t work out that way. Oddly enough, Liza Weil, who plays Paris, would later play a character who dies from cancer on medical drama Grey’s Anatomy.

Footloose

RORY: Some people like getting up early.
LORELAI: You lie.
RORY: No, they do it voluntarily …
LORELAI: Ha! Jump back!
RORY: Excuse me?
LORELAI: Kevin Bacon, Footloose, reaction to the no dancing in town rule is revealed to him by Chris Penn, brother to Sean, sage to all.

Footloose is a 1984 musical film directed by Herbert Ross, and starring Kevin Bacon as a Chicago teenager who moves to a small town and discovers it has banned dancing and rock music. In the film, his character says, “Jump back!” when his new friend in town, played by Chris Penn, explains to him about the no dancing rule. (Chris Penn, who died in 2006, was a brother of actor Sean Penn, but I don’t know how he was a “sage to all”).

Footloose was the #7 film of 1984. Despite mixed reviews, it is generally held to be cheesy good fun, and has been turned into a stage musical, and had a remake in 2011.

Lorelai jokingly compares her shock at learning that some people get up early, even on Saturday mornings, to the shock Kevin Bacon’s character feels at discovering that an entire town has banned dancing.

Cabbage patching

LORELAI: “Three months. Well, woohoo. Hold on, I’m going to cartwheel.”
RORY: Forget it.
LORELAI: Oh, no wait. She’s telling my dad now. Why, I think they’re cabbage patching.

Cabbage patching means to do the cabbage patch dance, a hip-hop dance where you put your hands together as fists and move them in horizontal circles. The dance features in the 1988 song The Cabbage Patch by Miami bass group Gucci Crew II, which became popular in dance clubs. The dance seems to have been inspired by Cabbage Patch Kids, the doll fad of the 1980s, combined with “cabbage” as slang for paper money. It’s a celebratory dance, often associated with sporting victories.

Roller Disco

LANE: I’m gonna get a soda, anybody want anything?
LORELAI: Yes, the night of my 14th birthday back so I can right the green-hot-pant-roller-disco outfit wrong.

A roller disco is a skating rink where the dancers wear roller skates to move to disco music (or any modern dance music). The concept originated in the 1970s and peaked around 1980, although they are still held now as retro entertainment.

Lorelai’s 14th birthday was in 1982, so she was already slightly behind the trends when she chose her roller disco outfit (it actually fits better with Amy Sherman-Palladino’s 14th birthday in 1980). It’s not clear whether her birthday was celebrated at a roller disco, or she just thought it would be a good outfit to wear to her party. Let’s hope the first one.

Cha-cha-cha

SOOKIE: This is about the time you start doing your little getaway dance. Two months right on the nose – you’re good.
LORELAI: I do not do a dance.
SOOKIE: You’re cha-cha-cha-ing right now.

The cha-cha-cha (or the cha-cha) is a Latin American dance which originated in Cuba in the 1950s. Sookie may be thinking of this dance in particular as it begins with the woman stepping backwards as the man walks forwards, just as Lorelai is backing away from Max.