The SSQQ January 2005
Written and edited monthly by Rick Archer
Previous 2004 Newsletters
Previous 2005 Newsletters
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WHAT'S NEW AT SSQQ THIS
MONTH: THE NEW YEARS PARTY AND EZRA CHARLES IS COMING IN
A CLOSER LOOK AT THE UPCOMING JANUARY
PRACTICE NIGHT IN 2005 SUNDAY
THROUGH THURSDAY WILL BE FREE.
AND THE STUDIO WILL OPEN AT 6 PM ON WEEKNIGHTS IN JANUARY FOR
JUDY ARCHER WILL BE MISSED
2005 CRUISE NEWS - THE ALASKA TRIP IN JULY
AND THE SAME TIME NEXT YEAR OCTOBER RHAPSODY TRIP
|| A REVIEW OF THE BEST 2004 HALLOWEEN PARTY COSTUMES
AND SO WHAT ABOUT THE SSQQ NEWSLETTER ON THE SSQQ WEB SITE?
INTRODUCING VIOLET STEPLIGHTLY
AND HER FRIEND MR. SHILLY-SHALLY.
LETTER TO THE EDITOR: CAN
HUSBANDS EVER LEARN TO DANCE??
WHIP DANCING IN THE NEWS!! SWING WITH ZING: DANCING THE WHIP
BRYAN SPIVEY AND LISA PALMER WIN THE TEXAS STATE WHIP
WOULD YOU LIKE TO ENTER A DANCE CONTEST?
DANCE COMPETITION TRAINING AT SSQQ
THE STRANGE SAGA OF THE MYSTERIOUS
DEATH IN THE FAMILY: MY FRIEND DONNA RUTH AND MAX FAGET, THE
FATHER OF MY FRIEND ANN FAGET
STAFF TRANSITIONS: SSQQ SAYS GOODBYE TO CAROL ARMAND, AMANDA
KAISER, MICHELLE YEITER, DARIUS JOHNSON
RIVAS MAKES THE MISTAKE OF INVITING RICK TO HER CHRISTMAS
IN THE NEWS:
(Austin's Hippie Hollow!) leads to
THE NEWS: DAVE BERRY ON GIFT WRAPPING
TIPS FOR MEN (contributed by Pat Roberts)
STORY IN THE NEWS: Mukhtaran Bibi: The
Rape survivor who transformed tragedy into hope
THE NEWS: CHRISTMAS
DANCE STORY (This is a marvelous tale! Rick Archer)
STORY IN THE NEWS:
Bomb training exercise leaves police
red-faced (Rick Archer)
STORY IN THE NEWS: JUST LEAVE CHRISTMAS
ALONE!! (Charles Krauthammer)
START OF THE HEADLINE STORIES SECTION
RETURN TO HEADLINES
NEW AT SSQQ THIS MONTH
WHAT'S NEW AT SSQQ IN JANUARY 2005!!
WHAT'S HAPPENING AT SSQQ Dance Studio PLUS THE YEAR
2004 IN REVIEW
2004 was a wildly uneven year here at SSQQ. There were many
highs and several lows.
On the bright side, the August Beach Ball Extravaganza was a
huge success. We already have people bugging me to do it again
sooner than later in 2005.
The September Cruise was also a huge success. The energy created
by all the mischief aboard that trip is still buzzing at the
studio two months later. Already our two cruises scheduled for
2005 give every indication of being tremendous successes.
The Halloween Party was a good one. The pictures were great, the
Haunted House was ever-popular, and the costumes routinely
spectacular (is it legal to use the words "routinely
SSQQ was a big media favorite this year.
Did you know that the Houston Chronicle named SSQQ as the Best
Dance Studio in Houston?? In their August "Best of" issue known
as "Ultimate Houston", SSQQ was cited for being the top studio
in the city.
"DANCE FEVER: SSQQ
Even the name tells you how to two-step: SSQQ stands for "slow,
slow, quick, quick." Houston's largest social dance studio also
is the most romantic, spawning as many as 25 marriages and
engagements each year. Western, salsa, swing, ballroom and
whip/Western swing are the big draws, but you also can find
classes here with names like Three Left Feet and Martian Xtra.
Men pay $46 for eight hours of classes, while women slide by for
$38. (The reasoning being that it takes longer to teach men how
to lead.) Practice nights and themed dance parties are part of
the fun. Owner Rick Archer enforces a few rules: no smoking, no
kids, no wallflowers - and switching partners in class is
4803 Bissonnet (SW4); 713-861-1906; www.ssqq.com "
SSQQ was also the subject of an in-depth article in the
Chronicle back in January. And this summer SSQQ was the subject
of a very flattering documentary done by Channel 13.
2004 saw the birth of a Competition Dance program here at the
studio. Anita Williams saw her two protégés - Victor Marquez and
Joel McClesky - win one major competition after another against
very stiff competition. The three of them are shooting for a
World UCWDC Championship this coming New Year. I wish them all
And who can forget the incredible rise to prominence of Bryan
Spivey? Bryan and his lovely girlfriend Lisa Palmer are now both
Texas State Swing Champions as well as City Swing Champions!!
The sky is the limit for these two gifted dancers.
The studio has two other dance champions as well. In September
Randy Winfrey won a major western dance championship in
Nashville recently out of 8 competitors. Back in July Cher
Longoria won her western and swing competition in New Orleans.
And I am sure I am leaving someone out!!
Another reason dance competition may be even bigger here at SSQQ
is the addition of Scott Ladell to our program. Scott has given
the upper level Western classes a huge shot in the arm. Now I
have a hunch he is going to create the same kind of success on
the UCWDC circuit as a Male Professional in the Pro-Am
competitions that Anita has had as the Female Professional. Keep
an eye on Scott in 2005!
The Salsa classes continue to be a phenomenal success story. In
the two months since Judy left, we have seen no drop off which
is a very good sign. I thank Steve Gekas, Danielle Lam, Maureen
Brunetti and Darius Johnson, David Schroeder, and Linda Cook for
their hard work at plugging the huge hole left by Judy Archer's
This year marked the start of Susan Schroeder's Q-Stop Store. I
have a hunch this store is going to play an increasingly large
role in SSQQ fortunes in 2005. I will be explaining some of our
plans to you later on.
By the way, several of you have commented on how nice the studio
has begun to look since Susan and David Schroeder took over
Studio Maintenance. The difference has been quite noticeable. As
usual, I get the compliments - thank you all so much for giving
me so much credit! - but let's give the credit where it is due.
Susan and David have done a phenomenal job of getting the vents
cleaned, toilets fixed, odors removed, the office fixed up, the
TV set dust removed, the Room 4 AC fixed, and many other small
but significant improvements as well. Susan has taken it upon
herself to directly supervise my cleaning crews and tell them
EXACTLY what needs to done. This alone has made a huge
difference. Soon Susan and David will even get an electrician to
attack the light fixtures and try to get this place brighter
However not everything here at the studio was wonderful. The
final five months of 2004 was the hardest 5-month stretch of my
entire 29-year career in the dance business. August brought the
pressure of the huge All-Day Extravaganza, September was filled
with the dual pressure of getting married and preparing for the
big dance cruise, October was the Halloween Party, and just when
I was on the point of exhaustion November brought the abrupt
resignation of Judy Archer, SSQQ's second in command.
Judy's departure was less than graceful - "effective
immediately". Consequently I have spent the past two months
reorganizing my entire program. Now you understand why there was
no "December Newsletter". However I am pleased to say that
everything is under control again and I am starting to catch my
breath. Rest assured that Things will be Hopping in the New
Of course much of the roller coaster ride started with the
amazing studio cruise trip that saw 120 SSQQ dancers take the
ship by storm in early October. As most of you know, Marla and I
got married aboard the Rhapsody Cruise Trip down in Galveston.
This special event set the tone for the most spirited group we
have ever seen. I cannot begin to explain all the trouble these
characters got into. There was SO MUCH MISCHIEF it took me
nearly two months to write about all the crazy things that
happened. I completed the write-up on the Rhapsody Cruise just
recently. Including stories about the infamous "Elevator Ride",
Tales of the Hot Tub, Da Jammer, the Attack of the Zombies,
Champagne Night, Wedding Fiascos, the Great Gabino, and of
course the Legend of Mr. Handsome, the trip write-up makes for
scintillating writing. Read for yourself!
After reading the stories about the Rhapsody Cruise, many people
have come up to me to express their amazement at just how much
trouble our group got into!! On the one hand they shake their
heads in disbelief and deliver their "tsk tsks", but on the
other hand I could see in their eyes they couldn't wait to
experience the same mischief themselves when we repeat the trip
same time next year. Amazingly, we already have 25 people signed
up for a trip that is ten months away! I can tell they can't
wait to try to get into as much trouble (as if that's possible)
as the notorious 2004 group and the Usual Suspects.
My hat goes off the Mr. Handsome/Dorothy/George. Rarely has
there been an individual who had such an incredible nose for
mischief as George Sargent. First despite incredible competition
from the Great Gabino, George won his second consecutive Chief
Mischief Maker award (he previously won this award on the Feb
2004 Mardi Gras trip) with his incredible walk on the wild side
in the women's clothing. You will simply have to read about it
If George wins this award on the next cruise, I think we will
simply have to name the award for him.
George had barely gotten off the ship when he turned around and
won the Best Costume Award at the 27th Annual Halloween Party.
Despite many beautiful and clever costumes, George was
unbelievable as "Dorothy" from the "Wizard of Oz". For a
straight guy, George probably has more talent for dressing as a
woman than we would care to admit. And anyone who saw him
parading about on board the ship half-naked while wearing a bra
would notice how gracefully he moves as well.
I had suspected it for a long time, but the moment I "knew"
George was a Natural occurred at the recent Halloween Party.
That's when I noticed how one woman after another stopped by to
compliment George on what a nice job he had done decorating his
red "Dorothy" shoes. You see, store-bought Dorothy shoes are not
made large enough to fit a man for some reason. George was
forced to decorate his own shoes. He did a magnificent job. Now
when women start sincerely complimenting a man on what I
consider to be "girl skills", you know you have arrived. Such a
Let's hear it for the boy! He achieved a rare Trifecta in SSQQ
Legend. Most Mischief Mardi Gras, Most Mischief Rhapsody
September, Best Costume Halloween. All in one year!
Can anyone ever top an achievement of this magnitude?? I doubt
it. This is an accomplishment that will probably never be
equaled. After all, where in the world we will ever find anyone
else as weird as Mr. Handsome to even try?
STORY THREE: THE SSQQ NEW YEARS EVE PARTY
Friday, December 31, 9 pm - 1 am $20
From: Gary Thomas Richardson
Sent: Friday, January 02, 2004 9:33 AM
Subject: Happy New Year!
Hey, the SSQQ Party really was beautiful and festive. Maybe not
enough whip for some people, but there was plenty for me. Rick
really did play a lot of whip mixed with western. For me, I
don't want to do all whip anyway...though some Friday nights I
do. But, what really made it fun for me was the fact the dancing
was in the main ballroom and off to the side in the "whip room".
There is just something about being able to whip in "Room 1".
They had just completed refinishing the floors and the room was
The food (though I wasn't hungry, darn it!), was fabulous, too.
Rick had out everything from cakes, cookies to sandwiches and
fixings for sandwiches, dips, etc. The newly refinished floors
could have used a light dusting of dance wax, but they were
gorgeous. Maybe next year all of you can make it SSQQ.
Oh, by the way, how was Melody Club...maybe you all had a
fabulous time, too? What was it like?
Date: Friday, January 02, 2004 09:03:30
To: Gary Thomas Richardson
Subject: Re: Happy New Year!
Gary, Sounds like SSQQ was THE place to be. We got a glass of
champagne at midnight.
From: Julie Newton Holeman
Sent: Thursday, December 04, 2003 3:18 PM
Subject: New Year's Eve Dance
"Hi! I am writing from Oxford, MS. My husband and I are going to
be in Houston, TX for New Year's Eve and we are looking for a
place to go ballroom dancing. I found your website on the
Internet. Can anyone come to your dance or do you have to be
members? Any info you can give me will be helpful. Thanks so
much! Julie Holeman"
"What a nice letter, Julie.
You are more than welcome to join us. The party is very relaxed.
Party favors, champagne at midnight, food, and wine/beer are
gratis. The cover charge is $15 a person. As you might gather
from the price, we are not attempting to "gouge". The studio
features dancing on two different floors simultaneously. The
room you would enjoy will be playing Sinatra foxtrot, big band
swing, a few tangos, a few salsas, and Irish Waltz music.
The main dance floor is over 1000 square feet. Medium age range
will be people in their 40s and 50s with all ages represented.
Dress is semi-formal; 95% of our guests respect our wishes.
Expect attendance to be around 100-150 or so people.
The studio is smoke free and the drinking has never been a
problem. Despite access to unlimited free wine and beer, no one
ever drinks to excess at our parties - they are all here to
dance! However we all enjoy our glasses of champagne at Midnight
as we toot our horns and count down the seconds with "Auld Lang
Syne" playing in the background.
In all a very pleasant party that anyone who loves to ballroom
dance would enjoy thoroughly.
As stated in the reply above, the Annual SSQQ New Year's Eve
Party is all about dancing. The party is safe, friendly, relaxed
and fun. You have a smoke-free environment, plenty of room to
dance, and although there is drinking, it is much less than at
other venues. We have never had a problem to date.
The attitude for the evening is 'Upscale'. We expect you to
dress up! Coat and Ties for men, dresses for ladies (or anything
else formal you can think of). No jeans, please. You can dress
as sharp as you want, but please don't come casual. Think of it
as a special kind of Halloween Party where you fool people by
coming dressed in disguise as a wealthy person.
This is a perfect evening to visit with friends. Many people
come together and many people come without dates. Although I
won't name names, I remember in particular one excellent
three-year romance between two people who came alone to our New
The music in our main room will consist of a great deal of Big
Band Swing music. There will be plenty of Glen Miller, Benny
Goodman, and the other 30s and 40s Classic to Swing to. In
addition we will play all of Frank Sinatra's best Foxtrot songs
such as 'Witchcraft' and 'New York New York'. Another special
feature are the popular Irish Waltzes with their haunting
sweetness. In addition there will be a healthy dose of Ballroom
music in Room 1 including Cha Cha, Tango, and Salsa music.
Western Dancing is big too at this party. We open up Room 5 and
combine it with Room 4 to make a very large dance floor. In
addition to the Western music, there will be a healthy dose of
Whip/West Coast Swing music as well. Let us add the floors will
be very nice since we will be refinishing them over the
Special Note: At last year's party we had more Western and Whip
dancers than Swing and Ballroom dancers, so we "flipped" the
rooms and put the Swing Dancing in the Room 4. Get to the Party
early and cast your ballot!
Room 6 will be reserved for Salsa Dancing. This means there will
be three kinds of music playing in three rooms simultaneously.
Rick Archer will be on duty as your DJ. He will take requests
for all three rooms.
At 11:40 we put our on crazy hats, grab our noisemakers, pour
out the champagne and begin the celebration. After the countdown
to Midnight we kiss, we hug, we shake hands, and appreciate the
joy of being surrounded by so many people that we care about!
EZRA CHARLES AND THE WORKS ARE COMING TO SSQQ ON FEBRUARY 19TH!
Shortly after Santa Claus finishes his visits, SSQQ will be
delighted to boogie the night away to the delicious Swing and
Blues music of Houston's homegrown band Ezra Charles and the
Ezra Charles is the closest thing to a local band there is - he
lives just a few blocks from SSQQ and is a next-door neighbor of
Based on the success of the terrific music of Hit 'n Run last
August, I have been besieged with requests to have another big
dance. I honestly don't have the strength for an "Extravaganza",
but I think a big night of dancing sounds like fun to me.
Ezra will be playing on February 19th at our Annual Red and
White Valentine's Dance. He and his band "The Works" are best
known for their Swing music. However Ezra told me he actually
prefers Blues music, i.e. Whip Music! That means that all of you
better sign up for Whip Classes in January if you intend to
dance every song at the party!
My friend George Grega was the matchmaker this time. He did the
lighting for a wedding where Ezra performed in 2004. George
liked the music so much that he approached Ezra about playing at
SSQQ. Ezra thought it was a great idea. Then George turned
around and tapped me on the shoulder with the same suggestion
back in October. It took a while for me to get a second wind,
but as I was preparing for the New Year, the thought popped back
in my head. And that's the story folks!
Since Maureen is a close friend of Ezra's, I am going to put her
in charge of telling us all about him in the next Newsletter.
We will keep you posted, but in the meantime start spreading the
THE JANUARY SCHEDULE OF CLASSES
JANUARY DANCE CLASSES BEGIN THE WEEK OF SUNDAY, JANUARY 2.
Gloria Sanchez will offer a course in ADVANCED LINDY HOP on
Sundays in January at 4:30. The last time Gloria taught Lindy
Hop, the class was so popular it continued for nearly half a
year! Come discover the magic of America's 1st Swing dance, the
BEGINNING HUSTLE (formerly known as "Latin Hustle" will be taught
on Sundays at 4:30 by Scott Ladell. Used to Disco music, Hustle
footwork & timing is very similar to West Coast Swing & its
patterns are very similar to East Coast Swing.
January features the start of a new BEGINNING WHIP/WEST COAST
SWING SUPERCLASS 4-month cycle. SSQQ has the only program in
Houston where you can take this difficult class on 2 different
nights (Sunday/Thursday) for the price of one. Plus SSQQ is the
only program that teaches the legendary Texas Whip side by side
w the popular WCS. By the way, when Ezra Charles and the Works
play at SSQQ on February 19th, they expect to play a ton of Whip
music. If you don't know how to Whip now, you better get
yourself into this class in January! Comprendez??
ADVANCED BALLROOM WALTZ will be taught by Rick Archer on Mondays
by request. It will cover the famous dance of Cinderella
complete with twirls, Twinkles & Promenades!
BEGINNING BALLROOM - TANGO, FOXTROT, WALTZ, RUMBA - will be
offered on Mondays with Charlene. This overview class covers all
the major Ballroom dances.
SLOW DANCE AND ROMANCE is a special course that covers the lost
art of Romantic Slow Dancing. You never know when the ability to
dance gracefully to slow music will come in handy. You best be
ready when the time comes! Bethany Daniels will get you ready
for Weddings, Reunions, or an evening in a dark lounge to sultry
Scott Ladell begins a three month course with BEGINNING NIGHT
CLUB on Wednesdays. Night Club is an important competition
Western dance used to slow Western tunes. Night Club is very
graceful and quite popular to western slow tunes.
MARTIAN WHIP is taught by Rick Archer on Thursdays. Houston City
WCS champion Bryan Spivey and his partner Lisa Palmer teach the
Friday night sequel known as the MARTIAN XTRA class. There is no
overlap between the two nights, which means you pay one price
and get the second class for free.
By request, on Fridays Scott will be teaching SSQQ's first-ever
ADVANCED TRIPLE TWOSTEP class. Don't miss it!
BEGINNING WESTERN CHA CHA comes to Fridays with Rick and Cher.
This sexy, ultra cool dance is danced to Polka-rhythm Western
music like "Neon Moon" and "Tequila Town".
BACHATA returns on Saturdays w Linda Cook. Bachata is a slow
latin dance with 8-beat triple step footwork followed by a hip
or a kick. It is used to Salsa, Cumbia, Merengue, or Bachata
Rachel Koenig, also known as "the Zephyr" will be teaching a
four-week BELLY DANCE class on Saturdays at 4:30 pm in January.
This course has a huge "buzz" at the studio. Every woman we talk
to says she plans to groove her moves and swerve her curves to
the erotic, sensual music. Rumor has it this class increases
their allure and makes them irresistible to men!
PRACTICE NIGHT IN 2005 SUNDAY THROUGH THURSDAY WILL BE FREE.
AND THE STUDIO WILL OPEN AT 6 PM ON WEEKNIGHTS IN JANUARY FOR
Effective January 2nd which is the start of our January Dance
Semester, SSQQ will no charge for Practice Night Sunday Night
through Thursday Night.
Insiders (i.e. people taking classes at the studio each night)
will get in for free.
Insider/Outsiders (i.e. ssqq students with January Class
Receipts but who were not in class) who arrive after 8:45 pm
will be charged $2 to participate.
Outsiders (i.e. people not currently taking ssqq dance classes)
will be charged $3 to participate.
Our regular Friday Dance Night will stay the same as it has
always been as will the two Saturday Dances each month.
We will be installing a vending machine in the Drink Room so you
can purchase soft drinks from it at any time you wish (by the
way, this means that soft drinks will no longer be served from
the Drink Room cooler during Break).
The popcorn will still be served at no charge and of course the
water fountain will always be available. In addition the Q-Stop
will be open some of the Practice Nights to serve Refreshments.
So what is the reason for this dramatic change?? How do I put
this delicately? Part of our studio is growing older. Many of
our students say they have to get up and go to work the next
day. They don't see what the point is to spend $2 or $3 on a
Practice Night when they only have the time for a couple of
Believe it or not, our students voted for this change. For the
past six months of 2004 we established a new tradition called
"Graduation Night" where everyone got to stay for free.
Attendance at Graduation Night was phenomenal! Four times as
many people stayed when it was free versus when it wasn't free.
Mind you the regular cover charge was only a nominal $2!!
There was another phenomenon - half the people left after three
It became more and more obvious that lots of people wanted to
stay and dance for a couple songs since it was free, but they
still had to get up in the morning.
That's when it hit me - the majority of our students wanted to
Practice a little, but as long as it cost them money, it was
easier just to go home. Hence the change.
From now on Practice Night Sunday through Thursday will start
promptly at 9:10 pm - all classes will end simultaneously. We
expect the entire studio to come dance at least one song. Each
student will be expected to grab the hand of a fellow student
and use massive amounts of Peer Pressure to persuade 100%
compliance for One Dance.
After you have finished your "Duty Dance" you are free to go.
MORE ABOUT PRACTICE NIGHT: SSQQ PRACTICE NIGHT IS THE EQUIVALENT
OF DOING YOUR HOMEWORK.
SSQQ has a long-standing tradition known as "Practice Night".
This tradition dates all the way back to my (Rick Archer) first
year as a dance teacher in 1977.
Back in 1977 I took 30 weeks of Whip lessons, but not once did I
practice afterwards. First I signed up for a 10 week Whip class.
I was considered one of the best beginners, or so I was told.
With that encouragement I signed up for the next two levels as
well. Unfortunately after seven months, one day I realized I
knew lots of moves, but could not put two of them back-to-back
since I had no "muscle memory".
Muscle Memory is the process of transferring information from
your brain to your body. Moves that feel awkward and mechanical
in class have a way of becoming fluid with repetition. Just as a
golfer must practice his swing, a dancer must practice his lead.
I knew I should have practiced, but I didn't. Why not?
The reason was simple: I did not practice because I lacked the
confidence to ask any of the ladies taking the class to go
dancing with me so I could get better. In other words I needed
to practice to gain confidence, but I since I lacked confidence
I didn't practice. In disgust I quit.
The absurdity was not lost on me. Later when I became an
instructor I made a point to take my entire class out dancing.
Having a built-in opportunity to go dancing with the instructor
as a guide made all the difference in the world to my students.
I named these after-class adventures Practice Night.
PRACTICE NIGHT AMAZED ME!
In the beginning I could have predicted the rapid improvement I
saw in my student's dancing as the result of Practice Night.
Obviously people who practice get better. That I could have
What I did not anticipate was the unbelievable number of
friendships that developed as a function of having these large
groups of people dancing together. Quickly Practice Night came
to mean more than a simple chance to improve dance skills; it
became an important opportunity to hang out with the gang.
DANCE AND ROMANCE
Over the years SSQQ has been given quiet credit for countless
romances and marriages too. We have been encouraged to enter the
"dating business" many times, but I am convinced such an
ill-conceived idea would jeopardize the "Magic".
Instead we remain a nice, safe place where people come to dance,
see their friends, & have a good time. Practice Night
immediately follows every class starting at 9:10 pm. We turn
down the lights, pump up the volume, and start the Dance. With
our large dance floor, no smoking rule, and great music, the
conditions are perfect for dance and romance. There will be no
cover charge (except on Fridays) and the "Magic" is free as
well. Come find out for yourself!!"
Sent: Tuesday, December 14, 2004 1:02 PM
Subject: Practice Night
"Hi Rick, I'm not an instructor so I'm not sure if my opinion
counts, but I think free practice night Sunday - Thursday is a
When I first started coming to SSQQ I would stay after to
practice most of the time. But if I only had maybe 15 minutes to
spare I would opt to leave rather than pay 2 or 3 dollars for
just a couple of dances. And as you said, I'm sure there are
lots of other people who feel that way, and this will encourage
those people to at least get in a little practice. And then some
of those people will end up staying longer than the intended 15
minutes if they are actually getting to dance.
And people have a hesitancy to pay - even only $2.00 - until
they see what they are paying for. There's that "let's see who's
staying before we pay" thing going on. And if everybody is
waiting to see "who's in there" before committing to go in
themselves, then there's no one actually in Room 1, so everybody
leaves. This takes care of that fear of actually committing to
walking into Room 1.
I remember when I first started taking classes there were
several people from Woodlands, Katy and Columbus that had to
drive an hour to go home. I would encourage them to stay for
Practice, but they would tell me it doesn't make a lot of sense
to them that they have pay for a 5-minute stay. I think removing
the "Fee" will completely remove this excuse. Then if they stay
for one song, maybe they'll stay for two. And if they have fun,
maybe the next week they'll stay for three! The next thing you
know they'll turn into Practice Nights regulars! But this has no
chance of happening if you can't get them to stay at all!
And as far as not having alcohol... most of the people I know
who dance are there for the dancing, not the alcohol. I remember
when I used to go to Gilley's and Cowboy and the Rose etc. Back
in the 80's, there was a huge group of regulars, and we were
mostly "water drinkers". The bartenders weren't fond of us but
as long as we kept tipping they'd keep us in water all night
long. And when I started back dancing a few years ago at the
Longhorn that seemed to still be the case. Maybe I'm just not
aware of how much beer and wine you go through during the week,
but I don't see that as being a problem. And if I remember
correctly you'll still have it on Fridays...
The whole thing makes sense to me. I made a lot of friends by
staying for practice.
And if I can bore you with this story again, I've told you how
Jim C, my close friend since 1st grade, got me up to SSQQ in
December 1999 so he'd have someone he knew to practice CW with.
I had no intention of taking dance lessons - not that I didn't
need them! - It just wasn't on my agenda, plus I had 2 small
kids. But I went because he asked, and - besides having the
immense fun of learning to dance - the friendships I made in
class and practice night made me stay and eventually venture
I think your ideas to improve Practice Night sound great."
6-7 PM AMBIANCE HOUR MONDAY THROUGH THURSDAY
SSQQ VOCABULARY WORD OF THE MONTH: AMBIANCE
"A positive Atmosphere; a feeling or mood associated with a
particular place, person, or thing. Good vibes."
Starting Monday, January 3rd, the doors at SSQQ will open at 6
pm Weeknights Monday through Friday. We will have dance music
playing in Room 1, the TV on in Room 2, the lights turned down
low, and the Q-Stop open for business. SSQQ would like to
cordially invite all of you to come early, mingle, dance,
schmooze, have some coffee, sit back and relax, watch some TV,
read a book, and just generally let it go. We will wake you up
when it is time for class to start.
JUDY ARCHER WILL BE MISSED
2005 CRUISE NEWS
In 2005, Marla and I have two trips planned. In July we take a
dream trip on RCCL's Radiance to view the magnificent beauty of
Alaska. Then in late September we have our Same Time Next Year
Rhapsody Reunion Cruise.
THE JULY 2005 SSQQ CRUISE TO ALASKA (SATURDAY, JULY 16 -
SATURDAY, JULY 23)
(THIS TRIP ALREADY HAS 44 PEOPLE SIGNED UP!)
Usually Marla and I wait till about 2 months ahead of time to
form our next cruise, but maybe we've learned something. This
time we are giving people seven months preparation time! It's a
good thing too because we all need to save our money. It is no
secret that after you factor in airfare, this is an expensive
Marla and I had assumed the high-end ticket would discourage
people, but instead we have been astonished at the preliminary
interest in this trip!! The positive Buzz around this trip is
We have come to the conclusion that a lot of people have nursed
the dream to make this trip for a long time. Instead of acting
on their dream, instead like me they always put an Alaska Trip
into the "One of These Days" category. Now with the chance to go
with many of their friends from the studio, the time seems to be
right for a lot of people.
Some activities like the New Year's Party are fun to experience
as part of a group of friends. This trip has that exact feel to
it - a bunch of close-knit friends preparing to take a huge
once-in-a-lifetime adventure together.
One thing that makes an Alaskan Cruise so amazing is that the
ship literally cruises by some of the most spectacular terrain
imaginable. You don't even have to get off the ship to sightsee
on this trip! We will sail right past some of the most beautiful
sights you will ever see!
Just imagine the ridiculous picture of 30 SSQQ semi-naked
Cruisers stuffed into a Hot Tub with steam everywhere and the
magnificent Alaskan Mountains and Glaciers in the background!
As we traverse the famous Inside Passage, you can see glaciers
and mountains everywhere. The Inside Passage is in the southeast
region of Alaska. The seat of Alaska's government and timber
industry, the Passage is a 500-mile-long vacation paradise of
forests, wildlife, rock and water. Our itinerary will include
the Hubbard Glacier, the largest tidewater glacier in North
America. It is nearly six miles across and ninety miles long. It
is roughly the size of Rhode Island. Until you've seen and heard
the thunderous roar of ice sheets crashing into the sea, it is
safe to say you've never experienced anything like it.
You will be craning your head in every direction to see one
fascinating stretch of scenery after another!!
We have a chance to make this the most incredible trip in studio
history. One warning - don't expect a lot of Moonlight Dancing!
You may get some twilight dancing in, but up in Alaska it stays
light practically all day!
THE SEPTEMBER 2005 RHAPSODY REUNION CRUISE - SAME TIME NEXT
(THIS TRIP ALREADY HAS 15 PEOPLE SIGNED UP!)
A trip as magnificent as the one we just completed has the
makings of MANY SEQUELS. The easiest way to get an idea of
what's ahead is to read again what just happened.
As most of you know, Marla and I got married aboard the 2004
Rhapsody Trip. This special event set the tone for the most
spirited group we have ever seen. I cannot begin to explain all
the trouble these characters got into. There was SO MUCH
MISCHIEF it took me nearly two months to write about all the
crazy things that happened. I completed the write-up on the
Rhapsody Cruise just recently.
Including stories about the infamous "Elevator Ride", Da Jammer,
the Attack of the Zombies, Champagne Night, Wedding Fiascos,
Tales of the Captain, and of course the Legend of Mr. Handsome,
the trip write-up makes for scintillating bed-time reading. Just
pop that laptop onto your belly with a 20 foot Roadrunner Cable
and read deep into the night!
PLUS in addition to all the vicious RUMORS, we have PICTURES of
people like Mr. Handsome, Center of Attention, The Great Gabino,
Lollobridgida, Grapevine, the Goldmine, and all the Usual
Suspects. We have the Beatles Story, the Bloodbath Volleyball
Match at Cozumel, Bar Hopping, Zizzling Birds and Bees Gossip,
and best of all the Steamy Gatorade Hot Tub Tales. Do you want
to hear some juicy scandal?? Do you want to see pictures of Mr.
Handsome strutting in girl's? Do you want to see pictures of the
Great Gabino sucking the blood right out of… well if I write
more this email won't get past any of the spam censors, now will
Read for yourself! Then decide if you want to be part of the
lunacy on the next trip!
Same Time Next Year.
A REVIEW OF THE BEST 2004 HALLOWEEN PARTY COSTUMES
Best Costume 2004:
The Halloween Costumes were terrific again this year.
Unfortunately I didn't know the names of many of the winners, so
I am unable to compliment some of the winners as directly as I
As I mentioned previously George Sargent of course won as
"Dorothy", but he had plenty of stiff competition in the costume
Bill and Barbara Moore came in a close second with their amazing
Red Devil outfits. I remember one year Barbara came as an
African Witch Doctor. She said it took her many hours to put the
black makeup on and two more hours just to take it off!! She was
just amazing to behold. Barbara made our Costume Hall of Fame.
Her only complaint was that the men were afraid to dance with
her! Would you like to see her Witch Doctor outfit?
Up to now her handsome husband Bill (whom she met at the
studio!) has been content to wear his own costume and let
Barbara do her thing. However this year it looks like he got on
board and made it a team effort. Now even Bill is putting on
makeup! Such a pair!
In addition to George, Leslie Barbley, aka "The Grapevine", made
top ten as the Tin Man from "Wizard of Oz". Originally Leslie
was supposed to be Dorothy and George was supposed to be the Tin
Man, but apparently George discovered he couldn't get into the
"Tin Man" costume so they traded. Sure, George, we believe you.
Another Oz participant scored as well. Alyx "Apteryx" Zimmerman
won Runnerup with her Cowardly Lion outfit. Gosh was she cute!
With her smile and laughter, she hardly seemed dangerous, that's
As for the entire "Wizard of Oz" group which included Jeff
Anderson as "Oz", Lisa "Distraction" Ramey as "The Good Witch,
Cathy "Stalker" Ruby-Lower as "The Wicked Witch", plus a
handsome name-unbeknownst man as the "Scarecrow", I would
venture to say they created the Best Group Picture in the
history of the SSQQ Halloween Party. They were just terrific!
My only disappointment was that no one came as Toto. Doggone it!
Now you all have a goal for next year - who can get a Group
Picture to top these characters? Good luck trying!
Other notable costumes included Judy Walsh as the Green Alien.
Judy takes her costumes seriously. She won Runnerup the previous
year for her "Southern Girl" costume.
There are two people who have every reason to murder me for
incompetence! A tall, very handsome man and his lovely lady
companion have made my Top Ten list TWO YEARS IN A ROW but I
still don't know their names. Making things worse, I saw them in
the Salsa Room the other night, complimented them on their great
costumes but forgot to ask them their names. Duh.
At any rate, after you check out the magnificent Mickey and
Minnie Mouse costumes, go back to last year and look for
Frankenstein and the Mummy. Not bad!! This dynamic duo can do
gruesome and cute with equal aplomb.
Lisa Miller was devastatingly accurate as the Evil Witch from
"Snow White". She gave me the shivers! Magnifique!
Then there was our late great former Samba instructor Cheryl
Denise wearing her beloved Samba costume. Some of you may
question her inclusion into the Top Ten for wearing something
she puts on as often as I put on my basketball costume, but
let's face it - Cheryl looks too incredible not to be included!
End of debate.
There was one young man who came as a Mummy/Zombie. Sometimes I
get these monsters confused, but whichever monster he was, he
looked awesome! And his lady friend was incredibly beautiful in
her Egyptian dress. Together they looked terrific.
Last but not Lise were our Beautiful Babies! SSQQ Instructors
and roommates Lise Gagnon and Kimberly Smith were overwhelmingly
cute as matching well-dressed babies. Weren't they adorable!!
You just wanted to hug them. Usually this pair does naughty, but
this year they did nice. You gotta love their versatility!
This pair is no stranger to the Winners Circle. Previously they
made their mark as the naughty Girl Scouts with Bryan Spivey
back in 2002. Lise and Kimberly were clearly the hit of the
party that year and pretty much the co-hit of the party this
year as well. Were it not for Dorothy, I think they took the
I would like to say something about Patty Harrison. Patty is my
much-beloved assistant in the Sunday and Thursday Whip classes.
Patty has never been to an SSQQ Halloween Party before. She has
been around the studio for five years or so and has avoided this
studio tradition like the plague. This year each week I bugged
her about coming to the Halloween Party. She said no, no, no
each time. But I persisted and apparently it paid off.
I was out in the parking lot speaking to Asst Police Chief
Holloway who was on hand to supervise the safety of the party
again this year. This odd white rectangle appeared out of the
darkness. Lo and behold it was none of than Patty as a Giant
Milk Carton walking up.
I was so happy to see Patty! I hugged her as best I could given
the protective frame. Then I ran ahead of her to get into the
Haunted House so I could be sure her first trip through the HH
was a memorable one. Sure enough, she screamed. Welcome to the
SSQQ Halloween Party! I was so happy!
Everyone gasped when they saw Patty's costume! Patty had doubled
in size! She was preposterously cute as a Giant Milk Carton! And
she even danced in the thing! Can you believe that??
Amazingly, Patty kept her Carton on all night. I think she said
she was naked inside or something, I can't remember, and had no
choice. Oops, I wasn't supposed to let that spill… Still that
Carton Costume was gigantic; how did she do it? The frame was
bigger than she was and it had to be hot and uncomfortable. But
somehow she kept it on till late into the night. Good for you,
Patty won Top Ten with that Milk Carton in her very first party!
There were so many people mad at her. I mean, there are people
who actually TRY to win this thing. They go out of their way
each year to come up with a great costume just so they get in
the Top Ten or Runnerup page. And here's Patty, oblivious to
everything, doesn't have a costume till the last minute, and
boom lands in the Top Ten. And all the Hussies are so mad! Let's
hear it for the Girl!
The Runner Up group had some great outfits too. Besides Alyx
Apteryx as the Lion, there was an excellent Bloody Mary costume.
Sorry I don't know her name! My friends Jill and Mike were great
as the Pirates and so were Jim Colby and Marlane Kayfes as "In
Perpetual winner Letty Dougherty and her handsome husband
Patrick made it back as a Barbarian duo. Like Barbara Moore,
Letty is a Hall of Fame member as well. She and her beautiful
Hall of Fame counterpart Carol Gafford even managed to team up
for a tandem shot at this party! (http://ssqq.com/information/halloween2004pictures11.htm
By coincidence, Carol and Letty share a page together in our
Costume Hall of Fame so it was fun to pair them up at this
party! (http://ssqq.com/information/hallocostume07.htm )
John Sartain and Becky Stinson were pretty cute as the "Hippies"
although the rest of us needed sunglasses just to look at them.
Sandra Mullet somehow managed to dance the night away with Angel
Wings so wide I don't know how she made it through the Haunted
House intact. Her handsome husband Nick came dressed as a tough
guy, so I decided to name them "Good and Evil".
Susan Schroeder, another person who is no stranger to the
winner's circle, gets a great deal of credit for dieting and
exercising to get those abs in shape so she could come as "Catwoman".
Some people simply buy their way into a great costume or get
lucky and come in a weird outfit like a "Golf Ball", but you
have to be impressed when someone actually SUFFERS to win their
And then we have two nameless people who were our final Runnerup
winners. Someone came completely disguised as the Grim Reaper
while another man came as a homeless person. He was so
convincingly disgusting that I imagine he may indeed have been
homeless and heard there was free popcorn. Like Cheryl the Samba
Lady there was a dispute over giving an award to a "Come As You
Are" person, but really she was so fetching and he was so
repulsive you gotta give it to 'em. Besides, what were his
chances of getting "lucky" so to speak? Slim and None. On this
basis alone he wins my vote!
Any other year, the group that came as the "Slows" and "Quicks"
would have been hands-down winners in the Group Category, but
this year they had the tough luck to run up against the Hall of
Fame-bound Wizard of Oz team. Nevertheless I created a "Runnerup"
Category for them to give them the credit they were due. There
were literally a dozen "S" and "Q" people who came as the "Dance
Beats". Praise should be given to Linda Cook. She
single-handedly sewed all the ssqq's onto people's shirts. Each
day I come to the studio I see her making one quilt after
another. Such a talent!! Now I am glad she put her skills to
good use to score a victory for her team! Watch out for Linda's
group next year!
Best Costume 2004:
AND SO WHAT ABOUT THE SSQQ NEWSLETTER ON THE SSQQ WEB SITE?
In the early days of the SSQQ Email Newsletter, it was fairly
easy to reach everyone with our monthly updates. However the
proliferation of Spam Email has made those days just a memory.
Today the SSQQ Newsletter gets caught in Spam filters on a
regular basis. Just the word "SSQQ" in the title triggers the
spam protection software and lands our Newsletter in your
quarantine bin or gets it labeled "probably Spam". If you do
like I do, there are days when I simply hit the "Delete Key" for
everything and - poof! - there it goes.
Each month we receive alerts that literally hundreds of our
Newsletter have been blocked or bounced by Hotmail, AOL, and
blocked corporate e-mails. In addition, not only are the
Newsletters blocked, but students have reported even their own
On-Line Registration Receipts get filtered out!
ATTENTION SSQQ STUDENTS WHO ARE HOTMAIL, AOL, AND CORPORATE
We have had numerous failed deliveries to these accounts because
of the aggressive spam blocks placed on them. If you are not
receiving the SSQQ newsletter or your registration confirmation
(if registering online), we suggest you use a different account.
In case you do miss an issue or two of the newsletter, you can
access them by checking the archives on the SSQQ web site.
Special Note to AOL Users: Please add SSQQ Dance Studio to your
address book so you have no trouble receiving future messages
VIOLET STEPLIGHTLY WRITES ABOUT HER FRIEND MR. SHILLY-SHALLY.
(Editor's Note: Only I know who Violet is. She exists and she
ain't me. She loves SSQQ Practice Night. You might even dance
with her some night and never know who she is! Better be
careful. She might write a story about you. Just like Santa
Claus, you better be nice because she's watching you!)
"Hello Fellow Dancers. It's me, Violet. I love Practice Night.
The music is lively, and the students relax enough to have fun
with their newest patterns. It is not uncommon to see beaming
smiles from the dancers or to hear them roaring with laughter at
their own mistakes. The only discouraging thing about the
Practice Nights I attend is the ratio of women to men. The women
sometimes outnumber the men three to one, so that leaves a lot
of very talented ladies sitting on the sidelines. I do not
always mind sitting out because it gives me and my girlfriends
extra time to socialize, but last week I saw someone exploiting
the lack of gender balance.
His name is Mr. Shilly-Shally (def: in an irresolute, undecided,
or hesitating manner). Mr. Shilly-Shally is almost perfect . . .
ALMOST. He's handsome, smart, funny, friendly, and an incredible
dancer, but he never commits to anything. He cannot even be
decisive about a dance partner for one song at Practice Night.
Last week's Practice Night starts out pretty well. The numbers
are smaller than usual, but there are at least enough men to
give the women hope that they would be asked to dance. That hope
slowly fades as the number of men dwindles to about five. The
women grumble about the lack of partners, but plenty of them
stay just the same. A small group of women gather along the row
of chairs to watch the few remaining couples take advantage of
the spacious dance floor. The song ends, Mr. Shilly-Shally
thanks his partner, and he approaches the group of observing
women. He stops about four feet from them, and holds out his
hands as if gesturing that the first taker will be fortunate
enough to dance with him.
Someone very close to me, who we will call Goody Two Shoes,
enthusiastically accepts Mr. Shilly-Shally's quasi-offer. Goody
is a beautiful young woman who loves to dance, and she is
absolutely crazy about Mr. S. He, however, seems to be
blissfully clueless to the way she lights up whenever he enters
the room. My first thought on this situation is how Mr. S is
exposing Goody's crush by making her take the real initiative in
the partnership. But then my attention is drawn to the ladies
that Mr. S left sitting on the sidelines. Maybe they would have
liked to dance with Mr. S, but his indecisiveness, combined with
Goody's hyperactive enthusiasm, discourages them from speaking
up. And I wonder why Mr. S gets to have that much power?
I admit, Mr. Shilly-Shally seems like a very sweet, yet shy,
man. In fact, I would never believe he is purposefully taking
advantage of the women's availability. It is highly possible
that he either is too shy to ask a woman to dance one-on-one. Or
he fears rejection, so he spares his fragile ego by letting the
ladies decide who dances with him. He may even be so considerate
that he does not want to ask one woman over another and risk
hurting someone's feelings. Whatever the reason, the fact still
remains that it is much too easy for Mr. Shilly-Shally to get
dance partners. At the end of the night, I challenge Goody Two
Shoes to play a little hard to get at the next practice night
and see how Mr. Shilly-Shally reacts.
For starters, Goody lets Mr. S initiate conversation during
class. And after class, she does not inquire if he is staying
for practice night, as she usually does (in hopes that he will
know she really wants him to stay). To her surprise, he
volunteers the information and waits for Goody to gather her
things before going to practice. On the way to Room 1, Goody
stops to talk to me and lets Mr. S walk ahead. By the time we
get into Room 1, he is dancing with another girl from their
class, but Goody does not have to wait long before she is led to
the dance floor by someone else. The song ends, and Goody heads
for a chair. I see Mr. S walk toward the couches, pause for a
moment, and then head in Goody's direction. Just as he reaches
her, another man has taken her hand and started leading her to
the dance floor. This man must have immediately started flirting
because Goody sheepishly giggles and turns bright red. Mr. S
just sits down looking mildly defeated. As the song ends, Mr. S
stands, crosses the dance floor and, without saying a word,
takes Goody's hand just as she politely thanks her previous
partner. Mr. S held on to Goody for several songs in a row.
This may seem like a victory only for Goody Two Shoes, but my
challenge to her was to help Mr. Shilly-Shally as well. If Mr. S
is too shy to ask a woman to dance one-on-one, then Goody boosts
his courage by playing hard to get, and she rewards his courage
by accepting him. If he is so vain that he enjoys having women
flock to him, then he gets to learn that a man sometimes has to
put in a little effort to get a woman's attention. Either way,
my challenge is good for building his character, and that is my
true goal . . . honest.
Now, here is my second challenge. I am sure there is at least
one Mr. Shilly-Shally at the studio every night of the week. He
may not be the exact one I am writing about now, but I know
there are more out there. My second challenge is to every lady
that attends any event where people are dancing: If you are in a
group that gets approached by a Mr. Shilly-Shally, politely
encourage him to select a dance partner himself. The best way to
do this is to look confused by his gestures and gently ask, "I'm
sorry, which one of us are you asking?" Or you can point to
yourself and silently ask, "Is it me?" Just remember not to get
discouraged if he picks someone else. If you want to dance with
a Mr. Shilly-Shally, ask him. Chances are that he is, like Goody
Two Shoes, too polite to turn you down. Besides, I have it on
good authority that men like to be asked to dance just as much
as women do, if not more.
My third challenge is for the men of SSQQ: STAY FOR PRACTICE!
Whatever reason Mr. Shilly-Shally has for being noncommittal, I
am sure he enjoys having his pick of several available women
week after week. Why should you not enjoy the same satisfaction?
Women outnumber men in every dance class I have ever taken, so
it is reasonable to assume that women will outnumber men at
practice night, even if every man reading this attends every
Since my first day at SSQQ, I have heard many excuses why men do
not want to dance outside of class. Please allow me to offer a
female's perspective on some of these issues:
***Disclaimer: Not all men use the following excuses, and not
all women would agree with my opinion of these excuses.
These are simply my observations. ***
Excuse #1 - I don't want to dance in front of other people
because I can't dance as well as (insert name here)
Response #1- As long as you are polite; you do not hurt us,
insult us, or creep us out; and you genuinely try your best,
women do not care if you are not the best dancer around. Nine
times out of ten, your partner is just as self-conscious as you
are. The truth is that women just love to dance. And we are more
likely to dance with a sweet novice with two left feet than an
expert with his foot in his mouth.
Response #2 - Do you think any of SSQQ's star dancers earned
their status by skipping Practice Night? I do not think that is
how it works, but I could be wrong.
Response #3 - In class, you have to rotate and dance with every
woman in the room. Therefore, every woman in the room knows what
you are capable of. When you dance socially, stick to the
patterns you know well. Many women would much rather dance with
a man who has a few simple, yet flawless, patterns than a man
who insists on sticking to super-advanced patterns that he does
not know how to lead.
Excuse #2 - I am afraid if I ask a woman to dance, then she will
Response - It is true, rejection is a possibility. So? I have
been turned down for a dance many times, and I have survived. I
just shrug it off and try again with someone else. I wrote
earlier that there is likely to be a Mr. Shilly-Shally at the
studio every night of the week. I am equally certain that there
is a Goody Two Shoes present all week. Find her if you are
afraid of rejection. You will recognize her by the way she
smiles warmly at everyone, by the way she laughs out loud when
she dances, and by the way you never see her refuse a dance
unless she is positively exhausted (or if she knows the guy is a
jerk, but she will rarely admit that).
Excuse #3 - I'm too shy!
Response #1 - If you do not ask a woman to dance, someone else
will, and you will be stuck watching.
Response #2 - Why are you paying for dance lessons if you will
not use what you learn?
Excuse #4 - If the women are all grouped together, and I ask
only one of them to dance, then the others might get offended.
Response #1 - This excuse is not one I have actually heard, but
it is a possible explanation for Mr. Shilly-Shally's behavior,
so I want to address it. If anyone actually has this fear, then
spread yourself out. As you take one woman to the dance floor,
turn to her friend and ask her to save you a dance for later.
Repeat that process until you have danced with the whole group.
Then no one is left out, and you get to practice.
Response #2 - In a perfect world, everyone would want to dance
with everyone else, and no one would get left out. But in real
life, you have the right to dance with whomever you want.
There is no dance law that says you have to dance with your
favorite partner's obnoxious friend. Sure, it would be polite,
but why make yourself miserable for the sake of dance floor
Here is my warning. I will be watching at Practice Night, and I
hope to see that my challenges are being accepted. Full
participation in everything SSQQ has to offer will not only
improve your dance skills, but it will also help you enhance
your skill with the finer points of social dancing . . .
confidence, comfort, and, most importantly, social skills. If
you do not do it for yourself, think of poor Mr. Shilly-Shally.
Not only could it be fun to watch him squirm as he is forced to
be decisive, but it will be good for him, I promise.
LETTER TO THE EDITOR: CAN HUSBANDS EVER LEARN TO DANCE??
Sent: Thursday, December 16, 2004 11:13 PM
Hello, Rick! I just learned of your dance school from a business
associate at a party tonight. Ever since my husband and I saw
the movie "Shall We Dance" recently, we have talked about taking
I love to dance and have danced all my life, having studied
ballet since age 7 and spent summers as a teenager at a
well-known ballet school in New York. My husband, on the other
hand, has no rhythm and has never learned to dance. Fortunately,
he enjoys music and is willing to dance (after a few cocktails)
with me at parties. I believe he will find it very challenging
to learn and that a teacher will find him challenging to teach.
What is your experience with people who have no sense of rhythm
and timing and move in a clumsy fashion in general? Is there
hope for my husband? Do you expect it to take longer for him to
learn and master the art of dance movement? How do you avoid the
frustration that could result with someone who lacks a natural
ease in moving and dancing?
We are mostly interested in Latin dancing, at least to begin.
I must also tell you that I thoroughly enjoyed reading your
entertaining web site. You are a talented writer and, I'm
certain, you are a good dancer and accomplished businessman, as
well. I look forward to meeting you.
Please share your experience in working with people who have no
innate talent for movement and dance. It will help me mange my
husband's (and my) expectations of learning to dance.
I look forward to hearing from you soon. Laurie"
"Thanks for the nice words about the web site, Laurie.
I was a slow learner when I started. I became pretty good
through persistence and practice at a time when I was young and
Women generally enjoy dancing more than men because when it is
done right, dancing is a ride on a magic carpet. The man may be
in the driver's seat of course, but having danced both sides of
the coin I think the "follow" role is more fun. Think of a dance
as a car ride. If the man drives poorly, the passenger is
uncomfortable and tense. But if the driver, i.e. the "lead", is
in control and watching out, then you can relax and enjoy the
Since Dancing isn't quite as much fun for the guy, then you have
to find other motivations for the man to be willing to learn.
It usually boils down to a desire to either meet a woman if he
is single or to please a woman if he is in a committed
relationship. Since the ability to lead well is a huge advantage
in the Dating Game, single guys often pay more attention.
I have many married men who also like to dance, but they only
succeed when they "wish to". Unlike the single guys who are
lonely and see "dance" as a direct means to an end, the married
guys are in a "comfort zone" and less driven so to speak. Men
who are not lonely have to work a little harder to find the
proper motivation. Some married men pay attention while others
just go through the motions. The ones who would really rather be
somewhere else don't concentrate hard enough to ever succeed or
practice enough to become fluid.
One of my new friends from 2004 is a basketball buddy of mine
who just happens to be engaged to a former dance champion. The
young lady constantly pines to return to her glory days on the
dance floor while he would rather play golf or basketball with
his free time. One night she somehow talked him into coming to
the studio to visit with some of her friends from the dance
world. As I watched, he was tense and uncomfortable. However he
got up and walked around to watch the dancing. He saw a lot of
people having fun and realized it didn't look that hard. So he
decided to be a nice guy and learn to dance enough to get his
fiancée out on the floor.
Fortunately we do a good job of making our classes fun for men
and move things at a clip they are comfortable with. Pretty soon
my friend realized he was enjoying the classes and meeting new
friends in addition to making his lady happy. It was a Win-Win
for all concerned.
The truth of the matter is that men and women always complain
how hard it is to find social activities to do in common and
that dancing is a unique skill that can nicely fill this void.
However for each success story, there are also men who simply
couldn't care less and aren't interested. Dancing is a team
sport that just happens to be more fun for the women. I also
know that women have many ways of rewarding their men for making
the effort, but I will leave that subject to the imagination.
Now that I am married, I admit I don't dance as much as when I
was single. But when I do dance with my wife, I notice that I
thoroughly enjoy making her happy. When I am in the mood to
dance (and not just out there because it's my job) I also enjoy
dancing with the other ladies as well. Social dancing has a way
of bringing smiles to a lot of faces, not just the ones you
Based on your description, the fact that your husband doesn't
sound like a natural dancer is not really a problem. Most guys
fit that description when they start!!
His success will be based on how much he wishes to make you
happy and whether he likes his first couple classes or not.
Sent: Friday, December 17, 2004 9:19 AM
To: Rick Archer
Subject: Re: Help!
"Your insight makes perfect sense.
We'll see you in January. Laurie."
WHIP DANCING IN THE NEWS!! SWING WITH ZING: DANCING THE WHIP
Oct. 25, 2004, 8:53PM
By RAD SALLEE
Copyright 2004 Houston Chronicle
Candy Houston's feet don't get much rest. Three nights a week
she works 12-hour late-night shifts as a nurse on the labor and
delivery floor of Memorial Hermann Hospital. Other nights, she's
on a dance floor somewhere in the metro area.
When 28 years of marriage ended, Houston was "scared to death to
go out and have fun," but then a cousin took her to a Christmas
party at the Bay Area Whip Dance Club in League City. "I fell in
love with the people there and stayed to take lessons," she
Now she follows the music. If Tuesday or Thursday is free, she's
at the Bay Area club. On Wednesday nights she goes to Strictly
Whip in Pasadena. Friday is swing night at the Melody Club in
west Houston, and two Saturdays a month are whip nights at BB
Wolf's in Stafford, where the local talent show their moves.
Sunday is a day of rest, but that usually means unwinding with
friends at the Houston Whip Club, which actually is in Pasadena
and like other area "whip" clubs, features mostly West Coast
swing - with just a dash of whip for Texas flavor.
Houston is a stay-at-home compared to Trent Telenko of Sealy,
who endures the 100-mile round trip to Houston six nights a week
for dancing and lessons. Eat your heart out, Richard Gere!
Telenko, 41, admits he's a bit obsessive. "I've got the bug," he
says. "It's fun and social and it gets me out of the apartment."
Two nights each week he goes country-Western, two nights he
swivels to salsa and two are devoted to "West Coast" - his
favorite. Telenko is candid about the appeal of the dance to his
mind and body.
"It's very mathematical," he says. "I've heard women refer to it
as the engineers' dance because a lot of engineers get into it."
But he adds, "It does wonders for the woman's hip movement. A
really good West Coast swing lady can draw eyes and keep 'em."
A brochure from Marilyn's Dance Club describes whip as "sensual
and technical." Damon D'Amico told his West Coast class. "There
is nothing cute about this dance. This is a very sexy dance."
West Coast swing evolved out of the Lindy Hop during World War
II in California, where GIs picked it up in crowded ballrooms
and USO clubs. Those returning to Texas slowed it down from
swing tempo to a slow blues beat and whip was born.
Unlike forms of swing with bounce, West Coast and whip are
smooth. Both are done in a "slot" where the woman struts, slinks
and spins up and down as the man steps in and out to lead.
They also have contrasting personalities. Whip is done close,
with the man putting his partner through a series of tight
spins, wraps and bumps, staying in the background while showing
her off. West Coast is playful and flirtatious, with the dancers
farther apart and their roles more equal.
Although many locals do both, whip has almost been crowded out
in its own hometown as newcomers brought the parent dance with
"The whip has come full circle. It was born from the West Coast
swing, and over time it has returned to the West Coast swing,"
wrote Gilbert Huron, who teaches both. But whip, which Huron
says was called "cat dancing" when he learned it in the 1950s,
may have a few lives left.
Several local studios teach traditional whip, as does the
nonprofit club Strictly Whip.
West Coast swing dancers Damon D'Amico and his wife, Lisa, moved
here from New Orleans in 1998 to teach with two-time national
swing champion Mario Robau Jr. at the Southwest Whip Club. They
won the Texas State Dance Association contest their first year,
and now Damon is organizing this year's competition, which runs
Friday through Sunday at the Hobby Marriott.
(EDITOR'S NOTE: I wonder how they managed to omit SSQQ from the
article. Or maybe the question should be "Why?" After all, the
oversight is similar to missing an elephant to spot a hippo.
Our West Coast Swing and Whip classes have been extremely
popular this past year.
For example, in September we had 140 students registered. In
October we had 96. In November we had 122. And in December,
traditionally our slowest month of the year, we had 94 students.
By the way, we always have more registrations in Odd Months than
Even. Isn't that Odd? Go figure.
This coming January is an ODD MONTH! Historically our largest
Whip classes ever have been in January. I expect to see a bunch
of you in Beginning Whip and West Coast with Charlene Tees and
me on Sundays and Charlene and MG Anseman on Thursdays.)
SPEAKING OF WHIP AND WEST COAST SWING,
DID YOU KNOW THAT SSQQ IS
HOME TO THE TEXAS STATE WHIP CHAMPIONS?
BRYAN SPIVEY AND LISA PALMER WIN THE TEXAS STATE WHIP
From: bryan spivey
Sent: Sunday, October 31, 2004 9:39 PM
To: rick archer
Subject: state championship!
i got home about an hour ago from the competition. i am beat. i
apologize for not showing up for class, but it was late and i am
physically exhausted, BUT lisa and i did bring home some prizes
· 1st place INT progressive (bryan spivey and lisa palmer). this
was our routine division. we had 3 1st place votes out of 5.
lisa and i are STATE CHAMPIONS....a step above city champs. make
sure to put that in the new schedule! ;O)
· 2nd place strictly swing INT (bryan Spivey and lisa palmer).
this was an important event, but no choreography, which makes
the progressive division (above) harder. this was a fun one. we
had a slow blues song and tore it up.
· 1st place female pro am (bryan spivey and lisa damico) this is
the 3rd time i have won the pro-am with lisa damico. she even
helped us on some problems with our routine and gave us a big
hug when as we walked up to receive our trophies. :O)
· 2nd place jack n jill NOV (lisa palmer and ben johnson from
louisiana) the jack n jill was at 9pm on friday which is why
lisa was not at work. but she made the finals and then got
second place. i rushed out so i could get at least a glipmse of
her dancing and luckily i got to see her last 2 dances in the
they had two other categories "no hold$ barred" and "slow whip"
both of these i danced with becky burgess. the no holds barred
category had only pro/adv dancers except for me and rishma.
becky and i placed fairly low, but we did manage to get a 2nd
place vote from a judge. mario competed in the event too. ill
have to make sure to look at the score card when it gets
downloaded to the internet, but i think the judge who gave us a
2nd gave us a better score than mario. basically, i had nothing
to lose so we picked a fast song and tore it up. there were some
mistakes, but we did entertain the crowd...which was the theme
of the no hold barred. we were spinning and going crazy and we
do have some evidence of her smacking my behind!
it was a great weekend and it really sets the mark on my
advanced/open/professinal career as a dance instructor. there
was still some doubt whether i should do it or not. but with
winning (not just placing) these events there is little doubt if
lisa and i racked up the trophies! i came home with 3 she came
home with 2 and some money too!
again, i apologize for not showing up for class, but hopefully
it is an excused absence, bryan
(EDITOR'S NOTE: I suppose I can afford to overlook an absence in
return for a State Championship. Nice work, Bryan and Lisa!)
COMPETITION PROGRAMS AT SSQQ
SSQQ has 3 coaches prepared to help you prepare for and enter dance
Williams has trained two men who have won First Place in one Western
contest after another in 2004, Victor Marquez and Joel McClesky.
Both men are shooting for Pro-Am World Championships at the UCWDC
Worlds over the New Year. If you are a guy or a couple and you want
to take a shot at excellence, Anita can be contacted at
Ladell is currently in training with several ladies including
Kimberly Schweinle and Cher Longoria for Western contests in 2005.
If you are a lady or a couple and you want to prepare for a Western
contest, contact Scott at
Having won the State Championship, Bryan Spivey is now a
professional and can dance in Pro Ams. He currently has several
students he is preparing for the Novice Invitational in March. If
you are a lady or a couple and you are interested in Whip/WCS,
contact Bryan at
I have a hunch
we are going to be reading about lots of Champions in 2005 that were
trained right here at SSQQ.
RETURN TO HEADLINES
THE STRANGE SAGA OF THE MYSTERIOUS SAMBA LADY
As you know,
SSQQ is the most complicated studio in history. We
have a maze of rules and traditions that take time to get used
to. Like a three-ring circus, we put on quite a production. Each
night we have six, sometimes seven classes running concurrently
involving two dozen staff and volunteers and up to 200 students.
Some nights there is so much energy the place is a veritable
In the past, I have had only minimal success hiring outside
dance instructors, i.e. people who were trained to teach by
other dance studios. Unfortunately there is no set criterion. I
evaluate each request to teach by outsiders on a case-by-case
Sometimes we have had great success. Willie Bushnell has been an
incredibly popular Zydeco teacher here at the studio for many
years. Debbie Reynolds was the most phenomenal private lesson
instructor the studio has ever seen for many years until she and
Judy had a falling out several years ago which caused Debbie to
leave. Charlene Tees has been a blessing since the moment she
joined us a couple years ago. One advantage that Debbie and
Charlene had was that they were close to people within the
studio and had a good idea how the place worked ahead of time.
However the flip side of the coin is the many outside people who
were a problem from the moment GO.
None of you even remotely know the story of the cocaine addict
who stole VCRs from the studio to pay for his drug habit. Nor do
you know of the man who was so desperate for money he
recommended to every girl he danced with that they take a
private lesson from him due to their "poor technique". Nor do
you know about the man who used the studio computer to get the
phone numbers of certain female students. Nor do you know the
story of yet a fourth man whose womanizing was once a studio
legend. Each of these four instructors received their dance
training elsewhere before they came to teach here at the studio.
Largely based on these dark experiences with outside
instructors, I have learned it makes much more sense to grow our
own instructors from within. The assistant program and the
volunteer program have stocked our studio not only with dozens
of terrific instructors, we have a sub-system of talent in our
volunteers that makes this studio great.
Never was the depth of our program was put to a tougher test
than when Judy quit. We took a big hit, but like any good
college football program we "reloaded". Several people stepped
up to fill her various roles. What these instructors lacked in
experience they made up for with enthusiasm.
As the result of their strong efforts, I am convinced we are
ready to fire on all cylinders in 2005.
Recently my reluctance to hire outside instructors was further
strengthened by the odd story of the Samba Lady.
In late August, a woman named Cheryl contacted me about
teaching Samba here at the studio. Having moved from San
Francisco, she wanted to continue her dancing here in Houston
but was frustrated to discover there was no Samba community in
existence. She immediately decided to create one of her very
own. Cheryl contacted me about teaching here.
From the moment she started, I sensed that Cheryl possessed a
terrific talent. She was highly intelligent, full of energy and
concern for each student. However I also quickly realized that
Cheryl was also the dance equivalent of a "Diva". There was
Cheryl's way and there was Cheryl's way.
In Cheryl's brief three month stay here at the studio, she broke
more rules than the entire rest of the staff combined for the
entire year. One of her most famous stunts was changing the time
her class met on two different occasions to fit her own schedule
Cheryl drove me crazy. For starters she sent me more emails in
three months (66) than any other instructor has sent me for the
In order to better understand the problems, maybe you should
take a look at these three email examples.
FIRST EXAMPLE: EMAIL
Sent: Friday, October 15, 2004 12:10 AM
Looking at the November schedule, I see that samba is still
listing at 4:30-6:30. Again I would like to try to move that
class to earlier in the day, even 2:30-4:30 would be better. The
students all agreed that it is such a high energy class that
they would like to get a chance to go home, relax, SHOWER,
before taking it to the streets....or the studio again in the
evening to strut their newly acquired skills. Their preferred
times were 10:30-12:30 and 12:30-2:30 or 11-1.
Also, we are
coming into peak performance season and most Friday and Saturday
nights will be booked with band gigs, some of which are in the
Woodlands or downtown. Many start as early as 6pm, which means a
5pm set time and usually no later than a 6pm set time.
thing is that I want to bring in live drummers for my 3rd and/or
4th class to give the students a feel of what real Bahia/Rio
style samba feels like. Even playing softly, those drummers will
overpower the concurrent classes. If we are in the studio before
the other classes start, we won't disturb anybody. Besides, we
laugh A LOT in that class! If you haven't heard about the Mr. Hiney, I'm sure you will soon enough!
Anyway, let me know about the time. Cheryl
Well, all your points are legitimate concerns. Now hear my side
of the story.
1. I would have to pay my registration people extra to come in
two hours earlier at 2:30 for the first and second week of
class. That would have to come out of your salary.
2. I would have to redesign my web site to accommodate
the only class
that doesn't start at 4:30.
3. I would have to redesign my web site to delete your class
when it isn't offered.
4. we would have to redesign the On Line registration page to
accommodate a class offered at a different time or simply not
allow pre-registration for your class.
5. I would have to redesign my printed schedule to accommodate
the one class that doesn't start at 4:30.
6. I would have to redesign my printed schedule to delete your
class when it isn't offered.
This is an awful lot of work and added expense, Cheryl. Is it
really that important?"
SECOND EMAIL EXAMPLE: FROM RICK TO
From: Rick Archer
Sent: Sunday, November 14, 2004 10:11 AM
Subject: Problems at SSQQ
This will be a very long letter for one simple reason - I want
you to leave the studio and I want you to stay.
forces me to go into detail to explain my frustration and the
spot you have put me in.
Here is part of your latest email to me:
"I am available the entire month of December to teach an
advanced samba class on Saturdays from 2:30 to 4:30p if that is
o.k. My current students are demanding more samba!
Also, I have had numerous requests to move club dance back to
Saturdays. Many students are telling me they would like to do
club dance, but just can't make Monday evening that early. I am
available to do 10:30 to 12:30 and 12:30 to 2:30 time slots if
you wish to make Saturdays a full day thing. If not, I'll just
keep my 2:30-4:30 Samba classes.
No stress....just trying to accommodate my own schedule as well
as the popular demand of the students."
Cheryl, I have to be direct with you. Your latest email indicates your
dance ambitions may be more complicated than I have the patience
to handle. Your "Program" probably consists of a dozen people.
My "Program" consists of 1,200 people, but you keep insisting I
bend my program to fit your schedule. This is a classic
situation of "The Tail Trying to Wag the Dog".
In three short months I have discovered that "just trying to
accommodate your own schedule" has meant one problem after
another for me. I have already told you ONCE I don't have much
spare time to deal with "your schedule." I have too much on my
plate as it is.
As you might guess, I am in a crisis mode with the departure of
Judy Archer who quit a week ago. Every spare minute goes to handling problems caused by her
leaving. This is a very bad time to be asking me to make
exceptions for you.
Simultaneously, you never bothered to respond to a very serious
email I sent you last week. ("samba problems", Tue 11/09/2004
2:23 PM). That was a bad mistake. As a result of your failure to
address my concerns in that email, I am now even more deeply
worried than before that you only dance to the tune of your own
Unfortunately I don't have the time to handle our
misunderstandings. I still haven't finished my story from the
October cruise. I still have 15 pages of Halloween pictures to
post. Furthermore this coming week is "Newsletter Week". Once a
month I go into hibernation and work my butt off for several
days writing a promotional email to advertise the upcoming
semester. Furthermore I am having a new computer system
installed this week to deal with the problem that we don't have
any way to handle payroll due to the way Judy handled her
departure. I am up to my neck in problems.
And since I don't have the time to solve our inability to get on
the same page, I am afraid the safest solution is to simply shut
down your classes for December.
For one thing, I am sick and tired of getting emails from your
students and now you demanding they get "Club Dance" on
Saturdays. I wrote one woman a nice, patient letter explaining
why our contractual obligations with Leisure Learning forced us
to offer the class on Mondays for one final month in December.
Then I added that I would be offering it on Saturdays next year,
but damn if she didn't ignore me completely and sent a second
email demanding Saturday Club Dance again. Now here you are
pestering me about the same thing! There seems to be a pattern
emerging here of not hearing me the first time.
Consequently I have canceled your Monday Club Dance class in
December. That solves this problem.
Nor do I think the studio needs an "advanced samba class" in
December. This week I received a verbal complaint from another
instructor. It seems one Saturday they were trying to conduct a
private lesson in another room while the entire time someone
with your Samba group was pounding on a drum or maybe the music
was too loud. They said it drove them nuts no matter what room
they moved to. Now when you add this to the complaint about how you shift
the time of your class back and forth on Saturdays, that makes
two different instructors who have complained about your samba
I do not have a building manager to supervise during the
off-hours. Most studios - Barbara King for example - have
someone available at all times because they make a living by
renting out space. We don't rent out space to any outsiders.
Unfortunately, you operate like an outsider. Since we don't have
anyone around to keep an eye on your class, you come and go as
you please/do as you please. Don't you think the other
instructors have a right to not worry about drums and weekly
rotating samba schedules?
The moment my other instructors think I give you preferential
treatment, I have an even bigger problem on my hands.
I don't want ONE MORE TEACHER fussing at me about "The Samba
Lady". I have too many headaches as it is; therefore I am
EXTREMELY reluctant to give you permission to do anything until
I trust you more. Therefore I prefer that you not teach at the
studio in December.
That said, I have received nothing but high praise for your
work. As I have said repeatedly, you are charming, caring,
intelligent, and charismatic. You are unbelievably talented. I
think you would be very successful if you turned your mind to a
career in dance.
I like you very much personally and I respect your immense
talent. On the other level, you seem to ignore everything I tell
you unless it is something you want to hear. Plus your timing is
unfortunate - after all the problems caused by Judy, my patience
and tolerance for potential headaches is at an all-time low.
Using a sports metaphor, can you fit your talents into a team
framework? That is the question I have. I don't have the energy
to deal with the constant complications you bring to my studio
much longer. At some point you either have to fit in or go.
As for the future, we both need to decide whether it is worth
the effort to start over. You need to decide whether you wish to
make the effort to adapt to the framework of this very busy
place. I need to decide whether I have the guts to take a chance
After I finish the December Newsletter, we can see if there is a
way to pick up the pieces for January. Or maybe you are a little
fed up too.
Wherever the dust falls, I hope you will know that I agree
beyond a doubt you are definitely someone special.
THIRD EMAIL EXAMPLE
some back and forth regarding the above
letter, two weeks later on
December 1, I
decided to give it one more try to get Cheryl
back on board for January 2007. Here is the result
of my peace-making efforts.
Rick's Words: "If you think you can work within the restraints
of a set time format, I am willing to try again in January."
Cheryl's Response: "Rick I'll have to get back to you on this to
see what my scheduling constraints will be. I know we have a lot
of band stuff coming up. I also just took a job at Ladies
Workout Express, who incidentally may contact you as a reference
to see if I really was a dance instructor there. Anyway, I don't
know what the schedule there is yet. Then, if we stick to the
schedule as it is set now, the music problem isn't going to go
away- we have drums, even in our CD music. The sound of those
drums carries and will continue to disturb other teachers with
mellower music. I don't know. We can talk about it and see if we
can make something work out. I just don't want it to be major
stress for either one of us.
By the way, Rick, you said the following things to me in your emails:
"You are a blessing and a talent. .......and you have oodles of
"Cheryl recently moved here from San Francisco and has more
teaching charisma than any other instructor in memory. Currently
she is teaching Samba and Club Dancing for us, but she can do it
all. Cheryl is intelligent, personable,
and boy can she dance!"
Rick, may I use these quotes on my website or would you please
be so kind as to send another if you prefer? Thanks!
Also do you
mind if I use your name and the Studio name on the quote?"
If you notice some bruises and
footprints on my face in the next few days, these marks were
left by Cheryl as she used my head and shoulders in her mad
scramble to get to the next rung in her career ladder.
Nevertheless, despite all the headaches she caused, I liked her
very much personally. Cheryl is warm, funny, and very outgoing.
She just didn't fit in or rather made no effort to fit in. She
said it best herself with this parting statement:
"I like SSQQ. I think it is a neat place; however, I don't deal
well with politics. It seems that I am causing too much
consternation amongst your other instructors. I am not used to
the tattletaling that is going on. I am a performer first and an
instructor second. That seems to be in conflict with the
Saturday scheduling. I respect that we have different agendas,
so it is probably going to be better if I move the samba class
to a different venue, so as to not create any further problems."
One final detail: Among the rules that Cheryl broke, the one
that raised my eyebrow the most was her habit of obtaining
emails from every person she came into contact with here at
This problem has reared its ugly head here at the studio on
several previous occasions. Four years ago a competing dance
organization known as HSDS frequently collected emails here on
our premises so they could promote their own classes via
backdoor email solicitations. As a result I was forced to make a
rule prohibiting the practice of collecting large email lists
here at the studio.
Two years ago one of our Salsa instructors named Andrew was
fired for collecting emails in class. We found a list a
student/friend had been making for him. He was also passing out
his email address. He did not protest; he knew exactly what he
had been doing. He was preparing to quit and take some of our
students with him.
Indeed just a couple days after Cheryl quit, she sent out an
email to 25 of her Samba students she had met here explaining
her resignation and promising to resurface elsewhere. I have
little doubt several emails have gone out since with the next
location. I would not be surprised if there will be other
locations as well. Cheryl has a nomadic gypsy-esque quality to
Like I said, SSQQ was just a rung on the ladder to her.
If nothing else, Cheryl's odd story made me realize the high
degree of teamwork and professionalism exhibited by all the rest
of my Staff. My hat goes off to a great team. Each instructor,
Hall Monitor, and Registration person is a blessing to this
DEATH IN THE
A SAD GOODBYE TO DONNA RUTH
Donna Ruth worked here at SSQQ for many years during the 1990s.
She was a close friend to Judy Archer and Maureen Brunetti. She
was also a best friend to Margaret Easley, the lovely wife of my
best friend Tom Easley. Margaret and Donna worked together at an
elementary school in Sugarland for many years.
----- Original Message -----
From: Margaret Easley
To: Rick Archer
Sent: Friday, November 12, 2004 4:49 PM
Subject: Donna Ruth
Didn't know if you knew about Donna Ruth. I just found out
myself since our computer has been out of commission for about
Donna died Oct. 29. She had had a heart attack last summer and
was on medication, but I went to lunch with her last September
and she seemed good.
I am assuming she had another heart attack but don't know for
sure. I am really shocked and saddened.
(EDITOR'S NOTE: As I told Tom Easley, Donna Ruth is the first of
our generation to pass to the other side. After the death of her
husband Paul several years ago, Donna lost a lot of her
enthusiasm for hangin' around Earth. She smoked, ate whatever
she wanted, and didn't exercise. Donna was in her late 50s when
she passed away. A graduate of Lamar High School and the
University of Houston, Donna was very intelligent and possessed
a kind heart. She loved to Jitterbug - she and Maureen spent
many a night over at Studebaker's dancing till they dropped back
in the late 80s. Farewell, my friend, and rest in peace.)
FAREWELL TO MAX FAGET, FATHER OF ANN FAGET
(Editor's Note: Longtime readers of the SSQQ will quickly
remember the name of Ann Faget. She is co-winner of this year's
Logic Puzzle Club, a frequent contributor of jokes and puns, and
basically a good friend to me. I was unaware that Ann's father
was one of the founding father of NASA. I know Ann would be
happy if I shared the story of her highly gifted father with the
rest of you.)
From the Houston Chronicle
Date: MON 10/11/04
By MARK CARREAU
MAXIME FAGET 1921-2004 / SPACE CAPSULE DESIGNER DIES AT83 / AREA
ENGINEER WAS IN AT THE START OF THE SPACE RACE
Maxime "Max " Faget , an intuitive engineer who became the chief
architect of NASA's Mercury capsule and a key contributor to the
design of three other manned spacecraft, has died. He was 83.
Faget died Saturday at his Clear Lake-area home after a lengthy
struggle with bladder cancer.
Faget is best known for engineering the design of the Mercury
capsule, which carried Alan Shepard into space.
"There is no one in space flight history in this or any other
country who has had a larger impact on man's quest in space
exploration," said Christopher Kraft, the former director of the
Johnson Space Center. "History will remember him as one of the
really great scientists of the 20th century."
The son of a Public Health Service physician, Faget was born
Aug. 26, 1921, in Stann Creek, British Honduras, and studied
engineering at Louisiana State University.
After serving in the U.S. Navy as a submarine officer, he rose
to legendary status in the earliest days of America's space
Though slight of build, Faget exhibited a blunt self-confidence
in his aeronautic engineering skills that won him membership in
the exclusive Space Task Group, the team of 35 engineers
selected by the Eisenhower administration in 1958 to kick off
America's answer to the Cold War space challenge posed by the
former Soviet Union.
The task group migrated from NASA's forerunner, the National
Advisory Committee for Aeronautics based in Langley, Va., to
Houston, where they formed the nucleus of the Johnson Space
As a research scientist in the pilotless aircraft research
division of NACA, Faget developed an expertise in the flying
qualities of the blunt nose cones fitted to America's earliest
With the Soviets' successful launching of Sputnik, the world's
first satellite, on Oct. 4, 1957, the nation scrambled to
respond and most importantly prepare for the launching of
According to historians, Faget 's investigations at NACA proved
pivotal. While other experts advocated the development of a
"lifting body" with small wings, Faget made a convincing
argument that the blunt shape of the ballistic missile nose cone
could be adapted quickly into a capsule that could launch a
pilot into space and return him.
Though the Soviets achieved manned space flight first with the
launch of Yuri Gagarin on April 12, 1961, NASA followed within
weeks with the flight of Shepard in the Faget -inspired Mercury
The design relied on the use of a tapered capsule with a
protective heat shield fastened to the blunt end. The concept
created just enough aerodynamic lift to make the primitive
spacecraft maneuverable as it re-entered the Earth's atmosphere.
The shielding protected the astronaut from the searing
temperatures generated by the high-velocity descent.
Faget 's design was adapted for use in the progressively more
capable Gemini and Apollo spacecraft. All three of the
single-use spacecraft of his design "splashed down" in the
ocean, slowed by parachute.
A two-person orbital capsule, Gemini enabled the space agency to
prepare for risky missions to the moon.
With Apollo, America finally leapt ahead of the Soviets,
eventually landing six missions on the moon with a dozen
As the Apollo explorations were drawing to a close, Faget turned
his focus to another challenge, the development of the space
shuttle, the world's first reusable spacecraft.
He retired from NASA in 1981, after the second shuttle mission.
"Without Max Faget 's innovative designs and thoughtful approach
to problem solving, America's space program wold have had
trouble getting off the ground," said NASA Administrator Sean
Even in retirement, Faget did not lose interest in his field,
though at times he was at odds with his former employer.
In the aftermath of last year's fatal shuttle Columbia accident,
Faget grew critical of NASA and a space program that lacked the
purpose of the Apollo era.
He joined critics who believe the remaining shuttle orbiters
Discovery, Atlantis and Endeavour should be permanently retired.
"It's old and needs to be replaced," Faget said in a 2003
interview with the Chronicle. "Congress should provide enough
money for us to build a new shuttle. We should seriously get to
work and do that. It's that simple."
He grew interested in the work of Burt Rutan, the maverick
California aircraft designer who produced SpaceShipOne, the
first privately financed human spacecraft.
Early last week, SpaceShipOne captured the $10 million Ansari X
Prize, a purse created to encourage commercial space passenger
At Rutan's invitation, an enthusiastic Faget attended the
official unveiling of SpaceShipOne in April 2003 in Mojave,
"There was a mutual admiration and respect for each other. He
was thrilled at Burt's innovative design and very excited that
Rutan was going to make it into space," said Nanette Cerna, a
daughter of Faget who works as a shuttle engineer at the Johnson
Space Center. "He was cheering him on."
Faget 's survivors include daughters Ann Faget of Houston and
Carol Faget of Austin, and a son, Guy Faget of Baton Rouge, La.
His wife, Nancy, died in 1994.
STAFF TRANSITIONS: SO LONG GOODBYE FAREWELL TO CAROL ARMAND,
MICHELLE YEITER, AND DARIUS JOHNSON!
STAFF TRANSITIONS: SO LONG GOODBYE FAREWELL TO CAROL ARMAND,
AMANDA KAISER, MICHELLE YEITER, AND DARIUS JOHNSON!
I am sad to say four valuable SSQQ instructors are leaving us
over the Holidays.
AMANDA KAISER has recently started Law School. She hung on to
her one night of teaching as long as she could, then threw in
the towel. Amanda is brilliant, but apparently she feels she
needs every last brain cell and every extra moment to cope with
the difficult curriculum. I wish this talented woman every
success in her quest!
MICHELLE YEITER has been a Salsa Assistant on Thursdays for a
couple years. She is engaged to Scott Keyes and needs to take
some time off to prepare for the event, which is coming up soon
CAROL MADRID wrote a goodbye which she asked me to share with
As you know, my last night to teach is rapidly approaching.
Before I leave, I want to thank you for the time that you have
allowed me to work at SSQQ. It has been a very rewarding
I also want to let you know how much I appreciate the teachers,
assistants and volunteers who have helped me. Although several
people have volunteered in my class, I want to make sure that
you are aware of a few standouts.
Gina Garza has been helping me this year while learning the
leads. She has been a tremendous volunteer and the other
instructors should be thrilled that she will available on Friday
nights after this month.
Tom Huddleston has been helping me since Leo was promoted. He
has been able to communicate the finer details of the leads
whenever needed, while helping to keep the mood light. I like to
tell him that he is a much better man than I could ever hope to
Arthur Madrid (yes, he's my husband, I'm prejudiced here) has
been wonderful. Although he never learned to follow well, he has
been indispensable. I'm sure that the students will miss his
home baked cookies.
Aisha Curry and Janice Quackenbush have been on break from my
class for the past few months, but they have both provided their
wonderful skills when needed.
Both Dianes (Murrell and DeHart) and Susan and David Schroeder
have also helped numerous times when I was in desperate need of
either men or women.
Leo Skiba was a wonderful assistant and fully deserved his
promotion to instructor.
There are others who helped occasionally, but the list would be
too long to include here. I thank them all.
I have not even mentioned you, Ben and the others from whom I
learned to teach. I learned so much from each of you. All of the
jokes I tell in class are stolen from other instructors.
I cannot say enough about MG Anseman, who I assisted for almost
two years. He will always hold a special place in my heart.
I want to make sure that these people get the recognition that
they deserve and I will miss seeing them each week.
I wish Susan Waring the best of luck as she moves into my
Thanks again, Carol Madrid"
(EDITOR'S NOTE: Carol and Arthur will always be special to me
because they spent the infamous Allison Flood Night with me here
at the studio. These kind and generous people will be missed.)
DARIUS JOHNSON is leaving because he has a new job waiting for
him in Los Angeles.
From: Darius Johnson
Sent: Monday, December 06, 2004 10:22 AM
Subject: Darius Johnson resignation
I know that this is a very inopportune time for you to be losing
staff. I'm very sorry to inform you that I will not be able to
continue at SSQQ after the December classes. I have accepted a
new job in California and will be moving over Christmas.
I understand that this is a crucial time for the salsa program
being restructured. I have not been included in the planning
thus far, but I want you to know that I'm willing to help out in
any way that I can before I have to leave.
SSQQ will be one of my fondest memories of Houston. I have
enjoyed learning and teaching there equally. I want to thank you
for the opportunities you've given me and for the trust you've
placed in me. Again, please let me know if there is anything
that I can do to help out with the salsa program or facilitate
its continuance in my absence.
MAKES THE MISTAKE OF INVITING RICK TO HER CHRISTMAS PARTY
|The Story of Mara’s
Recently Mara Rivas created a
delightful Christmas Party for many of the Usual Suspects, their
better-behaved friends plus several friends of her “Martian
Whip” buddies over the Holidays.
Mara cooked everything – and
everything was consumed quickly. It was a sumptuous feast
without a question. Susan Arevalo contributed some wicked
Margaritas that were enthusiastically consumed as well.
Mara is such a lovely
hostess. I soon discovered she makes her living as the Manager
of a large apartment project. I was stunned to find she
actually invited some friends from the apartments to mingle with
the ssqq crowd. Based on my experience with living in
apartments, I could not fathom the thought of a kind, friendly
apartment manager. Recalling past adversarial relationships
with Building Managers who dragged their feet on repairing my
air conditioners, etc, my imagination had always placed whips
and prods in their hands to beat off savage renters like a lion
tamer would his beasts in the cage.
Indeed the warmth I saw
exchanged between Mara the Manager and her friendly tenants was
nothing short of Christmas miracle in my opinion. The thought of
treating my own students this humanely was almost unfathomable.
Lots of people were at Mara’s
Party. In fact the place was so crowded there was no room for more
guests. Several people were turned away at the door. Tough. ‘Next
year, get here on time’ is what I told them as I slammed the door.
Mara kept looking nervously at the door. I asked her what was the
matter. She replied, “Gosh, I invited a bunch of people who said
they were coming. I wonder where they got to?”
I smiled and said, “Don’t worry!
This just means there’s plenty of food for the rest of us” as I
picked up a scrumptious Deviled Egg and plucked it in my mouth. I
love Deviled Eggs for some reason.
I would name all the people who
came except the “aftermath” of Susan’s Margaritas kicked in and
erased almost all my memory the next day.
remember a few people though. My
buddy George Sargent was there, basking in the adulation that
comes from being named “SSQQ’s Man of the Year” for all his bad
behavior. You have to love a school that actually rewards its
naughtiest participants. Upon learning of his major award,
George became maudlin and started to weep a little. “You know,
Rick, I never thought all those hours I spent in detention when
I was growing up would ever pay off! This is such a happy
moment for me!”
I was feeling kind of happy
too. No one had actually invited me to a party in several years.
I was feeling pretty good about myself until Marla said it was
only her that had been invited and that she had to beg Mara to
get me included. I didn’t need to know that.
Then I saw a montage on the
wall that included pictures of Mara and her friends from the 3
ssqq cruises she has been on. I was struck by all the different
people in the pictures and by her warm smile. She must have had
a great time on these trips! Then I noticed Marla was in one of
the pictures with Mara, but that I wasn’t in any of the
pictures. I asked Mara what the purpose of that picture
collection was. She smiled sweetly with obvious pride. “Oh
that? Those are pictures of all my wonderful friends from the
Somehow in the back of my brain
I felt an inkling there was a hidden
message in Mara’s words, but I haven’t had time to figure it out
Mara asked me if I had brought
my Christmas Carol Puzzle. I smiled and said ‘of course!’ The idea
of the game is to match 56 Christmas Carols presented in coded
picture form with their correct titles. Believe it or not, this
game has become a national hit at Christmas Parties. This year alone
I received over 300 inquiries from people asking for the answer
sheet so they could use the game at their own party. (http://ssqq.com/archive/christmaspuzzlemore.htm
|With Mara’s encouragement I took
charge and picked two Captains – Mara and Phyllis Porter, the
notorious Center of Attention. For her team Mara picked people
who were smiling while her counterpart Phyllis picked people who
looked serious about winning.
Since I had created the game myself and knew all the answers, I
thought it would be unsporting to play for either team. Instead
I assumed the role of referee. With nothing else to do for a
while, I adopted the stance of a bemused spectator. The first
thing I noticed was that Mara took her team in the bedroom and
closed the door. Soon I could hear the sounds of laughter and
The glee from Mara’s room stood
in stark contrast to the determined look of the team in the living
room. That is when I noticed that Center’s team meant business!
They quickly divided into two groups, one to solve Page 1 and the
other to solve Page 2. There was no laughter, banter, or frolic.
Instead they were pure logic in action. They decided to attack the
puzzle in two ways. First they went over the puzzle one picture at a
time to let everyone take a guess at its title. When they finished
this approach, Marla began to read the list of clues out loud while
everyone studied the unanswered pictures to look for a match.
As Center’s team knuckled down
in the living room, peels of laughter from the bedroom snuck through
the walls like an open taunt. One person muttered, “I wish they
would shut up. It’s really hard to concentrate with all that stupid
laughter distracting me!”
This comment made me recall that my freshman dorm in college had
divided along similar lines. There were those of us who studied in
their rooms at night and preferred total silence. Then there were
those who partied every night with non-stop Bridge matches
accompanied by raucous laughter and the music of the Beatles and Led
Zeppelin. Akin to the fable of the Grasshopper and the Ants, their
laughter was a knife in the hearts of the hard workers who were
afraid to let down their guard and enjoy life a little.
7 minutes before the end of the
twenty-minute time limit I was snapped out of my reflections when a
member of Mara’s team opened the door to announce they were finished
and feeling kind of bored. I ordered the miscreant to go back to
his room. As I discovered later, this move was a total bluff. Even
worse, the ploy backfired. Center’s team redoubled their efforts
and began to concentrate even harder. I was amazed this was even
possible considering they were already approaching the game as if
their lives depended on it!
Phyllis had clearly identified every nerd in the room and cornered
the market on genius while all the bon vivants had landed on Mara’s
team. It was Freshman Year all over again! Where was the Beatles
music or “Stairway to Heaven”?
Once time was up I collected the
answer sheets from both teams. I put them on my lap and had each
Captain sit on either side of me as we tallied the results. I was
baffled when we got to the end – Mara’s team had not even answered
the final four questions of 56 while Center’s team answered all
four. After all, didn’t they announce they were already done? I
never did figure out who was behind the bluff nor did I understand
what they were trying to accomplish, but those four points changed a
close game into a rout.
Sure enough given the strongly diverse work ethic, it was no
surprise for me to find that Center’s team won by a landslide. It
was annihilation, a sort of Christmas Revenge of the Nerds.
Then Center of Attention made a strange announcement that struck me
as being almost as absurd as the “We’re finished” remark (in
retrospect maybe they meant they were “finished” not as “job
completed”, but rather as in “doomed”).
Phyllis told all of us how
amazing it was that her team, which was half-Jewish, had beaten a
team of Christians at a Christmas Carol Puzzle. In her mind this was
like the Celtics winning on the Lakers home court in basketball.
Upon hearing this nonsense I raised an eyebrow. Not that I cared one
bit, but it was such a dumb thing to say I had to protest just to be
a pain in the butt (which as my wife will agree comes naturally).
I pointed out that Susan Arevalo, one of the few token Christians on
her team, had single-handedly answered over half the clues. Center
of Attention harrumphed that this was a small technicality.
Outwardly I argued that Center was full of beans, but inside I
grinned at the thought at how wonderful it was that we could have an
argument about something as ridiculous as this and no one would even
get remotely offended. This is when I realized what a pretty neat
group of people Mara had assembled for her party.
Then the lovely Nancy Schweinle
knocked on the door. Since it was Nancy, who I think is very
special, and not some bozo looking for free food, but mostly because
everyone was watching me, I decided not to turn her away like I had
the dozen people before. Like the Magi, Nancy had arrived bearing
gifts. She brought a Movie Trivia Game that was played using the TV.
Always ready for competition,
Center of Attention immediately popped the DVD into the disk player
and a new game began. Something of a competition-enthusiast myself,
I was ready to come off the Ineligible List. Feeling sorry for
Mara’s team which by the way had barely even noticed their defeat, I
decided to throw my lot with the Underdogs.
To my shock, I discovered there were two Nerds on Mara’s that
Phyllis had overlooked – Leslie Grapevine and Stephani Callihan.
Previously in hiding among all the Happy Mara People, these two
ladies found the courage to show their true Nerd colors once they
realized that I was an Uber-Nerd who had come to their rescue.
While all the other Mara Party Animals hung out near the kitchen
continuing to laugh and play, Grapevine, Stephani, and I
concentrated as hard as we could on each clue.
But as hard as we tried, we
couldn’t win! With Phyllis aggravating the dandruff out of us by
arguing her teammate had clearly answered each clue far ahead of us,
half the time when we got the right answer it was thrown out as a
“Tie”. Plus we quickly discovered they had several people who were
pretty good at this. Judy Walsh was especially good and Don Schmidt,
Very Unique, Mack the Knife, Amy the Blonde Bombshell, Center of
Attention, Marla, and some quiet girl in the background kept
hammering away at us. It was 8 against 3! Plus that quiet girl was
good. Each time we came close, she would guess the answer to some
obscure clue that left the rest of us scratching our heads. “How
did she get that one?” We just couldn’t get over the top. We lost
the first game 10-5. Then we lost the second game 7-3.
During our early losses I noticed several things. I realized that I
was stupid. It didn’t help that Susan Arevalo’s dynamite Margaritas
had rotted my mind. I was in that horrible place where I realized I
KNEW I KNEW the answer; I just didn’t KNOW what the answer was.
Does this make any sense? I bet all the Boomers know what I am
talking about. We all have just enough smarts left to realize how
far we have slipped, but not enough smarts to have the answers
quickly roll off our tongues. Instead we stutter and bluster hoping
the words will come, but they never do. Darn it!
This is a horrible state to be in. You see an actor in a movie, you
recognize the actor, you know you know the name, but for some reason
it gets stuck on the edge of your mind and refuses to pop in. What a
maddening feeling! Or you manage to remember the answer only to
find a sober person can say it faster. I was so frustrated!!
Fortunately we finally caught a
break. It really helped that all the Fun Lovers who were
congregating around Mara across the room had distracted Phyllis.
Plus she was tired of me needling her each time she messed up using
the DVD remote control.
In a pique, the Center of Attention handed the Remote to me. “If
you’re so smart, then you do it!” This symbolic transfer of the
Control seemed to augur a change in our fortunes. The Force is with
us! Three positive things immediately happened in favor of our
team. First, Center’s concentration wavered as she watched the Mara
Merriment Group. Phyllis had been an uncanny lawyer defending the
rights of her team, but now we began to win some of the arguments on
the close calls. Another development was that I was allowed to keep
score. This enabled us to keep things “close” if you know what I
mean. Third I willed myself to get my brain back. It was an
effort, believe me. Finally by the third game I had sobered up
enough to actually contribute. We won a breakthrough victory. I am
happy to say I got the winning point on the movie “Dr.
Strangelove”. The three of us were so proud of ourselves!
Alas, our joy was just temporary.
|I’m not sure exactly what
happened, but in the fourth game that Quiet Girl in the
Background suddenly became King Kong of the Movie Trivia Game.
Yes, Stephanie Barrow had been holding back on us.
Who knows? Perhaps she had been
keeping her game in check to allow her other teammates to play.
However once she lost a game, Stephanie turned into a
veritable Movie Trivia Michael Jordan. Stephanie began to Wheel
and Deal. In rat-a-tat succession she
got Whoopi Goldberg, Michael Myers, and Johnny Depp. Boom boom
boom. Stepho was racking up the
Stephanie began to single-handedly kick our ass while her
teammates watched in awe. I apologize for the use of such foul
language, but this phrase is only one that TRULY describes the kind
of punishment Stephanie began to dish out for the
rest of the night.
Grapevine, our own Stephani, and I began to look at each other in
consternation. I remember actually becoming
intimidated at this point by her brilliance.
This girl was Wonder Woman! Finally the truth began to emerge – Ms.
S. Barrow had been a Film Major in
college. She was a Man playing with Boys. She was Hercules against
our pathetic three-headed Monster.
I tried to insist she drink a
Margarita, but even this didn’t help. Stephanie had only one
weakness – any movie from the 60s or earlier was a problem for her.
It turned out we had the advantage known as “Being Alive” while she
was sitting around on some cloud waiting to be born. Yes, we had a
few positive Boomer moments. We got “Marlon Brando” and knew some of
the faces of older actors like Leonard Nimoy and Martin Landau, but
unfortunately the majority of the questions dealt with contemporary
movies, not our beloved “Black and White” movies. When it came to
color, she was Red and we were Blue.
Stephanie had one especially
uncanny ability. The clues were presented in many different ways.
My favorite was the “Wheel of Fortune” where they spell out the
title one letter at a time.
But there was one style I hated. This clue style began with
millions of pixels swirling around on the screen slowly forming an
image like a ghost slowing transmogrifying. (No, I don’t what it
means either, but I thought it sounded good.)
While I would stare at the blurry confusion of distorted images and
see nothing, Stephanie would casually identify the picture well
before any other person in the room had even the slightest clue. I
have no idea what her secret powers were, but it sent chills up my
body. I wondered if she was a witch!
The transcendent moment came on
a key clue. There were the pixels floating everywhere. Nothing of us
could see a thing. Out of nowhere Stephanie casually whispered,
“Rocky Horror Picture Show”. It was a full five more seconds before
the Image on the screen gelled enough so the rest of us could see
the Giant Red Lips of Dr. Frankenfurter. We were Amazed!
The rest of us challenged
Stephanie. Even her own teammates were flustered. “How did you know
the answer so far ahead of the rest of us?” Marla asked. Stephanie
just smiled. She was clearly enjoying her moment in the spotlight.
Little did she know others were plotting to murder her.
Don’t tell Stephanie, but I was one of the conspirators. I was
secretly looking around the room to see if Mara had a fireplace in
case we needed to burn the witch. That was starting to look like our
only chance of ever winning another game.
Stephanie accepted our disbelief with great poise. She simply stood
up, turned her back and pulled up her shirt slightly. This got the
attention of everyone, even Mara’s Admirers. There in the small of
her back was a tattoo of the exact same image we had just seen on
the TV. “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” was simply her favorite
movie in the whole wide world.
Stepho may have been a Freak, but I begrudgingly decided someone
this precious didn’t deserve to be burned at the stake. Instead I
got down on my knees and bowed to her. I had met an Intelligence far
superior to mine. I was not worthy.
While Stephanie kept us
spellbound with her Movie Magic, mysteriously George Sargent behaved
all night. Considering he is the Greatest Mischief Maker of all
time, he didn’t get anyone drunk, he didn’t wear any women’s
clothing, and he didn’t say anything outrageous. And rather than
take a lead in all the conversation like he usually does, George
seemed content to take a back seat. He even washed dishes! What has
happened to our Dorothy? Where has his thirst for the Limelight
disappeared to? Has our Legendary Mr. Handsome grown weary of being
so darn popular? Or could it be that he is love and under orders to
clean up his act? I asked a couple questions, but George was on
guard. No secrets would be revealed tonight. Hmm. I have my
suspicions, but will exercise rare restraint and save my comments
until I actually have a shred of evidence. Nah. To heck with
restraint!! I think George is trying to fly under the radar.
And what about Mara Rivas,
our beautiful and gracious hostess?
Observers of the SSQQ Social Scene will report that Mara
unfailingly goes out of her way to organize one event after
another for her friends at the studio such as this evening’s
activities. Indeed the moment Mara learned of Marla’s wedding
plans, she insisted on organizing a Bachelorette Party for
Marla. Another example of her formidable social skills was the
fun trip over to the Riverwalk in San Antonio that Mara recently
organized. Throughout the year Mara has made it her duty to
promote dance activities on nights when the studio was closed or
not busy. Do you see where I am taking this?
Yes, Mara has shown me that
you don’t have to misbehave to be popular. You can be a leader
without being talkative and you can be warm without being
flashy. Mara is a modest, gracious lady with a big heart and
oodles of social charm.
Mara Rivas is the 2004 SSQQ Woman of the Year. She deserves
it! Be sure to give the girl a big
hug when you see her!
And now it's time to wrap things up. I would like to say
“Thank you” to each and every one of you for making 2004 a very
special year here at the studio. I have a hunch that 2005 will be
even better! Speaking of 2005, Let’s Get it started the right way.
I look forward to seeing all of you Troublemakers at our upcoming
New Year’s Party!
Watch out. In 2005, The Empire Strikes Back.
OF THE REGULAR FEATURES SECTION
COMPLAINT OF THE MONTH:
STUDIO IS ALWAYS TOO HOT, TOO COLD, BUT NEVER COMFORTABLE
From: Pam Cornell
Sent: Thursday, February 19, 2004 9:35 AM
Subject: Hot and Cold
I attended the crash course on Slow Dancing with Jill on Valentine's
I'd like to know if your instructors could at least turn on the fan to move
some air. We were in Room 1. Of course we didn't work up a sweat, but Jill
was in a jacket so she was obviously cold. However, with that many bodies,
it got very warm and humid. For the entire 2 hours, there was no air moving.
I've had this happen in room 6 when the Hall Monitor is cold as well.
Doesn't she remember that we're moving around, working up a sweat,
especially in polka? I can't really peel down to bra and underpants to get
cool, though I am wearing a short sleeve shirt and shoes, not boots, to try
to dress cooler.
I know electricity is expensive, but I think that your pupils deserve some
consideration from the staff. Please ask your staff to take into
consideration the fact that we are moving around a lot more than some of
Thanks for your attention. Pam Cornell"
OVERVIEW (RICK ARCHER)
Throughout the history of this studio there have been many nasty problems
with the air-conditioners caused by people who fool with the
thermostats without permission. I realize that the majority of the
culprits are students who could care less. If anyone ever
sees anyone besides the Staff
even "looking" at a thermostat, go tell a Staff
Last Tuesday December 7th
Linda Cook reported to me that someone had
pushed the temperature control in the DJ Booth to the very bottom. This is
the same setting that nearly ruined our dance floor three years ago. What
happens is the AC continues to run at this cold temperature and soon freezes
up. When it starts to thaw, it melts all over the Room 1 floor. If the
melting occurs when no one is around like it did three years ago, we could
be in serious trouble with water damage to the floor.
Believe it or not, the system was ON when Linda found the control was set to
the dangerous level.
Fortunately she turned the AC system was turned off before the freezing
could occur. We barely averted the SSQQ equivalent of the
We coined this term four years ago when we made a
gruesome discovery. One day in 2000 just after we first put the Room One
Air-Conditioner into the studio, we arrived at the studio to find the
beautiful wood floor in Room One badly damaged by a constant water drip from
Someone had turned the thermometer down to the very lowest setting. The AC
Unit stayed on all night until it had frozen up into a huge ball of ice
without anyone knowing what had happened. Then when the ice began to thaw
the next day, it filled up the drip pan underneath it to the max then began
to drip drip drip all day long onto our dance floor.
It took a lot of sanding to repair the job. Even today four years
later you can see signs of the damage if you ask me where it happened.
There is no reason for any student or staff
to fool with the air conditioners.
You should simply ask a supervisor - Susan Schroeder, Linda Cook, or Rick
Archer - to come take a look at a suspicious AC Unit.
By trying to handle the problem on your own, you take a
great chance of causing a problem or even preventing us from discovering
when we have a problem. For example, the air conditioner in Room 4 did not
work recently for two entire months. I don't teach in there and was unaware
that it wasn't working. When I finally did discover the problem, we had it
Over the course of this year I have found many of our AC units were set to
dangerous temperature settings (generally anything in the 50s is dangerous).
You have to help me protect these systems!!! If they freeze up we are in a
lot of trouble.
Here is a lengthy letter I wrote to a student earlier
this year in response to a serious complaint about the SSQQ
temperature. It should explain some of the mysteries of our AC units.
"Pam, what you are asking for is certainly reasonable, but not as easy to
accomplish as you might imagine.
First of all, at some point or another everyone complains about the
temperature. We take it for granted that at any given time at least half the
studio is uncomfortable due to a series of factors.
The majority of people complain that the studio is too cold. Then after they
dance, many of these same people say it is too hot. You might notice the
abundance of jackets and sweaters that come off and on/off and on throughout
the evening. An inside joke is that ssqq is the only place most Houstonians
get to wear their winter sweaters on a consistent basis.
The next problem is that we have one main air conditioner, one huge subunit
in Room One and four local units. These six units are not synchronized with
Students think it is their right to turn the thermostat temperature of all
these systems around at will, sometimes actually damaging our systems in the
process. In a short-sighted attempt to discourage the sneaky fingers, I put
most of the thermostats high up on the wall. The only result is that most of
our female instructors are unable to reach them. Now wasn't that smart?
Instead, men - the least careful creatures on earth - pound away at the AC
settings at will.
No one seems to understand that if you push the setting to the maximum, you
take a huge chance of freezing up the system. For example, if the
thermometer in Room 4 says it is 72 degrees in there and the automatic
turn-on setting is 70, the AC will automatically come on. But I am convinced
that tall men don't have a lot of brains because I frequently see the
automatic turn-on number set in the 50s! This is what damages the system. To
my dismay I see this happen several times a week, especially in the summer
when people need AC more.
The biggest problem of all is involves the main thermostat which controls
the temperature of the most important AC system in the building. This
thermostat is located in Room 3 where the least heat is generated by the
students. We put our smallest classes in there, but frequently they don't
get the room hot enough to make the system come on even when it is set to 60
degrees in the winter. Simultaneously the room next to Room 3 - Room 2-
becomes a sauna because it relies completely on the large system to cool it.
So it is common for the temperature on either side of the door to be about
15 degrees different at certain points of the evening.
We put our largest classes in Room 1 and these people generate the most
heat. While all this heat is sitting down in Room 1, very little of it gets
to the thermostat in Room 3 when the doors to Room 2 are closed. The doors
to Room 2 are closed because the people in Room 1 and Room 3 don't like the
noise that accompanies open doors.
This leads to a situation I like to call "the tail wagging the dog". The
heat situation in the least important room dictates the AC settings for the
entire studio. As a result, sometimes I am forced to freeze students in Room
3 in order to accommodate students in the rest of the building.
Room 1 has its own air conditioner. But the thermostat is set so high the
female instructors have trouble reaching it.
Furthermore if some makes a mistake and sets the temperature too low, it can
result in freezing up the system. This has happened a half dozen times and
has led to water damage on our floors. Therefore most of the instructors are
paranoid about the AC systems because they know there is danger, but they
aren't quite sure how to avoid it.
Most of our instructors work at the studio one night a week. They change
rooms monthly as their classes change in size. To expect each and every one
of them to be an expert on the SSQQ AC system is asking too much.
We have enough air-conditioning to freeze meat if that is the goal. We also
take the chance of doing serious and costly damage to our units if we set
the systems too low, a problem that has occurred too many times as far as I
The person who understands the problems of the AC system the best is me and
I am not at the studio seven nights a week. Nor am I in all six rooms at
once when I am here. That said, based on your email I probably should get my
two supervisors and run them through the problems and the solutions so they
have a better idea what to do in case I am gone.
Then if you have a problem, you can either tell your instructor directly or
you can go to me or to Susan and Linda and tell them your concern.
Sincerely, Rick Archer"
(Editor's Note: On Wednesday, December 15th, 2004 - just
one day after I put this note on my web site - I walked into Room 3 to check
the main thermostat because my students complained they were freezing. The
outside temperature was in the 40s. I discovered someone had turned the AC
Unit for the studio down to 55 degrees behind my back - probably a student
who was hot from dancing the night before.
I wish all of you would leave the AC Units alone and simply go get Susan,
Linda, or Rick to adjust it for you. Thanks!)
BEST NEW JOKES OF THE
Over the years, we have
been sent countless numbers of jokes by our Newsletter Readers.
We have kept what we thought were the best. At this point
we have now have a Hall of Fame collection of over 600 jokes.
Many of them are real gems. We rotate these jokes on a monthly
basis so over the year you get to read them all.
In addition to our
"Classics", we also get many new jokes each month sent in by our
students. This section contains our favorites. At
the end of each year we add these jokes to the "Immortal
By the way, getting a
joke selected isn't very easy since we have been collecting
jokes for so long. It's tough to find a new one. So if you
send in a great joke and nothing ever happens, trust us - it is
already on the Web Site. If you don't believe us, email
and ask about your joke!! I am serious. I will show you
where the joke is.
We greatly appreciate any jokes you would like to submit. Send
them to Rick Archer at email@example.com
Jokes January 2005
The Fairy and the Three Wishes - Judy Walsh
A married couple in their early 60s was out celebrating their
35th wedding anniversary in a quiet, romantic little restaurant.
Suddenly, a tiny, yet beautiful fairy appeared on their table
and said, "For being such an exemplary married couple and for
being faithful to each other for all this time, I will grant you
each a wish."
"Ooh, I want to travel around the world with my darling husband"
said the wife. The fairy moved her magic stick and - abracadabra
-- two tickets for a new luxury liner appeared in her hands. Now
it was the husband's turn. He thought for a moment and said:
"Well this is all very romantic, but an opportunity like this
only occurs once in a lifetime, so, I'm sorry my love, but my
wish is to have a wife 30 years younger than I".
Well the wife, and the fairy, were deeply disappointed, but a
wish is a wish... So the fairy made a circle with her magic
stick and abracadabra, the husband became 92 years old.
The moral of this story... Men might be ungrateful idiots....
But fairies are female!
Why Drinking Beer Improves the Mind - Chris Holmes
One snowy night in Boston down at "Cheers", Cliff Clavin
explained the "Buffalo Theory" to his buddy, Norm.
"Well ya see, Norm, it's like this. A herd of buffalo can only
move as fast as the slowest buffalo. And when the herd is
hunted, it is the slowest and weakest ones at the back that are
killed first. This natural selection is good for the herd as a
whole, because the general speed and health of the whole group
keeps improving by the regular killing of the weakest members.
In much the same way, the human brain can only operate as fast
as the slowest brain cells. Excessive intake of alcohol, as we
know, kills brain cells. But naturally, it attacks the slowest
and weakest brain cells first. In this way, regular consumption
of beer eliminates the weaker brain cells, making the brain a
faster and more efficient machine!! That's why you always feel
smarter after a few beers...."
This Blonde is a Pane! - Paul Eustace
Last year I replaced all the windows in my house with those
expensive double-pane energy efficient kind....
But this week I got a call from the contractor complaining that
his work had been completed a whole year ago and I had yet to
pay for them....
Boy oh boy, did we go around!! Just because I'm blonde doesn't
mean that I am automatically stupid...
So, I proceeded to tell him just what his fast talking sales guy
had told me last year...that in one year the windows would pay
There was silence on the other end of the line, so I just hung
up and I have not heard back...
How to Keep Track of Illegal Aliens - Judith Williams
This Mad Cow Disease Scare really woke me up. Is it just me or
does anyone else find it absolutely amazing that the U.S.
government can track a cow born in Canada almost three years
ago, right to the stall where she sleeps in the state of
Washington, and determine exactly what that cow ate. They can
also track her calves right to their stalls, and tell you what
kind of feed they ate.
But they are unable to locate 11 million illegal aliens
wandering around in their country, including people that are
trying to blow up important structures in the U.S!
My solution is simple: Give every illegal alien a cow as soon as
they enter the country.
Italian Bread - Leroy Ginzel
Two old guys, one 80 and one 87, were sitting on their usual
park bench one morning.
The 87 year old had just finished his morning jog and wasn't
even short of breath.
The 80 year old was amazed at his friend's stamina and asked him
what he did to have so much energy.
The 87 year old said; "Well, I eat Italian bread every day. It
keeps your energy level high and you'll have great stamina with
So, on the way home, the 80 year old stops at the bakery.
As he was looking around, the lady asked if he needed any help.
He said, "Do you have any Italian bread?"
She said, "Yes, there's a whole shelf of it. Would you like
He said, "I want 5 loaves."
She said, "My goodness, 5 loaves...don't you think by the time
you get to the 5th loaf it'll be hard?"
He replied, "Holy S#%*...! Everybody in the world knows about
this Italian bread thing but ME....?!
The Two Bees - Ann Faget
Two bees met in a field. One said to the other, "How are things
"Really bad," said the second bee. "The weather has been cold,
wet, and cloudy, and there aren't any flowers, so I can't
"No problem," wiggled the first bee. "Just fly down five blocks
and turn left. Keep going until you see all the cars. There's a
Bar Mitzvah going on and there are all kinds of fresh flowers
and fresh fruit."
"Thanks for the tip," said the second bee, and flew away.
A few hours later the two bees ran into each other again. The
first bee asked, "How'd it go?"
"Great!" said the second bee. "It was everything you said it
would be. There was plenty of fruit and, oh, such huge floral
arrangements on every table."
"Uh, what's that thing on your head?" asked the first bee.
"That's my yarmulke," said the second bee. "I didn't want them
to think I was a wasp."
The Nun - Crista Reuss
A nun who works for a local home health care agency was out
making her rounds when she ran out of gas. As luck would have it
there was a station just down the street. She walked to the
station to borrow a can with enough gas to start the car and
drive to the station for a fill up.
The attendant regretfully told her that the only can he owned
had just been loaned out, but if she would care to wait he was
sure it would be back shortly.
Since the nun was on the way to see a patient she decided not to
wait and walked back to her car. After looking through her car
for something to carry to the station to fill with gas, she
spotted a bedpan she was taking to the patient. Always
resourceful, she carried it to the station, filled it with
gasoline, and carried it back to her car.
As she was pouring the gas into the tank of her car two men
walked by. One of them turned to the other and said: "If that
car starts, I'll be a churchgoer the rest of my life."
Don't Piss Off a Texas Woman - Leroy Ginzel
A West Texas Cowboy's wife forgot her cookies she had baked for
work, so she came home just in time to find her husband in bed
with another woman. Before he could see her coming, she picked
up his boot and smashed it into his head knocking him out.
With the screams of the other woman making a deafening roar, the
wife took one look at her and said, "Shut Up. Get Out. Or Die."
Now that they were alone, with super-human strength borne of
fury and a lifetime of cutting calves, the wife dragged her
unfaithful husband down the stairs, out the back door and into
the tool shed out back of the barn. She put his tally-whacker in
a vice, and then secured it tightly and removed the handle.
The pain of the vice brought the husband out of his stupor. The
moment he figured out what had happened, his eyes bulged.
The banged up Cowboy was terrified!
Noticing her husband had awakened, the Texas She Devil spotted
an old carpenter's saw.
The husband saw the look in her eye and blanched. He hollered,
"Stop! Stop! You're not gonna cut it off with that rusty damn
saw, are you?"
"Hell, no. I could get in trouble for that." The wife, with a
gleam of revenge in her eye she kicked it over to her husband
and said, "Nope. I'm gonna have me a cigarette and maybe forget
to put it out and maybe flick it over into that sawdust. Then
I'm going into town for a cold beer. You can do whatever you
Feeding the World - Ann Faget
Last month, the United Nations sponsored a worldwide survey. The
question was: "Could you please give your honest opinion about
possible solutions to the food shortage in the rest of the
The survey was a total failure.
· In Africa, nobody knew what "food" meant.
· In Eastern Europe, nobody understood what "honest" meant.
· In Western Europe, nobody knew what "shortage" meant.
· In China, nobody knew what "solution" meant.
· In the US, nobody knew what "the rest of the world " meant.
SSQQ EMPLOYEE OF THE MONTH
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This award goes to an SSQQ Staff member who does something beyond the
call of duty. In any given month, there are always at least 100 quiet
acts of simple kindness performed by someone who works at SSQQ for which the
person gets no credit, but our organization benefits from the gratitude.
The problem for me is that these many moments usually occur way under my
radar. So if you have an instructor to nominate, please
let me know and why!!
On the other hand,
sometimes the move is dramatic enough to catch my eye so I can say something
Many people have commented
on how nice the studio has begun to look since Susan and David Schroeder
took over Studio Maintenance. The difference has been quite
As usual, I get the compliments – thank you all so much for giving me so
much credit! – but let’s give the credit where it is due.
Susan and David have done a phenomenal job of getting the vents cleaned,
toilets fixed, odors removed, the office fixed up, the TV set dust
removed, the Room 4 AC fixed, and many other small but significant
improvements as well.
Susan has taken it upon herself to directly supervise my cleaning crews
and tell them EXACTLY what needs to done. This alone has made a huge
Soon Susan and David will even get an electrician to attack the light
fixtures and try to get this place brighter again!
And the best is yet to come - say a small prayer - over the Christmas
Break Susan and David will be heading up a crew that will be refinishing
We will see the results at the New Year's Party. Wish them luck!
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THE WINNERS OF
LAST MONTH'S SSQQ LOGIC PUZZLE
(2005 December – we skipped it!)
WINNERS OF THE 2004
NOVEMBER OFFICE BUILDING LAYOUT PUZZLE:
(First Time Winner!)
- Paul Foltyn (Second
Time Winner, back after skipping October)
- Karen Babb (Four
Months in a row; a Rising Star!
Laud (Nine Victories in a Row!)
- Holly Soehnge (Second
Victory in a Row)
- Wendy Wilkinson (Second Time
Winner, back after skipping October)
- Ann Faget (Sixteen
Months in a Row, 2004 Co-Champ with Jeff and Connie)
- Susan Arevalo (Fifteen
Months in a Row, completed a perfect 2004!)
- Connie & Jeff Woodman (Sixteen Months in
a Row including a perfect 2004 showing)
It would have been nice to
have had a December Logic Puzzle, but my problems at the studio
after Judy quit prevented me from putting out a December
Newsletter. Oh well.
I would like to congratulate Jeff and Connie Woodman, Ann Faget,
and Susan Arevalo for their perfect 10 for 10 this year. They
solved every one of the SSQQ Logic Puzzles. Close behind
was Ritesh Laud who started in February and got 9 puzzles in a
We also a new generation of talent. For the new year, Karen
Babb, Steve Upchurch, Holly Soehnge, Wendy Wilkinson, and Paul
Foltyn appear to up to the challenge of matching this year's
Perfect Scores. Will any of these names still be in the game at
the end of 2005? Are they a match for this year's winners?
We can always use some new players in the SSQQ Logic
Club. Check out this month's new puzzle and send me an answer!!
You can be a Contender!! And as an added bonus you
never know whom you might end up living with!
THE NEW LOGIC PUZZLE
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SSQQ LOGIC PUZZLE
THE JANUARY SSQQ LOGIC PUZZLE:
Anyone who has ever played Chess knows the
Knight is by far the trickiest piece on the board. The Knight
may not be the most powerful piece, but it is one of the
deadliest. Due to the baffling complexity of the Knight's
unusual movements, it is often very difficult to predict exactly
what this sneaky piece is up to next!! The Knight is sometimes
known as the Assassin for its unique ability to sneak up on you!
In this month's puzzle, the Knight
starts on Square 1
of a special 36 square playing board.
Your job is to track the 37 consecutive moves that takes
the Knight from A1 all the way around the board and back to A1
on the 37th move. Don't forget the Knight cannot move to the
same space twice!!
As you will see in the diagram, some
of the Knight's moves have been revealed. Can you logically
determine the missing numbers for the other squares and can up
with the order of all 37 moves?
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THE WORST SSQQ PUN OF THE MONTH
(There is no such thing as a
WORST PUN OF THE MONTH
Contributed by Ann Faget
When Beethoven passed away, he was buried in a
churchyard. A couple days later, the town drunk was walking
through the cemetery and heard some strange noise coming from
the area where Beethoven was buried. Terrified, the drunk ran
and got the priest to come and listen to it. The priest bent
close to the grave and heard some faint, unrecognizable music
coming from the grave. Frightened, the priest ran and got the
the magistrate arrived, he bent his ear to the grave, listened
for a moment, and said, "Ah, yes, that's Beethoven's Ninth
Symphony, being played backwards."
He listened a while longer,
and said, "There's the Eighth Symphony, and it's backwards, too.
Most puzzling." So the magistrate kept listening; "There's the
Seventh... the Sixth... the Fifth..."
Suddenly the realization of
what was happening dawned on the magistrate; he stood up and
announced to the crowd that had gathered in the cemetery, "My
fellow citizens, there's nothing to worry about. It's just
THE SSQQ VOCABULARY WORD OF THE MONTH
SSQQ VOCABULARY WORD OF THE MONTH: AMBIANCE
“A positive Atmosphere; a feeling or mood
associated with a particular place, person, or thing. Good
By the way, everyone gets to play this game. If you have a good vocabulary word,
send it in!! Best word each month gets a free practice night. Be
sure to add a sentence!
SSQQ SLOW DANCE AND
SSQQ SLOW DANCE AND ROMANCE: JOEL MCCLESKY AND RUTH SCHAUBERGER
ANNOUNCE THEIR ENGAGEMENT!
Joel McClesky, the amazing student of Anita Williams who has won
every dance contest he has entered, recently told me that he and
his long-time beautiful girlfriend Ruth are tying the knot in
January 2005. I am so happy for them! This is one Wedding Waltz
I intend to watch! They will be a very beautiful couple, this I
SSQQ SLOW DANCE AND ROMANCE: JIM HARPER AND CHRISTY AVERA GET
From: Jim Harper
Sent: Monday, September 27, 2004 7:33 AM
Subject: Wedding Bells for Bad Jim and Christy
"Hi Rick, Since I understand you keep track of these kind of
stats -- Chalk up another Nuptial to SSQQ!
Just thot I'd let you know that Jim Harper and Christy Avera are
tying the knot on October 30. We met at the
Monday night swing dance practice in August 2003 and have been
pretty regular SSQQ customers ever since."
(Editor's Note: "Bad Jim" is actually a great big Teddy Bear of
a guy. I should know since I have danced in his arms. So much
for "Bad Jim"! In fact Jim was the cover boy in a picture taken
for dance story in the Chronicle back in January. Several times
Jim and I almost ended up in each other's arms - he said he
learned to lead better by dancing with me! - only to pull back
at the last second lest the Chronicle Photographer put a picture
of us in the article!)
SSQQ SLOW DANCE AND ROMANCE: MICHELLE WANN AND TRENT HAYNES GET
On Saturday, November 20, SSQQ Dance Instructor Michelle Wann
married SW Whip Dance Instructor Trent Haynes.
Michelle originally came to SSQQ as one of the Swing Kids back
around 2000. Michelle, Lise, Krista, Kimberly, Patty O, Gloria,
Steve, and Bryan all teamed up to form quite a Brat Pack back
when Swing was ultra cool.
Michelle is quite a dancer. Did you when Bryan Spivey first
began his dance competition career in 2002, Michelle and Bryan
became City Dance Champions together? Now how cool is that?
Michelle met Trent Haynes back in 2003 through (what else?)
their mutual love of Whip Dancing. I am sure they found it
amusing that they taught for dance programs that have been
rivals for 25 years. However despite all the danger of their
Montague and Capulet Romance, they were able to avoid having to
kill themselves due to the fact that no one cared. Yes, in this
era of Warm Feelings, we no longer shoot or disfigure SSQQ women
seen dancing or romancing with men from other dance studios.
There was a time when… but we won't talk about that. That's all
water and body parts under the bridge as far as I am concerned.
Actually the only real debate is which program gets more credit
for Michelle and Trent's Romance. The key figure here is none
other than Trent's Mom, the lovely Jeannie Haynes (although
these days I have a hunch she goes by "Jeannie Jenny" since her
marriage several years ago to fellow Whip dancer Warren Jenny.
However on the other hand I'm not sure how comfortable she is
going thru life as Jeannie Jenny, gosh only knows what her
middle name is, but I think out of respect for everyone
concerned I will drop this line of blather and switch to another
line of blather.)
Jeannie was once upon a time one of my very favorite dance
partners. Back in the days of 1987 when I went dancing 201
nights in a row, Jeannie was a frequent friend to me out on the
dance floor. As a result of our friendship, Jeannie and I had a
long candid chat about Trent and Michelle during their reception
First of all, Jeannie thinks Michelle is wonderful. So do I. So
that was one area where we agreed right off the bat. I asked
Jeannie how her son and Michelle met. Apparently Trent was
forlorn after a previous relationship of his went south. He
really was down in the dumps. Jeannie said he needed to get
moving again. She suggested going over to SSQQ (aka the Enemy)
and take a couple Western dance classes. This is known in the
Biz as a change in venue.
Trent decided to take his mother's advice. Once here at the
studio he noticed Michelle and was interested in meeting her.
However he didn't have the nerve to make his move right off the
bat. Things were much easier the night he saw Michelle on his
own turf at the Southwest Whip Club. Much more at ease in his
own building, he asked Michelle to dance and got to know her.
One thing led to another and… they started to date, they got
engaged, and then they got married!
Trent seems to fit in here at SSQQ just fine. He has substituted
for Bryan Spivey in the Friday Martian Class on several
occasions to great reviews. He also was one of the winners of
the September SSQQ Monthly Logic Puzzle. I knew he had good
judgment (he asked Michelle to marry him, right?), but I didn't
know he was so smart in addition. Best of all, he and Michelle
made the coveted SSQQ Halloween Costume Contest Top 10 in his
very first try in 2003! Michelle came as a Pimp and Trent came
as a Lady of the Night. I can't honestly lie enough to say they
were a "handsome couple", but I can stretch things enough to say
they were a "Striking Couple".
You are welcome to view their splendor for yourself:
Michelle and Trent invited many ssqq students and staff to come
to their reception over at Melody Lane on September 20th. There
were at least 100 people at the Reception dancing the night
away. I probably knew about 75% of the guests. I felt a little
uncomfortable, especially after they frisked me and removed my
weapon, but relaxed after I discovered my Whip and their Whip
are remarkably similar. Indeed I danced successfully with
several Capulet Women and was embarrassed to notice I was
secretly enjoying myself. But don't tell anyone!
Best Wishes to Michelle and Trent! By the way, our wedding
couple was much more attractive in their Wedding Costumes than
their Halloween Costumes, especially the lovely Michelle with
her warmth and radiance shining for all to see!
COMMENTS ON THE 2004 SSQQ SLOW DANCE AND ROMANCE SHOWING.
I am disappointed to say our numbers were down from last year's
impressive showing of 29 engagements and marriages. I keep track
of these statistics on my Grapevine Page. You can review the
names and dates at this address:
I have known that the studio has been responsible for countless
marriages over the years. For example, it is a well-known fact
that if you want to get married, just join the SSQQ Staff. where
do you think Ben Liles met Diana? Or Daryl Armstrong met Joanne?
Or Karen Clawsen met Dennis? Or former instructors Ann Bush and
Brian White met? Or where Tracy King met Jeff Perry? Or Randy
Winfrey met Melissa Gauthier? Or Jim Coulter met Ulrike Lange?
Or Sharon Crawford met Bill Shaw? Or Rick met Marla?
I started keeping a closer track of SSQQ-related Romances when
we developed our web site back in 1998. For the past six years
we have averaged 23 Weddings and Engagements per year.
Here are the statistics:
1999: 23 Weddings and Engagements
2000: 30 Weddings and Engagements
2001: 21 Weddings and Engagements
2002: 18 Weddings and Engagements
2003: 29 Weddings and Engagements
2004: 17 Weddings and Engagements
However these statistics are underreported. Read the next two
emails. Note that I received them in 2004 to report weddings
that occurred two years earlier!
From: Helen Croskell
Sent: Wednesday, August 25, 2004 10:27 PM
To: Rick Archer
Subject: secret ssqq wedding!
"Rick, It never made the grapevine so I guess we're 2 of the
"little people" at SSQQ, but Steve Kooper and I were married
last year and SSQQ is to "blame". We met there in just my second
week of my two-step career. So you can chalk another one up to
the SSQQ match-making-magic! We are blissfully happy and still
dancing our hearts out. Helen Croskell"
From: Elsa Aldrich
Sent: Monday, October 25, 2004 1:47 PM
Subject: slow dance and romance permission to re-take class
"Hello, Rick, My husband (Jay Schmieder) and I took beginning
swing/jitterbug in 1998. I don't think you had computer
registration then. May we take it again for half price? Jay and
I met each other that year at SSQQ and married in 2002! We
haven't been to SSQQ in a while and look forward to seeing it
again. Elsa M. Aldrich"
My point is a simple one. Many people meet at SSQQ, then kind of
drift away without telling "management" about their romance.
Then the Romance heats up and boom!, next thing you know they
Here is another example:
From: TFW Computers
Sent: Tuesday, October 05, 2004 3:12 PM
To: Rick Archer
Subject: Another Wedding engagement
"Jane Putnam met her fiancé at SSQQ maybe a year and a half ago
and are now engaged to be married next Summer. You may already
know this (I don't know), but I just got advised of such by her
friend (neighbor) here at the store.
My customer's name is Mary Ann Sandland. I have known her and
her late husband for many years. Unfortunately her husband
passed away two years ago. She and I were talking in the store
about how tough it has been (depressing, etc) and I have been
telling her for some time to go to SSQQ and have fun...and she
wants to do such and was planning on starting this month.
However, scheduling became a problem this month with her plans
so not yet.
Then she told me that she found out her neighbor Jane Putnam met
her husband at SSQQ and they are now engaged to be married next
Summer, probably in June. I asked her what night she goes to the
studio and she said she thinks Friday nights. I said that I
might know her by face, but the name didn't "ring a bell". She
didn't know the man's name. Gary Richardson"
There are so many Romances that fly beneath the SSQQ Radar it is
ridiculous! Here is another example:
15. ANN THEALL AND ED JABLONSKI November 2003
14. LINDA MALIN AND BILL HOLDEN October 2003
13. BILL BLUM AND ELLEN CHAPMAN August 2003
09. DENNIS TAUPO AND HEATHER BLUE June 2003
Guess what these people all have in common? They told us in 2003
that they were engaged, but then never checked back in to report
they got married. Tsk Tsk!! Maybe they aren't married yet. I
thought of that, but I bet some them are.
So Sports Fans, I have a favor to ask. First go check out the
After carefully checking out all the names, if you know of any
SSQQ-related weddings and engagements out there that haven't
been reported, I want you to turn them in!! That's right, expose
those shy smoochers for what they are - "kiss but don't
tellers!" Flings don't count but don't you agree all serious
romances need to be reported? Of course you do! Send your names
and anecdotes to the SSQQ Romance Hotline:
VENUS AND MARS
Contributed by Bett
STUPID AND BEAUTIFUL
A man said to his wife one day, "I don't know how you can be so
stupid and so beautiful all at the same time. The wife
responded, "Allow me to explain. God made me beautiful so you
would be attracted to me; God made me stupid so I would be
attracted to you!"
A couple drove down a country road for several miles, not saying
a word. An earlier discussion had led to an argument and
neither of them wanted to concede their position. As they passed
a barnyard of mules, goats, and pigs, the wife asked
sarcastically, "Relatives of yours?" "Yep," the husband replied,
A husband read an article to his wife about how many words women
use a day... 30,000 to a man's 15,000. The wife replied, "The
reason has to be because we have to repeat everything to men.
The husband then turned to his wife and asked, "What?"
CIGARETTES AND TAMPONS
A man walks into a pharmacy and wanders up and down the aisles.
The sales girl notices him and asks him if she can help him. He
answers that he is looking for a box of tampons for his wife.
She directs him down the correct aisle. A few minutes later, he
deposits a huge bag of cotton balls and a ball of string on the
counter. She says, confused, "Sir, I thought you were looking
for some tampons for your wife? He answers, "You see, it's like
this, yesterday, I sent my wife to the store to get me a carton
of cigarettes, and she came back with a tin of tobacco and some
rolling papers; cause it's sooooooooooo much cheaper. So, I
figure if I have to roll my own. so does she.
"Cash, cheque or credit card?" I asked, after folding items the
woman wished to purchase. As she fumbled for her wallet I
noticed a remote control for a television set in her purse.
you always carry your TV remote?" I asked.
"No," she replied, "but my husband refused to come shopping with
me, so I figured this was the most legal evil thing I could do
Do you have something interesting to contribute on this subject?
RETURN TO HEADLINES
RETURN TO REGULAR FEATURES
THE SSQQ CLEAN
SIDE JOKE PAGE
Clean Side Jokes
Over the years, SSQQ has been fortunate to
receive many jokes sent to us by our Newsletter readers. We have
compiled them into our Monthly Joke Page. At the end of the
year, I will add the jokes that appear in our "Best New Jokes"
column into this monthly "Hall of Fame" section. This way your
jokes will become immortal!!
Please welcome the following jokes into our
Hall of Fame:
January CS 28: The Christmas Cop -
January CS 29: The Dangerous Looking Biker - Chris Holmes
January CS 30: The Undernourished Alligator - Chris Holmes
January CS 31: The Godfather and his Bookkeeper - Leroy Ginzel
January CS 32: The Old lady and the Cop - Marlies Whitmoyer
January CS 33: The Recovering Mental Patient - Judy Walsh
January CS 34: The 4 Jewish Sons & the Chanukah Present - Judy
January CS 35: The Two Doctors - Donna Ruth
January CS 36: The Cowboy with the Big Feet - Judy Walsh
January CS 37: The Christmas Traditions - Chris Holmes
January CS 38: The Anniversary - Judy Walsh
January CS 39: Anger Management - Leroy Ginzel
January CS 40: Advice for Men - Randy Mellard
Each joke was sent to me a year ago and
was part of our Best New Jokes Section! Now they are part
of our immortal collection.
January Clean Side Jokes
January CS 01:
Suspicious Wives - Bill Mayo
January CS 02: Blind Man Jumping - Bill Mayo
January CS 03: The Drunk - Gary Richardson
January CS 04: The Poker Game - Gary Richardson
January CS 05: Golf on the Island - Gary Richardson
January CS 06: The Ballerina - Mike Gerstenberger
January CS 07: The Bridge - countless unnamed women
January CS 08: The Super Bowl - Richard Bevis and Susan
January CS 09: The Genius Monkey Store - Pat Roberts
January CS 10: The Art Collector - Lynn Bevis
January CS 11: Incognito - Debbie Awad
January CS 12: Smart Comments from Smart Women - Pat Roberts
January CS 13: The Genie - Susan Schroeder
January CS 14: Law Enforcement - Sylvia Tucker
January CS 15: Engineer Joke Number 2000 - Sylvia Tucker
January CS 16: The Blonde and the
Airplane I - Mike Guillory
January CS 17: The Blonde and the Airplane II - Sharon Crawford
January CS 18: Hot Shot
Lawyer & the Texas Hick - Sylvia
January CS 19: The Trans Canadian Railroad Trip - Patty Jones
January CS 20: The Woman Who Had No Enemies - Pat Roberts
January CS 21: The Understanding Husband - Mike Guillory
January CS 22: The Aging Couple Loses Their Mind - Mike
January CS 23: Having a Bad Day - Leroy Ginzel
January CS 24: The Meaning of Life - Leroy Ginzel
January CS 25: A Woman's Four Favorite Animals - Gary
January CS 26: Sarah Finkel - Leroy Ginzel
January CS 27: The Basketball Player - Rick Archer
January CS 28: The Christmas Cop - Marlies Whitmoyer
January CS 29: The Dangerous Looking Biker - Chris Holmes
January CS 30: The Undernourished Alligator - Chris Holmes
January CS 31: The Godfather and his Bookkeeper - Leroy Ginzel
January CS 32: The Old lady and the Cop - Marlies Whitmoyer
January CS 33: The Recovering Mental Patient - Judy Walsh
January CS 34: The 4 Jewish Sons & the Chanukah Present - Judy
January CS 35: The Two Doctors - Donna Ruth
January CS 36: The Cowboy with the Big Feet - Judy Walsh
January CS 37: The Christmas Traditions - Chris Holmes
January CS 38: The Anniversary - Judy Walsh
January CS 39: Anger Management - Leroy Ginzel
January CS 40: Advice for Men - Randy Mellard
Each month I reprint one of my favorite jokes of all time in the
Newsletter. This month I shine the SSQQ Hall of Fame Spotlight
January CS 18: The
Hot Shot Lawyer and the Texas Hick - Sylvia
big-city California lawyer went duck hunting in rural Texas. He
shot and dropped a bird, but it fell into a farmer’s field on
the other side of a fence. As the lawyer climbed over the fence,
an elderly farmer drove up on his tractor and asked him what he
litigator responded, “I shot a duck and it fell in this field,
and now I’m going to retrieve it.”
old farmer replied. “This is my property, and you are not comin
indignant lawyer said, “I am one of the best trial attorneys in
the U.S. and, if you don’t let me get that duck, I’ll sue you
and take everything you own.”
old farmer smiled and said, “Apparently, you don’t know how we
do things in Texas. We settle small disagreements like this
with the Texas Three-Kick Rule.”
lawyer asked, “What is the Texas three-Kick Rule?”
Farmer replied. “Well, first I kick you three times and then you
kick me three times, and so on, back and forth, until someone
attorney quickly thought about the proposed contest and decided
that he could easily take the old codger. He agreed to abide by
old farmer slowly climbed down from the tractor and walked up
to the city feller. His first kick planted the toe of his heavy
work boot into the lawyer’s groin and dropped him to his knees.
His second kick nearly wiped the man’s nose off his face. The
barrister was flat on his belly when the farmer’s third kick to
a kidney nearly caused him to give up.
lawyer summoned every bit of his will, managed to get to his
feet and said, “Okay, you old coot now it’s my turn.”
old farmer grinned and said, “Naww, I give up; you can have the
RETURN TO HEADLINES
RETURN TO REGULAR FEATURES
RETURN TO SPECIAL FEATURES
BLUE SIDE JOKES!
The Blue Side Jokes are one of the great
secrets of the SSQQ web site. It is
your reward for taking dance classes at SSQQ.
Anyone who is on the SSQQ Registration List is welcome to have
All you need to do to get the address is to email me from
the email address you use to register for classes and request it.
Although the Blue Side is off-limits to the outer world
and only SSQQ Students are invited into the inner sanctum of
“Dirty Jokes”, each month we manage to find one that is
printable. Please see below!!
(Editor's Note: The Blue Side of Town Joke Page is one of the
great secrets of the SSQQ web site. Anyone who is on the SSQQ
Registration List is welcome to have access. This means if you
get the Newsletter, you are invited to visit the naughty jokes
All you need to do to get the new address is to email me from
the email address you use to register for classes and request
January BS 01: Freudian Slip - Gillian
January BS 02: Venus and Mars, Chapter 2001 - Leo Skiba
January BS 03: Eugenics - Sylvia Tucker
January BS 04: Redneck Logic - Bill Mayo
January BS 05: How to Drive Your Woman Wild - Lynn Bevis
January BS 06: The Birds and the Bees - Susan Schroeder
January BS 07: The Face Lift - Pat Roberts
January BS 08: The Indian Researcher - Patty Jones
January BS 09: Drunk as a Skunk - Ted Jones
January BS 10: The
Best Weight Loss Plan Ever - Susan Schroeder
January BS 11: Begging Their Wives to Play Golf -
January BS 12: Skinny Dipping - Susan Schroeder
January BS 13: The Woodpecker Challenge - Gary Richardson
January BS 14: Nationalities - Carol Nelson
January BS 15: The Four Fractured Fairy Tales - Pat Roberts
January BS 16: The Three Nuns - Lynne Tadlock
January BS 17: Irish Boasting - Anita Williams
January BS 18: The Huge Mortgage - Leroy Ginzel
January BS 19: Bubba has a Complaint - Chris Holmes
January BS 20: Lonely in Alaska - Chris Holmes
January BS 21: Fractured
Valentine's Cards - Leroy Ginzel
Although the Blue Side is off-limits to the outer world and only
SSQQ Students are invited into the inner sanctum of "Dirty
Jokes", each month we manage to find one that is on the edge of
printable. This one barely made it past the
January BS 10: The
Best Weight Loss Plan Ever - Susan Schroeder
A fellow was ordered by his
doctor to lose 75lbs. due to very serious health risks. As he
wondered how in the heck he would ever do it, he ran across an
ad in the newspaper for a GUARANTEED WEIGHT LOSS PROGRAM.
"Guaranteed like hell," he
thought to himself. Desperate, he calls them up and subscribes
to the 3-day/10 pound weight loss program.
The next day there is a
knock at his door, and when he answers, there stands before him
a voluptuous, athletic, beautiful, 19 year old babe dressed in
nothing but a pair of Nike running shoes, and a sign around her
neck. She introduces herself as a representative of the weight
The sign reads, "If you can
catch me, you can have me!" Without a second thought, he takes
off after her. A few miles later, huffing and puffing, he
finally catches her and has his way with her.
After they are through and
she leaves, he thinks to himself, "I like the way this company
The same girl shows up for
the next two days, and the same thing happens. On the fourth day
he weighs himself and is delighted to find he has lost 10 lbs.
So, he calls the company,
and orders from them their 5-day/20 lb. program. As expected,
the next day there's a knock at the door, and there stands the
most stunning, beautiful, sexy woman he has ever seen in his
life, wearing nothing but Reebok running shoes and a sign around
her that reads, "If you catch me, you can have me." He's out the
door after her like a shot. This girl is in excellent shape, and
it takes him a while to catch her, but when he does, it is worth
every cramp and wheeze. She is by far the best he's ever had.
For the next 4 days, the same routine happens, and much to his
delight, on the 5th day he weighs himself and finds he has lost
another 20 lbs. as promised!!!
He decides to go for broke,
and calls the company to order the 7-day/50 lb. program!!!
"Are you sure?" asks the
representative on the phone. "This is our most rigorous
"Absolutely," he replies. "I
haven't felt this good in years."
The next day, there's a
knock at the door, and when he opens it, he finds Richard
Simmons standing there wearing nothing but pink racing spikes,
and a sign around his neck that reads..........
"If I catch you, I can have
START OF THE SPECIAL FEATURES SECTION
SPECIAL FEATURE ONE
Nude Beach leads to
party barge capsized in Lake Travis when dozens of passengers
moved to one side of the boat as it approached Texas’ only nude
About 60 people feel
into almost 40 feet of water Sunday in tyh4e lake’s Hippie
Hollow area, said Travis County sheriff’s spokesman Roger Wade.
Two female passengers were injured.
rescuers from various emergency response units pulled people to
safety as the boat sank. Officials said everyone was accounted
for; 57 of those on board refused treatment.
The women were
released from area hospitals after being treated for minor
The barge, which had
left Emerald Point Marina, was tied up at Hippie Hollow just
before 4 pm Sunday when a large number of people moved to one
side of the boat.
“As the captain was
running upstairs to tell them to move away from the railing, the
boat capsized,” dumping its passengers into the water, Wade told
the Austin American Statesman.
The outing was part
of Splash Day, a semiannual event sponsored by gay and lesbian
(contributed by Pat Roberts)
On gift wrapping (by Dave Barry)
This is the time of year when we think back to the very first
Christmas, when the Three Wise Men -- Gaspar, Balthasar and Herb
-- went to see the baby Jesus, and, according to the Book of
Matthew, "presented unto Him gifts; gold, frankincense, and
myrrh.'' These are simple words, but if we analyze them
carefully, we discover an important, yet often overlooked,
There is no mention of wrapping paper. If there had been
wrapping paper, Matthew would have said so: "And lo, the gifts
WERE inside 600 square cubits of paper. And the paper WAS
festooned with pictures of Frosty the Snowman.
And Joseph WAS going to throweth it away, but Mary saideth unto
him, 'Holdeth it! That is nice paper! Saveth it for next year!'
" "And Joseph DID rolleth his eyeballs. And the baby Jesus WAS
more interested in the paper than, for example, the
frankincense.'' But these words do not appear in the Bible,
which means that the very first Christmas gifts were NOT
wrapped. This is because the people giving those gifts had two
1. They were wise.
2. They were men.
Men are not big gift wrappers. Men do not understand the point
of putting paper on a gift just so somebody else can tear it
off. This is not just my opinion: This is a scientific fact
based on a statistical survey of two guys I know. One is my son,
Rob, who said the only time he ever wraps a gift is, quote, "if
it's such a poor gift that I don't want to be there when the
person opens it.'' The other is my friend Gene Weingarten, who
told me he does wrap gifts, but as a matter of principle never
takes more than 15 seconds per gift. "No one ever had to wonder
which presents daddy wrapped at Christmas,'' Gene said. "They
were the ones that looked like enormous spitballs.'' I also wrap
gifts, but because of some defect in my motor skills, I can
never COMPLETELY wrap them. I can take a gift the size of a deck
of cards and put it the exact center of a piece of wrapping
paper the size of a regulation volleyball court, but when I am
done folding and taping, you can still see a sector of the gift
(Sometimes I camouflage this sector with a marking pen.) If I
had been an ancient Egyptian in the field of mummies, the lower
half of the Pharaoh's body would be covered only by Scotch tape.
On the other hand, if you give my wife a 12-inch square of
wrapping paper, she can wrap a C-130 cargo plane. My wife, like
many women, actually LIKES wrapping things. If she gives you a
gift that requires batteries, she wraps the batteries
separately, which to me is very close to being a symptom of
mental illness. If it were possible, my wife would wrap each
My point is that gift-wrapping is one of those skills (like
that come more naturally to women than to men. That is why today
I am presenting:
GIFT-WRAPPING TIPS FOR MEN Whenever possible, buy gifts that are
already wrapped. If, when the recipient opens the gift, neither
one of you recognizes it, you can claim that it's myrrh.
The editors of Woman's Day magazine recently ran an item on how
to make your own wrapping paper by printing a design on it with
an apple sliced in half horizontally and dipped in a mixture of
food coloring and liquid starch.
They must be smoking crack.
If you're giving a hard-to-wrap gift, skip the wrapping paper!
Just put it inside a bag and stick one of those little adhesive
bows on it. This creates a festive visual effect that is sure to
delight the lucky recipient on Christmas morning:
YOUR WIFE: Why is there a Hefty trash bag under the tree?
YOU: It's a gift! See? It has a bow!
YOUR WIFE (peering into the trash bag): It's a leaf blower.
YOU: Gas-powered! Five horsepower!
YOUR WIFE: I want a divorce.
YOU: I also got you some myrrh.
In conclusion, remember that the important thing is NOT what you
give, or how you wrap it. The important thing, during this very
special time of year, is that you save the receipt.
SPECIAL FEATURE THREE
(contributed by my friend Bett Sundermeyer)
Mukhtaran Bibi: The Rape survivor who
transformed tragedy into hope
In the small village of Meerwala in Pakistan, Mukhtaran Bibi
survived a horror few can imagine. Two years ago, the
28-year-old woman was gang-raped as "punishment" meted out by a
local tribal council (jirga) in retaliation for her teenage
brother's alleged affair with a woman from another tribe. The
story has its roots in the centuries-old conflict between
Mukhtaran's tribe, the Gujjar, and the higher-caste Mastoi
Although Mukhtaran's family's offered to settle the matter
peacefully, the Mastoi called for revenge-the violation of a
Gujjar woman. The jury, dominated by Mastoi elders, selected
Mukhtaran. She was dragged to a hut and raped at gunpoint by
four Mastoi men. Armed guards prevented her family from saving
Hours later, the girl was forced to walk home covered only by a
torn shirt, jeered at by villagers. Her brother was released
from jail; the accusation against him had been withdrawn.
The charge against the boy was later found to be false, and
Mukhtaran said that in fact her brother had been sodomized by
Mastoi tribesmen who then fabricated the story of the boy's
Instead of killing herself as tradition demanded, Mukhtaran
reported the rape to the police. An imam, outraged by the rape,
asked a local reporter to talk to her, and her story was soon
picked up by the national and international media.
Today, several of the rapists are on death row, and others on
the tribal council face prison sentences.
President Pervez Musharraf presented Mukhtaran with about $8,300
as compensation. Rather than take the money and leave her
village, Mukhtaran used the funds to build two schools, one for
girls and one for boys. (Although a lack of the funds promised
by the Pakistani government threatened to close the schools, an
article in the New York Times by columnist Nicholas Kristof
reportedly garnered $90,000 in donations.)
According to the Pakistan Human Rights Commission, Mukhtaran was
one of hundreds of women raped or gang-raped in Pakistan each
year. Most of those crimes go unreported and unpunished.
Mukhtaran's rare courage in speaking out and her determination
to stay and help others have shed light on a critical human
THE CHRISTMAS DANCE STORY OF FRANK JEFFERSON
From: Kelly Bennett
Sent: Thursday, September 09, 2004 11:20 AM
Subject: Letter to Rick in archived newsletter
"Dear Rick -
There was a very touching letter written to you some time ago
from a man ( a golfer) who took dance lessons at the studio to
appease his wife. However, he related in his letter that the
tremendous benefits of bonding and reconnecting with his wife
were a wonderful gift he received from relenting and taking
By any chance, would you happen to remember the issue of the
newsletter that contained this letter? (or could you forward a
copy of that letter to me?)
Thanks so much. Kelly Bennett"
(EDITOR'S NOTE: This is a great story.
Since you asked, I
will be happy to add
it to this
EMAIL LETTERS TO
THE EDITOR: CHRISTMAS DANCE STORY
(Editor’s Note: This letter was sent to me
in 2001. I have reprinted it from
the January 2002 Newsletter.
Mon 12/17/2001 2:41 PM
My name is Frank Jefferson. I doubt you will remember me and
my wife Jackie, but we remember your studio very well. We
took lessons at SSQQ back in 1991 for about five months
until my company transferred me to Denver that summer.
The reason I am writing is to tell you how your studio and
dancing changed my life and my marriage eleven years ago. I
ran across your web site the other day while I was visiting
my oldest son here in Houston. He mentioned an interest in
taking dance classes so I looked you up on the Internet. As
I read some of your anecdotes, I started to reminisce about
learning to dance Western at SSQQ. Then it occurred to me my
Christmas story might be interesting to some of the people
who visit your studio.
As 1990 neared its conclusion, things were going pretty well
for me. My career as an accountant was going well, one boy
was finishing his doctorate work at UT, my other son was in
college and my daughter was a senior in high school. I
thought my marriage was doing pretty well, but as I look
back I realize increasingly my wife and I were spending less
and less time together. Part of the problem was I had become
a golf addict.
Back then I played golf Friday, Saturday, and Sunday without
question and usually managed to play a round during the week
plus at least go practice my driving or my putting after
work one or two other days. It was an obsession with me. I
love the game with a passion (still do for that matter!).
What other sport allows you to visit with friends, take a
leisurely stroll through the woods and beautiful scenery,
gives you some good exercise, and challenges you mentally as
well as physically?
Even when I wasn’t playing, I was reading golf magazines or
watching a golf tournament on TV or on videotape. I may have
physically been in the house, but mentally I was usually on
the golf course. As I said, I was a golf addict.
Then came Christmas 1990. Christmas was always an agony for
me since as usual I had no clue what to buy my wife for a
present. What do you give the woman who has every possession
she would ever need? I wracked my brains for what to get
her. Finally in desperation I gave up and simply asked,
“Jackie, what do you want for Christmas this year?”
It was almost like she had been waiting for this moment!
Without hesitation her reply was to grab her purse and pull
out a schedule listing your studio’s dance classes. I think
a girl friend had given it to her. She laid it out on the
table, pointed to it, and simply said, “Frank, I want you to
take a dance class with me in January.” No anger. No
pleading. No guilt trip or anything like that. This was just
like my Jackie. I asked her a question and she answered me
matter-of-fact. She wanted me to take a dance class with
For some reason, I was stunned. I had not expected this.
Money I had to give. Going out and buying something was no
big deal. Even building something like a porch would have
been no problem. But committing some valuable free time to
do something stupid like take dance lessons? You gotta be
But Jackie knew me too well. Deep down she knew I enjoy
pleasing her. She held eye contact and said nothing. In fact
she smiled the whole time. I think she knew exactly what was
going through my mind. For a while I sort of felt set up,
but eventually I realized it wasn’t the worst thing in the
world that she had asked me to do. I can still remember
while she just sat there at the kitchen table watching me
make up my mind! I think she enjoyed watching me squirm,
something she has never denied for a moment.
It took me a long time to answer. Finally I realized I
wasn’t going to figure a way out of this. Despite my best
efforts I could not come up with one good excuse so I gave
up and said, “Okay. If that’s what you want, you got it!” I
wrapped up a letter and put it in a box. When she opened it
Christmas Day, it said, “I promise to take a dance class
with you in January! Love, Frank” Jackie gave me a big hug
and grinned as my kids teased me unmercifully. What had I
gotten myself into?
Two weeks later we started taking a Twostep class at your
studio. I think the teacher was a lady named Sharon.
Fortunately the class was on a Wednesday which was
practically the only day I didn’t play golf.
I was so nervous the first night. I did not know what to
expect. At first I didn’t even know if your studio really
existed. We couldn’t see anything from the street that
looked like a dance studio. We had to walk down this long
hallway till we found the place to register. Then we sat on
some chairs in a big room with about 60 other people with a
bunch of guys who looked just as worried as I was.
Once we got going, to my surprise the moves weren’t very
difficult. Within fifteen minutes Jackie and I were already
dancing to music. Then came a shock. Sharon asked us to
switch partners. Jackie hadn’t told me about this! She
grinned at me as suddenly I was expected to move to dance
with a woman I had never seen before in my life. What had I
gotten myself into? My heart sank with worry. Fortunately I
soon discovered the moves worked with the other women in the
class too. This was good!
In fact I began to enjoy dancing with everyone in class.
Everyone was so nice! Once I got on the wrong foot and
accidentally stepped on a lady’s foot. I didn’t put all my
weight on her foot, thank goodness, but it still had to
hurt. Her name was Carol. She laughed and said don’t worry
about it. I just melted with gratitude at her forgiveness.
From then on Carol and I became good friends. At each class
she would point at her foot and say it had almost healed,
but could I aim at the other one instead just in case? By an
odd coincidence another time I ran Carol into the pole in
the middle of the room. This time as I stared in shock at my
stupidity, Carol almost died laughing. “What are you trying
to do, Frank, kill me? Did someone pay you to do this?”
At the end of the evening, Sharon told us about Practice
Night. Jackie asked if I would mind staying. I looked at my
watch and thought about work the next day. I was tired and
ready to go, but then I saw that look on her face. Sure, why
not? I said we could stay for a little while and see what it
It turned out to be more of a challenge than I had expected.
Without the teacher calling out the timing, I had a hard
time figuring out how the steps fit the beat. And I couldn’t
tell a Polka from a Waltz from a Twostep to save my life if
I had to. However Jackie came through like a charm. She told
me to just dance and she would try to follow. Although I
doubt I was anywhere near the beat, once this pressure was
off, I started to enjoy plowing around the floor. I had an
absolute ball! This was better than dodge ‘em cars! The
highlight of the night came towards the end. I had been so
absorbed in counting “slow slow quick quick” to myself I was
oblivious to everything around me. But after a particularly
good run around the floor, I realized I had danced an entire
song without making a mistake. I looked at Jackie and saw
her beaming with pride and happiness. She was so grateful to
be here with me that her smile brought actual tears to my
eyes. I had not seen her smile at me in this way in a long,
long time. I will never forget that moment.
To make a long story short, dancing became a hobby I looked
forward to just like I did with golf. On days I knew I was
going to dance class, I would hitch a ride to work. Then
later Jackie would pick me up at work and we would go
somewhere for dinner before class. We began to chat again
just like we did earlier in our marriage. Then we would go
to class and have fun learning the Western Swing. We would
visit with some of the people we had grown to like before
class and during breaks. Practice Night became pretty much a
ritual with us as well.
Then in March 1991 I got the news – my company wanted me to
transfer to Denver. God, how I hated agreeing to do it! As I
talked the move over with Jackie, I was surprised that golf
never really entered my mind. However one thing that kept
going through my mind was where was I going to dance in
Denver? But the money was too good to resist plus with my
daughter leaving soon for college, it was less of a problem
for the two of us to relocate than the other families in the
Up in Denver we found no studio like yours was in existence.
And Western dancing like you have in Houston was practically
non-existent. But dancing was in my system now, so we
decided to try Ballroom Dancing. To my surprise, I liked it
just as much as Western. I even discovered I was able to
tell a Waltz from a Tango and be able to keep the beat as
We discovered a ‘dance underground’ in Denver. Practically
every night of the week a different studio would offer
social Ballroom dancing, and on the weekends there were
special events sponsored through a dance organization I am
sure you have heard of called USABDA. The big moment for me
was when I realized I was looking forward to a Saturday
evening dance with my lovely wife just as much as I was
looking forward to playing golf that afternoon!
I still play a lot of golf, but have cut back a little to
make more time for my dancing as well. Recently I even let
myself get talked into dance competitions. Can you believe
that? We haven’t won anything yet, but the point is I enjoy
improving at dance just like I once obsessed over my
putting. I realize my story borders on being sappy, but the
truth is that dance has become the favorite activity for my
wife and I to share.
Thanks again for helping us get started!
Regards, Frank Jefferson
(Editor’s Note: I would imagine stories like this one are
more common than we might realize, but very few people take
the time to write them down and send them to me. I am
particularly grateful to Mr. Jefferson, whom I did indeed do
not know, for sending me this timely and poignant letter.)
RETURN TO HEADLINES
RETURN TO SPECIAL
Dec. 7, 2004, 11:55PM
Bomb training exercise leaves police red-faced!
French security lost suitcase with planted explosives
PARIS - Somewhere in the world, there's a navy blue suitcase
with a small pack of explosives tucked in its side pocket.
Four days after police at Charles de Gaulle Airport slipped
plastic explosives into a random passenger's bag as part of an
exercise for sniffer dogs, it is still missing - and authorities
are stumped and embarrassed.
Police have sought to minimize public concern by insisting that
there's nothing to worry about: The explosives had no detonator
and are unlikely to pose a danger.
But that does little to diminish the fact that the French
airport security has been planting explosives in the suitcases
of unsuspecting passengers - all in the name of safety.
"That's pretty scary," said Chadi Kawkabani, an American tourist
wheeling his suitcase along the Champs-Élysées on Tuesday before
heading to the airport. "I picture myself opening my bag at
home," said Kawkabani of Boston. "You might think terrorists
planted the explosive - and they could come to your house to get
Authorities believe the suitcase left Paris between 5 p.m. and 7
p.m. on Friday and could have wound up on any of about 100
"There were flights that went to the United States, to Japan,
South America," said police spokesman Pierre Bouquin.
"Basically, it could have gone anywhere."
The training exercise was aimed at providing sniffer dogs a
real-life airport scenario - a technique that has been used for
Blame, in this case, cannot be placed on the dogs. Two police
officers involved in the exercise stashed a pack of plastic
explosives into the side pocket of the suitcase as it rolled
along a conveyer belt. One dog successfully identified the bag,
but police then lost track of it when they went to fetch a
For France's Le Monde newspaper, the mishap rings of Inspector
Clouseau, the bungling, fictional French detective of Pink
Panther fame. "Inspector Clouseau works the weekend at (Charles
de Gaulle)," was the headline Tuesday.
RETURN TO HEADLINES
RETURN TO SPECIAL
SPECIAL FEATURE SIX
Just Leave Christmas Alone!
By Charles Krauthammer
Friday, December 17, 2004; Page A33
"Holiday celebrations where Christmas music is
being sung make people feel different, and because it is such a
majority, it makes the minority feel uncomfortable."
-- Mark Brownstein, parent, Maplewood, N.J., supporting the
school board's ban on religious music in holiday concerts
"You want my advice? Go back to Bulgaria."
-- Humphrey Bogart, "Casablanca"
It is Christmastime, and what would Christmas be without the
usual platoon of annoying pettifoggers rising annually to strip
Christmas of any Christian content? With some success:
School districts in New Jersey and Florida ban Christmas carols.
The mayor of Somerville, Mass., apologizes for "mistakenly"
referring to the town's "holiday party" as a "Christmas party."
The Broward and Fashion malls in South Florida put up a Hanukah
menorah but no nativity scene. The manager of one of the malls
explains: Hanukah commemorates a battle and not a religious
event, though he hastens to add, "I really don't know a lot
about it." He does not. Hanukah commemorates a miracle, and
there is no event more "religious" than a miracle.
The attempts to de-Christianize Christmas are as absurd as they
are relentless. The United States today is the most tolerant and
diverse society in history. It celebrates all faiths with an
open heart and open-mindedness that, compared to even the most
advanced countries in Europe, are unique.
Yet more than 80 percent of Americans are Christian, and
probably 95 percent of Americans celebrate Christmas. Christmas
Day is an official federal holiday, the only day of the entire
year when, for example, the Smithsonian museums are closed. Are
we to pretend that Christmas is nothing but an orgy of commerce
in celebration of . . . what? The winter solstice?
I personally like Christmas because, since it is a day that for
me is otherwise ordinary, I get to do nice things, such as
covering for as many gentile colleagues as I could when I was a
doctor at Massachusetts General Hospital. I will admit that my
generosity had its rewards: I collected enough chits on
Christmas Day to get reciprocal coverage not just for Yom Kippur
but for both days of Rosh Hashana and my other major holiday,
Opening Day at Fenway.
Mind you, I've got nothing against Hanukah, although I am
constantly amused -- and gratified -- by how American culture
has gone out of its way to inflate the importance of Hanukah,
easily the least important of Judaism's seven holidays, into a
giant event replete with cards, presents and public
commemorations as a creative way to give Jews their Christmas
Some Americans get angry at parents who want to ban carols
because they tremble that their kids might feel "different" and
"uncomfortable" should they, God forbid, hear Christian music
sung at their school. I feel pity. What kind of fragile
religious identity have they bequeathed their children that it
should be threatened by exposure to carols?
I'm struck by the fact that you almost never find Orthodox Jews
complaining about a Christmas creche in the public square. That
is because their children, steeped in the richness of their own
religious tradition, know who they are and are not threatened by
Christians celebrating their religion in public. They are
enlarged by it.
It is the more deracinated members of religious minorities,
brought up largely ignorant of their own traditions, whose
religious identity is so tenuous that they feel the need to be
constantly on guard against displays of other religions -- and
who think the solution to their predicament is to prevent the
other guy from displaying his religion, rather than learning a
bit about their own.
To insist that the overwhelming majority of this country stifle
its religious impulses in public so that minorities can feel
"comfortable" not only understandably enrages the majority but
commits two sins. The first is profound ungenerosity toward a
majority of fellow citizens who have shown such generosity of
spirit toward minority religions.
The second is the sin of incomprehension -- a failure to
appreciate the uniqueness of the communal American religious
experience. Unlike, for example, the famously tolerant Ottoman
Empire or the generally tolerant Europe of today, the United
States does not merely allow minority religions to exist at its
sufferance. It celebrates and welcomes and honors them.
America transcended the idea of mere toleration in 1790 in
Washington's letter to the Newport synagogue, one of the lesser
known glories of the Founding: "It is now no more that
toleration is spoken of, as if it was by the indulgence of one
class of people, that another enjoyed the exercise of their
inherent natural rights."
More than two centuries later, it is time that members of
religious (and anti-religious) minorities, as full citizens of
this miraculous republic, transcend something too: petty
Merry Christmas. To all.
© 2004 The Washington Post Company
The Most Beautiful Hotel in the
contributed by Gary Richardson
This is actually not a story, but
rather some fun pictures.
Gary sent me pictures of the unbelievable Burj Al
Arab Hotel. This hotel is in
Dubai which is in the United Arab Emirates.
The Emirates are neighbors of Kuwait and Saudi
Arabia. I believe that is
the Persian Gulf in the picture.
This hotel is obviously one of those places where if you
have to ask how much it costs, then you probably shouldn't
bother. But since you are curious, Rates
start at $2000 USD per
night and go up to $7000+ per night!!
In August 2004 SSQQ Instructor Mona
Nashed visited this hotel and brought back some pictures.
She also has a riddle for you to solve!
Click here to enjoy the awesome pictures:
Beautiful Hotel in the World!!
RETURN TO TOP AND HEADLINES
RETURN TO REGULAR FEATURES
RETURN TO SPECIAL
a Special Note
from Rick Archer about Email, the SSQQ Newsletter, and Spam.
I now receive an average of 150 spam emails a day. Because
I run a business where people email me at random from all over the world on
a variety of subjects, I am reluctant to install filters.
The problem with this kind of volume is the potential I
can accidentally delete valuable emails from ssqq students, especially when
I don’t recognize the name. To minimize this possibility, please be sure to
put a title with some thought behind it in the “Subject” box when you are
trying to contact us.
As for the SSQQ Email Newsletter, more and more people
report that it is being blocked at their jobs as “Spam”. This leaves me no
choice but to make the Email I send out as innocuous as possible.
For that matter you may stop receiving the SSQQ Email
Newsletter at any time for reasons that are out of my hands. A month ago, I
had over 600 Newsletter Emails sent to students with Yahoo accounts bounced
back to me. I contacted Yahoo and was given no explanation why the emails
bounced. It is tough to correct a problem when you don’t even know what is
In the future, I suggest you automatically go to the
Newsletter on the SSQQ Web Site a couple days before classes start and read
the latest news whether you get an email reminder or not.
NO STANDING IN LINE – SIGN UP ON-LINE (SSQQ ONLINE
||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 written to a large
extent by its readers. Many people contribute jokes, pictures, and
interesting items each month. Anyone is welcome to join the fun!
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