June 1999
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posted 07-01-99

Rick Archer beats the Rap !

Ever get stuck with a ticket that cost $700 before ?  I did... and with a little help from my friends, I beat the Rap !

At SSQQ, people consume a lot of soft drinks. I mean A Whole Lot of Soft Drinks !  So where do all those drinks come from ?  Sams Wholesale Club. My carpenter Mr Salomon and I go to Sams about once every two weeks. Everyone at Sams knows me. For 10 years people stare in shock as we bring up our train of seven metal carts to the front counter. The Managers know me... they always tell me to bring my two trucks up to the front door so their personnel can assist us in transferring the drinks from the carts to the trucks.

On May 19, I finished loading my Pathfinder. As I strapped on my seat belt I noticed a mysterious green envelope on my windshield. I took a look : it was a $350 Fire Lane violation. I was absolutely stunned !  I had been loading drinks in this exact area at the suggestion of the Sams Management for 10 years. No one had ever told me this was a Fire Lane. I got out of the Pathfinder. There was nothing on the pavement to suggest a Fire Lane. No paint, no lines, Nothing. Then about 20 feet further down I saw a sign. I couldn't read it because I was beside it, not in front of it. Sure enough... the sign said "Fire Lane".  Mind you, I had to be standing right in front to read it, but there it was.

As I walked back to my Pathfinder I noticed Mr Salomon's truck had a ticket too. You see, we park in the parking lot like everyone else, then as I stand in line, he goes and brings the two trucks up right beside the door. Then he comes back in and hands me my keys. In the time it took to come back in the store, some civil servant who was probably just sitting in an air-conditioned car waiting for his chance jumped out and wrote the tickets. Mr Salomon wasn't away from the trucks for more than 5 minutes. Now we had 2 tickets totalling $700. You can guess how mad I was. In my opinion, this was a pretty cheap shot.

It was a strange ticket. There was not even an official court date like on other tickets I had received. It just said I had 45 days to go downtown and "request an Instanter Hearing". Oh boy, go downtown and ask for permission to go to court. Just my idea of fun !  What the heck is an "Instanter Hearing" anyway ?

After letting the two tickets sit on my kitchen counter like bird poop on a windshield, about three weeks later I decided to show the tickets to a gentleman at the studio who is a Houston Police Officer (who has asked that I not use his name due to the sensitivity of his position). Actually he is a Detective in the Sex Crimes Unit at HPD. I have asked him about his job several times, but he always gets very quiet so I am not exactly sure what he does up there. More about that later.

The HPD Officer said he would take a look into those tickets. A week later they reported the tickets were on the level. He didn't like them either and offered to help me fight it. He took a camera to Sams and photographed the location. After making a phone call, the Officer called me and explained it wasn't two trips downtown but one. These violations are processed immediately by a mediator, not a judge. Since the office was right across the street from his office, he volunteered to go to the hearing with me. I accepted without too much hesitation. He gave me directions to the Police Station downtown.

On Wednesday, June 30, I entered the new police building at 1200 Travis. I was in for a couple surprises. You have to stand in line just to enter the building. One at a time you go to a desk and present your driver's license and state your business before they issue you a pass. The officer at the desk asked me why I was there. I mentioned my appointment to see Officer So and So of the Sex Crimes Unit. At this, the officer quickly looked up from his computer terminal and eyed me carefully. "Mr Archer, Are you here to Register ?"  My face drained of color. I assumed he was asking if I intended to register as a Sex Crimes Offender. Oh, Great !  I quickly reassured the officer my visit had nothing to do with any sex crimes. With a frown, he issued me a pass and told me to go to the metal detector.

I took out my keys and placed them beside my clip board, then walked through. Whoop, Whoop, Whoop the alarm sounded. The officer in charge discretely put his hand on his hip pocket. He suggested I empty my pockets. When I nervously tried to jam my hand in my pocket, he suggested I reach for my pockets a little more slowly. I breathed very deeply and did what he said. There upon I brought out two dimes and a penny. This time I made it through the metal detector successfully. Badly shaken, I stumbled to the elevator. I have never committed a crime in my life other than snitching some comic books in the eighth grade (I got caught and my career in crime ended when the manager clubbed me over the head with a Batman comic book), but I was already shaken enough to confess to practically anything.

I entered the 11th Sex Crimes Unit. My Officer friend was the only person in there. He showed me the photos he had taken at Sams. He asked to me explain where I had parked and what my thought process was. He suggested I let him do the talking. It is not easy to agree to let someone else talk for me, but I guessed he knew the right things to say so I agreed to shut up.

We walked across the street. The whole process was very informal. We only had to wait maybe ten minutes. The Adjudicator took one look at the pictures that the Officer had taken of the location and said the case was dismissed because the lane was improperly marked. The Adjudicator was very nice about it the whole process. Justice was served thanks to the clever work of my hero !

The Longhorn Jackass

Email reprinted with permission of the Sender.

As you know, Tuesday at the Longhorn is "SSQQ" night. Well, last night seemed like a typical night. Many of us were there, dancing and having a good time. Then came the whip music. Normally that’s no big deal. There’s always a little two-step, a little polka, a little waltz, a little swing, and then a whip set. That’s when I always sit down to take a breather, since I have had absolutely no whip lessons. None. So I was just sitting, enjoying the rest, when a guy came up and asked me to dance. "No, thank you," I replied, "I don’t know how to whip." To which came many "Aw, come ons," and "It’s really easys". All the time I continued to say "No, thank you." He then said, "Well why don’t you just let me show you a few steps." So taking him at his word (what an idiot), I walked to the dance floor. BIG MISTAKE! First of all, those whip sets are long, and secondly, he proceeded to throw me around like a sack of potatoes. I mean, he jerked me up, down, over, and under, and I lost count of how many times my feet came up off the ground! I realize that I’m no spring chicken anymore, but he would have destroyed the joints of a 20-year old with these moves! Not to mention all the nasty, sleazy moves he tried. Everytime I would try to pull away from him or tell him to stop he would just laugh and not let go of my arm. When that song was over I just stormed over to my chair and the jackass had the nerve to tell me to save him a two-step. If I’d had my wits about me, I would have ground my boot into his instep!

A fellow from ssqq told me he has seen that guy before at other places and he does the same thing to other women.

Well, all I can say is I felt like whip got it’s name from "whiplash"! I couldn’t even turn my head last night it was so sore. And that’s coming from a woman who went through childbirth 3 times with no drugs - and one of those was a 37- hour labor.! So I am no wuss. (I’m not really sure how to spell that, but I’m still not one!) He just really ran me through through the mill.

Now you know why I just had to thank SSQQ. It is an incredible place for many reasons. But it’s the respect for other people that’s taught along with dancing that, and I think I can speak for many women, that is really appreciated.

Sylvia and Jeff Get Married !

On Saturday morning, June 26, Jeffrey Tuckar married Sylvia Kay. It was simple, very sweet ceremony at Unity Church. There were lots of smiles everywhere!

Afterwards we walked over to the Reception Area and had a nice meal. As Karen Day, Tony Catalano, Donna and her husband Paul Motard, and I sat eating at the table, we couldn't help but listen to great dance music playing in the background. I could detect several feet tapping under the table to the beat, including mine. Finally someone asked me if I had loaned one of my dance CD's. I briefly considered taking credit, but finally had to admit someone else was just as good at mixing music as I was, maybe better.

Finally my jealousy got the better of me, so I asked Sylvia who recorded the music. She said she did the night before the wedding and this same morning. Good Grief !  As if she didn't have a million other things to do.

Jeff and Sylvia just bought a lovely new home in the Heights and are in the process of moving in. Plus Sylvia just gave notice at her job... she figured she would do just about every stressful thing she could think of all at the same time.

Sylvia was a social butterfly at her reception, flitting from table to table to socialize. She even squeezed in a number of dances with all the incredible hunks she had invited to her wedding. She asked me to dance too.

Sylvia and Jeff shocked me greatly by announcing they were coming to the party at the studio that night. Everyone wanted to Waltz !  They were nice enough to bring several delicious platters of food to share with the studio that night.  Sylvia and Jeff danced the night away. I think it was the first relaxing thing they did all day !

They are off to Hawaii in a few weeks, but for now you will probably see them at the studio. Be sure and say hi !


Sad but true, Chris O'Rourke has retired !

Chris O'Rourke officially retired as an SSQQ Dance Instructor at the end of June. He will be sorely missed. His friends at the studio threw a huge going-away party for him at the Longhorn on June 29. I heard the floor was so packed there was hardly any room to dance.

Chris started teaching Western for us in May of 1994. A student before then, he learned quickly. Since he also expressed himself so well, I thought he would make a natural teacher. I was right !  Chris became a great teacher !

Although I may be wrong, Chris originally started classes on the recommendation of his co-worker Mike Hitzhusen. They both worked at American General at the time. Mike also became an instructor at SSQQ and met his future wife Hannah Baker at the studio. (Side note : Mike and Hannah are parents now and living in Atlanta).

A few years back Chris went to work for Microsoft. He loves working there and has received several promotions. Unfortunately it is these promotions that led to Chris' decision to retire at SSQQ. He has an increased work load and travels frequently. It is getting harder and harder to make it to the studio on a regular basis.

Chris is especially famous his bacchanalian orgies at his house the Saturday after each New Year. Now that Chris is retired, maybe some of the participants will come forward and reveal the true details of these events. You would be impressed at how tight-lipped the party goers are around me. Security regarding D-Day wasn't any tighter than the secrets of the Bashes at Chris' house up in the Woodlands. The Woodlands is this beautiful arboreal paradise where the forest is kept in a pristine state. It features deer, fauns, nymphs, satyrs, and nymphomaniacs.   That's the rumor I hear anyway.

I was so intrigued by some of the reports of "excesses" that one year I actually visited myself. I was asked never to return again. I didn't do anything bad, but apparently I had a major inhibiting effect on the revelers. They couldn't wait for me to leave !  All night long people would come up to me and ask, "You're not leaving soon, are you ?" I even heard one guy whisper when he thought I wasn't paying attention, "The party will really get going as soon as that old man leaves."  As if someone thought I might print something naughty they did. What ever gave them that idea ?

Chris has an interesting house. There is an area out back that has string around it. Inside the perimeter is a sign saying "Future Location of the Hot Tub". I don't know if Chris ever put that hot tub in, but he doesn't need to. In the mist I thought I saw some people sitting out there taking their clothes off anyway. What imaginations !  What a party !  Maybe I will go in disguise next time.

Goodbye, Chris, we will miss you !  Sunday, June 27, is his last night. Be sure to drop by and say goodbye to Chris !

Sock Hop 99

The 1999 SSQQ Sock Hop Dance Party was surprisingly successful. I say surprising because I have no way of gauging interest anymore. In the old days, the phone would be ringing off the hook with questions. For this party I had maybe 3 phone calls. Instead everyone checks the Internet if they have a question.

Attendance was around 180 people. We tested out the new dance floor with Whip tunes from the 50's, 60's, and 70's. It was a lot of fun back there in Room 4.

But the real action was in Room 1. We Line Danced, we did John-Paul-Jones, we danced to Shout, we went nuts !  There were so many people who didn't want to go we finally had to throw 'em out the door. It was our best dance party this year in my opinion. Other good ones include Swing Extravaganza I on January 9 and the Sleazy Bar Whip Party on April 24. The Sock Hop is this year's leader !     Click here for Pictures

Battle of the Sexes !

Recently I have received several scathing pieces of humor that Bash Men thoroughly. The observations were so precise that I have decided to share them with the entire land of SSQQ. I might add I am going to give the men a chance to fight back, but I currently have no ammunition anywhere near the equal of the stuff the women sent in. Even more pathetic, the only decent piece of Woman Bashing humor was sent in by a woman. Go figure that.  So, guys, if you want to let the girls have a first-round Knockout, sit back and take your blows. But if you have any pride, you will search those memory banks and fight back !   To see what horrible things the women said about the men, click here.  I might add that recently a champion emerged to defend the honor of the men. It is true that women are definitely better Men Bashers than guys are at returning the favor, but our hero definitely stood up for the boys. To read his scathing critique of Why Beer is Better Than Women, click here

Adventures of a Dance Teacher

Everyone wonders why I don't put more stuff on the Gossip Page for a while. Well, during my two-week break from posting information, I completed another writeup called "Adventures of a Dance Teacher". These are 20 stories from my experiences in the dance world during the 70's and 80's. While many of the names will be unfamiliar to our modern readers, the stories are timeless. Together they form a detailed History of SSQQ. Some stories are funny, some are serious, some are personal, and they all are interesting. If you are curious to take a peek, click here.

Vine Lines

This is a new section where I publish interesting things that readers send in. Our first four entries include the Battle of New Orleans which is a true story of a real estate dispute sent in by Leslie Wagner. One Hundred People, sent in by Reza Taherian, shows what a typical village would consist of if our entire population of billions was shrunk proportionately to 100 people. Robin Wagner sends in the fascinating study known as the Wisdom of Dan Quayle. This, in my opinion, is "Must Reading". My favorite quote : "For NASA, space is still a high priority." -- Vice President Dan Quayle, 9/5/90. I believe nothing more need be said to make my point. Our final Vine Line is Computer Billing Hell by Sylvia Key, an interesting story about how a bill for $0.00 caused a man's life to go the pieces and shut down a bank's entire computer system.

If you would like to read one of the stories above, click here. If you have some interesting stories of your own to share, please send them to me at dance@ssqq.com

Report of Serious Telephone Harrassment

After this year's Sock Hop a woman in attendance received a series of anonymous obscene phone calls both at her home and her place of work. The calls often referred in some way to the Sock Hop. The woman is unsure how her phone numbers were obtained.

At SSQQ we try to have fun, but let's face it, no one is completely safe anywhere. If you know of any other incidents, please bring them to my attention immediately. Only by working together can we protect our own community. SSQQ has an excellent relationship with both the Bellaire and the Houston Police Department. We may be able to get the police involved. Thank you.  Dance@ssqq.com

posted 05-20-99

Betty the Spy

"Harriet the Spy" is one of my daughter Sam's favorite movies. It is the story about a young girl who peeks through windows and around corners to watch people in action, then writes down her impressions. She is quite sneaky.

Betty and Gary Richardson drove up to Denton, Texas, over the May 15th Weekend to celebrate their son Chris' graduation from North Texas State. Along with Cindy and Mike, Gary and Betty have now achieved their life-long dream of putting their three children through college. That is quite an accomplishment any parent would be quite proud of !

To Gary's surprise, Betty had a little detour over to Fort Worth she wanted to take. It seems her Father likes to go Ballroom dancing every Friday night at the Stardust Ballroom. This has been his hangout for 16 years. Betty sees her father once or twice or year, but she has never seen him dance. She has this secret desire to watch her father in action on the dance floor. One catch : Betty's Dad doesn't know she is coming. He doesn't even know she is in town.  That's okay with Betty. She wanted to see what he was like in an unguarded moment.

So Gary points out that Betty doesn't even know if he is going to be there. He has a hurt foot and hasn't been dancing for nearly a month.  Betty points out her father mentioned on the phone he thought maybe he might try dancing again this week. Gary points out that Fort Worth is a long way from Denton for a maybe. Betty says she doesn't mind. Gary points out he will have to wear a coat and tie. Betty says she doesn't mind. Gary says he doesn't know how to Ballroom Dance. Betty says she doesn't mind.

Betty gets Ready.  She is very glamorous in her beautiful black sequined evening dress cut high. Betty gets compliments on her lovely legs. Gary enjoys this feature. She puts her hair way up the air so she is four inches taller and puts on high heels so now she is six inches taller. She is ready to dance. Gary puts on his tie and grumbles a little, but he sees the determined look in her eye. Is Fort Worth Calling ? Yes, it is.

Betty and Gary arrive at 8:30 pm.  They find an inconspicuous corner spot at the Stardust and begin to watch for Bill, Betty's father. Gary notices the crowd is in its seventies and eighties. He feels like a teenager again for a moment. Promptly at 9 Bill strides in wearing a sporty light blue blazer.   Gary wonders if the coat can glow in the dark it is so bright.

Bill is quite popular. He dances every dance. Once he looks over to the corner where Betty the Spy sits, but she quickly covers her face by looking down. 20 minutes after the dance started, a John Paul Jones is announced. (Now if any of our Grapevine readers has a clue why these dances are named after this famous Naval hero, please let me know, dance@ssqq.com). Here at the Stardust they don't get in two circles like here at SSQQ, but rather just trade partners whenever the whistle blows.

Gary gives Betty a nudge. This is the perfect chance to make her move. She isn't ready. Betty wants to study her father in action some more. Gary nudges again and points out there may not be a better chance for some time. This makes sense, so Gary and Betty hit the floor. Gary is a little nervous because he doesn't have a clue how to Foxtrot.  It occurs to him no one knows his name either. Okay.

After five whistles, Betty suddenly ends up in her Dad's arms. His first remark is, "Oh, Aren't I Lucky ?"  Gary is watching Bill's reaction. Bill is clearly pleased to have such a young and pretty lady to dance with. Ten seconds pass. He is clearly studying her. Then he says, "You know, you look a lot like my daughter".

"Oh really ?" replies Betty, smiling at him. With her hair up, she has changed her normal appearance quite a bit.

They dance the Foxtrot some more.  Bill doesn't take his eye off Betty.

Then Bill says, "You really do look a lot like my daughter. I have two of them, but you look a lot like one of them."

"Oh really ? What's her name ?"


"Oh really ?" Another smile from Betty.

Then about a minute after they start dancing together, Bill asks, "Are you are Betty ?"

"Yes, I am !"  Betty announces with a grin.  Almost at that moment, the whistle blew. Betty and Bill separate to dance with new partners. Bill finishes the song in a trance.

After the song ended, Bill was still in shock. In a daze, he walked over to his table. Gary and Betty followed him. Unfortunately Bill's social graces were lost as he literally appeared to be stunned. The lion wasn't used to being followed to his lair. Another gentleman sensed Bill's shock and pointed to some extra chairs. Betty and Gary joined Bill at the table.

Not much conversation ensued. Bill was quiet. Fortunately the music rescued the awkward situation as Gary asked Betty to dance. It wasn't till 30 minutes after the initial encounter that Bill snapped out of his shock and began to show his natural warmth. Once he did though, he started to smile and introduced Betty and Gary to everyone in the building. During the three hour dance, Gary and Betty danced nearly every song.

Gary wasn't really interested in spying. He was more worried about not knowing how to Ballroom Dance. The Orchestra played a lot of Big Band music. Gary quickly found he was quite popular !  He was greatly relieved when he discovered his Twostep could pass as a Foxtrot.  One 80-year old lady about 5 feet tall in a red dress called him "Sonny". This lady couldn't get enough of Gary !  One time on another JPJ, the red dress lady elbowed another woman out of the way to get another dance with him !  Gary complained that the women were fighting over him. I felt sorry for him until he mentioned he had led a Twostep move called, "the Big Bad Wolf Step."  Well, to these women, that is like throwing a match on dry timber in the forest. Gary did not sit down again. He danced the night away !

Gary found out his Swing dancing worked just fine. And a Waltz was a Waltz was a Waltz. His only insurmountable obstacle was a Rumba. One lady even tried to teach him how, but Gary's hips didn't move quite the right way so as a public service he sat back down.

Then came a Polka !  Not George Straight, but probably a Lawrence Welk Oom-Pah Polka. No matter. Betty and Gary did the Whip !  Betty's hips worked better than Gary's !  In front of Daddy, no less !   Gary smiled when he remembered he could still outrun her father if necessary. Everybody was watching and they started to clap !  Bill's eyes rolled out to the edge of his nose... is this really my little girl ?

Fortunately, Bill took it the right way. He said to Betty after she got off the floor, "I have never in my life seen anything like that in my life. You are a great dancer !"   I imagine Betty the Spy smiled. She had too much fun that evening.

posted 6-21-99

Susie Allen's HeartBeat Team performs in Austin !

email from Susie to Rick Archer

You would have been proud of the group. Their performance this weekend (June 19) was terrific !!  I guess my heart to heart talk with them after the lip sync show made an impression.

Anyway, after we performed, we were invited to perform at Waltz Across Texas here in Houston in October, At Dallas Dance Festival in November, at Red Draper’s Let’s Dance Invitational in Houston, for the Texas Hoedown in Fort Worth, and even for a national UCWDC competition in New Orleans!! The team was just beaming. Except for a slight bobble in one place with Martin’s hat—there were NO mistakes. The other team that performed danced to songs that seemed to be at half the speed of our routine. Red Draper said that he was very impressed that our group actually danced challenging steps to really upbeat songs!! So many teams just seem to "walk" formations to different types of music.

The only problem we had was that the judges said that if we ever wanted to compete with the routine, we could not use Huey Lewis "Heartbeat of Rock and Roll" as it is not a C&W song! I could really understand how Mike Fagan felt when the crowd would come to its feet when he and Debbie performed and then the judges would give them 3rd place because the routine didn’t fit all of the "rules." East Coast Swing is one of the C&W competition categories, but you can’t use a great rock and roll song to dance it to, you have to use a C&W song. We decided to email Garth Brooks and ask him to re-record it so that UCWDC would accept it!! Our routine really pleased the audience, but we would have been disqualified by the judges if we had been competeing against the other team because our music would not have met the rules. We have decided that we want the freedom to perform to the music that we want to use and choreograph the way we want to, so we are planning to attend these other dance festivals, but we are just going to do exhibitions. We are not going to compete.

We went to several workshops. One was taught by Valerie (triple two step). She said to say "Hi" to everyone.

(Editors Note : Susie refers to Valerie Ryan who taught at SSQQ for several years in the late 80's. She moved to Austin to open an SSQQ Sister School known as 'QuickSilver'.



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