July 1999
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posted 07-27-99

Debbie Does Gossip !

Debbie Awad, one of the original Whip Bad Girls, checked into the SSQQ Web Page a couple times last week and to her sorrow found no gossip. Practicing the Christian Gossip Ethic ("Ya Gotta Give Gossip to Get Gossip") Debbie sent the Grapevine the following story via email. The rest of you in SSQQ Land are welcome to do the same.

I was checking for any updated gossip (as I frequently do) and I read your lament of no gossip, so I decided to send you something (how’s that for a run on sentence?). I wanted to make sure that you knew that Julie (SSQQ Staffer Julie Downey) and her dance partner, Jeff, won a Whip contest at Backstreets on July 17. I think the category was Novice, but I’m not sure. Also, Joanne (SSQQ Staffer Joanne Spuck) came in 1st or 2nd at a Jack&Jill sponsored by Houston Whip back in June. I know you don’t like dance competitions, but I thought you might like to mention the accomplishments of your instructors. Personally, I’m in it for the fun, but someday I might want to try a Jack&Jill. And despite the current trend towards West Coast Swing, David (David Powell, aka the Cajun Whip Stud) and I have agreed that we prefer Whip (especially the Hitch and Bump). Speaking of David, he really misses SSQQ, as there is nothing equivalent to it in Baton Rouge. I know it gets tiring for you sometimes, but your studio really does make a difference for many of us who are returning to the social scene after a divorce. Not only learning to dance, but the social atmosphere and the friends that I’ve made has really made a huge difference to me. By the way, Ray and Sandra (I don’t know the last names), who were in my Western Swing class last summer are another couple who met at SSQQ and got married. Ray is taking a class on Wednesday (whatever’s in room 6). They actually met in the class, started dating sometime in the fall and were married soon after that. They disappeared from SSQQ and the Longhorn for a while, but I guess they’re making a little comeback now. Well, that’s all the quasi gossip I have for you for now.

Well, Debbie, a little thin on the Dirt Side, but a very nice note just the same. Now around the country the latest rage is Closet Swapping Parties. No, not skeletons from your past or ambiguous sexual preferences coming to light, but rather good old fashioned parties where a lady looks in her closet and picks out all the outfits she hasn't worn in a year. Then the lady gets together with 20 other ladies doing the same thing and everyone merges their clothes together. Then they SWAP clothes. One woman's rags becomes another woman's britches. Or whatever.

You all out there could send your old tired gossip to the Grapevine and we could SWAP it around. What's boring to you could be titillating to another. Don't hesitate, press that SEND Button now !  If everyone participates, we can Mouse our way to Gossip Paradise instantly !  dance@ssqq.com  s'il vous plait. That means, "Beam Up Some Gossip Rat Now". 

And, by the way....I am wondering if the Ray and Sandra couple Debbie is referring to could be Ray Jahn and the former Kelly Bennett who met at SSQQ and were married on May 28 ?   Does Sandra = Kelly ?  Or did Ray marry two women and we have uncovered Bigamy !?!  What horror !  What mystery !   Perhaps they are Mormons ?  Or Morons ?  Or Morlocks ?  (if you know what a Morlock is, you are too old to be reading this stuff. Go take a nap).  Or perhaps we have an SSQQ marriage I am unaware of ?  Someone has got to help me keep better track of these things !   Please help clear up this terrible misunderstanding immediately before reputations that are hanging in the balance become ruined !

The SSQQ Hoedown !

On Saturday, July 24, we had the Annual SSQQ Hoedown. This is the dance where everyone does some Hick Dances like the Beer Barrel Polka, the Honky-Tonk Waltz, the Virginia Reel, and the Barn Dance. Now all these dances are done to Fiddle music and, quite frankly, some of the SSQQ Western Dance Elite were seen making fun of these cherished dances. Yes, especially a group who hung around a guy who wears lots of Hawaiian Shirts and a lady who Scuba Dives... these people were seen laughing themselves silly at our Virginia Reel ! 

How on earth a guy who wears red underwear, tasseled shirts, Elvis sideburns, and a six-foot tall Mad Hatter's cap to the studio can think a dance where people do sashays and do-si-dos isn't cool escapes me, but everyone has a right to their own opinion. I guess Ms Scoobie Doobie doesn't think we are masculine, but let me reassure her, we are Reel Men !  As for me, I had fun. Corny these Fiddle Dances may be, but I enjoy them.

The Barn Dance presented me an especially interesting opportunity. This is a dance where the lady does a free spin one way to her next partner while the man free spins the opposite way to his new partner. In theory, everyone catches their new partner and moves right into the start of a new pattern. However, in practice all sorts of crazy things happen.

At one point in the dance one woman from my left spun the wrong way into me at the same time as a lady on my right spun to me correctly, but unfortunately her male partner came spinning the wrong way to me as well. With their backs turned, at this instant I had the choice of grabbing any of the three I wanted before they ever knew what hit them. Or I could have two at once. Or all three !  Standing there with my arms open, I smiled and said, "Gee, I've got more offers than Studio 54 !"

Now, how can a dance with this kind of action not be cool ?

SSQQ makes a Jose Lima Salsa Video !

On Wednesday, July 21, 5 couples from SSQQ met on the floor of the Astrodome to help film a Music Video featuring Astros Allstar Pitcher Jose Lima, who is currently 14-5 on the season. People would let me sing too if I could pitch like that.

Joining organizer Judy Archer for the event were her dance friend Niko, Linda Cook, Timm Chavez, Neal Pellis, Maureen Brunetti, Martin Anderson, Allison Labbe, Marty Shea, and Alyssa Lengyel. Although some of the dancers got lost in the loading dock at the Astrodome, they all eventually made their way to the floor of the Astrodome around 10:30 am.

The first thing they noticed is that it was Hot down there. They practiced their Merengue for a while to a rough cut of the song, but soon wore out. Judy said that dancing on the infield Astroturf wasn't all that bad. After they tired out, they noticed it was even hotter and there was still no Jose Lima, so for lack of anything better to do they wandered around the field, visiting the dugouts, the bases, and the pitcher's mound. Judy discovered a small tube of grease buried under the pitcher's mound, but a caretaker man came running out of the dugout and rudely took it away. Judy asked if it was for the pitcher's hair during the game, so I said yes, the Astros' pitchers take great pride in looking their best when they are out on the mound.

The video was being filmed as a feature for Fox Sports Network's weekend "In the Zone". No one who is famous bothers to stick to one thing any more. Dancers sing, Singers Dance, Singers Act, Actors Sing, Athletes Act, Actors Dance, blah blah blah, and Athletes Sing too. Jose Lima is cutting a Salsa Album of some sort, tentatively titled "Mucho Amore", a Latin version of the SSQQ Barn Dance Fiddle Song from what I understand. All I know is that the Barn Dance leads to More Amore than I can handle at one time.

Naturally Mr Lima was an hour late. This is standard operating procedure for a Star. Keep the people who are volunteering their time for free waiting in the hot Astrodome for an hour. No problema.

As Jose Lima walked out, the dancers noticed he had on a very peculiar pair of shoes that had a weird heel and were open in the back sort of like sandals. One of the Astros sitting in the dugout chortled, "Hey, Jose, don't you make enough money to buy a whole shoe ?"  Judy almost popped a button suppressing a laugh. However, once he arrived, everyone got down to business quickly. Jose Lima was introduced to the dancers whom he greeted with a nod. There was a crane-like overhead microphone and cameras, but basically he just sang his song while the dancers danced on the infield behind and beside him. They did 3 takes one after the other boom boom boom and just like that it was over.

While the dancers basically collapsed, a bunch of kids who were touring the Astrodome ran onto the field and mobbed Jose Lima. To his credit, he patiently signed all their autographs.

In the meantime, Neal Pellis walked over to Judy who was panting at the pitcher's mound and looking for some more grease. He beckoned for her to come over to First Base with him. Judy went willingly, hoping to find lipstick or something useful buried there. There he told her to stand on the bag while he announced to the whole group, "I just got to First Base with Judy Archer !"

posted 07-16-99

The World is Changing !

One of the joys of having an eight year old daughter is getting to go back to school again. My daughter Samantha has taken a recent interest in learning the countries of the world. When I was a kid, I enjoyed Geography. I think we had it at my school through the Sixth Grade. I would gather that was about 40 years ago. After talking to Sam on our daily trips to summer camp, to my surprise, the World Map appears to have changed a lot more than I had suspected  ! 

Sam will be sitting in the back seat of the car looking at a World Atlas and ask me, "Dad, have you ever heard of Kazakhstan ?".  At this request for information, I roll my eyes. I don't have a clue where Kazakhstan is. Who cares...I go ahead and lie anyway. "Oh, sure, Honey, isn't that in Asia ?"  This almost always works. You see, my daughter doesn't have many childhood myths left. She knows about the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, Santa, etc, but at our house we still pretend that Father knows everything. This myth too is sure to crumble, but I take amusement in prolonging it as long as possible. So when it comes to geography I have a system. If the country I have never heard of ends in "stan", it is in Asia. Pakistan, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan (same idea), Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Slowslowquickistan.

If the name of the new country is unintelligible, it is in Africa. Djibouti. Eritrea. Tarzania. Zimbabwe. Swaziland. Mobutuland. Botswana. Burundi. Here is one of my favorite new countries : Burkina Faso. Ever hear of that one ?  Nope, didn't think so. Yup, it's in Africa. Do you remember its capital ? Ouagadougou. Just rolls off your tongue, doesn't it ?

In my conversations with Sam, I have learned there are 5 Guineas in Africa... Gulf of Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea, and Guinea Pig. Next to these countries are Gabon, Gambia, and Ghana. GGGGeee Whiz !  I know why Africa is called the Dark Continent. It has more countries no one has ever heard of than anywhere else. It turns out these countries are all dirt poor. They are so poor most people wouldn't trade them for 5 Guineas. That of course is where the phrase comes from.

I get so confused by what is where. Besides all those Guineas in Africa, making things more difficult to keep track of is the country "Guyana" of Jim Jones fame and its counterpart "French Guyana". These two show up in South America. Then there is "New Guinea" which shows up in the Pacific. Except it isn't "New Guinea" anymore. Now it is "Papua New Guinea". I guess some company named Papua paid them big bucks to advertise. It is probably just a matter of time before we have "Microsoft United States" and "Budweiser Texas" on the World Map. At the Olympics they will wave the National Flag and the Corporate Flag together. Boy, I can't wait.

Plus some of these countries change their damn names !  One day I asked Sam why she didn't name Rhodesia.  "It's not on the map, Daddy." Last time I checked that was a major country in Africa. Its absence bothered me so I took a look. Sure enough, where Rhodesia used to be is now parts of Malawi, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, none of which I had ever heard of. When it comes to name changes, the worst is Zaire. First it was Congo, then it was Zaire, then I heard recently it was Congo again. Good grief. Talk about an identity crisis. After losing Rhodesia, I decided to take a closer look at Africa. These dictators are the worst Country Namers. Almost everyone country in Africa is named for some other country. Gambia. Zambia. Now that's clever. Namibia. Oh boy, that's Nambia with an extra "i". Now you're cooking !  Niger. Nigeria. They probably sat up all night thinking of that one. Mali. Malawi. Please. Libya. Liberia. Can't someone try a little ? Personally, I think some Atlas company pays these stupid countries to change their names. I have heard the Encyclopedia companies are more corrupt than the Fashion industry. They hire ex-CIA operatives to de-stabilize emerging nations, then pay the new dictator some big bucks to change the name. Now that makes a lot of sense to me.

If Sam mentions a country where lots of people have been killed recently, it is usually in the Balkan part of Europe. Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia have been sliced and diced into a bunch of new countries like Czech Republic, Slovakia, Bosnia and Herzegovina (now that's a catchy name !  Who thought that one up ? Certainly no African dictator), FYRO Macedonia, Croatia, Slovenia, but no Serbia or Kosovo. I guess those two are located in what is still called Yugoslavia. Then again, maybe they are countries now and my stupid map hasn't kept up with them. I guess I better by a new Atlas soooooon !

So you ask what on earth is FYRO Macedonia ?   Well, that got me too. After much research, I found out that FYRO stands for "Former Yugoslav Republic Of". I would not have guessed that off the top off my head. Thank God Sam didn't ask about it. And thank goodness our Founding Fathers didn't name us "FTCOE" USA. (Former 13 Colonies of England, get it ?).

Another place ripe with new geography is back in the USSR. There are over a dozen spin-offs from the old USSR. I mean everywhere you look on the map there are USSR escapees. Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Georgia, Ukraine, Armenia, Moldova, Belarus, plus about six new Stan countries. This is so confusing I am almost tempted to ask Russia to take them back. 

Speaking of all these new ex-USSR countries, I am reminded of my big disappointment at the Atlanta Olympics. I have always enjoyed watching the gymnastics, but have tired over the years of the supreme butt-kickings our USA Men's team has gotten from the USSR team. Now I never thought of them as the USSR team. They were always "the evil Red Russians" to me. Life was easier in the old days. The Russians were the Bad Guys. You had to see for yourself the infamous Olympic Basketball Game in 1972 to realize the magnitude of the injustice. This game which the USA won twice only to have the politicians intimidate the refs into giving the USSR a third chance is probably History's most famous example of cheating in plain sight. After that, the USSR was easy to hate at the Olympics.

So when it came to the 96 Olympics I rubbed my hands in glee when I found out the Russian gymnastics team (according to Sports Illustrated) had been "severely depleted" by the loss of several gymnasts to the satellite countries. I always figured our Men got beat because there were so many places for the Russians to draw their athletes from. With the USSR Breakup, now we had a chance at the Gold !  WooWee ! Let's go kick some Russian butt. Remember 1972 !

Boy, was I Wrong !  Not only did our men get beat by the depleted Russian team, we got beat by the Ukraine team, the Uzbekistan team, the Belarus team, the Kazakhstan team, and the SlowSlowQuickistan team. The USA got beat by every one of the stupid spin-off countries !  Now instead of our usual Silver or Bronze Medal, we finished about 10th in gymnastics. Oh, great. "Bring back the USSR", I cried !

Well, after all the frustration I have had learning the New World Order, I have decided to share some of my pain with SSQQ Grapevine Readers. Wouldn't you like to take the SSQQ Geography Quiz ?  Let's see how smart you all are. I will print the answers next week along with a profile of the best set of answers emailed to me.

posted 07-12-99

Things are kinda Quiet

I suppose no news is good news. I check those emails every day and nothing particularly juicy has been dropped in the box. You people beg me for some good gossip, but if you don't send me stuff, what am I gonna print ?   I can't go on making this stuff up forever. At least once in a while it might be fun to publish a real story. What's Shaking ?

I would like to thank the following people for joining the SSQQ Staff  : Paula Blaisdale (Sunday 4:30), Tom Flaherty (Friday), Ann Bush (Friday), and Neal Pellis (Monday). Welcome Aboard !

Unfortunately, I hired them for their dancing ability. I doubt the Volleyball team will be improved much.

Death Valley 8

Gillian TiIbury and I are going to revive the Death Valley class starting on Sundays in August. The patterns in this course are difficult. We have 36 spots available : 18 women, 18 men. 16 spots are already taken. You must see me for a tryout in order to take this class for two reasons. For one thing, there is Limited Space. If your name is not on the List, don't bother to sign up the day of the class. These rules apply to Staff as well as students. Second, this course is a reward for people who have become excellent Western dancers. There is a definite skill level expected of each participant...the Men need to be able to lead most Ghost Town patterns and keep the beat. Women need to turn well. If you are interested in joining, see me at the studio. The tryout lasts about two minutes.

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 Tucker married Sylvia Key. 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 !

For a nice picture of the SSQQ guests, click here.

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

Susie's HeartBeats Perform in Austin !

You would have been proud of the group. Their performance this weekend 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.

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.

dance@ssqq.com   Rick Archer, SSQQ Dance Studio



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