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Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Why couldn't Vivian Pressman fill in for Penny Johnson?

Because Penny Johnson would be busy getting an abortion, Johnny Castle needed a replacement to dance with him at a scheduled performance at the Sheldrake Hotel.

Maria can't do it, because she "has to work all day" and so "can't learn the routines".

Janet can't do it, because she "has to fill in for Penny".

This situation is puzzling. My explanation follows:

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Johnny and Penny belong to hotel's "the entertainment staff". While hotel owner Max Kellerman is lecturing the waiters in the restaurant, Johnny and six male musicians walk through, and Max exclaims: "Well, if it isn't the entertainment staff!"

Evidently, the entertainment staff includes the six musicians and six dancers -- 1) Johnny, 2) Penny, 3) Maria, 4) Janet, 5) an unidentified male, and 6) an unidentified male.

Johnny and Penny are the leaders of this six-member dance group in the entertainment staff. Johnny and Penny are paid more than the other four, but those two are supposed to be at the Kellerman Hotel all the time, entertaining the guests. The other four dancers are paid less, but they do not work full-time and are not paid full-time salaries. Rather, the other four dancers work only on special occasions.

Johnny and Penny cheat the Kellerman Hotel by going away secretly on some nights to earn extra money performing at the Sheldrake Hotel. On those occasions, Janet fills in for Penny and one of the other male dancers fills in for Johnny. From the money that Johnny and Penny earn at the Sheldrake, they pay their fill-in dancers under the table. The fill-in dancers are prepared to tell some false story if Max Kellerman notices that Johnny and Penny are absent.

For that reason, Janet cannot go to the Sheldrake with Johnny.

The entertainment staff's other female dancer, Maria, "has to work all day". Penny and Johnny themselves have to work all day too, but they have time to practice dancing. And why can't Maria practice with Johnny at night? Since Maria is an experienced dancer, she should be able to master the dance in a few night-time practice sessions with Johnny.

My explanation is that Maria does not work all day at the hotel. Rather, she works all day at some other business in some other distant location. She is the lowest-ranking female member of the entertainment staff's dance crew, and so she is paid only for some special evening events for which she already has mastered the necessary dances. It is not practical or worthwhile for her to travel from her home to the hotel to practice with Johnny during a series of evening without payment.

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So, why didn't Johnny simply ask Vivian Pressman to fill in for Penny? Vivian is staying at the hotel, dances well, likes to dance and knows Johnny. All of Vivian's time is free time. She has time to practice dancing, and she has time to travel to the Sheldrake Hotel to perform the dance.

Vivian Pressman dancing well at the Kellerman Hotel
with her friend Johnny Castle
Vivian's husband Moe knows that she is friendly and dances with Johnny. Max Kellerman knows likewise.

Johnny and Vivian could practice the dance openly and then sneak away for just a few hours to perform it at the Sheldrake. Moe probably wouldn't mind, and so the Sheldrake trip would not have to be kept secret from him.

The explanations would include the following:

Penny forbade Johnny to spend so much time with Vivian. Penny could not stop or prevent Johnny's affair with Vivian, but Penny strongly disapproved of Vivan and was able to set some limits. After all, Penny shared with Johnny the leadership of the dance crew, so Penny could cause trouble for Johnny.

Johnny could dance publicly with hotel guest Vivian at a gazebo party, but he had to hide from Penny the full extent of his sexual involvement with Vivian.  Penny would put her foot down if Johnny proposed to spend many hours practicing and then performing the Sheldrake dance with Vivian.

In addition, Johnny and especially Penny did not trust Vivian to be discrete about their secret work for the Sheldrake Hotel or about Penny 's abortion. In general, Vivian talked and gossiped too much with the wrong people. She could not be trusted to keep secrets about Johnny and Penny.

Also, Johnny and Penny might worry that Vivian strongly opposes abortion. If Vivian learns that she is replacing Penny because Penny intends to murder a baby, then Vivian might cause much trouble -- arguing against the abortion, reporting the abortion to the police, and so forth.

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On the other hand, Baby already has learned about the planned abortion and has fooled her father into providing the $250 to pay for the abortion. Baby has demonstrated her discretion and she has become a willing collaborator in arranging the abortion. Therefore, Johnny and Penny feel that they can trust Baby with their secrets more than they can trust Vivian.

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