Bryan Spivey
Home Up

very time they (SSQQ) have ever had a good one...they run them off eventually or they quit because they get mad at Rick or Rick gets mad at them.


I had just finished saying the criticism that I run people off is not justified when Bryan Spivey resigned on July 13, 2007.

Just as I was about to publish the story above telling the world how well I treat my instructors, I received a stunning blow - Bryan Spivey, one of my top instructors, resigned without any warning.  So maybe it is true I run people off.  Now isn't that ironic?

Bryan's totally unexpected resignation makes him my Unlucky 13.  Unable to overlook the unpleasant coincidence, I decided to complete the story and publish it on Friday the 13, 2007..

"Every time they (SSQQ) have ever had a good one...they run them off eventually or they quit because they get mad at Rick or Rick gets mad at them.

I did not fire Bryan.  In fact, I asked him to reconsider... several times in fact.

So the question becomes: Did Rick run Bryan off? 

If you have followed the entire five chapters of our Reputation Story including the Trilogy, you will understand that any ambiguous situation like this that is allowed to stand without your side of the story in place is bound to lead to disaster.

Here is a quote from the Harvest Moon Ball Story:

Based on the experience of the events surrounding the Harvest Moon Ball, I reached the unmistakable conclusion that you have to stand up for yourself when you are unfairly accused of something and speak the truth at the top of your lungs.

If you don't, then people will believe the other guy.

Otherwise, your reputation will suffer irreparable damage.

So there you have it.  Please hear my side of the story before you make up your mind.  Please read the story and decide for yourself whether I ran Bryan off or not.

By the way, this story is being published under the threat of legal action by Mr. Spivey.   Therefore we have to play a little game first to make his lawyer happy before we get started. 

"The views and opinions expressed in this article are strictly and exclusively those of this writer, and are not to be interpreted as criticism of any other person or institution.

Nor are they intended to malign or to express any infamous view of any such person or institution."  RJA 8-2-2007



On Tuesday, July 10th, I received these two messages:

-----Original Message-----
From: Bryan Spivey
Sent: Tuesday, July 10, 2007 5:44 PM
To: Rick Archer
Subject: RE: leave of absence


I am sending you my resignation via this email. Thanks for letting me be a part of your SSQQ Whip program and teaching at your studio for over 5 years. I have enjoyed my time at SSQQ, and I will miss everyone. Lisa and I can finish the month of July if you like.

I confess that Bryan's letter knocked the wind out of me.  As the Instructor Highlight points out, Bryan is Dance Director of the Whip Program at SSQQ Dance Studio.

Now only that, for several years now, I have considered Bryan Spivey to be my protégé. He was the man I was grooming to be my successor at the studio.  I even told him so. For five years now, I have been preparing Bryan for the day that he would take over my studio.

I was completely stunned. I had not seen this coming.

During the week of July 4th, the studio was closed so that we could refinish the floors.  On Sunday, July 8th, we reopened for business.  At 4:30 pm as I was about to begin my Western Swing class in Room 2 at the studio, I could not get my Western CD into the CD player. 

We had been closed for a week. It was empty the last I had been here.  So I hit reject and out came a music CD with Bryan's name on it. That's when I noticed a second laying near by with 'Lisa Palmer' written on it.  Lisa just happens to be the lady Bryan married on April 28, 2007.  I should know.  I was at their wedding.

I smiled.  These two CDs meant that Bryan had been at the studio this morning to conduct private lessons.  I was glad to see he was busy! 

Two days later Bryan resigned. 


Bryan Spivey has been the Prince of SSQQ for several years now.  He has always been special to me. 

Like me, Bryan lost his father at an early age. For a boy, it isn't easy growing up without a Dad.  Bryan was lucky to have a great Mom - Yvonne - but it helps to have a father too.

For this reason I have long felt a kinship.  I won't deny I have favored him over others for this reason.  

For example, Bryan Spivey is the only SSQQ instructor with his own Biography Page.  I have followed his career closely and written down his accomplishments with the same pride a Father would.

In March 2005, I extended to Bryan a favor I have never granted another instructor - Permission to work at another studio in addition to mine.  After a falling out between Mario Robau and the D'Amicos over at Southwest Whip, Bryan came to me to ask for permission to seek one of the openings over at Southwest.  We talked for a couple hours.  It is not the easiest move in the world to allow your top teacher to work for your competition.

At the time, Bryan assured me of two things: One, he would work to form a bridge between the two organizations. Two, he would never put the interests of Southwest Whip ahead of SSQQ.  Since I trusted Bryan completely, I nodded my approval.  Then I turned around and wrote the letter that got him the job.

By coincidence, another SSQQ instructor began to work for a competitor about the same time without bothering to ask me.  When I found out, I asked the instructor to choose.  Although the instructor chose the competition, I admit that I regretted seeing him go because he was a very good man. 

The point is clear - I gave Bryan privileges that no other instructor had as befitted his position as next in line at the studio.


At the same time that Bryan began teaching at Southwest Whip, I decided it was time to promote Bryan to become the Director of the SSQQ Whip (West Coast Swing) program.  Here is a brief letter from Bryan's Biography.

Saturday, April 9,2005

hey rick,

lately, i have had zero time to reflect back, but i am extremely grateful and honored that you have given me the permission to work both places and entrust me as the head of the whip program. i am very excited about this. im honored that you can trust me. i have found that you and lisa and a couple others are people i can really trust and respect.

Thank you, bryan"

That same summer I spoke quite frankly with Bryan about my intention of handing my studio off to him someday. I told his future wife Lisa the same thing when she asked me to confirm what Bryan had related to her. At the time, I couldn't imagine a better choice than this incredibly talented young couple.

We can fast-forward through the next couple years.  Life was very hectic for Bryan and Lisa.  Here are some of the highlights:

  • Top Teacher Award, America's Classic (April 2005)
  • Top Teacher Award, Southwest Regional (May 2005)
  • First Place with Lisa Palmer, Pro-Am, Southwest Regionals (May 2005)
  • Two-time First Place with Yvonne Spivey (Bryan's Mom!) Texas Classic (May 2005)
  • Bryan proposed to Lisa in August 2005
  • Top Twelve finish in Classic Division with Valerie Menard at the US Open (November 2006)


2007 has been another busy year for Bryan and Lisa.  Not only did they have an April wedding to plan, but now their first child was due in September.  

Starting with the April Wedding, I will bring the story up to present using email correspondence.

I have not changed one word in these emails.  Please be aware that I have omitted three paragraphs dealing with opinions about our business competition.  Let me add I do not for a moment believe those three paragraphs have anything to do with Bryan's decision to leave.

If for some reason it becomes necessary to reveal those paragraphs, I will gladly do so.



-----Original Message-----
From: Bryan Spivey
Sent: Monday, April 16, 2007 12:34 PM
To: rick archer
Subject: Thank you VERY much

Hey Rick,

I want to thank you so much for the card. Lisa and I appreciate it very much, and are very happy to be working at SSQQ. Lately, I know we don't seem to have the same pep as we did about a year ago, but this wedding planning/appointments is draining us. I am very much at work with Lisa in the wedding preparations; I was unable to be the guy that "just shows up at the altar."

Again, thank you very much for your support. After the wedding, Lisa and I want to get working on pitching some ideas to you that will make SSQQ's whip program flourish. I am as heartbroken as you about the declination of attendance in whip, but I think you, me and Lisa can make somehting happen.

Sincerely, Bryan

RICK'S NOTE: As you can see, Bryan and I were on excellent terms. I knew money was tight, so I tried to help by giving the couple an early wedding gift to pay some bills. That is what Bryan is responding to.


-----Original Message-----
From: Rick Archer
Sent: Monday, April 16, 2007 1:43 PM
To: Bryan Spivey
Subject: RE: Thank you VERY much

Bryan, you are very welcome.

I appreciate your letter and I appreciate that you have been loyal to the program despite I am sure many temptations to go in other directions.

I completely understand that you are preoccupied and do not hold it against you at all.

I continue believe you can make solid money in this business and gain quite a bit of satisfaction in the process. When you are ready, I will be more than happy to help you get the momentum back. And I honestly would love to teach the person who puts us down all the time a lesson in the process.

In the meantime, I am just as happy for you and Lisa as I can be. I am really looking forward to your wedding!

(and if there is anything you need help with, just ask.)


-----Original Message-----
From: Bryan Spivey
Sent: Wednesday, April 25, 2007 5:38 PM
To: rick archer
Subject: sub for this coming monday

hey rick,

i was wondering if i could get a sub for me and lisas class this coming monday since we will be on our honeymoon. i don't have an updated email list of those qualified to teach martian level.  i was wondering if you had any ideas for this monday.


-----Original Message-----
From: Rick Archer
Sent: Monday, April 30, 2007 10:53 AM
To: Bryan Spivey
Subject: RE: sub for monday

What about Mitch?

If no one comes through, I will take your suggestion and combine classes. No problem.

RICK'S NOTE: In my April 16 email, I told Bryan if there was anything he needed, just ask. He was getting married this weekend. Bryan looked left and right for a substitute, but kept coming up empty. So when he couldn't find a substitute for his Monday class, he took me up on my offer to assist.

I came through on my promise.

Two days after Bryan's wedding, I ended up merging his class and mine together. It was a little awkward, but everyone understood and were good sports about it.


-----Original Message-----
From: Rick Archer
Sent: Friday, May 11, 2007 10:57 AM
To: Bryan Spivey
Subject: do you have time for a dance lesson?

I have realized just how out of touch I am with current developments in WCS. I would like to pay you to give me a lesson, perhaps Monday?

I think I would be more effective if I had a rough idea what you try to accomplish in your class.


-----Original Message-----
From: Bryan Spivey
Sent: Monday, May 14, 2007 6:08 AM
To: Rick Archer
Subject: Re: do you have time for a dance lesson?

Hey Rick,

Amy and Robert are competing this Friday at Texas Classic, and I see them at 6pm today. I can come by the studio maybe on Wednesday before classes start, and there is no need to pay.... you have done so much for me it isnt even a consideration :O).

RICK'S NOTE: I contacted Bryan to give me a lesson for two reasons.

First I wanted to make sure that what I was teaching in my class was congruent with the explanations Bryan was using in his higher level class

Also the Dad in me wanted to find a way to put more money in his pocket.


-----Original Message-----
From: Rick Archer
Sent: Monday, May 14, 2007 10:10 AM
To: Bryan Spivey
Subject: RE: do you have time for a dance lesson?

No, I want to pay. You are going to be a father soon and every bit counts. Unfortunately Wednesday is my day off and I already have plans. Thursday? Friday?

-----Original Message-----
From: Bryan Spivey
Sent: Monday, May 14, 2007 5:12 PM
To: Rick Archer
Subject: RE: do you have time for a dance lesson?

I can do Friday before and/or after classes @ SSQQ.

-----Original Message-----
From: Rick Archer
Sent: Monday, May 14, 2007 5:32 PM
To: Bryan Spivey
Subject: RE: do you have time for a dance lesson?

Is 6 pm a good time on Friday? 6 works for me.

RICK'S NOTE: On May 19th, Bryan and I met for an hour. It was an excellent lesson.  The material I learned that day included several patterns I used in my June class that Cher and I taught on Monday.

And yes, I paid Bryan as I promised I would.  He told me again I didn't have to, but I wanted to.


-----Original Message-----
From: Rick Archer
Sent: Thursday, May 17, 2007 12:51 PM
To: Bryan Spivey; Lisa Palmer; Lisa Palmer
Subject: a first look at your wedding story

Hi guys, I finished your story. I have a small favor… Lisa, could you help me out with names of your father, mother, and the cousin you danced with? And Bryan, there was a pretty blonde girl who I believe is your relative. Would you share her name so I can add it under her picture? And what's the name of the young man at the end of the story?

If you wish to delete or add anything, just let me know.

Fun wedding. Thank you for inviting me.

RICK'S NOTE: Not only did I act as an unofficial photographer at Bryan and Lisa's wedding, it gave me great pleasure to write a story about the event. THE STORY OF BRYAN AND LISA'S WEDDING

I found it odd that neither person ever responded to my email above. I assumed they never responded because Bryan and Lisa were so busy they forgot about it.

June was a quiet month. Bryan and I spoke several times in passing at the studio, but nothing important.

The fourth weekend of June was the last time I saw Bryan and Lisa in person until the day before their resignation.

Saturday:  Bryan taught a crash course at the Saturday, June 23 Sock Hop. The party was fantastic by the way.

Sunday: On June 24, the day after the Sock Hop there was a baby shower for Lisa.  My lovely West Coast Swing assistant Cher Longoria was kind enough to host this baby shower for Lisa at Cher's home in West University. Cher is very close to Bryan and Lisa.  Cher and her friend Robert rode with Marla and I down to Bryan and Lisa's wedding a month earlier. That's when Cher decided she was going to ask Lisa for permission to throw a Baby Shower.

The Baby Shower was quite a production. Cher is quite the organizer according to Marla, who was one of the women from SSQQ that afternoon. It was a big event. Marla told me there were about 15 women there. In addition to Lisa's new mother-in-law Yvonne, there was Bryan's sister Denise, plus Bryan's sister in law. The other dozen or so women were from SSQQ. Marla said that Cher did a great job. They had so much fun, the event lasted three hours.

Monday: The following day, June 25, something a little out of the ordinary did happenDating back to a year ago, I have been asking Bryan to conduct tryouts for his class. It is my opinion that some people move up to his class too fast and get in over their heads.  Since Bryan has a big heart - not a bad thing -he is incredibly patient with every student. Bryan works hard to catch them up if there is a gap in their training. Unfortunately I worry that his kind heart means that sometimes the pace of his Super-Advanced Martian Whip class slows down a bit.

At the studio on June 25, I brought up the subject of tryouts up again before class started. Bryan heard me out, then told me he preferred to continue to doing things his way. And that's exactly how we left it. I said my piece and Bryan said his. I decided it was his class.  If he is the Director, then I should respect his opinion. Then I left because it was time for class to start. It really wasn't that big a deal. If you don't believe me, there were at least three witnesses to the conversation, including Lisa, Bryan's friend Amy as well as Bryan's lovely mother Yvonne. To my mind, I swear I thought the conversation ended amicably. As you will see in a later email, maybe not. Maybe this was the reason Bryan quit.

The studio took a break for the July 4th Holiday Week. It was time to refinish the floors. Over our week's break, there were no emails. There was, however, one event that took place.

Phone Call: One morning out of the blue I received a phone call from Bryan. I don't remember the date because it wasn't that big a deal. Bryan was calling to ask permission to run a Saturday morning West Coast Swing workshop at the studio. Bryan said there was a new dance teacher in town named Samantha Buckwalter. Bryan wanted to teach the workshop with her. I was completely amenable to his suggestion. In fact, this looked like an opportunity to put some more money in Bryan's pocket.

With the baby on the way, I figured every dollar would help. Rather than split the proceeds 50-50 as we had in the past, I offered to change the split to 40-60 with Bryan and Samantha taking the lion's share. Bryan seemed very pleased. I told him to email me the details and I would publicize the event in the next Newsletter. That's how the call ended.

Sunday:  On July 8th, the studio swung back into action.  The first thing I saw was Bryan's CDs from practicing at the studio that morning. Things seemed normal to me.

Monday: On Monday, July 9, the hammer fell.


-----Original Message-----
From: Bryan Spivey
Sent: Monday, July 09, 2007 5:50 AM
To: rick archer
Subject: leave of absence

Hey Rick,

I wanted to take a leave of absence after the month of July. Lisa and I are extremely busy through out the week and we need to have more time at home, especially when our baby comes around.

Sincerely, Bryan

RICK'S NOTE: I was stunned. Where did this come from?  It made no sense. I felt completely, totally unprepared for this.

Yesterday on Sunday Bryan had been at the studio doing his job.  Now at 5:50 AM on Monday morning, he was asking for an indefinite leave of absence.  

Normally when trouble is brewing, you see it coming. Not this time. This was a lightning bolt. 

I had absolutely no one to cover Bryan's class!

If you remember back to EMAIL EXCHANGE TWO, Bryan could not find a single substitute he considered capable of taking his place for one day.

If Bryan couldn't find anyone to substitute for him, just exactly who was I supposed to get to replace him with?  Why didn't he take responsibility for finding his own replacement?

Plus the word 'indefinite' was very threatening.  Anybody can hold out for a month or two and plug the gap.  But 'indefinite' had an ominous feeling about it.

With the baby coming, Bryan needed to be with Lisa as much as possible. I understood that. But who could take his place?  It is one thing to find a substitute for a junior instructor, but Bryan was the head of the program.  

Bryan's decision was very difficult to accept. I had a business to run and I depended on him.


-----Original Message-----
From: Rick Archer
Sent: Monday, July 09, 2007 6:57 AM
To: Bryan Spivey
Subject: RE: leave of absence

I can spare you for one month if you get a substitute. Any longer than that is out of the question.

Other SSQQ dance instructors have successfully managed to have children and keep their careers, especially the male instructors.

You have something in common with Jim Coulter, Daryl Armstrong and Ben Liles. All three men met their wives here at the studio and helped their wives have children without needing to stop teaching one night a week.

Considering I have built this program around you for the past four years, this would be quite a blow.

In fact, losing you will essentially terminate the whip program at ssqq. Without your credibility, I do not see the point to continue to fight alone. I would pull the plug on every whip class.


-----Original Message-----
From: Bryan Spivey
Sent: Monday, July 09, 2007 5:40 PM
To: Rick Archer
Subject: RE: leave of absence

The men you mentioned were obviously able; I am not. You can't compare them to me, this is a case by case situation. My job at SSQQ is not my career. I am teaching at SSQQ because I want to, not because I have to. Telling me that I cannot take a leave of absence is not your decision.

Lets clarify - if you pull the plug on the whip program, it is your choice. Do not try and put the blame on me for your actions. I will surely miss all the students and friends I have taught over the past 5 years at SSQQ, but I would also bet they would understand that life happens.

I do not agree with your new idea of making Martian a class students have to qualify/try out for. It makes someone the bad guy and you want to put that stamp on me...I dont care for that...I will not turn students away. Im here to teach them to get better; you are preventing me from teaching them.

This is not the reason why I am taking a leave of absence. I told you my reasons in my previous email, and I am standing firm to my decision.

I can't say Bryan was wrong for putting me in my place. Once I cooled down, I realized how stupid that statement was.  I wasn't going to terminate the whip program if he left, but at the time I wrote it, I was so frustrated that's how I felt.

I did know this: without an adequate replacement for Bryan... and not one name surfaced in my mind... it would be a huge struggle to overcome his 'indefinite departure'. 

Bryan was the Director of our Program because he was a dance champion.  Not only was he a Texas State Dance Champion, Bryan was poised to be a national dance figure.  His prodigious talent was along the lines of "once in a lifetime".

How exactly do you replace a Champion? 


-----Original Message-----
From: Rick Archer
Sent: Tuesday, July 10, 2007 9:07 AM
To: Bryan Spivey
Subject: RE: leave of absence

Bryan, you have made a commitment to lead what is your whip program to success. Your job is to build a program here at this studio AS YOU PROMISED TO DO.

I have initiated tough changes at your request and taken a great amount of heat in the process. And now you say essentially you are unable to teach one night a week.

Now I have whittled it down to three men and three women who work as a team. You are the leader of that team.

Last night you witnessed forty people practicing WCS in Room 1. This is exactly what you have been hoping for. This is the result of hard work on the part of three men and three women. But you are the Star and the leader. With that position comes the responsibility to lead.

Your INDEFINITE ABSENCE would cripple this momentum.

If you think your wife needs you, yes, she does. But this dance program needs you too. We need your leadership.

I ask you to reconsider. It is ONE NIGHT A WEEK. Don't burn your bridges because you are so stubborn you think I am pushing you around. I push hard because I depend on you, Bryan. I need your help.

If you wish a compromise, then I ask that you promise to limit your absence to two months and pick your substitute and train them. Announce to your class who the substitute is and how long you plan to be gone. That is the professional thing to do.

One more thing. Your leave of absence needs to include SW Whip. If I find you continue to teach at Southwest Whip during your absence, I will be compelled to deal with this matter seriously. It will basically mean you believe your job is there, not here. I gave you permission to teach there at your request because you promised never to hurt me. I can accept dual loyalties; I cannot accept one-sided loyalties.

Think carefully, my friend. Please do not turn your back on us.


-----Original Message-----
From: Bryan Spivey
Sent: Tuesday, July 10, 2007 5:44 PM
To: Rick Archer
Subject: RE: leave of absence


I am sending you my resignation via this email. Thanks for letting me be a part of your SSQQ Whip program and teaching at your studio for over 5 years. I have enjoyed my time at SSQQ, and I will miss everyone. Lisa and I can finish the month of July if you like.

RICK'S NOTE:  Just like I did not see the first letter coming, I did not see his resignation coming either.  I was in shock AGAIN! 

I went back to Bryan's first email to read it a second time.  Did I miss something?

"Lisa and I are extremely busy through out the week and we need to have more time at home, especially when our baby comes around."

Busy throughout the week?  Busy around the house?  How many Dance Directors resign from a two-hour a week commitment and a future position as head of the largest dance studio in Houston to do house chores?  Was I missing something here?

It was very difficult for me to accept that was Bryan's real reason. 

People here at SSQQ depended on Bryan. He was going to turn his back on a two-hour commitment once a week because he was busy at home?

If I had to guess, Bryan resigned because he didn't want to argue with me about teaching at Southwest Whip on Wednesdays.  It was the only explanation that made any sense to me.

In a weird way, the first thing I thought of was Jeff Skilling, the former CEO over at Enron.  Just four months after Skilling quit as head of Enron for no apparent reason, the entire business collapsed.

The entire business community had long heard rumors there was something fishy going on over at Enron.

People assumed Skilling knew something horrible, but wouldn't tell them!  Now the business community suddenly grew suspicious.  The crisis was started by a loss of confidence. They didn't trust Enron any more.  What did Skilling know that he wasn't saying?  

Without Skilling to shore up Enron's reputation, banks suddenly stopped lending Enron cash for the short-term.

The avalanche started all because Skilling's unexplained departure hinted that Enron was hiding something!

Who in the world was going to believe me when I told them the Crown Prince of SSQQ had resigned to do house chores? 

Bryan had just gone Jeff Skilling on me.  New Fathers are supposed to earn money, not quit their jobs.

Heck, even I didn't believe Bryan. Who was going to believe me?

Maybe Bryan had resigned in anger.  If anyone can understand a temper, it's me.  Maybe if I left the door open, we could smooth this out.


-----Original Message-----
From: Rick Archer
Sent: Tuesday, July 10, 2007 7:44 PM
To: Bryan Spivey
Subject: resignation

Bryan, I do not accept your resignation. At least not until you give me the courtesy to explain what is REALLY bothering you. This stays btw you and me. I just want to know what's behind your anger.

After you tell me the truth and show me the respect I deserve, then we will proceed from there.

RICK'S NOTE:  You may have noticed I promised Bryan I would keep it between him and me.  I meant that.  But Bryan never took me up on my offer to explain the situation candidly.

In addition, Bryan's next email effectively removed that offer from the table.


-----Original Message-----
From: Bryan Spivey
Sent: Wednesday, July 11, 2007 6:41 AM
To: Rick Archer
Subject: Re: resignation


I am resigning.  Due to the hostility of your emails, I am under the impression that you do not want me to finish the month of July. If you want to talk to me, we can talk in person.

RICK'S NOTE:  Two days and a half days passed. 

Even though I had a Newsletter to send, I was deliberately waiting as long as I could. 

I was ready to throw in the towel and send out the Newsletter on Friday the 13th, but my friend Cher asked me to hold off and give Bryan one more try.

So I phoned Bryan at 5:45 pm.  Unfortunately there was no answer (nor did I get a call back).

It was time to go to the studio.  Honoring my promise to Cher, I decided to try one more email.  As Cher intimated, "Don't ever close the door on diplomacy."


 -----Original Message-----
From: Rick Archer
Sent: Friday, July 13, 2007 5:52 PM
To: Bryan Spivey
Subject: what's the status of your resignation?

I tried calling, but no answer.

I still remain totally in the dark as to your situation. No one resigns without a reason. At this point my only guess is it has something to do w SWWC, but I cannot imagine you would burn a bridge as valuable as SSQQ unless there was a good reason.

I am not going to try to change your mind, but I would appreciate at least knowing what the problem is.


-----Original Message-----
From: Bryan Spivey
Sent: Friday, July 13, 2007 8:11 PM
To: Rick Archer
Subject: Re: what's the status of your resignation?

Do you still want me to finish up the month of July? If so, please respond. If I do not receive a response by Monday, I will assume that you do not want Lisa and I to finish the month of July.

Rick, it has to do with scheduling for my family. It has nothing to do with SWWC. I do not wish to go into detail on email, If you like, we could chat about sometime this weekend, or at Starbucks on Monday.


-----Original Message-----
From: Rick Archer
Sent: Saturday, July 14, 2007 8:13 AM
To: Bryan Spivey
Subject: RE: what's the status of your resignation?

I have to be honest, Bryan. I am too depressed about this to do Starbucks.

Blood is more important than business; that I understand.

So I will take your word for it and leave it at that.

In a roundabout way, you have answered the most important question anyway.

The rumors are going crazy and people out there are badgering me to know what I did to chase you away.

If it makes you feel any better, you are very popular here. As the word gets out, I am dealing with a potential rebellion.

No one believes that you would quit a two-hour a week job unless I did something terrible to deserve it. They don't trust me when I keep swearing I didn't do a thing. One instructor walked away from me in mid-sentence last night shaking his head in disbelief.

As for your question about Monday, there is no reason to come to the studio on Monday; it is just too awkward. I will refund those who want one.

Most of your students know where to find you over at Southwest anyway, so there is no reason to put you or me through that ordeal for three weeks.

And, cruel as it sounds, I can begin the healing process faster if you stay away.

Bryan, don't feel guilty. Losing you hurts like hell. It will be impossible to replace a champion like you, but as long as people don't get angry at me for shoving you out the door, then we will eventually figure something out.

I will be happy to pay you and Lisa for the remainder of July if you need the money.

Good luck and I guess I will see you around.

RICK ARCHER'S NOTE:  On Monday, July 16, I showed up and merged Bryan's class with mine.  I told them all the bad news.

There was a great deal of sadness and several long faces, but everyone was a good sport about this reversal of fortune. 

I promised each and every person that I had done everything possible to persuade Bryan to change his mind.  They must have believed me because not one person asked for a refund.

At some point, I will be criticized for printing these emails.  Let me save you the trouble of emailing me on this issue.  I have published the emails for one specific reason - I have a Reputation to protect.

I understand that Bryan may feel awkward about seeing his mysterious resignation dealt with publicly, but he needs to understand that I have 60 people who work for me, thirteen hundred students a month who take classes here, and 14,000 people on the SSQQ email list who need to see beyond the shadow of a doubt that I do my level best to treat people fairly.

And that is the entire point of our eight chapter essay on Reputation. 

Be it a small arena or a large arena, if your Reputation is attacked and you don't speak up EFFECTIVELY in your own defense, you will get hammered in the court of public opinion.  So you better speak up.


Monday, July 30, 2007  10:13 am

"I have heard you are writing a story about me full of inconsistencies.  I am calling to warn you I have contacted my lawyer..." 

(RICK'S NOTE:  Based on his tone of voice, I hung up at this point without a word.  Bryan did not call back.  This had been the first contact I had with Bryan since the last emails on Friday the 13th of July.

I found Bryan's July 30th phone call to be most peculiar.  You have read my article.  What do you suppose he was worried about?


Friday, July 13 - I finished the story you have just read on July 13th

After reading it, my friend Cher suggested I talk with Bryan one more time. "Don't ever close the door on Diplomacy!" 

Friday, July 13 - Bryan's final email received.

Saturday, July 14 - Added Bryan's final email plus my reply to story.

Monday, July 16 - I made an announcement to Bryan's former class of his resignation.

Tuesday, July 17 - Added
RICK ARCHER'S NOTE to the story.  

From July 17 to July 30, there was no contact between Bryan and myself.  For all intents and purposes, my story was finished on the the 17th with the addition of RICK ARCHER'S NOTE.

From that point on, t
he story stayed completely untouched for these two weeks.  Meanwhile, I thought about whether I really wanted to publish it or not.

Monday, July 30, 2007  10:13 am  Phone call from Bryan regarding his attorney.

After hanging up, I was curious why Bryan would be concerned about a story I had not made public.

I had not published the story for a specific reason - I was having second thoughts about saying anything.  I still had a soft spot for Bryan; maybe the story did not need to be printed.  I would really rather not take a chance of sabotaging any future that Bryan and I might have. 

Plus I wasn't mad at Bryan any more.  It is true that Bryan had left me hanging.  There wasn't anyone else on the SSQQ Staff that could step in at a moment's notice.  Nor was it easy merging two classes with vastly different levels of experience. 

So I will admit I was shaky taking over Bryan's class the first night after he quit (JULY 16). I had a right to be nervous - I had not taught Martian Whip since 2002. 

Fortunately I had an ace in the hole - Cher Longoria, my assistant.  Cher was an enormous help.  With Cher keeping me propped up, I made it through the first class.  Then I began to get my sea legs back. With Cher's help, my class responded to my leadership and people were starting to adjust to me taking his place.  

Suddenly the new 'merged' class begin to click.  The new quarterback was completing passes!  People were learning and laughing.  For the month of July, the attendance was excellent.  We finished out July on a high note.  (By the way, if you were in that class, thank you for giving me a chance) 

Now that much of the damage of Bryan's departure had been healed, why bother stirring up trouble?  Therefore, in the following two weeks, I had more or less decided not to publish this story. 

But Bryan's July 30 lawyer phone call changed things. 

Bryan was worried about rumors ("inconsistencies in the story").  How would he know there were inconsistencies?  The story wasn't even published!  At that point in time, only four people had read the story - Rick, Marla, Cher, and Robert.

I might as well share the story for his sake as well as mine.  Why not?  Every word is true.

Normally when people are threatened with legal action, they run back and re-read everything they said.  I published this story on August 2 without bothering to re-read a word I said. 

Yes, everything written here in the blue area titled "Curious Footnote" was written after Bryan's July 30 phone call.  But everything about Bryan before the Blue Area was written before Bryan's July 30 phone call. In fact, it was finished on July 17th and just sat there awaiting my final decision.

Now, even though Bryan has threatened legal action, I give you my absolute word that not one comma, sentence, phrase, word has been added, changed, or deleted after the phrase "
On Tuesday, July 10th, I received these two messages:" and before CURIOUS FOOTNOTE.

Note: on August 3, I did make one addition.  After reading the story, someone told me what I said about Jeff Skilling had confused him.  So I added the passage:  The entire business community had long heard rumors there was something fishy going on over at Enron.

By the way, along the lines of Enron, I am not hiding anything.  What you see in the article above is exactly the way it came down.  There are no missing phone conversations, no missing fights at the studio.  Nada. Nil. Zip.  When Bryan said he was taking his leave of absence, I was stunned out of my mind.  Things were going good; why leave now?

I was so depressed at Bryan's decision to leave for 'household chores' that I wanted to shut the whole damn Whip Program down right on the spot.  I felt total despair at that moment.  I am sure I felt the same way the Enron people did when Skilling quit - abandoned.

So if I am not hiding anything - and I repeat that I am not - then what is Bryan so worried about?

I do not know why Bryan quit.  I do not accept his written reason.  I find his reference to Starbucks to be a clear indication that he would rather not share the real reason in print.

I have always done my best to treat Bryan fairly.  I won't lie - I was deeply disappointed by his departure.  However I'm over it.  I have no axe to grind.  Live long and prosper, Bryan.  

I am okay because I got what I wanted - a successful Martian class.  That's all I care about.  When Bryan headed for the Exit Door, Cher promised me things would work out fine and so did Marla.  It turned out they were right - I had a great time teaching Martian Whip in July.  The students were wonderful to me. 

By the way, I was not mad when I hung up on Bryan.  Actually, I hung up on Bryan for his sake, not mine.  Given the way the conversation started, I feared he was about to say things he might regret.

Bryan might want to cross back over the SSQQ bridge some day.  And I might want to let him.

RA, 08-02-07


SSQQ Biography of Bryan Spivey prior to 2007

Bryan Spivey is a West Coast Swing/Whip dance instructor at SSQQ Dance Studio and at Southwest Whip Club.  Bryan teaches group West Coast Swing dance lessons at SSQQ on Sundays, Thursdays, and Fridays, and at SW Whip on Wednesdays.

Bryan is available for private lessons in East Coast Swing as well as his specialty West Coast Swing.


  • Top Twelve finish in Classic Division with Valerie Menard at the US Open  (November 2006)
  • Top Teacher Award, Southwest Regional (May 2005)
  • First Place with Lisa Palmer, Pro-Am, Southwest Regionals (May 2005)
  • Two-time First Place with Yvonne Spivey (Mom!) Texas Classic (May 2005)
  • Top Teacher Award, America's Classic (April 2005)
  • Texas State Champion with Lisa Palmer, Intermediate Novice Progressive (October 2004)
  • Texas State Champion, Pro-Am (October 2004)
  • America's Classic Champion, Jack and Jill with Susie Rutherford (April 2004)
  • Novice Invitational 2004 Champion, Pro-Am (March 2004)
  • Houston City Champion, 2003 Strictly Swing Champion with Michelle Wann (July 2003)
  • And of course the award Bryan is most proud of, Two-Time Winner Best Costume, SSQQ Halloween Party (2000 and 2002)

Picture of Bryan Spivey and Lisa Palmer taken at the April 2005 Sleazy Bar Whip Party at SSQQ



-----Original Message-----
From: Bryan Spivey
Sent: Monday, November 27, 2006 9:57 AM
To: rick archer
Subject: US OPEN

Hey Rick,   This past year Valerie Menard (my partner) and I have been practicing, traveling and competing all over the US. Our goal was to go to the US OPEN, one of the biggest events that accomplished competitors go to try and become a part of dance history.

This past weekend at Anaheim, California, there were 28 couples from all over the US in the CLASSIC DIVISION program. After the preliminaries, only 12 couples were brought back.  Valerie and I were one of the 12!!   We made the US OPEN finals.

Historically there have been only 2 other men from Houston to ever make the US OPEN finals....Mario Robau Jr. and David Appel.  That number now stands at 3.

We left early Sunday morning, so we are not sure where we ranked among the elite dancers of the US, but making finals and representing Houston was exciting in it's own right.

I hope you had a good Thanksgiving. I know I sure did! 

Bryan Spivey

Bryan Spivey and fiancée Lisa Palmer


Note to Rick Archer from Bryan Spivey, May 2005

-----Original Message-----
From: Bryan Spivey
Sent: Friday, May 27, 2005 12:24 PM
To: Rick archer
Subject: this past weekend at Texas Classic and Southwest Regionals

Short version - talk about work!  I participated in two different competitions in one weekend! Whew!

TEXAS CLASSIC (Memorial Day weekend 2005)

We went to Texas classic and they were running late with the comps. They did finally get going and we danced. The women I danced with did very well!

Susan Arevalo got a silver in newcomer

Veronique Frizzel got a silver in newcomer

Cher Longoria got a gold w honors and 3rd place in novice (higher than newcomer)...which should be changed to 2nd because they goofed up one of the girl's division

Becky Maccorkle got 2nd novice, right in front of Cher, BUT this is where the problem lies. We registered as an INT couple and even stated it when we went out on the floor. So Becky is waiting for her name to get off of the novice score sheet, which would place Cher Longoria at 2nd.

Bryan with Michele Franzwaa at the
Ezra Charles Party, January 2005

My mom (Yvonne Spivey) WON BOTH categories. Diamond newcomer and open newcomer...she beat out all the younger ladies!!! She rocked the house and got 2 1st place trophies, gold graduate (higher than gold w honors) and travel bags to go with it.

Lisa Palmer got 2nd place INT and gold with honors

I got 1st place and gold grad in my strictly swing with the lady who sold me some orthotics!!


Then we went to Dallas and Lisa and I won the male pro-am!

This is the first time she had won or even placed in a pro-am, which made her very happy.

Note: we did not hear about the above placement until after we knew about the comp results in Dallas. We got 1st over all and beat out 24 ladies!!

I ended up getting top teacher again!

And that's what Dave Megaffin said on the floor..."top teacher award AGAIN goes to .... Bryan Spivey"

Now that I became a certified judge, I also got to judge a lot during the weekend.

Lisa also got 4th place in the INT strictly swing with some guy she just met at the comp.

Bryan pictured with Samantha Archer at the 2000 SSQQ Halloween Party

I got 4th place in the ADV strictly with Becky burgess

phew - if this keeps up pretty soon I'm going to be as old as you (just kidding)

Bryan Spivey

PS -
I got my mom and my girlfriend wins in the pro-am...the hardest comp to win because of so many competitors! That's what I am most happy about!"

Bryan Spivey is not only a gifted dancer, it turns out he is a pretty fair instructor as well. He pointed out he has won "top instructor" at his past two west coast competitions.

If you want to join the competition game or simply want to improve your dancing, email him at

Bryan Takes over Leadership of the SSQQ Whip Program and begins teaching at SW Whip Club in May 2005

(story written by Rick Archer for the May 2005 Newsletter)

Bryan Spivey will be taking charge of the SSQQ Whip/West Coast Swing program from me starting in May 2005. Like the Godfather handing the reins to Michael Corleone, I intend to stick around to be "consigliere", but as you will see it is clearly for Bryan to step up in responsibility.

Bryan came to SSQQ in 2000. His friend Michelle Franzwaa was taking Swing classes here at the studio the previous year. Now in her first year of college at Texas Tech, she wrote me asking for a summer job. It was about that time SSQQ had serious problems with overcrowding. Michelle's request prompted me to consider hiring her as our first "Hall Monitor". Michelle knew Bryan from her church group and thought he could use some money on the side.

Bryan immediately cost me $30,000!

Soon after Bryan hired, one night a student came in without a receipt. Furthermore his name was not on the class roster. This was in the days before our computerized system. The man threw a fit when Bryan wouldn't let him into class.

The truth was that the man likely was signed up for the class, but he hadn't bothered to sign the roster. We had two ways to verify registration and the man came up empty on both. Why was Bryan supposed to take his word for it?

The gentleman became furious, but Bryan stood his ground. Eventually the man gave up and went home to write a pretty serious letter of complaint. If you are curious, you can read the story here:

The situation of keeping track of all the students and volunteers was badly out of control. The confrontation was the last straw. It was then I decided to hire David Schroeder to design our computerized registration system.

Bryan wasn't a bad Hall Monitor, but he wasn't a very good one either. He was far more interested in dancing than monitoring. He would monitor for the first fifteen minutes, then find a dance class to volunteer in.

Bryan with Judy Archer at the 2001 SSQQ Halloween Party

Then one day I discovered Bryan had taught one of the Swing classes. One of the teachers didn't show up. Bryan volunteered to fill in.

When I found out, I threw a fit. My words were something like, "Who on earth let a HALL MONITOR teach one of our classes!!!"

Then I discovered the students had really enjoyed Bryan as a teacher. I calmed down.
What made Bryan's situation so unique is that he never bothered taking any classes. He didn't need to. Bryan acquired dance material so quickly that it wasn't necessary. Watching him dance one night at Swing Practice, I realized that not only was Bryan a natural dancer, he had a prodigious talent. Bryan's rhythm and ability to move gracefully far surpassed anyone I had ever seen walk through the studio doors.

Obviously Bryan was in the wrong role. He needed to be a Swing teacher. I switched him to part-time Hall Monitor and part-time Swing assistant in February 2002. He became a co-teacher on Mondays by August of the same year.

Bryan was one of many Swing Kids who came to the studio during the Gap Swing Commercial days of the late 90s. Current SSQQ teachers Lise Gagnon, Kimberly Smith, Michelle Wann, Patty Oh, Steve Gabino, Krista Johnson and Gloria Sanchez all started as students and moved into roles as Swing Instructors about the same time.

Like all the Swing Kids, Bryan was also interested in West Coast Swing. Never bothering to take classes, he just picked it up by watching. Did I mention that I hate him?

Pretty soon the girls were lining up to dance with Bryan. Despite his background as a defensive lineman in football, Bryan was extremely gentle to dance with and possessed exquisite timing. Even better, he moved body parts no other could move and looked sexy doing it.

Bryan and his friend Michelle Wann decided to enter a Whip/WCS contest. Unlike some people who struggle all their lives to become good, Bryan and Michelle won the contest on their first try. Suddenly we had two Houston City Champions in our midst!

Bryan with his mother Yvonne
at the 2005 Sleazy Bar Party

During 2003 Bryan continued to go to college and teach Swing for us on a part-time basis. Then in early 2004, my long-time friend Jack Benard dropped a bombshell. He was leaving Houston to move to back to his home state California. My heart sank. Jack had proven in the past year to be one of the most charismatic West Coast/Whip instructors we had ever had.

It was obvious where I would turn to. I had no idea if Bryan would be as good a teacher as Jack was, but it was obvious he was one of the best dancers I had ever had on the staff. In April 2004, Bryan took Jack's place.

Bryan's first year of teaching was a mixed bag. After he graduated from college in May 2004, I expected Bryan to embark on a career as a dance teacher. Instead Bryan got a full-time job during the day as a sheet metal worker and refused to add any more nights to his teaching duties.

One thing Bryan did do well was continue his rise in the world of competitive West Coast Swing dancing. In October 2004, Bryan and his girlfriend Lisa Palmer won a Texas State Dance Championship.

Bryan with Kimberly Smith and Lise Gagnon, SSQQ 2002 Halloween Party

This is what he wrote me in an email:

Saturday, 10/31/04

"hey rick,

i got home about an hour ago from the competition. i am beat. i apologize for not showing up for class, but it was late and i am physically exhausted, BUT lisa and i did bring home some prizes for you and the studio.

they are:

1st place INT progressive (bryan spivey and lisa palmer). this was our routine division. we had 3 1st place votes out of 5. lisa and i are STATE CHAMPIONS....a step above city champs. make sure to put that in the new schedule! ;O)

2nd place strictly swing INT (bryan Spivey and lisa palmer). this was an important event, but no choreography, which makes the progressive division (above) harder. this was a fun one. we had a slow blues song and tore it up.

1st place female pro am (bryan spivey and lisa damico) this is the 3rd time i have won the pro-am with lisa damico. she even helped us on some problems with our routine and gave us a big hug when as we walked up to receive our trophies. :O)

2nd place jack n jill NOV (lisa palmer and ben johnson from louisiana) the jack n jill was at 9pm on friday which is why lisa was not at work. but she made the finals and then got second place. i rushed out so i could get at least a glipmse of her dancing and luckily i got to see her last 2 dances in the final round.

it was a great weekend and it really sets the mark on my advanced/open/professinal career as a dance instructor. there was still some doubt whether i should do it or not. but with winning (not just placing) these events there is little doubt if any.

lisa and i racked up the trophies! i came home with 3 she came home with 2 and some money!

again, i apologioze for not showing up for class, but hopefully it is an excused absence,

Despite the fact that Bryan was now a State Champion with Lisa Palmer, his participation at the dance studio actually began to dwindle at this point. Apparently the non-stop pace of working a full-time day job, private lessons, group lessons, practicing to win dance contests, and spending time with his full-time beautiful girlfriend were wearing him out. I began to see less and less of Bryan over the next few months.

I wasn't having a very easy of time of it either. About a week after Bryan's triumph, Judy Archer abruptly ended a 16-year career at SSQQ by quitting out of the blue. This decision threw the studio into a crisis mode for the remainder of 2004. Losing the second most important person in my organization without warning left a lot of holes to plug. I had too many problems of my own to worry about Bryan's obvious loss of enthusiasm.

Losing Judy Archer had a domino effect. Two months later, Susan Schroeder, our new Second in Command, quit without warning just like Judy had. My guess is the added responsibilities Susan had taken on after Judy left pushed her over the edge. Now the studio was really in trouble.

Fortunately Linda Cook stepped up and filled several of the newest holes. And Marla Archer, my new wife of three months, stepped up and filled the other gaps. And I took on some extra duties as well. It was an emergency of the first magnitude.

Let me add in passing Marla nearly cratered in from the exhaustion too! However after two months of working our butts off, by the end of February Marla and I thought we had the ship back on course. Classes were full and the energy at the studio was good.

Then Bryan dropped a bombshell. He wasn't "quitting", but he was reducing his teaching commitment at the studio from three nights a week down to one.

Monday, 02/28/05

"hey rick,

it has almost been a year since we sat down and had a chat about our future. in the past year, i have made some decent money, but not enough to support myself exclusively on dance instruction and private lessons. i have won a state championship, and went "pro", but i have also been suffering from exhaustion. i want to stay and be able to do only this for a living, but if the next couple years are going to be like this past year, i dont know if i will be able to take it all on again.

i have a degree and i am not using it to its fullest potential. i have thought long and hard about a future and my wants, like raising a family, getting married, traveling, etc and the lifestyle that i am living now will make it very hard. i have decided to go back to school this summer and finish up the prerequisites that i need to go to physical therapy school. it will take a year to get the prerequisites. this summer i will try and get 8 hours of chemistry knocked out leaving the next year (fall and spring) to finish up 8 hours of physics and a statistics class. im hoping to apply within this year to get in to their fall 2006 class for physical therapy.

since i will be in night school throughout the summer i will not be able to teach on thursdays or fridays in the months of may (second half), june, july and august. i can still teach on sundays and if you want, i could take both sessions of whip from 430-630 and then 7-9. the fall and spring are too far away to try and schedule around that due to the uncertainty of when classes will be scheduled.

when i do get into physical therapy school, i will be in school like a normal 8-5 job, and i would love to come back to the martian class on friday.

some of the most popular and world champion instructors still have other full time jobs on the side. i dont want to put off my opportunity to go back to school anymore.

i hope you can respect my decision,
sincerely, bryan Spivey"

I was deeply saddened by Bryan's decision. Here was a young man with the most dance talent I had ever seen since Mario Robau. If Bryan worked hard enough, I believed he could perhaps someday win a national dance championship. But in the year since he had graduated, Bryan had yet to make the decision to put all his eggs in one basket. Bryan wanted security, not an unconventional career like dancing. He had decided to put his dance career on hold to go back to college. In private I questioned his decision.

To my mind, Bryan was the finest young dancer in the entire city. He also had the fortune of working for the largest dance studio in the city. There were over 2 million possible dance students in the Houston area! Bryan was in position to make a lot of money using his god-given talent by teaching dance if he would only put his mind to it and concentrate!!

Fame, Fortune, Achievement, and Satisfaction were Bryan's for the taking, but instead he was playing it safe by going back to college. I shook my head in frustration.

I asked Bryan's mother Yvonne what she thought. She seemed disappointed by Bryan's decision, but supported it anyway because it was what he wanted to do. So I decided to accept his decision too. I sadly went about plans to fill his spots. Unlike his predecessors, Bryan gave me a couple months to adjust. Still I was very disappointed. Why couldn't I have been given that kind of talent?

First Jack, then Judy, then Susan, now Bryan. Could I relax now? Was anybody next? Sure enough, someone else quit!

I went home deeply frustrated one night in March. Charlene Tees has just told me she has decided to move to Austin to pursue a lucrative real estate opportunity. Charlene was not only a tremendous Whip and West Coast Swing teacher, she was also my lead Ballroom instructor. Plus Charlene taught all my wedding private lessons. Now I had three more holes to fill plus Bryan's classes. What a headache. Then Judy Archer decided to sue me for full custody of our daughter.

Just shoot me.

Bryan at the 2001 Sock Hop

Then a very curious thing happened. There was a huge blowup over at Southwest Whip Club.

About three years earlier Mario Robau, the dance director at SWWC, had invited up-and-coming dance instructors Damon and Lisa D'Amico to relocate in Houston from Louisiana. Mario promised them a lucrative teaching position at Southwest Whip with the opportunity to teach other classes on their own.

Damon and Lisa did well at Southwest Whip. Their classes were full and they were popular. Unfortunately all was not well. Damon and Mario clashed over many issues. Resentments built up. Finally things came to a head in mid-March during a dance competition. Damon and Lisa got very angry over being told to restrain their own children while other people's kids seemed to roam freely. They blamed Mario for the embarrassment. He refused to apologize to their satisfaction. That did it. Lisa and Damon quit on the spot.

I wrote this email to a friend:

-----Original Message-----
From: Rick Archer []
Sent: Thursday, March 17, 2005 12:13 PM
To: xxxx
Subject: Damon and Lisa vs. Mario

I am curious about something. Do you think this rift btw the two men will have any effect on ssqq?


"That was the first thing that I asked myself...., but I think that ssqq Wednesday night is set, you have a great C&W program and they will be competing for the WCS/Whip people.

However I do think the SWWC will be affected because Damon and Lisa have a great group of followers, and they are really good about doing PR in the club scene...."

Actually, it turned out that the sudden divorce between Southwest Whip Club and Damon and Lisa had a profound effect on SSQQ. It caused Bryan to change his mind!!!

The moment Damon and Lisa quit at SWWC, they immediately tried to lure Bryan from SSQQ to come teach with them. Bryan said he would have to think about it. Then Bryan had a talk with Mario. They discussed the chance of Bryan taking one of the open teaching positions at SWWC.

There was only one problem. I don't want my staff teaching for other dance programs. This same issue had come up many times in the past. Some of my teachers quit to go over to Southwest Whip. Other teachers decided to choose SSQQ over SWWC. In twenty-five years, I had never shared an instructor with Southwest Whip Club.

When Bryan asked me permission to go teach at SWWC, my immediate reaction was to say no. I figured at that point what did I have to lose? Bryan had already said he was only going to teach one night a week for me anyway while he went to night school.

That is when Bryan surprised me. He said he had been giving it a lot of thought. He still wanted to go back to college, but instead of quitting the dance job, he had decided to quit the sheet metal job instead. This meant he would go to school during the day and teach dance at night.

Suddenly I was paying attention again. I knew Bryan cared for the studio a lot. I knew if I put my foot down, Bryan would probably protest and perhaps do it my way. But even if he stayed, he would be losing the chance to receive valuable competition dance training under the master, Mario Robau. This was clearly training I couldn't give him.

Bryan's talent is a blessing. How much good would it do for me to deny Bryan the chance to further a career I deeply hoped he would pursue.

I changed my mind. I told Bryan he could work for both organizations with my blessings. In fact, I told him I hoped his unique ability to traverse both worlds could allow SSQQ and SWWC to work together for the first time in 25 years. Whether this happens or not remains to be seen, but if it was ever going happen, this would seem to be the right time.
The next day I wrote Mario Robau a letter of recommendation. Whether it helped or not I don't know, but Bryan got the job a couple days later. Bryan now officially worked for two 4-letter dance studios!

Bryan and his sister Denise at
the 2005 Sleazy Bar Party

This letter was sent out by the Southwest Whip Club in May 2005:

"Hello everyone,

On behalf of Southwest Whip Club I would like to announce our newest instructor!

SWWC is pleased to announce BRYAN SPIVEY as our new Beginning Class instructor. Since 2000 Bryan has worked very hard at teaching and competing.

Bryan's dance accomplishments include:
1. Houston City Championships 2003 Strictly Swing Champion
2. Novice Invitational 2003 Female Pro-Am Champion
3. 2x TSDA State Champion
4. 2x Americas' Classic Champion.

Most recently, Bryan took home the "Top Teacher" award at this year's Americas' Classic Championships.

In addition, all of our curriculums have been revised and updated in order to give our students the best social dance instruction possible.

Mario Robau Jr.
Dance Director - Southwest Whip Club"

About the same time as this announcement came out, Bryan competed in a major Whip/WCS contest over at SWWC known as "America's Cup". Competing against professional dance teachers from across the country, Bryan definitely held his own. In addition Bryan came home with one very nice honor - he received an award for being the "Top Dance Teacher".

This meant the students he had danced with during the competition had performed better than anyone else's students. I smiled. An evil thought crossed my mind. Not only can the boy dance, he can also teach! Just imagine what Bryan might accomplish if he ever decided to CONCENTRATE on teaching….

Here is what Bryan said about the competition:

-----Original Message-----
From: bryan spivey
Sent: Wednesday, March 30, 2005 12:02 PM
To: rick archer
Subject: competition awards

"hey rick,

sorry i was not in class this past sunday, but i was too busy receiving awards. ;O)

i got 3rd place in a strictly swing with valerie menard, but the top award was that i got TOP TEACHER AWARD. i beat out all the pros, which was nice, but this was at a national competition, not a local one. i had some of the big name pros come up to me and congratulate me on top teacher. i got a nice check too!

i was thinking about the technique class on sunday and i think we can do it. i got some positive feedback about that class and im thinking of a 2 month cycle. can we wait until we finish with our 4-month class, so that i can give it some thought and figure out how to structure the class? only problem i have is what if i need a sub for that class? like if i have a comp and they have awards on sunday.

does this sound ok? we can chat about this sometime too @ starbucks.


This is when I decided it was time for Bryan to take over the SSQQ teaching program. Bryan is a not even 30 years old yet. He has a college degree and has been teaching dance for four years. He has accomplished amazing things in the dance world in this short time. Furthermore he has connections to the most important dance organization in the city plus connections to the largest dance studio in the city. He has the respect of every dancer in Houston.

Bryan is already a star on his way to becoming a Superstar. Tom me it made all the sense in the world to give Bryan more responsibility.

Here is how I replied to his letter.


"Bryan, I understood completely why you weren't there and was happy to cover for you. I will ALWAYS be there to cover for you.

Nice work by the way!! I am very proud of you.

You should receive my email shortly authorizing you to put your identity on the SSQQ dance program. Now is the time for you to take the leadership. I will support anything you wish to do within reason.

This is your time of the season, Bryan. You are riding a fast horse and here's your hole. Hit it with everything you've got. You won't be sorry.

Rick Archer"

Saturday, April 9,2005

hey rick,

lately, i have had zero time to reflect back, but i am extremely grateful and honored that you have given me the permission to work both places and entrust me as the head of the whip program. i am very excited about this. im honored that you can trust me. i have found that you and lisa and a couple others are people i can really trust and respect.

Thank you, bryan"

The whirlwind chain of events led to several important changes in the SSQQ Whip Program. Following Bryan's suggestion, in May we have added a new class: Martian Whip Technique that will be taught on Sundays and Thursdays. This class is designed to give graduates of Lunar Whip more seasoning before tackling Bryan and Lisa's difficult Friday Night Martian Whip class.

In addition, Bryan's friendship with Michelle Wann Haynes allowed us to bring Trent Haynes over to SSQQ to help fill Charlene's spot. Trent has taught at SWWC for 15 years! He has won many dance championships to boot. Imagine bringing someone of this caliber over to SSQQ without any rancor. Now SSQQ and SWWC have not one, but two instructors in common.
And Michelle's friendship with Eric Montes, a long-time dance competitor who trained over at SWWC and whose mother is on their board of directors, joins Trent here at the studio as well. With an infusion of this kind of talent, I imagine all kinds of positive developments are in the works.

And the Sleazy Bar Whip Party is coming up on Saturday, April 23rd. Not only will you get to see Trent and Michelle Haynes perform, you will also get to see Bryan and Lisa perform as well. It should be quite a night. So now you know the story of how SSQQ acquired a new dance director. Bryan was on the verge of reducing his dance commitments only to suddenly do an about face. His phone has not stopped ringing with congratulations.

I am grateful that Bryan has gotten his dance career back in the direction I think it should be headed. Judging by the smile I have seen on his face, Bryan is gaining more confidence by the minute.

I ask all of you to give Bryan your complete support. Today he is our new leader of our Whip program.

Rick Archer
May 2005

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