What’s Real … And What’s Not
Real: Round Dancing! It really is that easy to learn and that much fun!
Not Real: Most of the round dance characters. Exceptions are Gordon and Marie, the Drumhellers, and, of course, the Schreibers (“schreiber” means “writer”, or more accurately, “scribe” in German).
Real: thyca.org It really is a terrific organization and a huge help to anyone facing any form of thyroid cancer.
Almost Real: Higgins Park. It’s based on Hagan Park in Rancho Cordova, CA. The bike trail along the river became a bike trail along a pond/lake in the book, and the Sacramento Valley Live Steamers became the Silicon Valley Live Steamers, but it’s all based on Hagan Park.
Real: All of the square dance callers. Jet Roberts, Joe Saltel, Ashley Parker and Hunter Keller are all real callers and really do all that stuff – harmonizing, joking, and impersonations. And Jet really did bring out his guitar and play and sing for us at an after-party (after singing and calling all day in the dance hall, bless his heart). They really do all of those songs, too. Gordon Lightfoot’s “Wheels of Love” is not just a bicycle reference – it’s a real song. (Note: Ashely Parker was called “Linda Lieder” in the early editions of the book).
Almost Real: Sunnyvale Memoral Hall. It’s actually in Fair Oaks, and that’s where we take lessons from Marie and Gordon. There really is a park behind it with a swingset…
Real: The roosters. They sit on the railings and watch our Wednesday evening class.
Real: Matthew’s cancer journey. All of it. The doctors’ names have been changed, but the rest of it really happened to our daughter.
Not Real: The Regency Ballroom. Alas, this lovely venue exists only in our heads…
Real: All of the round dance songs/dances. Every one of them. Most of them are dances we have personally done. The Bicycle Waltz really is our favorite.
Real: All of the cues (dance figures). Even “Turkish Towel”…
Not Real: (Unfortunately) Zimmix. Paul has worked at half a dozen start-ups over the years, and Alan sees the best and the worst of Paul’s experiences. Zimmix is “God’s own start-up”.
Real: Tuna-chip casserole. And it really does go amazingly well with green beans.
Almost, Very Nearly, Real: Silver State. We had to move the dates, and the round dance hall doesn’t really look like that, but the festival itself is real.
Not Real: The way Ray teaches turning boxes. This was Ray’s idea, and we have no idea whether it would work in real life. But it might…
Real: The Zimmix CEO. I won’t give his name here, but many people in the industry will recognize him.
Real: Saint Mohammad. Great boss, great human being.
Real: “Sweet Potatoes” restaurant. The real restaurant is called, “Sweet Tomatoes” in some places, and “Souplantation” in others.
Not Real, Not Really: Sean’s Thai. There was a restaurant like that with an owner of that name years ago in Rohnert Park, but the details are made up.
Real: The Biggles books. Written by Capt W.E. John, who was really a British pilot in WW1. The books are much better known in Britain, but you can get them from Amazon in the U.S. We discovered them when we lived in England – our sons were about Brandon and Matthew’s age at the time.
Real: The newspaper article. We really did get an article in the local paper, and it really did bring in new students.
Not Real: The TV Interview. But it almost happened…
Real: All the dance shoe information. Jean has real dance shoes, as well as dance shoes made using the stick-ons. Paul has dance shoes made by having chrome leather applied at a shoe shop. Even the description of Shelly’s dance shoes came from real shoes.
Real: Ultimate Frisbee, and all the games Shelly and Alan play on Rainy Day Sunday.
Real, Sort Of: The “Vaca kids”. There really is a club called the Vaca Valley Ramblers, and they really do have a group of young, high-energy, hotshots. But Allyssa and her friends are figments of our imagination.
Real: Gene Schreiber’s story about not allowing dancing at their wedding. That’s us. Paul really did refuse to allow dancing at our wedding. Maybe for our 50th anniversary…
Real: All the songs and all the dances, including “Boots” by Joey and Rory. There’s no dance written to it yet, but we’re hoping the book inspires some choreographer out there (hint, hint).
Life Imitates Art: Shortly after the first draft, Marie approached us in class and told us she wanted to get name badges for all her students. We just looked at each other. We’d just written that part…
Life imitates Art, Again: After we had finished the book but before anyone knew about it, we were at a dinner party given by Bob and Mary (the original inspiration for Maria and Richard). They suggested we play … ping-pong! We never even knew they HAD a ping-pong table.