October 2005
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The SSQQ October 2005 Newsletter
Written and edited monthly by Rick Archer


This is the October 2005 issue of the SSQQ Newsletter written by Rick Archer.


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STORY ONE: SURVIVING RITA

Slowly but surely everything is returning to normal.

Last week we tried to hold classes, but discovered most of our students could care less about dancing. Last Wednesday we had almost as many instructors as students. That's when I read the writing on the wall - dancing is great, but survival comes first.

During the storm both my home and the studio lost power. Fortunately everything is back to normal. Classes resume on Monday, September 26.

Unfortunately our Rhapsody Cruise was reduced from a 7-day trip down to a 4-day trip. We leave Wednesday and return next Sunday. At least this spares the cruise members a brutal fight through traffic getting down to Galveston, but we are all in mourning for our missing 3 days. Hopefully we will bounce back and party non-stop for 4 hard days of fun!

I am sure our friends and neighbors down in Galveston are still in shock. They narrowly missed seeing their beautiful town being wiped from the face of the earth. I imagine even a near miss can take its mental toll.

Another small casualty of Rita is this Newsletter. Normally I have all sorts of clever, chatty things to say, but this month I have lost some of my usual gusto due to the fact that I didn't have electricity until this morning. With such limited time, I had to put several writing projects on hold till next month.

I am sure some of you will be relieved. After one big blowhard, at least you were spared another. Count your blessings wherever you can find them.
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STORY TWO: INTRODUCING MONTH TWO OF THE SSQQ SUNDAY BALLROOM PROGRAM AND TEA DANCE

Many people have expressed an interest in learning more Ballroom Dancing. However they all voice the same concern: Where am I going to dance it?

The simple answer to the question is that you can dance Ballroom at SSQQ every Sunday evening at our Ballroom Tea Dance from 6 pm to 6:40 pm (7 pm if you are signed up for the 7 pm classes as well). There will be Ballroom Practice in four different rooms at once!

Not only is the dance free ($2 if you are not taking a Sunday 4 pm Ballroom class), you get popcorn and a complimentary Ice Tea as well.

We initiated the Ballroom Program in September with well over 100 people in attendance spread out over six classes.

After classes ended, we put non-stop music on in the rooms where the classes were held. We had Tango dancing in Room 2, Big Band Swing Dancing in Room 3, and Foxtrot dancing in Room 4.

In Room 1, our largest room, we had Tango, East Coast Swing, Waltz, Foxtrot, Rumba, Bolero, Cha Cha, and West Coast Swing music rotating constantly.

Each Sunday in September this idea worked like a charm. Using this format, if the only kind of dance our students knew was Tango, then they stayed in the Tango room. But for those with some experience at the different Ballroom Dances, Room One was the place to dance it all! For three weeks this format proved to be quite popular until unfortunately we missed the final week due to a certain lady named Rita.

Our plan is to have 2 Swing classes and 5 different Ballroom classes every month. My guess is over a six-month period, you should be able to learn all the dances at least at the basic level and some of them all the way through the Advanced level.

As the skill level of the studio rises, our bi-monthly Saturday night Swing dances will transform into combined Swing and Ballroom dances. Expect the first Swing and Ballroom dance in early November. We will keep you posted on that.

If you would like to join the second month of Sunday Ballroom Dancing, join us this coming Sunday, October 2nd.

Shall We Dance?


SCHEDULE OF SUNDAY 4-6 PM BALLROOM CLASSES STARTING SUNDAY, OCTOBER 2ND.

BEG AND INT BIG BAND SWING JITTERBUG - KRISTA AND PATTY OH
Please note that we teach these two Swing classes strictly to Big Band Music on Sunday. However both classes should be considered parallel to the Monday classes and can be taken on both nights for the price of one.

BEGINNING BALLROOM
This entry class covers the basics to three of Ballroom's most important dances: Foxtrot, Waltz, and Tango.

SLOW DANCE AND ROMANCE! - MARLA
As a word to the wise, there are certain moments in life when the ability to dance gracefully to romantic music is mighty important. However just like the ability to change a tire comes in pretty handy at an unexpected time, the smart person learns how to Slow Dance AHEAD OF TIME.

You never know when you will need to learn how to Slow Dance.

Special occasions like the First Dance at weddings or a fancy New Years Eve party you know about ahead of time, but a torch song at a nightclub or a slow ballad on a moonlit Caribbean Cruise might catch you off-guard. Will you be ready?

INTERMEDIATE TANGO AND SUPER ADVANCED TANGO - DAKOTA AND RICK
Tango is the dance of passion and darkness! Tango was clearly the big hit in September with classes of over 30 students loving every minute of this infamous dance. Now in October it is time to learn even more sophisticated patterns to the legendary Dance of the Dark!

BEGINNING FOXTROT - JILL
Foxtrot is dance of Inaugural Balls, Wedding Receptions, and Formal Dinners. It is also a great dance to use to Sinatra music played at night clubs.

Foxtrot is the Up-Town cousin of the Texas Twostep. It can be danced to a wide variety of music ranging from Van Morrison's "Marvelous Night for a Moondance" to Sinatra's "New York, New York" to "Mack the Knife" by Bobby Darin.

The Foxtrot works best of all to slower-tempo Big Band Swing music


STORY THREE: OTHER SSQQ CLASS HIGHLIGHTS FOR OCTOBER

The October 2005 Dance Semester will start on Sunday, October 2th.
http://www.ssqq.com/ssqq/schedule.htm

A "Special Class" at SSQQ is defined as a class that isn't offered every month.

In addition to our new Sunday Ballroom classes described above, "Special Classes" in October include:

INTERMEDIATE LATIN HUSTLE - SCOTT LADELL
(Starts Sunday, October 2nd at 7 pm)
Latin Hustle (also known as Hustle) is a popular partner dance used to Disco and Smooth R&B music. It uses the same timing as West Coast Swing but its patterns are similar to East Coast Swing and its style is similar to Salsa. Scott's Hustle class has been one of the big hits of 2005. It has proven to be a very popular class indeed. Now Hustle moves to Sunday evenings so it can enjoy an uninterrupted run through Advanced and Super Advanced levels through December.

ADVANCED WESTERN SWING II will be offered on Sundays, Wednesdays, and Fridays in October all for the price of one. This new course was such a big success in September that we thought we would offer it again for those who missed it the first time or wanted to repeat it.

INTERMEDIATE WESTERN CHA CHA - SHARON (CRAWFORD) SHAW AND JOHN JONES
(Starts Wednesday, October 5th)
Sharon Crawford and John Jones continue their annual Western Cha Cha program in October. Western Cha Cha is a fun and flirtatious dance used to polka music with a latin flavor. This class will run for three months and will cover practically every Cha Cha move known to man!

MARTIAN WHIP TECHNIQUE II - BRYAN SPIVEY
(Starts Thursday, October 6th)
State Whip Champion Bryan's class on Thursday covers West Coast Swing technique. This class is offered as a "Bridge" between Lunar Whip and the elite Friday Martian Whip class.

INTERMEDIATE WESTERN WALTZ - RICK ARCHER AND CHER LONGORIA
(Starts Friday, October 7th)
Waltz is the famous Western dance of Romance! This popular class will cover clockwise and counterclockwise circle turns, Triple Twinkle, Grapevines, and much more. Be sure to stay for practice after class - Friday Western Practice Night will be chock full of one Waltz after another!

RHYTHM AND BLUES TWOSTEP - WILLIE BUSHNELL
(Starts Saturday, October 8)
Rhythm and Blues Twostep is a popular dance used in African-American nightclubs. Similar to Zydeco, the man and woman dance in closed position, then the man swings her out. The basic is a 6-count whereas Zydeco is an 8-count. Since the patterns are kind of similar, it can get confusing to learn without some guidance. Also known as Steppin' and Swing Out in different areas, R&B Twostep is the perfect marriage between East coast and West coast swing. It has east coast footwork but has a strong west coast flare. It is danced mainly to R&B music such R Kelly's "Step in the Name of Love."

SATURDAY AFTERNOON INTERMEDIATE HIP HOP CLASS 3:15-4:15 PM
(Starts Saturday, October 8)
Kevin Coleman's Beg Hip Hop/Freestyle class was the hit of the summer. Now in October Kevin adds a 4-week, one-hour long Intermediate class ($20 a person) that will precede his 4:30 pm Beginner Hip Hop class.

This class will cover steps that involve coordination of the feet to the shoulders and the arms. The main thing required is that the person can walk and move any part of their upper body at the same time. It will be somewhat of a choreography-style class.

Please note this special class is not offered on On-Line Registration. To register you simply show up at 3 pm and sign up at the door

BEGINNING HIP HOP II - KEVIN COLEMAN
(Starts Saturday, October 8, 4:30-6:30 pm)
Kevin Coleman returns with some brand new patterns for the Beginners in his Beg Hip Hop II class. This class has the same difficulty as Hip Hop I, but different patterns. Please note you can take Beg Hip Hop II without having taken Beg Hip Hop I first.

Hip Hop has become the dominant form of Club Dancing in the 2000s. Tricky footwork combined with eye-catching arm motions are difficult to learn without a good teacher. This is a beginner class so expect a relaxed pace!

Kevin has turned out to be quite mover and shaker as they say. His class had over 20 people in September, a huge number for a class of this nature. Students loved Kevin's energy and teaching excellence.


(Note: For more details and lengthy descriptions of all the classes above and more, please go to OCTOBER EXTRA ON THE SSQQ WEB SITE:
http://www.ssqq.com/ssqq/extra.htm )

If you miss the first week of classes, don't worry about it. YOU CAN SIGN UP IN THE SECOND WEEK without any problem since we spend the first hour reviewing what was covered in Week One.
.


STORY FOUR: THE MOONDANCE SALSA PARTY!
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 8, 9:15 - Midnight, $7
http://ssqq.com/ssqq/party19.htm

CRASH COURSES 7-9 PM (to register, just show up and register at the door)

ZYDECO - Willie
CUMBIA/TEJANO - Luis
BACHATA - Linda
LATIN CHA CHA - Jill
SALSA DIPS AND LUNGES (CPLS) - Steve/Danielle
MARTIN'S FAV SALSA PTNS - Martin



STORY FIVE: THE SSQQ HALLOWEEN PARTY IS COMING!
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 29, 9 pm - 1 am, $15
http://ssqq.com/ssqq/party20.htm

'TWAS THE NIGHT OF THE SSQQ HALLOWEEN PARTY (written by Shawn Kirkpatrick)

'Twas the night of the SSQQ Halloween Party, and all through place,
All the creatures were stirring, could barely recognize many a face.
The bats were hanging by their feet with care, In hopes that the revelers soon would be there. The creatures of the night were rising from their cobwebby beds, While visions of tricks and treats danced in their heads.
And mamma in her costume, and I in mine, Had just arrived to dance, and on candy to dine.
When out on the dance floor there arose such a clatter, I sprang from my candy to see what was the matter.
Away to the dance floor I flew like a flash, Just in time to observe a large group doing the Monster Mash!

The moon on the faces of the of the costumed dancers was quite a chiller, The next thing they did was a dance to "Thriller".
When, what to my wandering eyes should appear, But a man dressed like a Hooter's girl, inspiring much fear, With a Dracula, so scary and slick, I knew in a moment I'd better dance quick.
More rapid than a flock of bats his minions they came, And he glared, and shouted, and called them by name;
Now, Renfield! Now Igor! Come and look at this vixen!
Either those are contacts, or I'm really blitzen!
To the center of the floor, all along the wall!
Now dance away! Dance away! Dance away all!

As fall leaves that scatter before the fall wind, scratchy and dry, When they meet with an obstacle, our feet did fly, So to the center of the dance floor we flew, With a bevy of prisoners, animals, gypsies, monsters, and the doctors, too!
And then in a twinkling, I saw a good spoof of "Ghostbusters", with the prancing and pawing of each dancer's little "hoof"!
As I drew in my partner, and was turning around, Off the dance floor a cavewoman sprang with a bound!
There was also a spider, she was dressed in black from head to foot, And her clothes were decorated with a red hourglass to boot!
A bundle of critters the crocodile hunters had on their backs, And they looked like they needed a couple backpacks.

Our eyes-how they twinkled! Our attitudes how merry!
Our cheeks were like blood, our noses like sherry!
Our grinning mouths drawn up like a bow,
As we dancers eagerly awaited the master, his next line dance to show!
The stem of a rose he held tight in his teeth,
And his hands as he danced encircled his head like a wreath, He had a gaunt face and a lean little belly, That did not shake when he danced like a bowlful of jelly. He was lithe and lean, dressed quite spookily himself, And I shook when I saw him, in spite of myself;
With a turn of his foot and a twist of his head,
He soon gave me to know I had nothing of "Monster Rap" to dread;
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his instruction work, And filled all the dancer's heads with steps; then turned with a jerk, And laying his finger aside of his rose, And giving a nod, to leave the dance floor he chose, He sprang to his doorway, and to his guests gave a whistle, And away we all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, 'ere we drove out of sight,
"Happy Halloween to all, and to all a frightful night!"


EDITOR'S NOTE: I will have more to say about the upcoming Halloween Party in the next Newsletter. But for now suffice it to say we have an awesome 7-foot Frankenstein waiting for you at the notorious SSQQ Haunted House. We haven't fed him since last year. He has been instructed to eat the first guest attempting to enter not wearing a costume.

Last year the Mummy joined the other creatures in the Haunted House. He was a little shy last year, but this year he is looking for someone to hug in the dark. It might be you!!

Obviously we will have quite a bit to say about this party in next month's Newsletter, but for now why not review some of the pictures from last year's 2004 party?
http://ssqq.com/information/halloween2004home.htm

George Sargent won Best Costume with his Dorothy in the Land of Oz costume. George and his many buddies also swept "Best Group Picture" with their magnificent Wizard of Oz ensemble.

Other great costumes included Lise Gagnon and Kimberly Smith as the Pretty Babies and Patty Harrison as the Milk Carton. These costumes will be hard to beat, but you know what, I bet this year's party will have costumes to match!

So circle October 29 as a very big night at the studio!
..


STORY SIX: STAFF COMINGS AND GOINGS.

Tracy King decided to hang up her Ballroom slippers as did Mo Hendrix. Both ladies decided to make September their last month at the studio. Tracy and Mo started as Instructors at the studio all the way back in 1998.

Tracy initially started as a Western teacher, but moved over to Ballroom a couple years ago. Mo has been a talented and integral part of our Salsa program since its inception.

You cannot replace people of this talent very easily. Fortunately both ladies hinted they might return as substitutes from time to time so lets keep our fingers crossed.
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STORY SEVEN: RACHEL AND DAVE KOENIG ANNOUNCE THE BIRTH OF THEIR FIRST CHILD ZACHARY BENJAMIN KOENIG!

Rachel Koenig has been a beloved SSQQ instructor for many years. Last year Rachel met her match and married David Koenig. It didn't take long for another announcement - Rachel was soon "with child" as they say. Undeterred, Rachel managed to teach Belly Dancing and Twostep right up to the very last possible moment. It was only a couple months ago that Rachel decided to begin a leave of absence.

Here is a brief note from Rachel:

"Dave and Rachel Koenig are proud to announce the birth of their son, Zach Koenig, in September 2005.

Although 3 1/2 weeks early, Zach weighed 6 lbs, 6 oz, and was 19 inches long at birth. Mom, Dad and Baby are now home from the hospital and are doing fine.

Thanks to everyone for your calls, visits and well wishes.

Regards,

Rachel & Dave"



STORY EIGHT: THE SSQQ LOGIC PUZZLE WINNERS FOR SEPTEMBER 2005

Oh, what a terrible showing! Only five people solved the mystery of Lake Wackawakka this past month. It is our worst puzzle response of the year. What can I say? It's too bad since this was a pretty easy puzzle.

1. Anita Leung (7 months in a row!)
2. Jennifer Wise (Second Time Winner!)
3. Susan Arevalo (23 months in a row!)
4. Ritesh Laud (17 months in a row!)
5. Ann Faget (Our current champ hits 2 years in a row!)

Maybe we will have better luck with the October logic puzzle.


STORY NINE: THE 2005 OCTOBER LOGIC PUZZLE - TRICK OR TREAT
http://ssqq.com/archive/logicpuzzle07.htm

Difficulty Level: Tricky, but not impossible. Very fun!

The SSQQ Halloween Party is just a month away. As you know, SSQQ takes Halloween maybe a bit too seriously. It is a little known fact that once a year the SSQQ Western instructors play a silly Trick or Treat game on each other one night shortly before our infamous Halloween Party.

In other words, all of us go out of our way to play mean tricks on each other. Such delightful fun!!

Last year was no exception, as three men (Rick, Ben, and Daryl) and four women (Sharon, Linda, Rachel, and Amanda) made sure they made someone's night miserable. Each instructor drew a name out of a hat as their person to terrorize for the evening so no one could escape without being victimized.

The only problem was that afterwards the instructors were unable to figure out who did what to whom so they could 'pay them back' at a later date. Our instructors are simply too right-brained to handle the complicated clues. Can you help them out?
..

STORY TEN: JOKE PICTURE OF THE MONTH

One of our "Usual Suspects", Chris Holmes, contributed this month's Joke Picture. It tells the story of a band of clever thieves who robbed a car wash of over $4,000 before being caught!

Don't miss this one!

Enjoy! http://www.ssqq.com/ssqq/jokepicture.htm


STORY ELEVEN: BEST NEW JOKES AND HALL OF FAME JOKES

September was a particularly barren month for new jokes. I only got one good new joke this month! Unfortunately it was too naughty for general publication, so I had put it on the Blue Side Joke Page. Nevertheless, it won Judy Walsh the honor for "Best Joke of the Month"!

No one got Best Runner-up. Where have all the good jokes gone?

For a look at the best new jokes to date, visit:
http://www.ssqq.com/ssqq/jokesnew.htm
.

HALL OF FAME JOKES

Newcomers to SSQQ may not be aware of how wonderful our Joke page is. Over the years Newsletter readers have been sending in their favorite jokes. I dutifully collect them, edit them, and save them. We are now up to somewhere around 700 jokes.

Unfortunately there are no new members to our Hall of Fame this month since I didn't add any new jokes last October. To avoid such sadness from ever occurring again, send me your favorite new jokes to dance@ssqq.com

Meanwhile, you can read this month's Hall of Fame jokes at:
http://www.ssqq.com/ssqq/jokes.htm
..

STORY TWELVE: SLOW DANCE AND ROMANCE: A NEW ENGAGEMENT AND A WEDDING!
http://www.ssqq.com/ssqq/romance.htm

CURTIS GOODE AND KATHY HELLER GET ENGAGED!

Curtis Goode is not hard to notice. He is at least 6' 5" tall! For the past five months, Curtis has been moving up through the ranks of our Western classes. I have been privileged to be his teacher on at least one night a week each of these months.

Western dancing does not come easily to Curtis. He acquires each new pattern through sheer will power. Sometimes his feet stop moving in the middle of a pattern. At least one he has repeated a class on one night while moving up to the next level on another night.

I smile at his persistence. Curtis has made the most of the ability he was given. It turns out Curtis had a special reason to learn to dance. There was a young lady at the studio named Kathy Heller who absolutely loves to dance. One night about three weeks ago Curtis came up to me with Kathy in his arms and explained he wanted to become good enough to dance with her.

Then in mid-September Curtis brought Kathy before me for a second time. He had a big smile on his face. They had just become engaged.

And what a lovely couple they make!

For SSQQ veterans, the name "Kathy Heller" might be familiar. Kathy is the woman who in 2003 had her car illegally towed by the infamous Door Warehouse and its deadbeat owner Joel Loshack.

Kathy spent an enormous amount of time and energy fighting this disgusting action. Her battle against red tape and low-life behavior is an apocryphal tale of woe. I chronicled her fight in my newsletter.

If you are curious about this story, here are some blurbs from previous newsletters:
http://www.ssqq.com/ssqq/news2003april.htm

http://www.ssqq.com/ssqq/news2003july.htm

http://www.ssqq.com/ssqq/news2003june.htm

http://www.ssqq.com/ssqq/news2003august.htm


CLARENCE (CA) RISER AND CATHY BRYANT GET MARRIED!

Sometime in August on the spur of the moment, long-time sweethearts Cathy Bryant and CA Riser decided to tie the knot.

CA and Cathy are very well-known here at SSQQ. They have been studio regulars for four years. They have taken over 30 classes together from 2001 to present, been to numerous Halloween parties, and have taken 4 SSQQ cruises as well.

Both CA and Cathy are medical professionals. However I don't believe they met through their profession. It is my understanding that they met right here at the studio.

Although I am notorious for telling a tall tale here and there, I am embarrassed to admit that Cathy and CA were involved in the only retraction I have ever published in the SSQQ Newsletter. Back in 2003 I published a report that this couple had announced their engagement to be married. This Newsletter article was quite a surprise to Cathy and CA. Although I believe I have been forgiven since then, at the time they had a right to be more than slightly irritated with me.

Even more embarrassing, I have never been able to figure out who told me they were engaged! I certainly never found an email to suggest where the rumor came from. It was just something that popped into my head one day as I was typing. And that is the complete truth.

Thank goodness they are finally married. Now I don't have to apologize any more!

Congratulations to both!
..

STORY THIRTEEN: DOES ANYONE KNOW HOW TO FIGHT A "CAM" BILL?

"CAM" is a business acronym for Common Area Maintenance. In addition to the rent, each lessee pays an additional monthly fee for services such as maintaining the parking lot, keeping the grass mowed, picking up litter and trash, and keeping the security lights on.

This month SSQQ received an extra bill for $3,000 from our new landlord. This bill was for additional expenses above and beyond the money (about $1,000) we pay on a monthly basis. Having paid rent for 18 years at this location, I can't recall a bill of this sort exceeding $1,000. The word "exorbitant" crossed my mind.

Making this bill extra hard to swallow is the fact that our roof leaks, our parking lot resembles the pock-marked surface of the moon, our awnings are torn, security lights are frequently burned out, and we have bees who have taken advantage of cracks in our wall to move in.

So you are looking at the largest bill in history in juxtaposition to the poorest job of maintenance in memory.

Does anyone know the correct way to deal with this kind of situation? If so, please email Rick Archer at dance@ssqq.com


STORY FOURTEEN: BACK FROM ALASKA!
http://www.ssqq.com/travel/alaska2005.htm

We all returned safely from our July Cruise Trip to magnificent Alaska. For seven days we had the time of our lives visiting the Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau, taking a 40-mile train ride deep into the wilderness at Skagway, flying high over the incredible Misty Fjords near Ketchikan, and watching huge ice slabs fall into the ocean at the Hubbard Glacier.

It took me a while, but the story is now complete. The tales of adventure include:

1. Ballroom Dancing aboard the Radiance
2. The Mysterious Radiance DJ Booth
3. Dance Workshops
4. Fish and Bear Stories
5. Exploring Alaska's Inside Passage
6. Mendenhall Glacier and Mt. Roberts at Juneau
7. Texans Not Welcome in Alaska
8. The mysterious disappearance of Alaska's Abundant Wildlife
9. Dead Horse Trail at Skagway
10. How Rick Almost Lands in Skagway Jail
11. The Secret they did not want revealed: Madness in Alaska
12. Pictures of Hubbard Glacier
13. Tales of Woe on the Radiance Basketball Court
14. What Ketchikan Alaska is most Famous For
15. The incredible self-discipline of the SSQQ Women
16. The Siren Call of the Misty Fjords
17. What loneliness does to some people

These stories plus the marvelous pictures of Alaskan Wilderness and the members of our group taken by Gary Richardson.


STORY FIFTEEN: COMPLAINT OF THE MONTH

CLARIFICATION ON THE SSQQ VISITORS POLICY
http://ssqq.com/information/watching.htm

(Editor's Note: Along with our position on children, I would imagine our "Visitor's Policy" is the single most awkward policy we have.

For one thing, what does it hurt if one or two people watch? My answer is that of course it doesn't hurt at all for one or two people to watch. But what if it is twelve people? What if it is twenty people? Where do you draw the line?

And how exactly does it benefit our class to have people watching? Is it okay for a student's girlfriend to come in and watch? Or someone's next-door neighbor? Or someone's date?

Where exactly do you draw the line?

I am simply going to say that in my experience if we keep the guests to a bare minimum, there is no problem.

Earlier this month two of my favorite students brought their parents along for dance class. They asked if their parents could watch. The Hall Monitor turned them away as she was instructed to do.

The students - who I consider to be friends - were aghast at our policy. I explained that "visitors are welcome" under one condition: Please email in advance so I can send along a permission slip. This falls under the Once a Year Exception Rule.

If you show up at the door, we will say "NO".

Every now and then I get complaints about the Hall Monitors not being flexible enough. I shake my head at the complaints I get. Every loves how safe and comfortable the studio is despite huge numbers of students, but very few people realize that the Hall Monitors watch our backs constantly! No one really appreciates the job our Hall Monitors do until there is a problem.

Here is an example of a problem that developed when someone found a way to bypass the Hall Monitor.

-----Original Message-----
From:
Sent: Sunday, March 20, 2005 6:38 AM
To: dance@ssqq.com
Subject: re: Visitors

Hello,

My name is DE. I have taken many classes from SSQQ. I started out with the Beginning Salsa Mambo. Wonderful class! I went on to Intermediate Salsa Mambo. Again, wonderful class. Eventually, I made it to Advanced Salsa Mambo. Difficult, but wonderful class (I'm not a born dancer).

I spoke with several students about your Salsa Merengue Class. They assured me that it was easy. So easy in fact that I would probably be bored. I didn't take the class right away because I so hated the music used with Salsa Merengue. Finally, I decided to give it a try. Best class ever! I even learned to love the music. I was anything but bored, and now prefer it to Salsa Mambo (different strokes for different folks).

I learned so many dance combinations in the very first class, I began to wonder, "if this is the beginning class, what would the intermediate class be like?"

So far, I've had three classes. The first two were magnificent. The third was somewhat problematic and is the subject of this email.

I need some clarification on your visitor policy. I understood no visitors were allowed. After the break during the third class, a gentleman who had not attended the first or second class appeared. As the men rotated from lady to lady, I noticed this particular gentleman standing in front of one specific woman. Initially, I assumed he was going to dance with her, but he didn't. He simply stood in front of her. I asked him if he was dancing with her and he didn't respond. Another student went on to explain to me that he was only willing to dance with her. And since he was not allowed to dance with only one woman, he decided to dance with no women. She was, however, willing to dance with all of the men.
The problem herein lies. To dance with her, you were constantly being shadowed by him. Throughout the dance, this angry looking menacing man was standing directly behind you watching you dance with his girlfriend. While he seemed somewhat disturbed by other people dancing with her, she was constantly winking over your shoulder at him.

To add to the dilemma, the men outnumbered the women. So there were several women standing there with no one to dance with, while this one man stood glaring at his girlfriend and her dance partner.

At first I decided to ignore him, but as he was standing so close to me while I was dancing with her, it became more and more difficult. I found myself missing important information the teacher was giving as I was focused on 'Mr. Observer' parked at my heels. I thought about just skipping her in the rotation, and did so a couple of times. But this threw the entire rotation out of kilter.

Luis is the instructor of the course, and I kept expecting him to say something, but he didn't. He simply steered clear of the girl. So my question to you is this. Do you consider the behavior I described as a violation of your visitor policy? If so, how is it corrected?

Please know that I consider SSQQ a wonderful place to learn to dance, and have many more compliments of your studio and instructors than I have criticisms.

Respectfully yours,
DE

(EDITOR'S NOTE: I sent out an email to the Staff to inquire if anyone else had noticed anything. I got several responses, but my favorite was this one from one of our Hall Monitors).

Hall Monitor Response:

Rick,

This is my small input: From what I can tell... this woman must have let him into Room 5 or he came in while someone else was going out at break... from room 5... (This is still a problem by the way from Room 5)...D said she checked each receipt and I believe her.... she does a good job...but this man sounds like he could be a big problem... I surely would alert L that if this happens again... that the policy is to change partners and if they don't... then they need to be asked to leave or follow the rules and change partners or arrange private lessons for later on. But tell him to be very careful how he handles it... the man sounds like he may have a mean temper...and no telling what can happen..............just my 2 cents!!
xxxxxxxx

(EDITOR'S NOTE: I wrote the student back and apologized. I also asked him to contact me if there were further problems.)

-----Original Message-----
From: DE
Sent: Saturday, April 30, 2005 8:55 PM
To: dance@ssqq.com
Subject: Visitor Policy incident Visitors

Dear Rick,

First of all, I want to thank you for your prompt response to my concern. As much business as you do, and as talented as your staff obviously is, you could have easily ignored my email without hurting your business. It is clear to me that you do care for your customers, and that goes a long, long way.

The gentleman I referred to never returned to the class, nor did his girlfriend. Another student joined the class (I believe that he was perhaps a member of your staff), and very clearly monitored all that was happening to insure that your policies were followed.

I love SSQQ and take classes whenever I have the time. I will continue to do so.

Gratefully submitted, DE

(EDITOR'S NOTE: Fortunately the incident above turned out to be an isolated event. However it wasn't all bad - it served as a perfect example to illustrate why having our Hall Monitors is a blessing. So the next time you get frustrated because you forgot your registration slip or someone doesn't make an exception for you, I hope you will understand Hall Monitors are the single most important reason our studio continues to be safe, comfortable, and relaxed. They are watching our backs. RA)
.

STORY SIXTEEN: PART-TIME HELP WANTED
BALLROOM TEACHER, HALL MONITOR, REGISTRAR, AND COLD FUSION PROGRAMMER.

1. BALLROOM INSTRUCTOR. Unfortunately with the retirement of Tracy King, we are now one instructor short on Sundays. Contact Rick Archer at dance@ssqq.com

2. HALL MONITOR (One Night a Week). Like police work, the Hall Monitor job is occasionally unbelievably busy and stressful, but most of the time boring and pretty relaxed. Inquire to Marla Archer at marla@ssqq.com

3. REGISTRAR (One Night a Week). We had a recent resignation that leaves us one or two people short. Inquire to Marla Archer at marla@ssqq.com

4. COLD FUSION PROGRAMMER.

Everyone fusses at us because our On-Line Registration says the Sunday classes start at 4:30 pm while our schedule says the classes start at 4 pm.

We have an Intermediate Hip Hop class that can only be registered for at the door because it starts at a weird hour - 3:15 on Saturdays.

These changes to our On-Line Registration system have to be made by someone who understands how to program using a language known as "Cold Fusion".

Contact Rick Archer at dance@ssqq.com
..

STORY SEVENTEEN: VIOLET STEPLIGHTLY RETURNS! 

THE DANCE SNOB!


Hey dancers!
I'm finally back from my summer vacation, and goodness, I'm glad to be back! I couldn't wait to jump back into my classes this month. The faces have changed a little bit, but the love of dancing still penetrates every room of the studio and sweetens the air like a fine perfume. No, wait, that's just the Altoids, but the love of dancing is certainly present!

If I haven't done it in person yet, I'd like to take this moment to welcome all the new members of the SSQQ family. Dancing is truly a path to happiness, and one of the most exciting parts of that path is the wonderful people who walk along it with us.

When we learn to social dance, we're learning so much more than dance steps. We're learning a lot about social skills. Every instructor I know does his or her part to teach their students about functioning in the dance community, and they do a great job, but sometimes what we learn about etiquette is sacrificed to the Gods of fun, and people get stepped on . . . literally! So, as my gift to my new dancing brothers and sisters, I'd like to offer a few stories, over the next few months that concern dance etiquette gone awry.

For my first story, I'm going to bring up a touchy subject: dance partner selection. I've said it before, and I'll stick by my view now; no one is required to dance with everyone just because they are present and have been taking lessons, or otherwise claim to know how to dance. It would be nice if every man wanted to dance with every woman, and vice versa, and there was harmony throughout the dance community, but this is reality.

Reality tells us that even a disgustingly sweet person like Goody Two Shoes has a "No Dance List", and that's perfectly acceptable. There are dozens of legitimate excuses to refuse a dance from someone, but it's those with unreasonable excuses who perpetuate the rotten image of "cliques" among more experienced dancers.

The most prominent example of this is "The Dance Snob". I'm sure you've seen such a person. The Dance Snob typically perceives his or her level of talent as being much higher than it actually is. And even worse, this person places an unnatural priority on one's level of talent.

I encountered my first dance snob during my third month of lessons at SSQQ, and he didn't hesitate to show his true colors. Let's call this man Rudy (as in RUDE-y).

After working very hard for two long months, I felt comfortable going into the Advanced class. The patterns in this class were significantly more difficult that those in Beginning and Intermediate, but I expected no less from a class labeled "Advanced", and I felt like I was doing well in spite of my lack of experience. The first few men in the rotation were really nice, and I was comfortable with them because they were in my first two classes. But then along came Rudy.
"I hope you do better than the other girls in this class. No one's gotten the move right yet," Rudy snarled at me and took my hand. I thought this was an incredibly rude thing for him to say, much less say it to a woman he's never met, but I just politely smiled so I wouldn't disrupt the class. Besides, I wasn't worried because I had done well with the previous men. The instructor counted down for the pattern, and Rudy began his lead. Despite my confidence, I stumbled through a couple of the steps, and the pattern was shot.

"Oh, well, maybe next time," I muttered softly as he rolled his eyes and walked away.
Class ended and we filtered in to Room 1 for Practice Night. We had learned some pretty interesting patterns in class, and I couldn't wait to see how well they worked on the dance floor. I scanned the crowd for some of my male classmates, but they were all occupied. Rudy walked in. I decided to give Rudy the benefit of the doubt and dismissed his behavior during class. I rationalized that perhaps he was nervous about learning the patterns and would relax enough to have fun. I also told myself that he couldn't possibly have meant to be as bitter as he appeared to be. I was wrong.

I politely asked Rudy to dance with me, and he refused. He immediately proceeded over to one of our instructor's assistants and asked her to dance instead. I now know for a fact that she would never have danced with Rudy if she had seen him refuse me, but she was looking in the opposite direction when it happened.
I can't say that the incident killed my desire to dance that night, but I was certainly distracted. I watched Rudy for the rest of the evening. As I suspected, he only wanted to dance with the follows who were more advanced than his classmates, and he turned down everyone else.
There are other dance snobs who are more subtle than Rudy. They'll dance with someone "below their skill level", if they're asked to because the snob would never condescend to do the asking, but they make it quite clear that they're unhappy with the arrangement. I'm sure you've seen it happen: beautiful, fluid, happy dancers suddenly become stiff and expressionless, and their poor partner is left feeling inadequate. Both dancers are miserable because of the snob's attitude. Play the hand you're dealt, people!

Some dance snobs, like Rudy, are well aware of their condition. They actively classify their fellow dancers into categories based on their "dance worthiness", or lack thereof. They declare that they'd rather sit on the sidelines all night than dance with a bad/beginning dancer.

I highly disapprove of this practice. Who is anyone to decide who's "worthy" of a good dance? I can guarantee that intentionally seeking out the more advanced dancers, because you think that is the only way to have a fun dance, will only lead to a lot of sitting on the sidelines. Why limit yourself? Why set yourself up with unreasonable expectations? Everybody starts somewhere, and it's a great learning opportunity to dance with people outside of your learning cohort. Part of being a good lead or follow is having the ability to lead or follow anyone, no matter where each of you is in your dance experience. The best part of making mistakes is learning where they most often occur and how to fix them.

I know our instructors tell us, "It's ALWAYS the lead's fault", and that's comforting as a follow, but I say you should always be prepared to take 50% of the blame when a move isn't executed properly. Perhaps his lead wasn't as strong as your favorite partner's is, but how was your frame and connection? Is it possible that your arms were too limp, or too stiff, to be properly guided through a pattern? Perhaps your follow ran into your hand when you led a double spin, but were you looking at her to make sure your lead cleared her forehead? Or were you checking out the hot new Salsa student in the mini-skirt and strappy sandals? Is your current dance partner really that bad? Or did you start the dance with the unfair preconceived notion that you weren't going to have fun, so you can't find any good in their efforts?

Think about it. We've all been guilty of a little bit of dance snobbery, even me, but I'm convinced that most of it is unintentional. Let's remember why we all started coming to SSQQ: to dance. So, grab a partner and dance already!

Your partner in arms and feet,
Violet S.

And that's a wrap for October!

Thanks for reading this month's issue of the SSQQ Newsletter!
Rick Archer
dance@ssqq.com (email)
 

 

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