FEBRUARY 2003 issue of the SSQQ Newsletter.
It is written by Rick Archer.
FEBRUARY SCHEDULE OF SSQQ DANCE CLASSES.
Classes begin the week of Sunday, February 02.
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE FEBRUARY 2003 SCHEDULE
February 2003 has many excellent classes, but for the most part they are "follow-ups" to courses that started in January. For example there are quite a few Intermediate level classes that follow last month's start-up classes
Sunday at 4:30 has Intermediate Lindy Hop with Gloria.
Sunday at 4:30 has Intermediate Whip/WCS with Rick and Charlene.
At 7 pm on Sundays Judy begins her Intermediate Western Waltz classes. Waltz is of course the classic Western dance of Romance, but trickier to learn than people realize.
Intermediate Nite Club Twostep will be taught on Wednesdays by Anita Williams. Anita is taking over the Nite Club series from the legendary teacher Susie Merrill. Susie will be missed for sure, but Anita is a pretty good teacher in her own right.
Not all classes of note are Intermediate. Slow Dance and Romance returns to the schedule as one of our most popular courses. Taught by Jill on Mondays, you learn the Lost Art of Formal Dance. Foxtrot, the Walking Slow Dance, and the Rhythm-Switch Slow Dance are invaluable to know at certain special times...
Zoot Suit Riot 7 on Mondays is being taught for the first time. It is a completely new Level. Judy is going to dig deep for some really tough Swing moves.
Martian Whip began a new era in January 2003. With the December departure of Joanne Spuck to a new job in Los Angeles and the retirement of SSQQ 'Institutions' Ted Jones & Margie
Saibara, Martian Whip doesn't quite look the same. Rick Archer is now joined by UCWDC WCS World Champion Anita Williams on Thursdays. Guess what? Martian Whip is still tough. Another big change in January saw Brian
White and Kimberly Smith take Rick's spot on Fridays. Guess what? The Friday class was VERY popular. Students have commented that they were bored of simply 'reviewing' what they had learned on Thursday and enjoy a different challenge each night. SSQQ Martian Whip remains the only program in the city where a student gets two excellent 2-hour classes for the price of one. And of course SSQQ always features Whip/WCS Practice Night right after class for students to stay and do their difficult dance homework.
In January SSQQ's toughest Western Swing class, Death Valley, returned on Fridays with a passion. Taught by Rick Archer, the class had an enthusiastic well-balanced group of 30 people who overcame our toughest challenges every week, then stayed for the big Friday night Western dance afterwards at the studio. Friday DV II will be just as much fun in February.
Saturdays in February marks the start of Advanced Salsa Mambo Level 2. Let's face it: Judy's Advanced Salsa classes are so popular that the classes are ridiculously crowed on Tuesdays and Thursdays. As a result we decided to take some pressure off by creating a third Advanced Salsa class on Saturdays. Expect Adv Salsa to become a regular addition to Saturdays from now on.
And Cumbia returns to the schedule after a 4-month break on Saturdays at 4:30 taught by Luis Castillo.
SSQQ DANCE PARTIES IN FEBRUARY
THE SSQQ RED AND WHITE VALENTINE'S SWING PARTY
Saturday, February 08, 9 pm - Midnight.
SLOW DANCING - Jill (couples only)
CINDERELLA'S WALTZ - Judy
SWEETHEART SWING PTNS - Lise
ADV SALSA - Linda
CAROLINA SHAG - Gloria
SWING/JITTERBUG ACROBATICS - Paul (couples only)
Music Swing in Room 1, Latin and requests in Room 4
Wear Red and White and Dance All Night!
BACK IN THE SADDLE WESTERN PARTY
Saturday, February 22, 9pm - Midnight
CRASH COURSES 7 - 9 pm
BEG TEXAS TWOSTEP - Kathleen
BEG WESTERN SWING - Ann
BEG WESTERN CHA CHA - Brian
ANITA'S FAVORITE HIJACK PTNS - Anita
LINDA'S FAV GHOST TOWN PTNS - Linda
BEG WEST COAST SWING - Jorge
Music: Western and Waltz in Room 1, Whip/WCS in Room 4, Swing music in Room 6
This year we are adding a new feature: Every Friday Night and for the Western Saturday parties (4th Saturday of each month) Room 6 will have non-stop Swing music.
Over the Holidays thanks to Neal Pellis and Maureen Brunetti, we hooked up one of our computers to an amp and added some speakers.
When there is a DJ on duty, be sure to ask for your favorite songs to be added to the
FAREWELL TO SUSIE MERRILL, SSQQ'S SWEETHEART OF THE RODEO.
On Saturday, January 25, SSQQ said its farewells to Susie Merrill, one of the studio's most popular teachers ever. The party marked our going-away party for Susie Merrill. Although I was dreading the evening and I know Susie was too (she told me), the evening turned out much better than we had any right to hope for.
What were we afraid of? Tears. Sadness. Pain. Not only was Susie leaving, but the evening marked the final performance ever for the Heartbeat dance team. It was 'The End' for them as well. Susie wasn't the only one carrying a heavy heart into the night. It wasn't easy to pull the plug on something this good.
Anita Williams told me that her experience with Heartbeat over the past 5 years was one of the most positive things she has ever done in her entire life. And I imagine Anita wasn't the only person who felt this way. Mixed emotions were the norm this evening, not the exception.
I have a lot to say about Susie Merrill. Susie is without a doubt one of the most talented women I have ever had the chance to know. Charisma and charm come so naturally to this woman. Susie has always had this gift. There are so many people who love Susie because she is such a giving, outgoing person. Susie is a born extrovert.
One of my fondest memories of Susie was her late-night all-night chat fests with Mike Fagan back in the 90s. Every Thursday as I would lock the doors after a Whip Practice Night I would notice Mike Fagan, the man who gave Martian Whip its name, and Susie standing on the sidewalk outside talking each other's ears off. Occasionally I would go join the conversation. Imagine my shock when I realized these talks never actually ended. Susie has always had boundless energy and doesn't need much sleep. The same can be said for Mike. One time I asked Mike how late they talked. 1 am. 2 am. 3 am. Dawn once. Good grief.
Apparently they knew the Bellaire Police very well. The Bellaire Police drive through our parking lot several times a night. Mike and Susie would just wave to them and the police would wave back!
So what did Mike and Susie talk about? Life, love, dance, Whip, who knows. If I had to do it all over again, I would put a table with chairs out there and call it 'Susie's Corner'. In fact, I intend to do exactly that when Spring rolls around. At least they would have had a place to sit for crying out loud.
I have known Susie since the late 80s. She was part of an exceptional group of dancers that included Susie's close friend Sharon Crawford, Ben Liles, and former instructor Linda Rooks.
In 1987 SSQQ occupied two small rooms at 4803 Bissonnet. We sub-leased the space from Dance Arts Unlimited. Unfortunately due to a serious drug problem, the owner of Dance Arts stopped paying his rent. Guess he had better things to spend his money on. He got himself evicted
and so did I along with him. One day I showed up for work and there were chains on the door. Even worse the landlord, a man named Gary Hargrove, was not in a very forgiving mood and told me to get lost. He assumed my business was in cahoots with Dance Arts whom he now hated with a passion for all the trouble they had given him.
Fortunately I was able to show him the monthly rent checks I had been writing to Dance Arts for over eight years without missing a payment. Once Mr. Hargrove saw that I had been paying all along, he realized that my business was totally separate from Dance Arts. I asked if I could assume the lease and he said yes. Suddenly without any warning at all (I had no inkling Dance Arts was in this kind of trouble!!) I was now responsible for the rent for 5 rooms instead of 2. My space tripled. And my rent went from $300 a month to $1200 a month. Gulp.
To make a long story a little shorter, I began to hire my best students as teachers on the spot. I had 5 rooms to fill 7 nights a week!! Sharon, Susie, Linda, Ben, plus another former instructor named Debbie Reynolds became instrumental in helping me take SSQQ from 'Rick's little dance studio' to become one of the most successful social dance studios in Houston during the late 80s. And this core group stayed with me throughout the 90s to see SSQQ become the two-ton gorilla it is today.
Adding key people like Judy Archer, Maureen Brunetti, Linda Cook, and many others along the way, SSQQ now stands unchallenged as Houston's largest dance studio. And I owe much of that success to the important contributions Susie Merrill, one of SSQQ's leaders for the past 14 years. Susie Q has been such a enormous source of support for so long that you can see why I hate to lose her.
Susie is best known to the modern 2003 generation of dancers for her two most important contributions, the Heartbeat Dance Team and the Night Club Twostep program.
Judy Archer was the first person on the SSQQ Staff to teach a class in Night Club Twostep. Starting with a Crash Course in May 2000 and a 4-week class in July 2000, Judy introduced Night Club to SSQQ. Unfortunately Judy was well ahead of her time. There simply wasn't much interest in Night Club here in Houston at the time. 'Living La Vida
Loca' dominated the dance scene. Judy tried again in April 2001, but the time still wasn't right.
Susie had become very interested in Night Club Twostep as she watched it performed at the various western dance competitions. Night Club was a dance developed in the 60s by legendary dance coach Buddy Schimmer as he looked for something interesting to do whenever slow music was played. While his friends did the bear hug clench and grab with their girl friends, Schwimmer thought surely there was something more interesting that could be used. Schwimmer set about developing his own dance. (to read more about the origins of Night Club, visit
Twenty years passed. Sometime in the 90s, Western dance professionals discovered how nicely Schwimmer's Night Club footwork fit the countless C&W slow dance ballads. As a result in the late 90s Night Club became a part of the Western dance competitions. After the professional dancers were exposed to Night Club at the different competitions and learned more about Night Club, they brought the dance back to teach their students. Now slowly but surely an awareness of Night Club Twostep began to filter into the Western social dance scene with California and Colorado leading the way. Unfortunately Houston lagged pretty far behind since the Bayou City already had an established Western dance tradition already in place. In the early 90s Houston had successfully frozen out Line Dancing and now resisted Night Club as well.
But Susie was undaunted. She was certain the dance would catch on if only more people knew about it. She also recognized that her team would eventually need this dance if they ever wanted to compete at a higher level.
Susie set her mind to learning everything she could about Night Club. As part of her preparation, she ordered every dance video available and studied the tapes endlessly. In September 2001 Susie decided it was time to take her first stab at teaching Night Club here at SSQQ. Like Judy, Susie found that the Houston dance market was still not quite ready to embrace Night Club.
Seven months later in April 2002 Susie asked if she could teach Night Club again. Of course. This time the dance caught fire at SSQQ! Susie created a huge wave of interest and surfed it for a big ride. May saw SSQQ's first-ever Intermediate Night Club class. June saw an Advanced level. August brought a Super-Advanced level. Her four levels were very well received. From practically nothing, Susie had taken Night Club from a non-existent dance with barely a pulse and managed to create an entire program. Like Judy Archer who created the SSQQ Swing and Salsa programs and Sharon Crawford who created the SSQQ Death Valley, Western Waltz, and Western Cha Cha programs, Susie had every right to be proud of this sophisticated dance that she had carefully nursed to prominence.
Creating a successful Night Club program in 2002 was very satisfying, but Susie had even bigger fish to fry. She had a dance team poised on the edge of a huge breakthrough.
While Susie was growing up in Oklahoma, she had two passions - her chemistry set and her ballet class. Pretty odd combo, right? Susie has been involved in positions such as running hospital laboratories and selling pharmaceuticals her entire career, but she will freely admit dance has always been her true love.
Heartbeat began innocently enough. In 1997, Susie began to toy with a Western dance known as the 'Dallas Twostep'. This is a dance popular in the DFW area used to Polka-speed rhythms. Renaming it 'Triple Two', Susie had a blast playing with its intricacies. Teaming up with her friends
Rolando, Anita Williams, Jill Banta, Ben Liles, Mo Hendrix, and Janet Meyers (nee
Wukman), Susie experimented with the timing and the footwork to create all sorts of new patterns. At first Susie taught some crash courses and then four-week courses. She had so much fun that one day she came to me and asked if her group could do a Triple Two performance.
Sure. I didn't give it much thought. Susie's little group of friends began to practice. In September 1997 Susie and her friends performed the Triple Two for a Rodeo Party and a church group, then eventually at an SSQQ dance party. There were eight couples. They loved to perform!!
From the start money was never involved, a very unique feature of Heartbeat. There have been many fine dance teams in the Houston area that I have followed over the years. Every one of these teams paid a coach to train them. And none of them achieved the success that Heartbeat accomplished. Interesting. And none of them stayed together as long as Heartbeat.
So this was the start of the Heartbeat Dance Team. Susie's group practiced for the fun of it for about 1½ years, occasionally doing exhibitions. In 1999 they competed for the first time at the Fundango in Austin. That's when the team got hooked and decided to get serious. They began to perfect their choreography and technique.
For the next three years, Heartbeat competed in a variety of dance competitions.
Their list included:
1. The Austin Fundango in 2001
2. The Dallas Dance Festival in 2000 and November 2002
3. The Fort Worth Hoedown in 2001
4. The Houston Texas Classic in 2000 and May 2002
5. The Houston Waltz Across Texas in 2000
6. The New Orleans Mardi Gras Classic in July 2002.
The good news was that they won their division practically every time. The bad news was that they rarely faced any competition. But Heartbeat didn't need to beat someone to know they were good!! They got tremendous compliments from the judges and the dance professionals wherever they went. Let me add that Heartbeat would perform twice a year at SSQQ and each time they brought the house down. They were a great team and they knew it. As 2001 began the team realized there was no team in the Southwest capable of matching up to them. If they wanted to find a challenge, they would have to widen their horizons.
They considered competing for the UCWDC (United Country Western Dance Council) World Championship Team competition. Unfortunately in 2001 the World Championships were held in the Netherlands. After 9/11 put a huge damper on everything, Heartbeat decided to pass on that expensive trip and compete instead up in Oklahoma City in the Fun Country National Championships. In December 2001 Heartbeat won this competition in fine style. This would have been a good place to call it quits, but everyone thought they still had something to prove.
This victory made Heartbeat realize they had a monster team. But how good were they? It was time to look around for even bigger competition. Susie and her team set winning the UCWDC World Championship competition as their goal. Practically the entire veteran team that competed at Oklahoma City in December 2001 signed on for another year. It was time for an all-or-nothing shot at the World Championship.
Heartbeat had a killer Twostep routine that featured amazing Western Swing patterns, humorous lip sync solos, and a clever 'Battle of the Sexes' segment. This routine had been honed to perfection over a five year period and was a great showstopper. Susie should be given a lot of credit for creating this highly entertaining routine.
But to win the Championship they had to add a second routine for their short program. The addition of the new Night Club routine in 2002 proved to be a nearly insurmountable obstacle.
The problem was that since Night Club Twostep was fairly new, the standard or "acceptable" technique had not yet been clearly defined. This proved to be a huge and highly unanticipated problem.
The first priority in 2002 was recruiting people to replace valuable team members such as Gloria Sanchez, Jill Banta, Mo Hendrix, and Randy Goshorn who left at the end of Fun Country. In January, Susie conducted a huge recruitment push. Overnight Heartbeat grew from 8 couples to 12 couples. Every one of the new people had to be trained, a massive project. Susie spent the next couple months catching the rookies up with the veterans.
By March the assimilation process was pretty much completed so Susie began the choreography for her difficult new Night Club routine. It was very slow going to get 24 different people to work as an integrated unit. It didn't help that Night Club was a dance no one was familiar with. Progress was made at the speed of a molasses drip. April and May saw progress, but not much faster than your average glacier travels in a millennium. Building this intricate routine from scratch for 12 couples proved to be slow, careful, pains-taking work.
Then disaster struck. By June Susie had implemented about 1/3 of her pattern. One day she heard that Dave
Getty, the UCWDC event director, happened to be in town. Susie invited Getty to come take a look at her team one Saturday. Getty was not pleased. He was not impressed with the choreography and he didn't like an essential element of the dance known as the Rock-Step. In other words, the style Susie had adopted ran contrary to his 'artistic vision' of the dance.
This was a huge setback. When the head of the organization basically tells you your pattern eats horse radish, despair is the first emotion that comes to mind. After her meeting with
Getty, Susie felt compelled to return to the drawing board. She had to practically start over and retrain her dancers. The Getty event occurred just weeks before Heartbeat was expected to put the Nightclub on the competition floor at the New Orleans Mardi Gras, the first of their two qualifying events. Susie had perhaps three weeks to accomplish what had taken her three months to do before. Before you can spell 'panic', Susie had Heartbeat back on their feet again.
The team entered a scramble mode, practicing until midnight every night the week before the Mardi Gras competition. They were able to get half of their choreography completed before this qualifying event. Only half, you say?? How do you compete with half a routine? Susie had an inspiration. Heartbeat simply repeated what they did have a second time to finish out the song.
Now that the July New Orleans event was over, Susie had precious little time left to hammer out the final choreography in preparation for the second qualifying event, the November Dallas Dance.
Susie knew her team would barely be ready in time. Just when it seemed she was going to pull it all together, Susie experienced a terrible nightmare. Unexpectedly her husband Bill suffered a stroke. This happened in October just two weeks or so before the Dallas competition. Bill was hospitalized, given every test in the book and was forced to undergo dangerous surgery.
Susie had to attend to Bill's extremely critical medical problem. But what about the routine??
Heartbeat was without their leader. The veteran team varsity members decided they had no choice but to carry on without her. They literally threw together the last few beats of choreography just to get them through Dallas Dance. Guess what? It worked.
By November fortunately Bill had made a recovery. Susie was able to begin to finish the routine. Due to the Getty fiasco and the various conflicting suggestions made by dance consultants that Susie brought in to work with the team, Susie had been forced to make significant changes to the Night Club choreography THREE times in a period of six or seven months. This was quite a feat considering that most team choreography takes seven to nine months to put one routine together. Factor in the constant missed practices, the new people, Bill's tragedy, and all the many problems that go into coordinating a huge group of 24 people and you begin to understand that Susie must have felt like she was swimming upstream for the entire year. Somehow she kept it together and was able to put her team in a position to win.
In December two short weeks before the World Championship competition, team practice moved into maximum effort mode. Training was held every night, a minimum two hours a night. It was an ordeal for everyone. Tension, exhaustion, and frayed nerves affected everyone. People would drag themselves to work in the morning, drag themselves to the studio, then drag themselves home day in day out. Susie somehow managed to keep team members from maiming each other, no small accomplishment.
As the New Year hit, at last the routines were finally set. Heartbeat was off to Worlds!!
The event was held at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee. Worlds lasted from December 31st through January 5th. Team members came trickling in by air and by car. Susie tracked down everyone and began to hold team practices in any nook and cranny she could find. Practice was often difficult. For example one team practice at Worlds was held smack dab in the middle of a hallway as ballroom floor space was fairly limited. Dancing on carpeting isn't very easy. And how was the team going to practice their formations without proper space? Even more remarkable, choreography on the Night Club routine was still being mastered right up till the last minute. The practices were quite intense.
Finally the big day came. On Sunday, January 5th, Heartbeat performed their short program and their long program. There was intense pressure. There were many uncertainties. For one thing, Heartbeat had never performed the final choreography in front of an audience. The formations were still shaky. Some people had just begun to get the hang of the routine. Would they freeze up under pressure? Would the rookies hold up? For some team members such as Martha Gallia it was their very first competition. Everyone was excited, some a little nervous.
There were seven teams in the competition including the current 2001 world champion Celtic Tribe from Wales and the former 2000 champion Fire and Ice from a college in Utah. Heartbeat would be forced to win against very stiff competition. The competition was so excellent it was a wonder that Hearteat didn't freeze up. For example right before Heartbeat was to take the floor, Anita Williams stood in awe as she watched Fire and Ice perform. Anita turned to her partner Martin Anderson and commented on how great they were. Martin smartly told Anita to focus her eyes on Brian White and Ann Bush across the floor and to block Fire and Ice from her mind. It's good to have those veterans around.
Indeed Heartbeat was filled from top to bottom with leaders and veterans. These people had spent years training to finally get the chance to put such great routines on the floor in front of the enthusiastic audience. They deserved to be there and they wanted to put on a great show.
But there had to be a definite sadness going out there knowing it would be their last competition as a member of Heartbeat. A tremendous team camaraderie had developed from spending so much time together over the past five years and especially during the difficult final year. And so much time had been sacrificed for this goal. It would be shame to lose their concentration now.
Everyone on Heartbeat danced to the best of their ability. But would their best be good enough?? No one had any idea how they had done. The results wouldn't be ready until later.
The next day, Monday, January 6, Susie and Bill were driving back to Houston. Her cell phone rang. Coach Susie Merrill was informed that her team had been judged the winners. Bless her heart - from a thousand miles away she phoned me to give me the good news. I immediately put the message on the ssqq web site so the entire community could share in the accomplishment.
Heartbeat had beaten six other teams from England, Wales, Canada, and other parts of the USA. Heartbeat had beaten some very talented teams. They were indeed the World Champions.
I imagine Susie had tears in her eyes as she reflected on how her dream for so many years had finally come to fruition. I imagine she had many other thoughts as well - the enormous sacrifice of her time, the stress of team members missing practice or being late, the many nights of staying late to work with a team member struggling with new choreography, the pressure to put the choreography together despite so many inconsistencies from one coach to the next, the frustration of finding and training new members after talented people retired, the exasperation from dealing with the inevitable personality conflicts that arose, putting up with the second-guessing of her authority and her competence, and the constant uncertainty of whether it was all worth it or not.
After what Susie went through in 2002 it doesn't take much to see why she decided to retire after it was all over. Susie must be unbelievably exhausted. Mentally. Physically. She probably hasn't had a moment to herself in ages. She and Bill have a cabin on a lake that has stayed pretty much empty all year long. I am sure many times she visualized a peaceful visit to her retreat. Heartbeat and I had the same thought - Heartbeat gave Susie a hanging glider chair and Judy and I gave her a rocker. The wood from both presents matched perfectly. Clearly we were all on the same page without having to say a word.
On Saturday January 25th Heartbeat performed for the final time at Susie's going-away party. That evening must have been so sad for everyone. Happy. Sad. Proud. Nostalgic. It is indeed sad to see such a talented group of dancers disband. But they definitely went out on top.
And so did Susie.
AND WHO WERE THE MEMBERS OF HEARTBEAT??
Heartbeat was almost completely composed of people who received their initial dance training here at SSQQ. Half the performers are either current or past SSQQ instructors.
Heartbeat from Left to Right:
02. YJ Pu
03. Ann Bush
04. Brian White
05. Candi Angulo
06. Andrew Gordon
07. Anita Williams
08. Victor Marquez
09. Shirley Grossestreuer
10. Jim Colby
11. Martha Gallia
12. Dan Carr
|13. Ben Liles
14. Diana Liles
15. Reza Taherian
16. Susan Waring
17. Ray Meyer
18. Janet Meyer
19. Priscilla Hamic
20. Tony Smith
21. Christine Sandel
22. Martin Anderson
23. Kirk Gunkel
24. Melody Moss
Will there be another team?? There are definitely a number of people from Heartbeat who wish to continue. You never know. From the ashes a phoenix may arise.
CONGRATULATIONS TO ANITA
WILLIAMS FOR WINNING THE UCWDC WEST COAST SWING ADVANCED FEMALE
At the same competition that Heartbeat won their Team Championship,
SSQQ Martian Whip Instructor Anita Williams took first place in her
division. Not bad, Swamp Fox!!
(Editor's Note: By the way, be sure to ask Anita for some pointers
on how men pee in the forest. She has some fascinating ideas!!)
THE SSQQ CHRISTMAS TOY DRIVE
Judy Archer asked me to thank all the many people who contributed toys this past Holiday season. On Saturday, December 21, Judy and Bill Yeaple picked up all the toys and took them to the Star of Hope Shelter.
Judy said she was overwhelmed by the incredible level of gratitude. Judy said it is one thing to read about people who are having it tough, but to see how little they really have and to see how much they need the help of other people more fortunate themselves to make a Christmas for their children is touching and painful at the same time.
Judy said she deeply appreciated the help of all the people who took the time to bring a gift to the studio. And let me tell you something - Judy doesn't BS. That isn't her style. If Judy said the people at the Star of Hope Shelter were incredibly grateful, then you can be assured your efforts helped make some unknown person's Christmas a happier one.
DING DONG THE WITCH IS DEAD. DOOR WAREHOUSE GOES OUT OF BUSINESS!!
BUT THEY STILL TOW CARS!!!!
On Monday, December 2, I received the following email:
Mr. Archer, My Name is Stuart Showers. My mother had the unfortunate circumstance of doing business with the company just across the street from you. That is to say that she paid for a new front door from the doorwarehouse and never received it. I write to you because I am trying to locate your nemesis. By searching Mr. Loshacks name on the web I came across the problem that you have run into with him and thought that it might be helpful to me. If you know of any other way to get into contact with this man I would appreciate it. I cannot take a legal stance without the whereabouts of said.
Thank you for your time and consideration, Stuart Showers
By chance Judy Archer was the studio
that day. She went outside to take a look and confirmed what the
email said - The Door Werewolf House definitely appeared to have
gone belly up. You cannot imagine my satisfaction to see they
had bit the dust. Good riddance.
Last year the jerks who work there approved the car towing of at
least a dozen ssqq students. (Story
of towing I, Story
of towing II)
Unfortunately our problems with this building are not over. I
received this email on Friday, January 31:
I see that you are writing an article about the Door Warehouse out of business. Please continue to warn dancers that they are still towing away cars, even though out of business. I assumed, since the business was shut down, that it was safe to park there and had my car towed away just two
Fridays ago. It costs me $110 in ransom to retrieve it from the car-nappers.
(Editor's Note: There is a very cruel
man named Don January who owns that building. My guess is he is
behind the towing problems. All I can say is avoid parking on the
Here is a story about the Door Werewolf House
from the local Bellaire Newspaper:
A Closed Door at the Door Warehouse
Reprinted from the Village News/Southwest News
December 17, 2002
Written by Michelle Leigh Smith
On the outside, the Door Warehouse at 4801 Bissonnet, looks fairly upscale, located near Charlies Hamburgers and a hair salon. Of late, the doors have been locked and the owner has been there only sporadically.
A disturbance there Thursday morning from an unhappy customer brought Bellaire Police to the scene.
The people at the Door Warehouse told the officer theyve filed for bankruptcy, said Assistant Police Chief Byron Holloway.
(side note: Chief Holloway is the officer who assists SSQQ with our annual Halloween Party)
Recently, Bellaire City Hall and Bellaire Police have had calls from customers saying theyve put down large deposits on doors and now cannot reach anyone at Door Warehouse.
Tillie Weidemann, City of Bellaire receptionist, said, Ive been getting calls for about a month. A man called and said they never did come and do the job. He said he had put down 50%, $2,000.
Code Inspector Chris Magisano had also had many calls. One man called and asked if he should report the problem to the police or file a civil complaint. I told him he was free to do either.
On her rounds through Bellaire, on Tuesday afternoon she noticed some activity around the Door Warehouse location. Since we had received so many complaints, I stopped and checked to see if I could find anyone there, Magisano said.
That is when she got to the bottom of it.
The owner, Joel Loshak, was there, Magisano said. He was talking to a gentleman and there were some other people there who looked like they were removing some of his inventory. I had met him before when he moved to this current location. He had contacted me about his limitations on signage and the rules on signs. I think he was genuinely concerned about following the code and adhering to the Bellaire law. His business had already been in Bellaire for about ten years and I never heard anything negative about him until this stuff came up. He had always been so nice and so interested in doing things the Bellaire way. It was hard for me to imagine that anything incorrect was going on. I just though maybe there were some personal circumstances that were causing problems.
I asked, Can you tell me whats going on because weve had a lot of your customers calling us, she said. We dont have any information and we dont do any consumer advocacy here, so we dont have a means of addressing it.
Loshak replied, Just tell me if they call there , they will be contacted by my attorneys office.
He seemed sorry about what had happened, Magisano said. He did not seem defensive. He was very nice. He said two family deaths had caused him to be away from the business and in his absence, there had been some problems.
Door Warehouse sold doors, windows, and screens. Customers say they have put down deposits as large as $2,000 50% of the $4,000 door they were purchasing and have nothing to show their outgoing expenditure.
The Better Business Bureau compiled report confirms the Door Warehouse has an unsatisfactory record with the bureau due to unanswered complaints. The BBB has processed 9 complaints in the last 36 months including refund and exchange issues, delivery issues, sales issues, contract and customer service issues. Three were closed as unresolved, three were closed as resolved, two are closed with no response from the company.
In the BBB report, it says that the number of complaints filed against the company may not be as important as the kind of complaints filed. BBB reports generally cover a three-year reporting period.
Assistant Bellaire Police Chief Byron Holloway said, Weve had some people call and say they had some things on order and cant reach anyone there. People are getting frustrated and trying to find out whats going on with the business. We tell them its not a police matter its a civil matter. It all gets back to a contractual agreement. Usually these things are civil matters and seldom rise to a criminal status. It is what the man promised to deliver or not.
COMPLAINT OF THE MONTH:
JEANNIE FINN HAS THE LAST WORD
In last month's Newsletter I suggested that former staff member Jeannie Finn did not depart the ssqq staff in a particularly graceful way.
From the January Newsletter:
"Jeannie Finn chose an odd way to retire. She had someone tell
me she quit. Oh well. Not everyone leaves in style. I do appreciate
the many Friday nights where she helped as a Western Assistant."
I agree it wasn't the nicest thing to say. However
I also felt it was the truth. As you might guess, I was quite taken
aback by the following email:
Letter from Roy Dandan to Rick Archer
Today I write to you with a great sense of disappointment on behalf of a very dear friend of mine.
In your Newsletter, you stated the following about Ms. Jeannie Finn:
Jeannie Finn chose an odd way to retire. She had someone tell me she quit. Oh well. Not everyone leaves in style. I do appreciate the many Friday nights where she helped as a Western Assistant.
I emphasize: "Oh well. Not everyone leaves in style."
Such words are extremely unprofessional, disrespectful, and hurtful. They border very closely on the legal terms
slanderous and defamatory. The personal hurt, pain and suffering and mental anguish that you caused Ms. Finn is undeserved. I strongly suggest that in the future you seek the advise (or proof read) of an attorney before you publish such statements about your own team members. Meanwhile, you should be very fortunate if Ms. Finn does not on her own seek the advise of counsel for suing you for damages for slander/defamation of character and for pain and suffering and mental anguish. Your statements are ill advised. Your attack on her character is groundless and shows a lack of appreciation to the very people that MAKE your business those that keep your bills paid; without whom you don t stand a chance to survive financially.
Ms Finn was a volunteer at your place of business for 4 years (EMPHASIZE 4 years).
She has no obligation to personally inform you of her retirement. Her communication with your paid staff members regarding her intentions to retire is a valid implied notice to you. You see legally, your staff members are your agents; their knowledge is imputed to you. In other words, if you are the janitor at Dell, your notice of intent to terminate employment with Dell Corporation does not have to be communicated to Michael Dell himself. Furthermore, I believe a 6-week advance notice was beyond the norm in your industry regarding notice of intent to terminate employment. The above discussion however followed your own use of the word retire as though Ms Finn was at your employ. Ms Finn was never your employee she was a volunteer.
She owed you no more than a courtesy communication to ANY of your agents (paid employees). Such communication was definitely made and was well known among the circle of your staff and customers/guests. Here I recommend that you get more involved with your staff and ascertain more clearly and closely the affairs of your business. While working as a volunteer for you, Ms. Finn took her responsibilities at your place of business very seriously and very proudly. She was very well liked and respected for what she did. Her attitude and actions in class and outside class were clearly a reflection of her pride and joy in what she did.
If for any reason you don't think that such work ethics and personal character is of any relevance to your business, then you should consider the number of referrals and return business that are directly attributable to Ms. Finn s hard work and volunteer effort. Speaking from my own personal experience and having lived in Houston for almost 9 years, the only reason that I considered going to your place of business was because of Ms. Finn's free advertising and good word for your business. The circle of influence in her profession and my profession span in the hundreds and your own statements are not only damaging to her person and her reputation, but to your own business as well. Consider how other readers of YOUR newsletter will look at YOU having seen your respect you afforded to one of your own (a measly volunteer in your place of business) who is doing you a favor without pay and she did so for 4 years (emphasis on 4 years). Mr. Archer, I strongly suggest that you re-evaluate your appreciation to your staff AND your VOLUNTEERS. I encourage you to re-state your slanderous and defamatory statement in a light that is favorable and truly reflective of who Jeannie Finn is and was to your business.
Certainly while an apology does not relieve you of a potential legal civil action liability, it would certainly mitigate your damages if and once determined (Please consult your counsel on this matter for advice). I will be looking forward to reading any further statements regarding this matter.
Meanwhile, you owe Ms. Finn a personal apology. She did not deserve what you did to hurt her.
A very upset friend of Ms. Finn,
Letter from Jeannie Finn to Rick Archer
It is very unfortunate that I had not had the opportunity to read your newsletter before sending my e-mail letting you know that I needed a break from my responsibilities (funny I should call them that, for much of my recollection, I was always there on a volunteer basis). After several rather uncomfortable encounters Friday night it was brought to my attention how you chose to say good-by to me and show how you really think of the time I have dedicated to you and your paid staff. It was not until this morning that I finally read the infamous Rick Archer Newsletter only to find out how much attention you have really paid to my actions over the past four years.
As far back as I can remember, I feel that I have always taken great care to come to you first with any issues I may have with my situation at SSQQ. Much to my dismay, one instance of a very busy schedule and unfortunate circumstances in my personal/professional life caused me to be a couple of days behind in acting in a "classy" fashion according to you. I'm terribly sorry for my gross error in getting to you just as soon as I possibly could and apologize for allowing my personal issues get in the way of your business. The last I heard it was customary to give 2 weeks notice before leaving a professional job. I'm not clear what the guidelines are for a volunteer position but I guess the standards are much higher. I gave Wil a heads up a full month and a half in advance and I informed you two weeks before the next batch of classes begins. Wil had no idea that I had not contacted you sooner and he was certainly not sent as my messenger. I am a grown woman and can take care of my business myself just as he was trying to do when he spoke with you about Krista.
My stepping away from the studio was a very difficult decision to make. It was not a decision I made lightly. As I've mentioned to you before, I began taking classes at SSQQ only one month after my moving to Houston and have spent up to three nights a week there. Needless to say I have made some very dear friends and have had some wonderful times over the past four years. I hesitate to say this for fear of burning bridges permanently but I'm afraid if I don't, your words will forever ring.
After all, you said your piece, now I should get the same opportunity.
I feel it was very unprofessional of you to have printed and distributed your words in the fashion you chose. In effect, you have caused countless individuals to question my integrity and have
aired your dirty laundry in a public forum. Fortunately for me, I know without a doubt that the two individuals that I helped in class the most, really valued and appreciated my time and effort these past years. I know that there are many students that I have made a favorable connection with and I am proud of the work that I did for you. I have no regrets there. I have appreciated all the work of your other staff members and the friendships I found at the Studio will always be cherished. I am regretting being so "classless" and I am deeply angered for your lack of respect for me and your inability to search out the full story before you print your hurtful, damaging words.
I have highly recommended the Studio to my contacts in the outside world and have brought you a fair amount of business over the past years. However, as long as my integrity is in question, I don't feel I would be able to talk about me experience at SSQQ in quite the same light. I certainly will live with the
embarrassment of being "classless" to any colleagues that I have referred
to your studio should they check the website and read your Newsletter. The term slander does come to mind. You see the worker ants are rarely individually
acknowledged (nor do they expect to be) by the Queen however, they are in no doubt critical to the daily operations of the nest. Kill your worker ants, kill the nest.
I wish you the best in the future.
Letter from Rick Archer to Jeannie Finn, CC to Roy Dandan
Jeannie, I have just returned to town from a week's trip or I would have responded sooner.
I understand why you feel I have not handled your situation fairly. I have also received a strong complaint from your associate Roy Dandan. He deeply resented that I wrote you did not resign in style. He suggested what I said was slander. Judging from the tone of your most recent email, you are dissatisfied as well.
After four years of contributions at the studio, you definitely deserve a complete explanation of the events that led to what I wrote in the Newsletter. Let's review what happened from my side.
On Friday, December 13, Wil Coulbourn stopped me as I walked by him in Room 1 on my way to the DJ booth. He wanted to ask me if Krista Johnson could take your place. I asked him what had happened to Jeannie. He told me that you had quit. I stopped in my tracks. In 25 years, I had never had someone leave without the courtesy of telling me ahead of time. Wil had gone to the trouble of finding someone to replace you and wanted to check it out with me. Now he realized he had been put in the awkward position of also having to break the bad news of your departure. I never did quite find out whether you had asked him to tell me or whether he filled me in by accident.
I do know Wil was taken aback by the clueless expression on my face. He said it was his understanding you had already emailed me. We were both caught off guard. I asked him for an explanation of why you had decided to leave.
Wil was clearly embarrassed to discover he was delivering the news. Due to the awkwardness of the situation, Wil hesitated at first, but then pressed forward. The only reason he gave for your departure was a vague reference that you had decided 'to do other things'. I got the impression there was more to the story, but Wil looked so uncomfortable I decided he didn't deserve to be grilled and left it at that.
Wil then introduced me to Krista who had been standing next to him watching the exchange. Krista's presence was a major reason why I didn't see any point in asking Wil more questions. He asked me if I minded if Krista took your place. I said I trusted his judgment and gave my okay.
There was no hostility in Wil's voice and no meanness towards you. He wasn't angry towards you in the least. At the same time Wil's demeanor and body language gave me the distinct impression that you were out the door and gone. I don't think he expected to see you again any time soon. From the impression Wil gave me, in his mind you were gone and Krista had taken your place effective immediately.
That is the sum total of the exchange from my point of view.
Five days passed. I did not hear from you. I concluded that I wasn't going to get a letter from you. After all, it takes one minute to send an email.
I said that you did not resign in style. I agree those are harsh words, but as it stood when I wrote the Newsletter unfortunately they were justified. Let me point out how other people leave their positions at the studio.
For starters as you know I have had eight people resign in the past couple months. Every one of them but you either told me face to face or emailed me of their decision. Most of them gave me one to two months notice in advance so I could look for a replacement. For that matter I have had many people resign over the years. A couple of them quit in anger, but the vast majority simply had a change in their life - new boyfriend/girlfriend, new job, moving to another city, pregnant, illness in the family or personal health problems, getting married, and so on. They all had an explanation of some sort that made sense and whenever possible gave me plenty of warning.
Jeannie, you handled it differently. Or should I say you didn't handle it at all.
I sent out the December/January Newsletter on Wednesday night, December 18. The article on the Staff changes was the last story I wrote. As it stood at 6 pm on Wednesday, you had the odd distinction of being the first and only person ever to leave the Staff without telling me. It was only an accident that Wil clued me in ahead of time. This is simply not the way professional people announce their departure after a four year tenure.
On the surface, it appeared you had quit without bothering to tell me. I had every right to assume you were bitter about something and wouldn't even take the time to explain what the problem was.
When I finally received your resignation email the day after I sent out the Newsletter, I immediately regretted what I had written. However at the same time I felt by your inaction you were largely responsible for creating the impressions I acted upon. I am sorry that the impression I was originally given turned out to be incorrect, but the lack of communication that created the situation wasn't my fault.
I apologize that I have hurt your feelings.
I will print this apology in the upcoming Newsletter and clear the air.
Since I have no desire to have the last word, I invite you to say whatever you wish.
(Editor's Note: Ms. Finn and Mr. Dandan did not
send any further communications.)
AM I THE ONLY PERSON WHO THINKS PRESIDENT GEORGE BUSH
IS MOVING TO WAR TOO FAST??
|January 21, 2003
Houston Chronicle Headline
War Plans Met by French Resistance
|January 22, 2003
Houston Chronicle Headline
Impatient Bush Fires Back at Reluctant Coalition Allies
I don't trust Saddam Hussein. I also believe my
government when it says they have evidence of weapons of mass destruction.
But I don't think we have any business bombing and attacking
Iraq without presenting this evidence first.
The world hates the United States enough as it is.
Unilaterally attacking a relatively helpless nation isn't
going to win us any friends. And I am fairly certain starting
a war without presenting the evidence will guarantee a sneak
attack on our soil somewhere in the future.
Back in the 70s I worked for the Harris County Child Welfare
department. I investigated child abuse and child neglect.
Occasionally I would go into horrible homes and see helpless
small children with abusive, cruel fathers who would beat them
practically without any reason. I could see the children were
terrified and in great danger. I would report the situation to
my supervisor and recommend getting those children out of the
Time and time again my supervisor would remind me of the
rules. First the parent has to be warned. Then the
children have to badly beaten before I had the legal authority
to go in and remove the children. I would protest and say the
children might be killed or severely hurt. My supervisor would
agree with me, but remind me the law says we cannot remove the
children unless there is an incident.
Now in the case of 9/11, we had the incident. In the eyes of
the world we were justified in taking some very strong actions
How are we going to justify going to war against a country
that has not attacked us and has not shown to have the alleged
weapons of mass destruction? Our country is said to
represent the moral high ground.
The United Nations was created to work for world peace. I say
let the inspectors continue to search for the evidence. Until
then our hands are tied.
A man far more eloquent than I is Leonard Pitts, a columnist
for the Miami Herald. Here is what he had to say:
Posted on Mon, Jan. 27, 2003
Written by Leonard Pitts
U.S. arrogance taints stand on Iraq
When the French call you arrogant, it's sort of like Michael Jackson calling you eccentric.
Your first response is to marvel at the pot's audacity in criticizing the kettle's color scheme. France is, after all, the nation where condescension was born.
The problem is, they just may have a point. Certainly, the remarks that occasioned last week's angry response from French leaders weren't exactly a model of American decorum. It seems Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was asked at a news conference on Wednesday about European resistance to military action against Iraq.
Rumsfeld said, ``You're thinking of Europe as Germany and France. I don't. I think that's old Europe. If you look at the entire NATO Europe today, the center of gravity is shifting to the east and there are a lot of new members.''
Martine Aubry, France's former labor minister, was the one who called that comment arrogant. She told a radio audience that Rumsfeld's dismissive remarks show that the United States means to ''govern the world.'' Actually, what they show is that the Bush administration still has a tin ear where Iraq is concerned. Remember, it was also Rumsfeld who argued recently that failure to find evidence Iraq is stockpiling weapons of mass destruction could, in itself, be evidence Iraq is stockpiling weapons of mass destruction.
Not that I don't take the secretary's point. He's saying we know the Iraqis have these weapons, so any failure to find them can only mean they've been hidden.
The question is, how do we know? It would be nice if we the people had just some of Washington's certainty. At the very least, I wish more of our traditional allies -- yes, ''old Europe'' -- had it. It's a wish that's apparently shared by many people. American support for an Iraqi war is, according to pollsters, conditioned on international support for it. The consensus seems to be that we'd be a lot more comfortable with war if our allies vouched for its necessity.
We are, in a word, skeptical.
That skepticism is only sharpened by the transparent dichotomy in our treatment of North Korea, another recalcitrant member of the fabled axis of evil. We've played the drums of war for Saddam Hussein, but for Kim Jong Il we offer repeated choruses of ``give peace a chance.''
Yes, the fact that the North Koreans are believed to possess nuclear arms explains that dichotomy -- makes it prudent. But watching these crises unfold side by side still points up a certain unattractive flexibility of principle which does little to ameliorate skepticism.
Can America go to war lacking the support of its people and some of its key allies? Yes. But that would be dangerous and ill advised, risking upheaval at home and moral authority abroad. I don't think the Bush administration fully appreciates this or anything else beyond its lust for war.
War, should it need to be said, is a terrible thing. It kills soldiers and children, innocents and innocence. It debases the human spirit.
However, contrary to what many of those who marched in Washington and elsewhere this month would argue, there are times when that horror is necessary, even moral. A nation has the right -- the obligation -- to defend itself from aggression. Were there clear and convincing evidence that we are at that point, we could consider this a settled matter.
But any such evidence that may exist has not been -- possibly cannot be -- released for public consumption. So the case for war -- for preemptively striking a sovereign nation -- rests largely on the willingness of American allies to vouch for American accusations. In which case, it might be wise to offer those allies something other than stubborn unilateralism and, yes, a certain get-off-my-planet-by-sundown arrogance.
The administration keeps insisting on the necessity of war. It seems to expect that the American people and a dubious world should take it at its word.
And with every passing day that becomes a little more difficult to do.
HALF-PRICE RETURNS TO
January 31, 2003
I just registered for Ghost Town 6 online. I noticed that the "Repeat" option had returned, and that everyone's dance class history was listed for their account. I have taken Ghost Town classes 1 - 5 but noticed my history only included Ghost Town classes 3 - 5. What happened to the first and second Ghost Town classes I took in September and October 2002? I would like to repeat these classes eventually, and if possible, I would like to receive credit for having taken them before. Would it please be possible to check my history again? Please let me know what I need to do in order to help rectify this situation. Your cooperation is appreciated.
Thank you, GG
SSQQ has recently added the Repeat Function to our On-Line Registration process. Theoretically if you have taken a class in the last year or so, we have a record of it. When you go to register for a class you have previously taken, the software looks at your account History and automatically permits you to re-take it at half-price.
The system is not perfect though. Unfortunately many records were lost in the past year due to hundreds of duplicate accounts. For example my friend Art Williams had 4 different accounts under Art Williams, Arthur Williams, Arthur Williams
Jr, and Will Arthur. His History was spread out all over our database. One misspelling created a new account. For example, Rhondalyn Baker was also found under Rhonwyn Baker.
When you register On-Line, the second screen gives your History of classes. If you see something missing, you can contact our Registrar, Susan Schroeder, at
If your On-Line History is incorrect, don't forget you can still
register for a Repeat class using Walk-In Registration whenever you wish.
SSQQ SLOW DANCE AND ROMANCE -
4 Couples announced their engagement in January!!
Wayne Brodd AND Carol Jones
ANNOUNCE THEIR ENGAGEMENT
On Friday, February 24, Wayne Brodd came over and nervously
whispered he planned to ask Carol Jones to marry him right before
Break. I congratulated him and asked if there was anything I could
do to help. Wayne said he just wanted to warn me ahead of time. I
guess if someone passed out I would know what to do.
To my great regret, I wasn't the teacher. It was Brian White and
Kimberly Smith's Martian Whip class. Every bone in my body wanted to
be in the room to watch, but the professionalism in me forced me to
go and teach Death Valley like I was supposed to.
When Marla Gorzynski entered my class just before Break to tell me
Bryan Spivey the Hall Monitor needed me, I assumed she was there to
tell me about the engagement. I promptly blurted out all the
information to the class. Marla frowned and said she had just come
from that class and no one had gotten engaged. Huh?? Now I was
Marla said Bryan needed me; there was a cameraman at the
door!! Now I was confused. First I told MG to take over
the class, then I got everyone to promise they wouldn't go to Brian
White's class and let the cat out of the bag (like I just did), and
then I went to see about Bryan Spivey's mysterious cameraman.
This was turning into a weird night.
When I found Bryan, to my consternation there really was a cameraman
named Ray. He introduced himself as being a reporter from the brand
new Channel 24 Cable Station that does round-the-clock programming
on Houston news. He asked if he could do a story on ssqq and film
the classes. He seemed nice enough so I gave him permission. Just
that second Marla popped back in to tell me Wayne had just proposed
With his finely honed instincts for news reporting, Ray made a
beeline for the story. Carol was in the midst of shock and the next
thing she knew she was on camera being interviewed!! Wayne of
course was being interviewed too, but both people were clearly
overwhelmed to be on camera at such a delicate moment.
After the interview was over, Wayne made a beeline for me. He wanted
to know how I had arranged to have a reporter there so fast!!
I swore up and down I didn't know a thing about Ray's visit, but I
am not sure Wayne believed me. The coincidence was
While Ray roamed all over the studio taking footage, I stayed in
Room 2 to ask Gary Richardson how the proposal had gone. Gary said
that Brian White was in on it. Brian said they were about to take a
break and did anyone have any questions?
At this point Wayne raised his hand and said he had a
question. He took Carol and put her in Hammerlock position,
which I thought was clever since it is effortless to get a woman's
attention in this peculiar spot. Wayne started yapping about this
move and that when suddenly he looked at Carol and said, "Will
you be my dance partner for the rest of my life?"
To say Carol was caught off guard would be the understatement of the
year. She was flabbergasted!! Her face turned bright red as
Wayne got out the ring. She was smiling to be sure, but stared at
Wayne as if she thought she were dreaming. Finally Rey Velasquez
blurted out the question that was on everyone's mind, "Well,
was that a 'yes' or a 'no'??"
I think Wayne owes Rey a favor. That question seemed to snap Carol
back to consciousness. She smiled and said definitely 'yes' and
everyone applauded. It was quite a moment.
As for the other Ray, he had fun too. He filmed Bryan Spivey and
Kimberly Smith dancing WCS. He went from room to room taking footage
and asking questions. I suppose we will see the damage soon
Congratulations to Wayne and Carol!
SSQQ INSTRUCTOR KATHLEEN LABOUNTY GETS ENGAGED TO MARK
Kathleen Labounty is my beautiful and wonderfully bright assistant
on Wednesdays. Last week she emailed her regrets that she wouldn't
be able to help me because her fiancι had made other
plans for them. Fiancι? So I emailed Kathleen back and got
fiancι. Mark ordered
an engagement ring a couple days before Christmas, but it wont
arrive until mid-February. We
wont get married until summer 2004, though, which is between my
bachelors and masters degrees."
was so matter-of-fact, la-di-da, that I nearly missed the fact that
this lovely young lady is engaged. Kathleen is my SECOND Wednesday
assistant named Kathleen to get engaged. Obviously any woman
determined to get married should ask to be my Wednesday assistant...
which reminds me that Russ Ann Kale just started helping me on
Wednesdays this week. If she changes her name to 'Kathleen', she is
as good as married.
Congratulations to Kathleen and Mark!
SSQQ INSTRUCTOR PATTY O IS ENGAGED TO DAVID.
Of all my instructors who have to get engaged, Patty Or is the only
one that makes me slightly sad because I enjoy calling her Patty-O
so much. I find it VERY INTERESTING that Patty O deliberately did
not list David's last name because I bet it doesn't start with O!!
Furthermore I doubt that Kathleen Labounty will trade her fiancι
Mark Oryhon for David just to make me happy. People take these engagements
pretty seriously from what I hear.
I asked Patty O to tell me something about her engagement and here
is what she said:
"The fiancι's name is David, hes an IT
guy. He had inquired
if dancing lessons is required for the marriage; I said, not as a
hobby but definitely for the wedding.
So, he will grace us with his presence at the studio some
Well, that is smart of Patty
to get David into a dance class before the wedding. Based on my
experience the chances of getting him to take lessons AFTER the
wedding are slim nil and none. I have never met David, but I suppose
Patty O will warn David that the moment I meet him I intend to ask
him for some identification so I can check out his last name.
Hmm. Maybe Patty will consider hyphenating her last name. Remind me
to ask her!
Congratulations to Patty O and to David!
INSTRUCTOR VICKIE BERNARD IS ENGAGED TO JOHN SMITH
Are any of you starting to detect a kind of 'cut and paste' pattern
going on here?? You know, 'ssqq instructor blank blank is
engaged to blank blank'.
Yes, it is becoming increasingly obvious that the easiest way on
earth to get engaged is to become an ssqq instructor. And to think
how stupid I am to actually pay these women!! They should be
paying me! It is almost guaranteed that if a pretty girl joins
my staff someone's bound to ask her to marry them. After all, you
only hear about the women who say 'yes'. There may be a bunch
of 'NOs' we never even hear about.
However I am pretty sure Vickie Bernard didn't hesitate too long
when John asked her to marry him. This couple met at ssqq and has
been going together for about a year. I like John a lot because he
is smart, attentive, and always willing to help Vickie with any
chore at the studio.
Congratulations to Vickie and John. I am very happy for both of
(Editor's Note: Four engagements in one month. It looks like the
legendary ssqq marriage factory is heating up again! You bachelors
better watch out!)
LONELY IN ALASKA
Contributed by Chris Holmes
Sam had been in business for 25 years and is finally sick of the stress. He quits his job and buys 50 acres in Alaska as far from humanity as possible. He sees the postman once a week and gets groceries once a month. Otherwise it's total peace and quiet. After six months or so of almost total isolation, someone knocks on his door.
He opens it and there is a big, bearded man standing there.
"Name's Lars ...Your neighbor from forty miles away.... Having a Christmas party Tuesday ... Thought you might like to come. About
"Great," says Sam, "after six months out here I'm ready to meet some local folks. Thank you."
As Lars is leaving, he stops. "Gotta warn you...There's gonna be some drinkin'."
"Not a problem... after 25 years in business, I can drink with the best
Just as he starts to leave, Lars stops again. "More'n' likely gonna be some fightin' too."
Sam says, "Well, I get along with people. I'm not worried. I'll be there. Thanks again."
Once again Lars turns from the door. "I've seen some wild sex at these parties, too."
"Now that's really not a problem," says Sam. "I've been all alone for six months!
I'll definitely be there. By the way, what should I bring?"
Lars stops in the door again and says, "Whatever you want, just gonna be the two of us".
THE FEBRUARY JOKE PICTURE OF THE MONTH - THE SIGN PAINTER
submitted by Chris Holmes
This month's picture tells the story of a sign painter who attracts a huge crowd. How? By drawing the nude picture of a voluptuous woman out in plain sight.
THE SSQQ FEBRUARY JOKE PAGE IS READY!
We have several classic jokes ready for you to read on our January Joke Page.
Here is one of my favorites:
FEBRUARY CS 11: The Phone Company Interview
Submitted by Pat Roberts
A phone company put an ad in the paper in order to recruit workers. The next day, two groups of workers show up - a crew of five men and a crew of five blonde women.
Due to EEO regulations, t he company cannot decide who to give the job to, so to be fair they give the two groups a test. The company boss says, "Each crew will receive a telephone pole that must be installed into the ground. Whoever is able to hammer it in first will get the job."
Both groups agree that this is a fair test, so off they go in the Company trucks with the long telephone poles sticking out the back. A few hours pass, and finally, at 1:00, the male crew returns. "Yes!" they shout. "We came back first, so we get the job!!"
"Good work, men," says the boss, "However, we must wait until the other crew comes back to make sure that the reason they're delayed is not because of traffic or the truck breaking down."
"Fine, no problem," say the men. An hour passes, two hours pass, three hours. Finally, at 4:30, the Blonde crew arrives. All the women's faces are flushed and they are breathing hard. They have obviously been working hard.
"What happened to you? What took so long?" asks the boss incredulously.
"What do you mean, 'what took so long'?? We worked our butts off. Do we get the job?"
"YOU get the job? No way! The men were back here THREE HOURS ago!"
"Well, of course they were," say the blondes. "But they cheated !! They only put the stupid pole in halfway!!"
THE SSQQ FEBRUARY BLUE SIDE JOKES ARE READY!
(Editor's Note: The Blue Side Jokes are one of the great undiscovered secrets of the SSQQ web site. Anyone who is on the SSQQ Registration List is welcome to have access. All you need to do to subscribe is email me from the email address you use to register for classes and request it. firstname.lastname@example.org
Here is one of my favorites:
February BS 15: Bondage and Discipline
Submitted by Gary Richardson
One day Mom was cleaning junior's room. Deep in the closet under a pile of dirty clothes she found an S+M magazine. On the cover was a picture of a partially naked man on his knees in bondage with a hooded dominatrix towering over him holding a whip. She let out a stunned gasp.
This was highly upsetting for her. She hid the magazine and cried most of the afternoon until the boy's father got home. She found the magazine and showed it to him.
She watched him carefully as he looked at it. She saw his eyes grow huge with astonishment. He shook his head, then handed it back to her with out a word. They just stared at each other.
She finally asked him, " Well, what should we do about this?"
Dad looked at her and said, "Well, I don't think you should spank him."
FRACTURED VALENTINES CARDS
Contributed by Leroy Ginzel
Love may be beautiful,
love may be bliss
but I only slept with you,
because I was pissed.
I thought that I could love no other
Until, that is, I met your brother
Roses are red, violets are blue, sugar is sweet, and so are you.
But the roses are wilting, the violets are dead, the sugar bowl's empty
and so is your head.
Of loving beauty you float with grace
If only you could hide your face
Kind, intelligent, loving and hot
This describes everything you are not
I want to feel your sweet embrace
But don't take that paper bag off of your face
I love your smile, your face, and your eyes,
Damn, I'm too good at telling lies!
My darling, my lover, my beautiful wife:
Marrying you screwed up my life
I see your face when I am dreaming
That's why I always wake up screaming
My love, you take my breath away
What have you stepped in to smell this way
My feelings for you no words can tell
Except for maybe "go to hell"
What inspired these amorous rhymes?
Two parts vodka, one part lime
why do I hold these rhymes so dear
when their negative message is so clear
love may be like a fiery comet
but valentines schmaltz always makes me vomit.)
VOCABULARY WORD OF THE MONTH WITH JANE DOWNS - SECERN
secern \Sih SURN\, v. t., secerns, secerned, secerning (L.
secernere, to secrete)
1. To separate; to distinguish.
2. (Physiol.) To secrete; as, mucus secerned in the nose.
Example: I was finally able to secern between the two different formulas. Eureka!
Contributed by Leroy Ginzel
First-year students at Medical School were receiving their first anatomy class with a real dead human body. They all gathered around the surgery table with the body covered with a white sheet. The professor started the class by telling them, "In medicine, it is necessary to have two important qualities as a doctor: the first is that you not be disgusted by anything involving the human body." For an example the professor pulled back the sheet, stuck his finger in the butt of the corpse, withdrew it and stuck it in his mouth. "Go ahead and do the same thing," he told his students.
The students freaked out, hesitated for several minutes, but eventually took turns sticking a finger in the butt of the dead body and sucking on it.
When everyone finished, the professor looked at them and told them, "The second most important quality is observation. I stuck in my middle finger and sucked on my index finger. Now learn to pay attention."
Anyone who reads the ssqq newsletter knows I think AT&T is the
worst corporation in America. Not only does this company incessantly
bombard people with unwanted phone calls to sell their services, it
doesn't pay one bit of attention to consumer rights. I
documented my woes with AT&T in the two previous
(Read previous AT&T
And I have discovered I am not the only person who has trouble with
AT&T. Below is a letter from Aisha Currie. Her story sounds very
familiar to me.
It took me almost a year to quit being billed for AT&T service I did not ask for. And I had to put up with a collection service, too. The customer service area was actually a call center somewhere in Florida. When I asked for a supervisor I was told none were there that day but one would call back (they never did). I wrote letters to the PUC and attached copies of each of the bills. There was NO address anywhere to send a letter of complaint to AT&T anywhere and their call center for customer service (or lack thereof) refused to give me an address, too. Fortunately, the PUC did send me an address for them.
I sent a letter and copies of bills and a copy of the letter to the PUC to the headquarters of AT&T, addressed to their president and CEO. No reply. But at least the bills stopped coming and the collection agency quit calling.
Almost 2 years after the first bill that came after cancelling service I received a $25 calling card from AT&T with a letter (generic) of apology. To resolve the long distance problem at my house, I only use my cell phone for long distance. And I make sure to tell my tale of woe regarding AT&T to anyone who is even THINKING of taking their service. In short, I agree with you - AT&T is the worst.
HAVING A BAD DAY??
Contributed by Chris Holmes
So you are feeling down and out. No energy. No fun. Bored out of your wits. It could be worse, you know.
A couple years back there was a case at the Sacred Heart hospital in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, where a patient died in the same Intensive Care bed same time same for three straight weeks. Each Sunday morning at about 11 a.m. in the Critical Care unit three different men died regardless of their medical condition. This puzzled the doctors and some even thought that it had something to do with the supernatural. No one could solve the mystery as to why the deaths occurred around 11 a.m. on Sundays. So a state-wide team of experts which included several parapsychologists was assembled to investigate the cause of the incidents. Nothing was uncovered.
There was no other choice but to wait till next Sunday morning. Fortunately they took the precaution of having no patient.
A few minutes before 11 a.m., all doctors and nurses nervously wait outside the ward to see for themselves what the terrible phenomenon was all about. Some were holding wooden crosses, prayer books and other holy objects to ward off the evil spirits.
Just when the clock struck 11... Rayford Johnson, the part-time Sunday sweeper hired several weeks ago, entered the ward and unplugged the life support system so that he could use the vacuum cleaner.
No matter how tough it is, it could be worse, right?
The average cost of rehabilitating a seal after the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska was $80,000. In some cases volunteers worked with veterinarians for several months to save the injured animals and nurse them back to health. One day at a special ceremony, two seals who were among the most expensively saved animals were being released back into the wild amid cheers and applause from onlookers. A minute later, in full view of several hundred people involved in the rescue operation, a killer whale ate them both.
Still feeling sorry for yourself?
A woman came home to find her husband in the kitchen shaking frantically, almost in a dancing frenzy, with some kind of wire running from his waist towards the electric kettle. Intending to jolt him away from the deadly current, she whacked him with a handy plank of wood, breaking his arm in two places. Up to that moment, he had been happily listening to his Walkman.
To add insult to injury, the Walkman was broken beyond repair as well, a fact that irritated him a great deal as he sat in the ER room waiting for his arm to be mended.
Two animal rights protesters were protesting at the cruelty of sending pigs to a slaughterhouse in Bonn, Germany. Suddenly, all two thousand pigs broke loose and escaped through a broken fence, stampeding madly. The two hopeless protesters were trampled to death.
But wait. It could be worse.
Iraqi terrorist Khay Rahnajet didn't pay enough postage on a letter bomb. It came back with "return to sender" stamped on it. Forgetting it was the bomb, he opened it and was blown to bits.
If he hadn't been having such a bad day, maybe he would have paid better attention to what he was doing.
MORE STAFF CHANGES IN JANUARY - TED AND
MARGIE RETIRE, SHARON CRAWFORD STAYS
Lost in the shuffle of Susie
Merrill's well-publicized farewell, I lost two dear friends when Ted
Jones and Margie Saibara decided on the spur of the
moment that it was time for them to hang it up as well.
On Thursday, January 9, Anita Williams and I were practicing our
patterns to teach for that night's Martian Whip class. Anita was
understandably nervous because it was her first night to take Joanne
Ted and Margie sat down next to me and said that they had decided to
retire. Ted had been mulling it over for some time, but had
not really made up his mind until they began to drive over for class
Ted and Margie listed about a half dozen reasons why they had
decided to go - none of which was terribly earthshaking - but I
believe the real reason was that they felt a class like Martian Whip
didn't need 4 instructors. Sadly, they were correct. It was the same
reason the Rockets recently traded their valuable player Kenny
Thomas - they had three men equally talented to play a position that
needed a starter and a sub. It wasn't fair to the third man to sit
on the bench, so the Rockets traded him to a team that needed help
at that position.
Over the past month I have missed Ted and Margie terribly. They have
been my friends for nearly 18 years. Both are just wonderful people.
I am sure I will see them again.
Sharon Crawford went back and forth in her mind and decided
what she really needed was a break. So Sharon un-retired, but left
for a two month break to recharge her batteries. Look for her to
return to begin her much-anticipated Western Waltz program in
April. In the meantime, if you want to read a neat story about
a wonderful lady, check out the Legend
of Sharon Crawford in our 'Adventures of a Dance Teacher'
And Andrew Wupper will be retiring soon. Andrew has a
burgeoning law career and increasing demands on his time. Be sure to
wish him well during his final month teaching in February.
Not all the news is bad. I am pleased to announce several of the
openings created by the mass instructor exodus in December have been
Susan Schroeder starts 2003 as the new ssqq Registrar. Susan
is married to David Schroeder, the man who programmed our
sophisticated registration system. Fortunately for ssqq students and
unfortunately for David, Susan has made it her mission to ferret out
every inconsistency she can find in our On-Line Registration system.
David has been seen mumbling on several occasions. You can reach her
with a question at email@example.com
Please give a warm welcome to Charlene Tees who will be
teaching Whip/WCS with me on Sundays and with Ben on
Thursdays. Charlene taught for ssqq briefly in the 90s and has
taught Whip extensively for Gilbert Huron. She may be new to the
modern generation of ssqq, but she is an excellent veteran teacher.
She and her husband Doug are very close friends with Sharon
Welcome back to Amanda Keiser who will take Susie's spot on
Wednesdays. Amanda is no stranger to SSQQ. She taught here for many
years and decided to take a sabbatical at the end of September.
Ironically it was Susie who took Amanda's place and now Amanda is
getting her old spot back.
Welcome on board to Michele Yeiter and Darius Johnson
who will become Salsa Assistants in Judy Archer's Salsa program.
They are taking Rachel Yancey and Anastasia Miller's place.
Super Astros fan Luis Castillo will be teaching
Cumbia this month on Saturdays. He taught it back in October, but
didn't get any credit. This time I would like to say he did a great
job and I am glad he is back teaching it again!
Finally congratulations to Randy Winfrey and Melissa
Gauthier who have been promoted from their 'Volunteer' position
to take Anita's place in the Sunday Western program. I
especially enjoy watching Melissa push Randy around the floor while
she practices her Twostep. Randy is easily more than twice Melissa's
IN A WORD - CANCELED.
AND THAT'S A WRAP FOR THIS ISSUE (AND DON'T FORGET TO GO TO THE WEB SITE FOR THE COMPLETE NEWSLETTER!!)
As you can see, the SSQQ Newsletter is mostly written by people just like you who send stuff in. If you have any comments, suggestions, requests, complaints, jokes, pictures or poetry to share, please send it to me, Rick Archer, at
And thanks for reading all the way to the bottom!
. I might add I do have reason to believe some of you simply scroll to the bottom to look for any little surprises I hide down here. ;-) Anyhow, thanks to all for making it this far!
SSQQ Dance Studio