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Monday, July 10, 2017

Fan Fiction -- "Winter of 1964" and "Pipe Dream"

The website Fan Fiction is a forum where amateur writers can publish their own stories based on various movies and other genres. The website has 184 fan-fiction stories about the movie Dirty Dancing. Some of the fan-fiction stories focus on the relationship between Penny and Johnny.

Here I will summarize two such stories, titled Winter of 1964 and Pipe Dream, both written in February 2016 by an author whose pen name is jackwabbit. From the name Jack, I assume the author is a male. He has published 420 fan-fiction stories, of which the two named above are based on Dirty Dancing.


The most common theme of fan-fiction stories about Dirty Dancing is that Johnny Castle and Baby Houseman will get back together, at least briefly. However, it's much more likely that Johnny and Penny Johnson will become a couple.

* Johnny and Penny work and spend time together as professional dance partners and have similar interests, talents, aspirations, experiences, occupations, intellects, worldviews, acquaintances, friends and good looks.

* Baby will attend an all-women college where she will study the economics of underdeveloped countries. After four years at that college, she will have little in common with Johnny. Then if they met again, they would run out of subjects to talk about after a few minutes.


Jackwabbit's story "Winter of 1964" depicts Johnny and Penny living together in New York City. The story is narrated by Penny.
Kellerman's closed for the year, Baby went off to Mount whatever, and Johnny and I headed to New York, working as extras on plays and teaching dance lessons on the side to make ends meet. ....

Now we're splitting an apartment and barely getting by, and for the first time since I've known him, I don't know what to do with Johnny Castle. ...
Penny perceives that Johnny has lost his drive and is just coasting through life. Now he lacks "that twinkle in his eye" and "that smirk" and "that silent communication". Dancing no longer is "a celebration" for him. He drinks and sleeps too much. He gets into fights with other people. "Things have changed."

Penny thinks a lot about the events involving Baby at Kellerman's in 1963. Penny's thoughts are conflicted.
On one hand, I could never regret what happened.

After all, without Baby Houseman, there' no way I'd be in New York. Sure, Johnny and I are living the life of every struggling artist, and it's pretty awful most of the time, but at least we're trying. We're dirt poor, and every month is another adventure in keeping a roof over our heads, but we're still dancing.

And without little Frances and everything that came with her, we would never have tried this.

I know that.

Baby changed both our lives, and as ridiculous as it sounds, I'm so glad she carried a watermelon that night.

Without her, I'd be nursing an infant at my sister's and Johnny would be hanging drywall.

That's not nothing.

Still, if he'd never met Baby Houseman, Johnny would be the carefree guy I've loved like a brother for ages. He'd smile and laugh and dance like the world was ending, instead of like a guy who has to earn his keep. Sure, he'd probably sleep around instead of sleeping in, and we'd have to deal with that, but most days it seems like anything would be better than this.

So on the other hand, there are days when I wish to God neither one of us had ever met that girl, and I can't exactly celebrate when I think of Baby. ....
Does Johnny still talk or even think about Baby in the winter of 1964? Maybe not. The story doesn't mention him doing so.

Are Johnny and Penny a romantic couple? Maybe not. Penny says that Johnny sleeps around. In the movie, Penny said, "I don't sleep around". Maybe that difference between Johnny and Penny prevents them from becoming a couple.

Penny still is struggling to become a dancer, to become an artist. Her bad sexual experience with Robbie Gould at Kellerman's has caused her to disengage from sexual activities and to devote herself only to her dancing career.

Johnny's experience with Baby at Kellerman's somehow has made him dissolute and stagnant. He might be giving up on his dancing career.

If you want to know the story's ending, you will have to read it.


Two days after jackwabbit posted his story "Winter of 1964" on the Fan Fiction website, he posted his second story, "Pipe Dream", narrated by Baby's father, Jake Houseman.
Baby has always been an idealist. I admire her for that. .... So, I indulged her little fantasies, always thinking that one healthy dose of reality would bring her down to earth for good ....

I thought it would happen this past summer, with everything that happened at Kellerman's. .... She'd realize that life doesn't always turn out like it "should". Helping others doesn't always lead to a happy ending, even if you get one last dance.

I hoped that a semester away from Johnny Castle would make her realize that her time with him was just that: one last dance. ....

He's not what any father wants for his daughter. Dancing doesn't exactly pay the bills most days, and the age difference still made me cringe. ...

I said nothing, but I couldn't help but expect for things to end on their own. After all, how many high-school sweethearts find their lives too busy at college to stay together? How many long-distance relationships actually work?

Not many.

So I didn't think it was too much to ask for my little girl to drift away from her summertime lover over the course of the school year. Their lives were going different places. They really didn't have much in common when you looked past the dancing, which for him seemed a passion, but for Baby was still likely an infatuation, despite her apparent natural talent.
Then Baby surprised her parents.
Baby announced over dinner one night after Hanukkah that she wasn't going back to school in January.

I hit the roof, but Baby just smiled slightly and ignored my protests.

She said she was eighteen now. Said she had a job, and she'd been saving all semester. Said I couldn't legally stop her from doing what she wanted. ...
Baby explained:
"I'm opening a dance school for inner-city kids with Johnny," she said ....

"I don't have to go halfway around the world to help people this way, Daddy. I can stay close to you and Mom and still go to school once we get things up and running. There's plenty of people right here who need help, and if dance gets one kid off the street, then it's worth it."
Jake raises objections about money, to cause her to reconsider. Baby explains that she will charge some of the children's families and will ask local businesses to donate money.

Then Jake asks about Johnny.
"And I suppose you'll be moving in with Johnny?" I snapped.

"Actually," Baby answered, "I'm going to stay with Penny for now."
The reader can deduce that Penny has broken up with Johnny and intends to continue her own dance career without him. Johnny has moved out, so Penny needs another apartment-mate to help pay her rent. Baby will become that apartment-mate. Johnny will live elsewhere but help Baby manage the dance school.

After dinner, during the night, Jake and Marjorie argue with each other about Baby's plan. In the morning, Jake informs Baby:
"Your mother and I have been talking," I said, "and we've decided not to fight you about this. You can go to New York. You can move in with Penny. And you can try this crazy dance-school idea. ...

"But I won't help you in any way. You'll get no money from me. You'll do this all on your own. One hundred percent. If this goes south, you'll always have a place her, and if you come back home and go back to school, I'll pay for that. But as long as you're doing this dancing thing, you're on your own. Understood?"

Baby nodded solemnly, tears in her eyes.

Two weeks later, she was off to New York. Mount Holyoke had been canceled, and I could help thinking I'd made a huge mistake.
I will not reveal the story's ending. You will have to read it.


Both these stories address Johnny's poor prospects to earn a good living. In general, dancers work irregularly and earn little, and in particular, Johnny lacks direction and persistence. He gives up.

Penny has given up on Johnny, but she is willing to help Baby give Johnny one more chance to establish himself.

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