June 2006
Home Up July 2006

January February March April May June

2006 Newsletters

July August September October November December
Home 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999
The SSQQ Newsletter
Written and Edited by Rick Archer
Online Registration
Bottom of Page

Due to a sudden whirlwind chain of events, Jack Benard, one of the favorite teachers in SSQQ history, is now back at the studio.

Jack Benard left the studio in April 2004 to move back to his home state of California. His loss hurt me more than any other single instructor in history.

I don't think the studio has ever seen a guy with a bigger heart than Jack. I have never quite figured out how he does it, but Jack is the person who inspires me to become a better teacher myself. Putting it another way, I look up to Jack.

Actually, now that I think of it, EVERYONE looks up to Jack. He is 6' 7".

Jack left the studio two years ago because he had unfinished business in California. The truth of the matter was that he wanted to study Scientology. Although I personally know very little about Scientology other than everyone is supposed to be afraid of it but no one knows why, Jack tells me it is a fascinating discipline. I will take his word for it.

Jack has always impressed me as something of a mystic. It probably has something to do with the fact that his head is up in the clouds all the time. I was sympathetic to his quest since I once did the same thing. Back when I was an undergraduate in college, I spent quite a bit of time researching Eastern Religions. So when Jack looked me in the eye back in 2004 and said he wanted to learn more about the meaning of life, I told him to go for it with my blessings.

And that was the last I heard of Jack. To deal with my feelings of loss, I wrote a long story about Jack and put it on the SSQQ web site. Feel free to read the story for yourself:  Jack Benard


On Wednesday, May 3, Jack's friend Maureen Huddleston came up to me after taking Sharon Crawford Shaw's Western Waltz class that night. She said she had gotten an email from Jack. It was the first time she had heard from him in ages.

The week before, Maureen had sent out a "group email" to everyone on her email list promoting Scott Ladell's upcoming Monday night Hustle class. Hustle is a dance that has always been Jack's first love. Maureen certainly did not expect a man who is more mysterious than Bobby Fischer to reply to her, but on Tuesday, May 2, she received an email from Jack.

Jack's email response was a doozy! He told Maureen he had been getting her emails about the Hustle class for some time and it was driving him crazy with envy. He said he wished he was back at SSQQ so much when he read her emails.

Jack went on to explain that he had been training at an Arthur Murray studio out in California for two months with the goal of becoming a full-time dance instructor. He was involved now in a year-long training contract. Jack added one more tidbit: he had gotten this job due to the article I had written about him on the SSQQ web site.

When Maureen told me this, I rolled my eyes. Why did Arthur Murray get to have Jack when I found him first? How can that be fair? Despite my grouchy mood, I still wanted to say hi to Jack. After all, I consider him a friend and I missed him.

So I asked Maureen to forward me the email, which she did. So I sent Jack a 'hi, hello, how are you, come back and teach some time' email the next day.

To my surprise, Jack responded immediately. He sent me one of those "the door is slightly open" kind of replies. On the one hand, he said he was locked into a contract with Arthur Murray. Even more important, he had given them his word. On the other hand, he asked me what did I have in mind.

I figured he wanted an offer, so I made him one! I told him if he came back to Houston, I would hire him full-time to become a dance instructor for me.

Jack's reply was precious: "Your offer is enticing. I will get back to you soon."

This guy drives me crazy!!!  I figured he wanted to think about it for a while, so I didn't pressure him.

Two days later I got this note: "I need to handle something on this end before I can confirm I am coming to Houston. Should find out within 6 days."

Talk a weird note. Now I was even crazier.

I was way past being cool.  So I asked him what the story was. Jack replied that he intended to honor his contract with Arthur Murray. They had given him a chance and he respected their position.  He would ask them if they would set him free. If they said yes, he was coming to Houston. If they said no, he was staying in California. His word was his bond. That's all there was to it.

So I started to bite my fingernails. Plus that night I had a dream about Jack. This time he was eight feet tall.

Just about the time I had started to eat my fingers too, Jack wrote two days later to say he was on his way back to Houston. I smiled, but only wanly. I would believe it when I saw him. That's what happens when you deal with the wind.

Jack said he would be back in town on Tuesday, May 23. I did not dare send out a Newsletter announcement till I saw him. Tuesday passed and not a word. Wednesday passed and not a word. Maureen told me Wednesday night that Gary Richardson had seen Jack. So I called Gary and woke him up at 11 pm to ask if he had really seen Jack. Gary said no, he had told Maureen that I had told him that I had seen Jack. Good grief. I felt like a dog chasing its tail.

Thursday. Still no word from Jack. This is ridiculous.

Just as I left the house to go to work at 6:30 pm, I got a phone call. Jack had just made it to Houston. He had brake problems and had to stop in Phoenix. He said he would see me at the studio.

Half an hour later, sure enough, there he was in the flesh, all eight feet of him.

Jack is back.

We owe Jack's friend Maureen Huddleston a big Huddle-Cuddle for her key role in Jack's return. Without her taking the time to mention Jack's email to me, I have no doubt his path would have taken him somewhere else. Thank you, Maureen.


August 23 - September 3 (Returns the day before Labor Day)

Over the past month since our last Newsletter, our total has risen from 110 to 123. This officially makes our 2006 Rhapsody Cruise our second largest total in history. And if we keep adding 10 or so people a month, we might challenge the all-time record of 144 set in 2003.

This is going to be the wildest trip of all time. I can just sense some serious craziness dying to break loose. There are clearly some very Desperate Dance Students out there.

This year's trip will feature the incredible Rita Rhapsody Scavenger Hunt. It will pit two teams against each other in a frantic race to victory on one of our days at sea.

The Captains of the Veteran Team will be Center of Attention and Alpha Hussy against the Newcomers led by the Femme Fatales. Ordinarily I would put my money on the Veterans who know their way around the ship better, but the Newcomers seem raring to go. The Vets might be too blasι to give the Comers any serious challenge. I think I will ultimately pick the team that seems the most sober at Game Time.

If you want to go on the trip, believe it or not there is plenty of room left. There is space available in Oceanview and Inside Cabins at the prevailing rate.

If you want to go, please call now. You do not need a roommate. With this much time left we should not have any trouble finding roommates.

Email marla@ssqq.com or phone Marla during the day at 713-862-4428.

September 23 - September 30

Marla says there is space available for our New England Trip. This "Autumn Leaves are Falling" trip leaves out of Boston on September 23. This is your opportunity to take a marvelous trip with the SSQQ Group to an area steeped in history and painted with beauty.

The ship's route hugs the rugged New England coastline and moves into Canada as well. This will give everyone a spectacular daily look at some of the prettiest scenery in America.

Obviously this trip is expensive, but it is well worth it for you Texans who have never visited this beautiful part of the country.

This is an especially active trip with six ports in six days. According to Cher Longoria who has scouted the trip extensively, there are many excursions to choose from, plenty of places to visit and lots of things to see. Kayaking, climbing, hiking, biking… you name it… this will be an extraordinary trip.

Email marla@ssqq.com or phone Marla during the day at 713-862-4428.


Special classes for June include:

1. Competition Western dancers Scott Ladell and Cher Longoria bring DEATH VALLEY to our 4:30 Sunday Western program. Sunday afternoon Western classes have become a big hit since everyone leaves the studio right after class to hit Wild West for an evening of great Western dancing. What better way to start the evening than to learn the fanciest Western patterns of all time, then take them to Center Stage over at Wild West?

2. Dakota teaches the first-ever INTERMEDIATE RUMBA class on Ballroom Sunday Evening at 7 pm. Rumba is one of the great undiscovered joys in the dance world. Rumba is an incredibly sensual dance used to slow Latin and smooth Jazz rhythms. Visualize Diana Krall singing "The Look of Love", then consider how you would dance to such a song. Rumba is your answer - slow, slinky, and provocative. Rumba is easy to learn and terrific fun to dance. The Beginner class was packed and so will Dakota's Intermediate class as well.

3. BEGINNING BALLROOM on Sundays at 7 will cover Cha Cha, Tango, and Rumba this month. Jack Benard will be the teacher.

4. Marla teaches her famous "Slow Dance and Romance" class on Sundays at 7 pm. From Nat "King" and daughter Natalie Cole's Slow Dance standard "Unforgettable" to Faith Hill's modern classic "Breathe", there are significant moments in everyone's life where the ability to dance gracefully to slow music is, for an instant, the most important skill in the world. This course is perfect to prepare for a wedding dance, wedding receptions, slow music on a cruise Big Band night, and definitely for a dinner date under the moonlight.

And don't forget to read the article in this month's Newsletter on Marla's successful first year of teaching Houston Wedding Dance Lessons!

5. Rick teaches INTERMEDIATE TANGO Sundays at 7 pm. Featuring the Fallaway, the Boomerang, and Zig Zags, this class will also bravely venture into Double Fans, Double Cortez, and Double Circle Turns. Are you ready for a challenge?

6. Jill Banta will teach INTERMEDIATE FOXTROT. Foxtrot is dance of Inaugural Balls, Wedding Receptions, and Formal Dinners. It is also the dance to use to all Sinatra lounge music. The Up-Town cousin of the Texas Twostep, the Foxtrot can be used 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.

7. Scott Ladell started off his four-month Hustle cycle with Beginning Hustle in May. This class was very well attended.

Now in June, Scott will follow up with INTERMEDIATE HUSTLE.

Hustle, also known as the Latin Hustle, is the famous Disco Dance from the Saturday Night Fever Era. This flashy partner dance is a clever combination of Swing footwork and Latin hip motion. The patterns and footwork are actually taken from Swing while hip motion and feel of the dance is more similar to Salsa. Hustle is a unique blend of both dance styles. Hustle is used to Disco music and soft R&B hits. A very smooth, flowing dance, Hustle has a huge following at SSQQ. Come join the fun!

8. Bryan and Lisa teach a special Monday West Coast Swing class known as "WCS TECHNIQUE II."

Taught by two-time Texas State Whip Champions Bryan Spivey and Lisa Palmer, as the title suggests, this is a "Finishing Class" that reviews everything you learned in the first four months of SSQQ West Coast Swing with an eye on Polish, Style, and Technique.

9. Tuesday Salsa is phenomenal. Each Tuesday, there is a Beginning, Intermediate, and Advanced Salsa class that average 80 to 100 people in each class. In particular, Steve & Danielle conduct their elite Advanced Salsa class each Tuesday. The Tuesday Salsa Practice Night hosted by Linda Cook is smokin'.

10. Sharon Crawford-Shaw begins her final series of Western Waltz with ADVANCED WESTERN WALTZ on Wednesdays at 7 pm.

11. Texas State Whip Champions Bryan Spivey and Lisa Palmer bring you MARTIAN WHIP on Thursdays.

Martian Whip is dedicated to teaching the most Advanced West Coast Swing patterns. This class is especially useful for students considering competing or performing at some point.

12. Scott Ladell teaches ADVANCED NIGHT CLUB on Friday. Danced to slow, romantic songs, Night Club is an unusual dance perhaps best described as an "active" form of Slow Dancing. Combining a special blend of Latin footwork plus Ballroom patterns from Rumba, Foxtrot, and Waltz, Night club is a pretty dance to watch and fun to use. Nor is it difficult to learn.

13. Willie Bushnell has Rhythm and Blues Twostep, also known as Swing Out, starting on Saturday at 430. A partner dance that is popular in African-American nightclubs, R&B Twosteppin' is a partner dance similar to Zydeco. The man and woman first dance in closed position, then the man "swings her out".


Marla Archer teaches on average 15 private Wedding Dance lessons a month. At this point Marla is very experienced at preparing couples for their first dance at Weddings.

On Sundays in June at 7 pm, Marla will teach a special Group Class on Slow Dancing.

Quite frankly, this is a far more thorough way to prepare for a First Dance at a Wedding. Not only do you get Eight Hours of Lessons for roughly the price of one private lesson, you also have a room all to yourself to Practice in after class each Sunday night at 9 pm.

By coincidence, Marla also wrote an article on her Wedding Dance Lessons for the June issue of our Newsletter. It is a cute story and we hope you like it.

Marla's Wedding Story: Houston Wedding Dance Lessons!
Written by Marla Archer, May 2006

A little over a year ago, Rick told me there was one area at the studio where I could make a huge contribution - that would be teaching Wedding Dance Lessons.

I was skeptical at first.

For one thing, why couldn't Rick teach the lessons? After all, Rick had 30 years of experience on me. Rick replied that in his opinion a woman was far more effective at teaching these lessons than a male instructor.

Since men are largely responsible for the success of the Wedding Dance, the majority of the training revolves around them. Rick said the easiest way to teach rhythm and leads is to physically dance with the Groom. Progress is far quicker this way because the instructor can "feel" the mistakes and make corrections right on the spot. Rick added that the men were usually very nervous to begin with. He pointed out that the few times he had attempted to dance the "follow" part in a wedding lesson, the men had given him looks that indicated they were deeply unhappy about this development. The thought of dancing with him was about as pleasant as submitting to a root canal. Rick was more than slightly certain the men would be far more cooperative if I was the instructor than him.

My second reservation was the time involved. Why spend all that time learning to teach Waltz, Foxtrot and Slow Dancing for an occasional private lesson? Rick assured me that I would be busier than I ever imagined.

I took Rick's word for it and said I would do my best. Let me add that I was more than slightly surprised when it turned out he was right about everything he had told me!

Over the past year I have taught Wedding Dance Lessons to 120 couples. I never dreamed so many people needed help learning to Waltz, Foxtrot and Slow Dance!

What I discovered is that the majority of couples who are getting married don't have a clue when it comes to the "Lost Art" of Formal Dance. It turns out there are certain practical skills in life like the ability to change a tire, do CPR, or treat a snake bite that some people take the time to learn, but most people don't. The ability to Formal Dance is a skill most Americans can avoid if they try hard enough, but there is ONE certain time in most people's lives where this skill becomes very important.

That's where I come in. It helps that it wasn't so long ago that I was the bride myself. Rick and I got married in September 2004.

With that experience fresh in my memory, I can still relate to the desire to be Cinderella for my Prince Charming. Isn't that every girl's fantasy?

Ladies, admit it . . .You have fantasized about your Wedding Day since you were a small child. One of the important parts of that "dream" is your First Dance. You want to glide across the dance floor with your handsome husband holding you in his arms while all your friends and family smile with pride and happiness. This is YOUR DAY!!!! I simply can't think of any more important day other than maybe the birth of your children. The First Dance is where it all gets started.

I wanted to be graceful when I danced my Wedding Dance. As a result, Rick and I practiced several times a week for almost a year preparing for the First Dance. I intended to be ready! As a result, I wasn't even remotely scared when it came time to dance in front of my family and friends.

Now in my capacity as a Wedding Dance teacher, I work with Wedding couples and frequently I have the pleasure to work with parents, siblings, and friends as well. Working with the Wedding "Families" has been a source of great reward to me. It is fun to bask in the powerful positive energy that surrounds this happy event. I really enjoy this unusual yet very special teaching responsibility. It is a privilege to be able to contribute to the success of such an important event.

I think my students realize that I really care that they do well. It seems as I get more teaching experience, they turn around and send their friends to me as well for their Wedding Dance. As a result, I have been getting busier and busier.

Not long ago, my increased schedule resulted in a very odd coincidence. On Saturday, April 22nd, I had the unusual experience of having 5 wedding couples get married on the same day! In fact, I was so amazed that I decided to write this story. On Sunday, May 22nd, I was drinking coffee and reading the Chronicle when my eyes focused on the picture of someone who seemed familiar. Sure enough, one of my brides, Heidi Matthews, was featured in the Houston Chronicle. Isn't Heidi beautiful!

I let out a shriek which led Rick to look up and ask what all the fuss was about. I pointed to Heidi's picture and told him I had helped prepare Heidi and her husband Kenny Ewing for their First Dance. He smiled and said he was proud of me.

I carefully read the story below Heidi's picture, which is how I noticed the April 22nd date. That date sure seemed familiar for some reason. So I went in my office and picked up my day planner. I scanned the information I keep about each couple and noticed the date "April 22" kept appearing.

After I finished counting, I realized I had the names of FIVE couples who all got married on the same day! I could not have been more proud!

It is fun to know that I made a significant contribution to each couple on one of the most important days of their lives.

I went and told Rick that five different couples of mine had gotten married on the same day. He said he was impressed. Then he suggested I write a story about it. I thought about it for a minute and decided to do just that!


Heidi and her husband Kenny danced a Slow Dance to "At Last" by Etta James. No surprise there - "At Last" is a song regularly selected by many couples. It is a definite favorite "First Song" to be sure.

Heidi was originally referred to me by Jeff Gray. Jeff had taken the SSQQ Alaska Cruise with his girlfriend Sally in July 2005. Jeff and Sally grew so close on that trip they got married just four months later! That cruise definitely sped up their time table... but that's another story. After Jeff returned from the cruise and found out that his co-worker Heidi was looking for a dance instructor, Jeff was kind enough to refer Heidi and Kenny to me.

When Kenny and Heidi first contacted me on January 24, they told me they were interested in learning how to Waltz. However when I met with them for the first time on February 17, after a brief discussion and demonstration, they found Waltz a bit too intimidating. That is when they decided to switch to a Slow Dance. This wasn't the first time I have seen this happen. Many couples expect to Waltz at their Wedding only to find out how much time and preparation is involved in learning this beautiful, but difficult dance. Invariably they realize that at this late date they have no choice but to check off from their original plans and switch to an easier dance like Slow Dance or Foxtrot.

Kenny picked up the Slow Dance steps very well. I suspected he either had some natural ability or had taken lessons before. Maybe even both! Kenny definitely looked like he would do just fine.

Most couples wait till the last minute to contact me. Kenny and Heidi were the exception - they actually contacted me three months ahead of time. However since Kenny was so comfortable with the material, they didn't need any follow-up lessons. Three months later I was definitely shocked when I saw Heidi's lovely picture in the Chronicle. I was so happy for her!

My other four couples that married on April 22nd were more representative of my usual experience because they waited until just two weeks ahead of time to get in touch. Sure enough, each couple waited until the week of April 10th to schedule a lesson.

My second couple was very talented. Pooja and Steve had danced previously. All they really needed was some refresher information. As a result, I gave them an hour of review on the basic steps to both Foxtrot and Waltz moves and then they were on their way. They had not picked a song yet, so I am unsure what dance or song they eventually decided on.

My third couple, John and his fiancιe Jai, Slow Danced to Dido's beautiful song "Thank You". This couple had no previous dance experience when they arrived. Fortunately they had a natural aptitude for dance. They were able to learn a memorized pattern and move gracefully about the dance floor after only an hour lesson.

My fourth couple was desperate! Neelesh and Shalini waited till the very last minute. They were going to dance a fast-tempo Slow Dance to "How Sweet It Is" by James Taylor. They did surprisingly well. It's a good thing too, because there was no time for any follow-up lessons. Neelesh flew out of town the same evening on a business trip and was not scheduled to return until a couple days before the wedding.

The fifth April 22nd couple, Stephanie and Greg, booked a Slow Dance lesson for themselves on Tuesday. The next evening Stephanie came back and learned how to Foxtrot to "Brown Eyed Girl" with her Dad.

One thing that was a bit unusual about my five April 22 couples is that each couple came alone with the exception of Greg and Stephanie. I would say about a third of the time I work with "Families". Usually one or more members of the family tag along for the lesson or they come separately like Stephanie's father for a lesson of their own.

Over the course of my first year of teaching Wedding Dance lessons, I have had several marvelous experiences working with Fathers of the Bride. I have taught quite a few "Dads" who came in to learn how to dance because they discovered they were in the same boat as their future son-in-laws when it came to the "Lost Art of Formal Dance".

Here is a typical email from one of my students who is writing not only to schedule her own lesson, but her father's lesson too:


Thank you so much for our lesson last night. We are going to practice! I promise! Luckily we have a very large and open kitchen. :)

With that said, we still need more practice with a "professional". Plus, I need to schedule sessions for me and my Dad. Here are the dates that I have free. Would it be possible to schedule 6-7pm sessions for the following:

02/21 (w/Dad)
02/28 (w/Eric)
03/02 (w/Dad)
03/14 (w/Eric)

Let me know if these work for you. You have a great teaching style and were so patient with us! Thanks again. Amy

Sometimes I cry too. I had one Father of the Bride, Henry, who came in to learn Slow Dance. He was an incredibly gracious man. He had a very sad story. His wife was ill with cancer and was too sick to accompany him. This meant he needed a dance partner to practice with. That would be me.

Here is part of a brief email he sent following the wedding:

Sent: Monday, January 09, 2006 10:24 AM
To: Marla
Subject: THANKS

I would like to thank you so much for the private lessons. The step-by-step instruction and extreme patience was wonderful. The father/daughter dance was very special and made even more special by your kindness and care in instruction. My daughter made the comment "I wish she was here to see us" - your studio and flexibility is just great.

Thanks again - Henry

Not only did four of my five April 22nd couples wait till the last minute, they had something else in common as well- not one couple came back for a second lesson. I estimate that half my couples take at least two private lessons. One couple even came five times!

However since my April 22nd couples all waited till the last minute, time-wise a follow-up lesson was impractical. I work pretty fast, but I can't work miracles. It would be indelicate to name names, but I was pretty worried about one of my five couples. The Fiancι was just barely getting the hang of it by the end of the lesson. I can only hope he practiced and practiced and practiced in the few days left leading up to their Wedding or they would be in big trouble out on the floor.

If you wait till the last minute and you have no previous experience, your options are pretty limited. Most couples prefer to avoid "The Clutch and Sway". The Clutch and Sway may be the dance of choice wearing togas at a Frat Party, but those will be the longest three minutes of your Life if all you do is stand there and rock back and forth at your Wedding Dance with every important person in the world watching on.

Fortunately the footwork to Slow Dancing is simple enough to learn in one hour and it turns out to be a vast improvement over the Clutch and Sway. Most people can pick up "Side Touch Side Touch Walk Walk, Side Touch Side Touch Turn Turn" with a modicum of ease. Not everyone, mind you, but most of my students do okay. Occasionally I am tempted to suggest we let the Bride lead, but to date I have been able to hold my tongue.

Foxtrot is a little trickier. If a Sinatra Foxtrot like "The Way You Look Tonight" is the dance of choice, then two lessons are recommended (or even three lessons). Foxtrot takes longer to learn than Slow Dancing because I have to spend quite a bit of time teaching "Frame" where the man and woman use their parallel shoulders to create matching footwork. Lead/Follow in Slow Dancing is much easier to learn. Once they understand the concept of Frame I move on to footwork. I teach a simple amalgamation of basic Foxtrot moves which includes several options off the Box Step. I tell the couples to repeat the pattern a couple times to fill out the time in their song, then conclude with a side lunge and dip. I make sure the groom kisses his bride as their Grand Finale. The guys seem to enjoy practicing that part and the ladies don't seem to mind either.

Wedding Lessons are not always a picnic in the park. Because so many people wait to the last minute, there is a definite air of tension at the start of many lessons.

The number of lessons needed to learn Foxtrot varies by experience. Pooja and Steve (one of my April 22 couples) had taken lessons before. They only needed one lesson. But they were the exception, not the norm. Most couples with no previous dance experience require at least two lessons. In my experience, if time permits, 3 lessons guarantees the couple will feel comfortable on the dance floor.

One problem I have no control over is the amount of practice the couple is willing to put in after the lesson. Practice can make a world of difference, but from what I have observed only about half my couples actually take the time to really at it.

Frequently the groom is more than a little hesitant about coming in for the lesson. I am not sure exactly what they are afraid of, but they seem relieved to discover I am not the Wicked Witch of the West. Judging by how worried they are, I see what Rick meant when he told me a lady instructor was far more effective at this particular assignment than a male instructor. Sometimes they can barely work up the courage to dance with me! I grin to myself as I imagine the panic they would experience if it was my husband who was suggesting they dance with him!

Matias was an example of one young man (late 20s) who came in with a deeply worried look on his face. He was very reluctant. The first lesson went slowly. I pulled his fiancιe aside and suggested to Alma that she encourage him to practice. Fortunately she took me seriously and made Matias practice.

Here is an email from Alma from Friday, March 17th:

Hi Marla: I had a lot of fun yesterday! Matias was a little embarrassed I guess. We've danced only ONCE together and he's never danced before. But we want to practice, practice, practice what we learned and I will get back with you next month so we can do another private lesson.

The practice worked magic. A month and a half later Alma and Matias returned on April 29th for their second Slow Dance lesson. I was impressed by how much Matias had improved.

The second lesson went much better. This time Matias was much more confident. He was eager to get better. This was a 180 degree turnaround from their first visit. I was impressed by how much Matias had improved and told him so. Both people left the lesson with big smiles on their faces.

As a side note, Alma and Matias danced to as their first dance at their wedding on May 13th. I rarely comment on a couple's choice of music, but I will say I suppressed a couple giggles over that song! Try listening to "A Groovy Kind of Love" ten times in an hour and see if you can keep a straight face!

Teaching Wedding Lessons requires more than just a knowledge of footwork and frame - sometimes I have to be a serious politician and therapist too.

Most of my early focus is developing a rapport with the gentlemen. We know that all eyes will be on the Bride during the First Dance, but the skill level of the groom ultimately determines how graceful she will actually look.

The vast majority of the men are just as cooperative as they possibly can be. However once in a while, I will get a man who comes in sullen because he feels he has been forced to take this lesson. Here is the time when the gentle approach is the only possible way to go. I move slowly at his pace and compliment him whenever I can. In these situations, I have found I have the best luck if I dance with the man myself until he gets it right. Once his confidence appears, his bad attitude often seems to magically melt away. Believe it or not, some of my favorite lessons started off very awkwardly like this. The man came in frowning, but after he found out it wasn't as hard as he thought it would be, he left beaming and talking about coming back for another lesson!

I try to be as gentle and patient as possible with my men. They always respond better to a lighter touch as opposed to a drill sergeant approach. However there are some guys I simply cannot reach. Occasionally I run across a man who simply will not listen. Sad to say, in these situations I find my hands are tied. I do my best to gain their trust, but I won't lie and say I am always successful.

You might be surprised that my toughest situations are more often in dealing with the ladies. For some reason, some women do not realize how difficult it is for non-dancers to suddenly learn to dance. Since dancing seems to come so naturally to most women, they can't seem to understand that "leading" is very tricky to learn.

Let's face it. Some guys don't get it right off the bat. At this point, some women lose patience and decide to start telling them how to do it themselves. In other words, they turn into the instructor. This is a very dark development, believe me. The moment Bridezilla appears, I know we are in serious trouble. I see the men cringe with frustration! Heck, I cringe too!

The most important thing for the couple to do is to keep smiling. The moment the lady begins to tell the guy how to dance, that smile sinks down to Davy Jones locker. Pressure is no way to get results. Usually the guy forgets everything he has learned to this point. He is so worried about making a mistake now that he can barely think straight.

One time I had a guy get so intimidated by his fiancιe's constant criticism, I threw my hands up and said "It's time for a Break!". I went to the drink room to get a coke for myself. I intended to bring my couple soft drinks as well, but for some reason I decided to bring the man a beer instead. Amazingly, the beer made them both laugh. The tension was broken.

Fortunately this problem doesn't happen very often any more. When I first started, I had many a lesson with a demanding bride pushing her future husband to do better. Once I figured out how destructive that behavior was, I learned to intercede instantly and diffuse the tension.

Since then I have actually stopped more than one bride in her tracks because she was being overly critical of her fiancι. I tell both of them you simply cannot "pressure" someone to learn to dance faster. I point out that if the man freezes up, the whole thing will take longer. Most ladies respect my advice and back off immediately. Again, sad to say, a few brides don't listen to me. Those are very long hours.

Fortunately very few women brush me off. Most ladies realize I have her best interests at heart and respect my intervention. Once I get the bride to ease up, from then on the majority of the time the couples have a good time. That's when we see real progress begin. I have noticed that many times lessons that started awkwardly turn out very well.

Occasionally I get invited to the Weddings, but so far I have declined. For one thing, I have yet to train a couple I knew on a social basis before the Wedding, so I have always felt it would be inappropriate to attend. Besides, I work practically every Saturday afternoon. Once my lessons and registration duties are over, my mind turns to dinner and movie night with Rick.

That said, I will admit I have been sorely tempted to accept several times. I grew very close to one of my first wedding couples Katharine and Justin. We met on four different occasions. They were a marvelous couple. They were so eager to learn and so appreciative. I got such a kick out of their excitement. We even had stupid jokes. They were getting married in Justin's hometown in Australia. Our favorite joke was they might have to dance counter-clockwise to keep their balance on the flip side of the Earth. I guess you would have to be there for that one to be funny.

At their last lesson, all three of us were beaming because Justin had just passed a crucial test. I had just finished watching them handle a little obstacle course of chairs I had built for them. Since it was our fourth lesson, I had time to create a replica of their dance floor using the chairs to serve as a perimeter. This way the man finds out if he has the skill to ad lib a pattern if he gets stuck near the edge of the imaginary dance floor.

Justin had just passed his test with flying colors! In the middle of the song, Justin beautifully negotiated a tight corner with a surprise "unchoreographed move". Katharine was so impressed she gave him such a big hug!

We all started to laugh at Katharine's excitement. On the spur of the moment Justin invited me to come to their wedding. I don't know what came over me, but for an irrational moment I was sorely tempted to accept.

That's when we all remembered the wedding was Down Under!  Coming to my senses, I quipped that if Justin bought me a ticket, I would start looking for a new dress!

I have had other interesting experiences- one of my favorites was the time Rick's daughter Samantha referred one of her teachers to me!  Well, actually, Samantha referred Lisa to her father, but Rick persuaded Lisa to accept me instead. I am sure that Ryan, her fiancι, had no idea what he was missing.

I had to smile at their first lesson. It turns out Lisa is an athletic coach. In order to make our early evening lesson, she had no time to change after practice. So there she was in gym clothes, hair pulled up, with dirty, grass-stained field hockey shoes and all. Fortunately Lisa is a very beautiful woman and would look good wearing anything!

Lisa and Ryan learned to Foxtrot to Sinatra's "Just in Time". They were moving deftly across the dance floor after only three lessons.

One day soon after the wedding, Lisa pulled Samantha aside at school to tell her how proud I would have been to see them as they danced their first dance. Always the perfectionist, Lisa told Sam they only made one mistake, but recovered quickly. After Sam reported the story back to me, I smiled at the compliment. And I laughed at the mention of the mistake. After all, even my own husband with 30 years of dance experience flubbed a move at our Wedding Dance, a fact I love to needle him about.

The important thing is that you laugh about it together.

My thanks go to my five April 22nd couples for inspiring me to write this story and to all of my 120 couples who made my first year of teaching Wedding Dance lessons a memorable one. It is a blessing to be permitted the chance to contribute to the most important day of many people's lives.

(Editor's Note: read more about Marla Archer's Houston Wedding Dance Lessons at



Saturday, June 10th
9:15 pm - Midnight
Cover charge $7

Crash Courses 7-9 pm

BEG SALSA - Martin
INT SALSA - Andrew


Saturday, June 24th
9:15 pm - Midnight
Cover charge $7


BRYAN'S WCS STUNTS AND ACROBATICS CLASS - Bryan Spivey (couples only!)

If you have never taken Rick's Sock Hop Line Dance class before, this is your chance to learn 9 classic "Blast from the Past" Line Dances including the Stroll, Hully-Gully, Cold Sweat, Hand Jive, Harlem Shuffle, See You in September Cha Cha, Twisting the Night Away, Land of 1000 Dances, and best of all the legendary Grapevine Dance. A big part of the Sock Hop is getting a crowd of 75 people out on the floor to perform these line dances during the evening.

PS- For more fun, wear a 50s/60s outfit to the Line Dance Crash Course with an eye towards staying for the annual SSQQ Sock Hop afterwards!

Room 1 for this party is reserved for Swing and Jitterbug Dancing plus all the crazy 50s Line Dances we perform at this party. Room 4 is reserved Whip/WCS dancing to the great Whip music of the 60s and 70s.


We had two weddings in May and one engagement announced.

Sorrell Warren and Penney Godwin were married on May 21, 2006.
Gonzalo Manuel and Claudia Ochoa were married on May 20, 2006.

Larry and Pam are engaged, but I can't say anything more until Larry tells the kids. So we can check back on them next month!


-----Original Message-----
From: bryan spivey
Sent: Thursday, May 25, 2006 5:35 PM
To: Rick Archer
Subject: the big dance contest

"Hey Rick,

This past weekend The Texas Classic was in town. It is a country western event that belongs to the UCWDC circuit. Texas Classic also has a West Coast/Whip competition held on Fridays.

During the competition I was able to dance with my of my students in the PRO-AM division and all of them did very well. Phyllis Porter was one of the ladies that danced and it was her FIRST time out there. Phyllis looked poised and she came out on top! That's right!

Phyllis won first place in the newcomer division.

My Mom competed with me also. She got 2nd place in the Novice division.

Mom won the Newcomer division last year at the same event, and now that first place trophy belongs to Phyllis. Maybe they will give the trophy to SSQQ permanently.

Cher Longoria and Krista Johnson also did very well in their divisions placing 5th.

Heather Blue and Dennis Taupo, former SSQQ students, won their routine division and Heather also danced with me and got 3rd place in the PRO-AM.

It was a great weekend and all of the ladies looked great out there. Valerie Menard (my partner from Louisiana) performed our routine Friday night as well.

Many thanks. Also, wish Lisa and I luck...we are traveling to Atlanta to do a WCS competition over Memorial Day weekend. Valerie and I will be competing for the first time. It is going to be a lot of fun."

(Editor's Note: Phyllis Porter already had the strongest sense of self-esteem I have ever seen and now she goes out and wins a dance contest!! The Center of Attention already had a bad attitude around the studio, but this will surely put her over the edge.

About two weeks before the competition, Phyllis actually permitted me to dance with her for the first time in ages. I was surprised to note how much she had improved and against my better judgment I even told her so.

I am really proud of Phyllis even though I know I will NEVER hear the end of this.

I am sure this was just another Paris Hilton stepping stone moment. I believe Phyllis has embarked on a career of being famous simply because she is famous.)


(Rick's Note: This is a reprint of an article about Lance Armstrong I read in a recent issue of Sports Illustrated.

Although I doubt there are very many people who are not familiar with Lance Armstrong, he is one of the most famous athletes in the world as the 7-time champion of the illustrious Tour De France bicycle race. Last year Mr. Armstrong retired from cycling after winning his seventh title. He is the first racer to ever hold seven titles. It was an amazing sports achievement.

Most people also know that before he began his amazing string of victories, he was diagnosed with a case of testicular cancer. This cancer not only threatened to end his cycling career, it also threatened to end his life.

Lance Armstrong fought the cancer and beat it. No athlete in memory has ever overcome longer odds to become a world champion, much less a seven-time champion. It was an incredible feat.

Now people are saying that Mr. Armstrong has a chance in his Second Career as a fund raiser for Cancer Research to totally transcend all his previous remarkable accomplishments. Mr. Armstrong has committed the rest of his life to fighting cancer.

Lance Armstrong could care less about politics. His friends include both President Bush and former President Clinton. Another close friend is Hamilton Jordon from the Carter Administration. In addition, Mr. Armstrong is on a first-name basis with the leaders of major corporations, medical leaders, and world leaders. He is uniquely positioned to speak with anyone in the world who is willing to listen.

I am amazed that a man with his accomplishments would continue to fight like he does. Most people assume that Mr. Armstrong would kick up his feet, open a beer, and watch the clouds roll by. Not this guy. Instead he is working just as hard now as he did before against one of the most dangerous diseases in human history.

Nor is he alone. Mr. Armstrong has a foundation that is run by several men and women who have lost children and other loved ones to cancer. They are just as eager to fight back against this dread disease as Lance Armstrong is.

Lance Armstrong could care less about money. He could care less about power. He doesn't need to prove anything to anyone. All he wants to do is conquer cancer. I will follow a man like this without any questions asked. I am deeply moved by his commitment.

I was so moved by the Sports Illustrated article by Austin Murphy that I immediately went to the Internet and signed up with the Lance Armstrong Foundation. I encourage others to do the same.


By Austin Murphy

Lance Armstrong will drive the pace car, a 505-hp Corvette Z06, at the Indianapolis 500 on May 28. Tip for Indy officials: Feed him before he gets behind the wheel.

Earlier this year Armstrong was piloting his black BMW M5 at roughly twice the speed limit down a rural highway while devouring a teriyaki beef wrap from the takeout window at Roscoe's, the culinary acme of Dripping Springs, Texas. The business of eating the wrap while dipping chips into a small container of salsa forced him to take both hands off the wheel periodically and steer with his left knee. When his passenger offered to take the wheel, the Texan fixed him with the Look.

You do the interview," he directed. "I'll drive the car and eat my lunch."

You remember the Look: the glare that bored holes in the psyches of Armstrong's opponents while he won seven straight Tours de France, beginning in 1999. The Look made seasoned professionals quail, robbed them of hope, bade them ask themselves, Why do I even bother?

Armstrong may have walked away from competitive cycling last July, but the power of his glower is undiminished. Ten months after his final descent from the top step of the podium on the Champs-Elysιes, he is focusing his gaze, his attention, his displeasure -- the Look -- on an old foe, the one that came close to killing him a decade ago.

Having finished his wrap and arrived at his destination, Armstrong sat at the dining-room table at his home outside Austin, sifting through a pile of correspondence. He stopped at a card that said, From Our House to Yours: the Kunz family. It included a snapshot of a good-looking couple and their two young children. The woman had been dead for six months. She succumbed to cervical chordoma, a rare form of cancer that, Armstrong believes, has a 100% mortality rate. "I mean, what kind of odds are those?" There is the Look again as he answers his own question: "Unacceptable."

Spencer Sartin was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in October 2004. Suddenly, everyone he met wanted to stick a needle in him. There were needles to take his blood, a needle to knock him out so he wouldn't feel the even bigger needle that doctors would use to draw bone marrow from his hip. Spencer is now six years old, in remission and on the cover of this magazine. (He's the one in the yellow jersey.) But he will remain in treatment for another 20 months, and he needs so many shots -- for chemo, for spinal taps, for the flu -- that he has forbidden his parents to use the word around the house. When Spencer needs an injection, his father, Rob, lets him know by using American Sign Language. "You point your right index finger at your left biceps," says Rob, "and push down."

Before his son fell ill, Rob had raised more than $5,000 for the Lance Armstrong Foundation. In fact, Spencer first exhibited the symptoms of his illness -- the stubborn fever that finally persuaded his pediatrician to order blood work -- while his parents were at a dinner for Ride for the Roses, a cycling event that raises funds for the LAF. Little wonder, then, that the boy has gone on the offensive against his affliction. It's as if, in addition to the chemo, he has Armstrong's attitude pumped into his veins. Spencer signed up for martial arts despite being, on some days, too weak to walk from his bedroom to the kitchen. And last October he and his father completed the 40-miler at the Ride for the Roses. Spencer pedaled a Trail-a-Bike attached to Rob's hybrid. "He worked his butt off," his father says. He also raised $32,500 for the LAF.

Spencer is a foot soldier in what could be called Armstrong's Army, a generation of cancer patients who are the opposite of passive victims. They are, like him, warrior-survivors. If he walked away from the fight today, that would be his legacy. But he isn't walking away. He's just getting warmed up.

These are the best of times and the worst of times in the fight against cancer. In 2003, a year after becoming director of the National Cancer Institute, Dr. Andrew von Eschenbach stunned the medical community by setting the goal of "eliminating cancer as a cause of suffering and death by the year 2015." Praised by some for his bold optimism, the director was attacked by others who found his objective unrealistic and -- in the likely event that the goal is not met -- certain to undermine the credibility of the NCI, the government's main spigot for the approximately $5 billion a year that flows into cancer research and training.

Without the spur of a deadline, Von Eschenbach argued during an interview last February -- a month before President Bush nominated him to head the Food and Drug Administration -- big goals are "meaningless." He then held forth for half an hour on why his target is within reach. He spoke excitedly about the "molecular metamorphosis" that has taken place over the last decade and about recently developed "proteomic and genomic tools that can detect the presence of cancer long before somebody's got a big lump."

He waxed optimistic about "advances in information technologies, opportunities to be able to use those tools, including the Internet, in a way that makes patients participants, rather than passive recipients, in their treatment." He asserted, "We've got the ball across midfield. If we just applied what we have in hand" -- for example, persuading Americans to undergo preventive procedures such as colonoscopies -- "we'd be getting pretty close to the red zone."

This "red zone" talk makes Hamilton Jordan red in the face. "Almost half the people alive today will have cancer in their lifetimes," thunders Jordan, a four-time cancer survivor who served as President Jimmy Carter's chief of staff. (As baby boomers age, decreases in mortality from other diseases will drive up cancer rates.) "That's a damn epidemic. And what are we doing about it? If you went back and added up all the budgets for the National Cancer Institute over the past three decades, we spent as much money on cancer as we spend in Iraq in nine months."

Von Eschenbach's gung-ho prognosis belies the kidney punch recently delivered to the very scientists on whom he must rely to meet his audacious goal. The day before Von Eschenbach gave his glowing assessment, the executive branch he serves proposed cutting the NCI's budget by $40 million, to $4.75 billion, for fiscal year 2007. The NCI is one of 27 centers and institutes run by the National Institutes of Health, whose budget was also decreased, for the first time in 36 years. In the current environment, says Doug Ulman, 28, a three-time cancer survivor who is the chief mission officer for the LAF, "people graduating from medical school fellowships and residencies are saying, 'I can't go into research. There's no money.'"

That may not change anytime soon, says Bush's more wonkish predecessor, an ardent FOL (Friend of Lance) who says he watched "almost every stage" of the 2005 Tour de France. "Regardless of which party takes the Congress next fall, or the White House in '08," says Bill Clinton, "we're stuck with this big deficit [projected to be $3.3 trillion over the next decade]. Even with a substantial change in policy, there will still be an enormous set of gaps between what the market will produce and what the government can provide. And the nongovernmental sector has to step into those gaps."

A mention of the ubiquitous Armstrong-inspired yellow wristbands triggers a Clintonian riff on how "the Internet and mass marketing mechanisms have increased the power of private citizens to do public good ... particularly if they are well led, whether it is by Bono or Bill and Melinda Gates or Lance Armstrong."

So this is what Armstrong does for an encore. This is the next hors catιgorie mountain looming before him: raising money, raising awareness, cajoling, bullying, shaming -- "making a significant difference in the battle against what's going to be the Number 1 killer in America," Armstrong declares. "That's how I make seven yellow jerseys look small."


"Ten years from now," says Clinton, "we may say Lance's second career was greater than his first."

Bono, by the way, thinks Armstrong should run for office. "Most people don't believe that the world can be changed," the Irish rock star and political activist says. "Lance is different. He understands that hills can be climbed, and he isn't even depressed when, upon reaching the summit of one, he sees a larger one [ahead]. He's used to that. That's what Lance Armstrong stands for."

Ixnay on politics, says Armstrong, who fears that the moment he chooses a political side, he will halve his influence. "I need to run for one office," he says, making up a title as he goes along, "the presidency of the Cancer Fighters' Union of the World."

He might have to wrest that title from Michael Milken, a cancer survivor whose Prostate Cancer Foundation has helped transform cancer research, streamlining the grant process and requiring recipients to share their research. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, in 2003 there were 369 fewer cancer deaths in the U.S. than the previous year -- the first decrease in 70 years. That's due in part to Milken, the former Wall Street financier who spent 22 months in jail in the 1990s for securities violations. Milken has smarts, money and access to the corridors of power. What he does not have, says the LAF's Ulman, is the ability "to reach millions of people."

Unlike Armstrong, in other words, Milken is not sitting on an army. The LAF has sold more than 60 million yellow livestrong wristbands. Armstrong and his advisers are still thinking about how and when they will mobilize that army -- whose ranks they encourage you to swell by clicking on www.livestrong.org. But when they do, says LAF marketing director Dave Lyon, "we're going to have an awfully big cannon to point."

Until then, Armstrong is enjoying life, smothering his three children with affection (they spend almost half their time with him; their mother lives less than two miles away), mountain biking on his ranch and doing homework: reading cancer literature and debriefing experts on cancer-related issues. For every day he has spent catching up on all the fun he missed over the last 10 years -- at the Rose Bowl in early January, Armstrong and fellow Texan Matthew McConaughey "tried to pack a four-year undergraduate experience into 48 hours," a friend recalls -- there is a day like Feb. 17, when the LAF brought together some of the brightest minds in the fight against cancer. The panelists were instructed to put all options on the table and suspend disbelief. "Don't think about what can't happen because of current realities," said Ulman. "Think about what needs to happen in your field." Armstrong scribbled notes and asked questions throughout the day.

Armstrong could coast now, says Bono, his friend and mentor ... and a man who knows a little about leveraging celebrity to do good. "But Lance wants to go back to school. And that makes him very dangerous. When a great man goes back to school, the Devil gets very depressed."

The devil is down there somewhere. Shortly after dark on Jan. 24 Armstrong is looking out the window of a private jet at the skyline of Las Vegas. He isn't crazy about the city; he doesn't like to gamble. "I worked too hard for my money to be throwing it away," he says -- a remark that sounds funny coming from a man who will be paid $150,000 to deliver a 30-minute speech to a group of Carrier air-conditioner salesmen on the following afternoon.

The devil is down there somewhere. Shortly after dark on Jan. 24 Armstrong is looking out the window of a private jet at the skyline of Las Vegas. He isn't crazy about the city; he doesn't like to gamble. "I worked too hard for my money to be throwing it away," he says -- a remark that sounds funny coming from a man who will be paid $150,000 to deliver a 30-minute speech to a group of Carrier air-conditioner salesmen on the following afternoon.

That's only one reason the man is not clipping coupons in retirement. Nike has extended its longtime relationship with Armstrong, Trek has conferred "athlete for life" status on him, and other companies are lining up to cash in on his aura. Most notable among them is American Century, the Kansas City-based investment house that manages $100 billion of assets and signed a three-year endorsement deal with Armstrong in February. Armstrong is especially comfortable with American Century: It is partly owned by the Stowers Institute, which was founded by Jim and Virginia Stowers, two cancer survivors who want to give their grandchildren, in the words of institute cochairman Richard Brown, "better choices for the treatment of illness and injury." After investigating dozens of centers in hospitals and universities around the country, and being turned off by what Brown describes as the "heavily bureaucratic, very expensive overhead layer of costs" often associated with academic research, the Stowerses decided to build their own institute.

It opened in November 2000. With its $2 billion endowment and its promise to scientists that they can spend their time doing research instead of writing grant proposals, "we have achieved noteworthy success in a short period of time," says Brown. "I'm certain we would qualify as candidates for rookie of the year."

So when Armstrong teamed up with American Century, his foundation linked up with the Stowers Institute, which shares his scorn for red tape and his impatience for breakthroughs. Brown was among the panelists invited to stir the pot at that Feb. 17 roundtable. He left impressed by the LAF's willingness to disrupt the status quo and by Armstrong's qualifications to lead the fight. "Lance has been in the darkest places a human can imagine," says Brown, "and fought his way out."

The morning of his speech in Vegas, Armstrong calls a reporter. He wants to go for a run. (He plans to run the New York City Marathon in November.) "Lobby in half an hour," he says. He arrives incognito in Cool Hand Luke shades and a USDA Forest Service ball cap, a gift from some rangers in the Angeles National Forest, where Armstrong did a photo shoot for a Dasani water ad.

One strategy for running with someone much, much more fit than you is to have him do most of the talking. I ask Armstrong about his bike ride with President Bush last August. Armstrong is one of the three members of the President's Cancer Panel. During lunch at his ranch in Crawford, Texas, Bush asked his guest what he needed in the fight against the disease. Replied Armstrong, "A billion dollars."

He followed that up with a letter to Bush in January reminding the President of his request and suggesting "it's time for a bold initiative to combat this disease which kills 560,000 Americans every year." Attached was an outline of the first steps in that initiative, a collaboration between the LAF and the American Cancer Society. At the bottom of the cover letter Armstrong dashed off a handwritten note: "Let's get back on the bikes ASAP!"

"Karl Rove called the next day," says Armstrong. The President's adviser praised Armstrong's initiative and said the Bush Administration wanted to work with him but did not promise any money.

This is the orbit in which Armstrong now travels. After this morning's jog, he will have lunch with Steve Wynn, whose name is on the side of the hotel in which we're staying, and an orange-robed Tibetan monk whom Armstrong later will describe as the "Dalai Lama's assistant." Over tuna tartare, Armstrong plants a seed: He wonders about the possibility of holding an LAF fund-raiser at Wynn's resort. These galas, along with the sale of wristbands, are the foundation's lifeblood: In one week last fall, LAF fund-raisers in Austin and New York City took in $12 million.

Of course, while it's great to raise "a million or a hundred million or 200 million," Armstrong will tell his audience of Carrier reps this afternoon, "what we really need is the b word, and that's billions." When Armstrong is involved, there is always hope: The next day he is scheduled to speak with White House budget director Joshua Bolten, who will follow up Rove's call.

Just before 2 p.m. Armstrong is led down a corridor at the MGM Grand -- the very corridor, he will soon tell his rapt listeners, in which he was introduced to Sheryl Crow. Nine days later he and Crow will officially break off their five-month engagement. Two nights after that, during his weekly Sirius satellite radio show, Armstrong will describe Crow as "one of the wisest, most gifted people I've ever met," a woman who showed him "a love that I never knew," and he will play the song Letter to God, off her album Wildflower, whose title song was inspired by Armstrong.

(On Feb. 24 Crow will reveal that she has breast cancer and has undergone "minimally invasive" surgery. After 33 radiation treatments, according to her website, she plans to begin touring on June 12.)

Waiting for Armstrong in the greenroom is a gaggle of yellow-shirted Carrier executives, including Geraud Darnis, the company president. "I grew up in France," he tells Armstrong, hastily adding, "I am a big fan."

In the arena, after an introductory video, Armstrong strides down a ramp to the lectern, which he doesn't need, since he will speak without notes for the next 35 minutes. "I was a little surprised when I found out that a French guy runs the company," he tells the reps, whose laughter fills the room. Armstrong is off and running even before unsheathing one of the most powerful weapons in the fight against cancer: his story. He transports his audience to the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, where a doctor pulled aside Armstrong's mother, Linda, to tell her, "We don't think your son's going to make it."

In his book It's Not About the Bike, Armstrong recalls how, on that grim morning, the oncologist outlined a treatment protocol involving the drug bleomycin, which would so damage his lungs that he would not be able to race again.

Weeks earlier Armstrong had opened an unsolicited letter from Steven Wolff, an oncologist at Vanderbilt's medical center who happened to be a cycling buff. Armstrong recounts in his book how Wolff urged him "in strong terms to get a second opinion from Dr. Larry Einhorn at Indiana University." Einhorn, Wolff explained, was the foremost expert on testicular cancer.

Armstrong followed Wolff's advice, and in the end he bailed on M.D. Anderson, one of the world's most highly regarded cancer centers, in favor of the Indiana University Medical Center in Indianapolis. There a colleague of Einhorn's named Craig Nichols gave Armstrong "almost a coin flip of a chance," then suggested a platinum-based chemotherapy protocol that would not compromise his lungs. Armstrong also had two lesions on his brain. While a standard treatment would have been radiation, Nichols and his colleague Scott Shapiro agreed that by excising the lesions instead, they would run a much smaller risk of damaging his cycling career.

By collaborating with his doctors and questioning them, by occasionally interrupting and even overruling them and generally making a nuisance of himself, Armstrong saved his career -- and possibly his life. Von Eschenbach credits him not just with giving hope to millions but also with providing a template for cancer treatment.

"A lot of people in cancer are still looking for the magic bullet," Von Eschenbach says. "Lance has demonstrated that it's not magic. It's personal commitment, bringing all the pieces together. There's no simple solution, but the impossible can be possible."

To bring those pieces together, Armstrong asks many questions. The video shown before his speech featured six-year-old footage of the cyclist on an early spring training ride up an alp called the Col de la Madeleine. It was raining and cold. U.S. Postal Service Team director Johan Bruyneel pulled alongside Armstrong in the follow car and said, "There's snow six kilometers from the top," Bruyneel said.

"Huh?" Armstrong replied.

"You cannot pass."

"How much snow?"

"A lot. From an avalanche."

"What if I keep going?"

"You can't. Three meters of snow. Guy says there's no way you can ride. No way."

"Who says that?"

And so on. This is how Armstrong rolls. By continuing to ask questions long after most of us would have become resigned to our fate, he eventually hears a palatable answer. Can this persistence be annoying? Absolutely. But it is useful in someone who intends nothing less than to change the world.

In the end he and Bruyneel stopped before the avalanche spot. Bruyneel told Armstrong to get in the car, told him he was done for the day. Armstrong begged to differ. "I think I'm going to ride a little more," he said, "go down 10K and come back."

As the Texan vanished down the mountain, Bruyneel stood in the rain, his grin cutting the gloom. "That's what it takes to win the Tour," he said. "Training in this weather. Nobody sees that."

Doug Ulman was sitting in his dorm room at Brown in October 1997 when he got an e-mail from a stranger: I just wanted to let you know that, as athletes, we have a lot in common. I've just started the Lance Armstrong Foundation. I know you have your own organization; if there's any way we can work together, let me know.

Doctors had told Ulman in August 1996 that he had a rare form of cartilage cancer. Rather than undergo chemo, he had part of his rib cage removed. "When I was diagnosed," he recalls, "I couldn't find any other people between 15 and 35 who had cancer." So he started the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults.

Ulman received two more cancer diagnoses over the next 10 months. Both times it was malignant melanoma; both times it was successfully excised. Despite these scares, Ulman helped Brown win three Ivy League soccer titles in four years. In 2001 he was hired by Armstrong, who describes him as "arguably the brightest young mind in this fight" and who cheerfully tolerates his chief mission officer's single shortcoming: Ulman is afraid to fly. He can bring himself to do it, but just barely. Early in the flight from Vegas back to Austin on Jan. 25 Armstrong asks the pilot to swing low over the Hoover Dam. The pilot takes a hard left, dipping the wing sharply, pinning the passengers to their seats and inducing near panic in Ulman, who shouts, "What's happening? Why are we doing this?"

Once the plane levels off, Ulman -- having regained his composure and natural color -- approaches Armstrong. The LAF's Washington-based lobbying firm has put together a dossier on Bolten, with whom they'll speak the next day. "Let's see," says Ulman. "Supposed to be a really nice guy.... He was executive director of legal and government affairs at Goldman Sachs in London.... Works till midnight.... Went to Princeton.... Likes motorcycles. Loves to bowl."

Armstrong nods. Considering the cost of the war in Iraq and the reconstruction of New Orleans, he doesn't expect much from the White House. And that's getting him worked up. "We're talking 1,500 people a day [dying from cancer], and it's not even on the political radar," he says. The problem, he goes on, "has been around so long, people have grown accustomed to it. They say, 'It's a shame. He was 75, he had prostate cancer, he didn't make it, but he had a good life.' Well, bulls---! He could've been 90 and been to another graduation, met his great-grandchildren."

Why is Armstrong so qualified to lead in this fight? Bono puts it this way: "We need winners advocating for the poor and the vulnerable. We need people who hate losing. Lance hates losing."

The voice on the speakerphone is Bolten's. He tells Armstrong and Ulman, who later summarize the call for SI, that he knows how much President Bush values his relationship with Armstrong. However, he says, "I cannot give you encouragement about what's in the '07 budget."

"Yeah," says Armstrong. "We had a feeling."

Bolten explains how long it takes to get a line item in the budget and says this budget was basically "written by September."

"That's why we asked in August," Armstrong replies.

Armstrong is sitting at a conference table in the offices of his foundation. At the far end of the table are four-year-old twins coloring furiously. Grace and Isabelle Armstrong are in the house.

Bolten is gracious as he explains how Hurricane Katrina eliminated any "flexibility" the Administration might have had in its budget. He repeatedly compliments Armstrong on the initiative the LAF sent to the White House. Bolten suggests a "dialogue" between the Administration and the LAF. After all, it won't be long before preparations for the '08 budget begin. (Ulman and Armstrong will travel to D.C. to meet with Bolten on March 28, the same day the White House announces that Bolten will become the President's new chief of staff. Bolten still makes the meeting.)

When Bolten tells Armstrong that he admires "what you do and how you do it," the Texan thanks, then browbeats him: "This should be a priority for everybody. The problem is too big, and it's only going to get bigger. I know there's Iraq and Afghanistan and Katrina, but this is more important."

In a smaller, more spartan office down the hall, Dave Lyon is going about his new job as the LAF's marketing director. He is in his third month with the foundation. Before that he'd spent 14 years as president of Texas-based TM Advertising. "You can only sell so many cars, so many bags of chips," he says. His face, ascetic in appearance -- the face of a monk or a marathoner -- lights up when he smiles. "Lance is not about incremental progress," Lyon says. "He wants to do something disruptive in this fight. Meaning, very big." Lyon wouldn't have left his plush advertising gig to work for someone who wasn't ready to break some crockery. On March 27, 2005, Easter Sunday, his daughter Meredith died of a cancer called neurofibrosarcoma. She fought the disease for nearly a year. Meredith Lyon had just turned 15.

Before dying, she endured seven surgeries, two of which lasted 12 hours, at M.D. Anderson. Lyon remembers hunkering down in the waiting room before one of those ordeals. "We were just another family sitting in the corner, trying to brace ourselves," he recalls. "All of a sudden, the top officers from the hospital started showing up, asking us if there was anything they could do."

Lyon had met Armstrong briefly while working on a Subaru ad. "We weren't very close," Lyon says, "but he reached out as if we were family." Armstrong -- who, despite having rejected M.D. Anderson's treatment plan in 1996, has a good relationship with the hospital -- had "called the very top [people at] the hospital to make sure we had what we needed," Lyon says.

"When you go through an experience like that, you learn an enormous amount," Lyon continues. "So when the lights go out, you realize: I have knowledge I can apply. Where do I put all this fight I still have in me?"

He is putting it into his new job, which consists of locating, then activating the legions of like-minded people wearing yellow wristbands. "Sixty million people have raised their hands in solidarity with Lance," Lyon says. "These people want to be told what they can do. They want to make a difference." Ex-ad guy that he is, Lyon has distilled their yearning into a pithy phrase. "What they're looking for," he says, "is the Next Right Thing."

Up the hall Armstrong is pondering how to respond to the Bolten teleconference. Does he call out the Bush Administration or hope that a year from now, when it's time to announce the '08 budget, the President does right by his fellow Texan?

Hamilton Jordan, for one, believes it's time for the army to affix bayonets. Jordan, who sits on the LAF's board, says, "You ask the American people, What's your greatest fear? It's not terrorism. It's not crime. It's cancer. And it's a rational fear. I'm not saying don't talk with Josh Bolten. But they oughta be getting the damn army geared up too."

Back on the freeway, behind the wheel of that sleek and sinister-looking Beemer, the head of that army is sounding bellicose. The $146 million raised by his foundation is all well and good, he allows. "But to find a cure, you're into government money." To affect policy, he says, "you've got to vote as a bloc. If we have an army of five million speaking with one voice -- that's real power. We should make the NRA look like the Tiddledywinks Association of America."

It is Friday. After flying from Los Angeles to Vegas on Tuesday and Vegas to Austin on Wednesday, Armstrong will head back to the airport. He is due in Ojai, Calif., for a sponsors' dinner for the Discovery Channel cycling team. "I need to be more retired," he says. In truth, he does not seem worn out. He seems energized and engaged -- liberated, at long last, to take on his life's work.

Before driving to the airport, he conducts a brief tour of the house next door, which he sometimes calls the Money Pit: the home that he and his children will soon occupy. The high point of the tour, for Armstrong, is the bedroom of his son, Luke. Its walls are adorned with dinosaurs: a pterodactyl, a triceratops, a T-Rex whose dull eyes and obvious voracity recall Armstrong's former cycling rival Alexander Vinokourov. "My son," he says, "has the coolest room of any six-year-old in the world."

The spacious house is luxurious in an unostentatious way. In the front yard, serving as a counterweight to the mansion's spanking brand-newness, is a massive oak, a tree that appears to have been on that spot for at least a century. Appearances, in this case, are deceiving. "That tree right there?" Armstrong says. "Used to be over there." He points to a lot 200 yards away. Arborists jacked it up with hydraulic lifts, slid a flatbed under it and rolled it over to its new home.

"I can't believe that was an option," says a visitor, and Armstrong responds in a tone suggesting the visitor has not been paying attention: "C'mon, man. Everything's an option."


2006 May: Charles Dickens

1. Anita Leung (11 months in a row!)
2. Randy Piniola (2 months in a row!)
3. Ann Faget (29 months in a row!)
4. Susan Arevalo (28 months in a row!)
5. Ritesh Laud (21 months in a row!)

It was the return of the usual suspects for the May SSQQ Logic Puzzle. Not one newcomer to the bunch. I guess the only logical conclusion to make is that there are no smart people among the studio's newcomers, wouldn't you all agree?

In the meantime, hats off to our five winners!


At our imaginary morning location, SSQQ has added a new daytime Ballroom dance program each morning Monday through Friday. The idea is to take a different Beginner-level Ballroom dance class each day of the week: Swing, Tango, Waltz, Foxtrot, and Cha Cha.

Each student takes the five different dances in any order they wish as long as each student takes all five. To fit a busy schedule, the student could take their class at several different times: 9 am, 10 am, 11 am, or noon.

Your job is to figure out which day the students take their dance classes. This is another difficult logic puzzle. Based on last month's results (see above), it is undoubtedly FAR TOO DIFFICULT for anyone who is taking classes here in the evening.

Hopefully our Usual Logic Suspects will be able to solve the puzzle until I can find an EASY ONE for people who are new to the studio.




(Editors Note - Over the years, I have published over 30 logic puzzles on the SSQQ web site. I do not supply the answers. Instead people email me their answers and I confirm them. Then I list their names as part of each Newsletter and tell the world how smart they are.

This next email exchange involves some man who is the president of a company. He emailed me I assume for the reason of receiving the answers to one of my logic puzzles called "The Baseball Puzzle". If you are actually curious, here is the puzzle:

It is one of the first puzzles I ever listed. It goes all the way back to 2003.

The puzzle says very clearly to email me the name of the First Baseman and I will confirm. That is all there is to it. It is a very simple system.

You can pick up the story from here.)

-----Original Message-----
From: M D
Sent: Tuesday, February 21, 2006 7:55 PM
To: dance@ssqq.com
Subject: Baseball Puzzle

I have found various answers to this puzzle as to who play's all positions. Do you know the CORRECT answer?

President, QMR & UTICA

----- Original Message -----
From: Rick Archer
To: M D
Sent: Wednesday, February 22, 2006 11:50 AM
Subject: RE: Baseball Puzzle

Do you have nothing better to do than ask a total stranger if he "knows" the answer?

-----Original Message-----
From: M D
Sent: Wednesday, February 22, 2006 12:03 PM
To: Rick Archer
Subject: Re: Baseball Puzzle

You don't want people asking the "answer" then you may want to remove your name from the website that says "click here for answer", which directs the question directly to YOU!!!!

----- Original Message -----
From: Rick Archer
To: MD
Sent: Wednesday, February 22, 2006 2:52 PM
Subject: RE: Baseball Puzzle

You didn't ask for the answer, now did you?? Instead you wanted to jerk my chain with your stupid question.

Quit wasting my time.

-----Original Message-----
From: M D
Sent: Wednesday, February 22, 2006 2:24 PM
To: Rick Archer
Subject: Re: Baseball Puzzle

My 10 year old son was trying to find the correct answer to see if he got the riddle correct. Last night we typed you this question "Do you know the CORRECT answer?" That looks to me like asking if you know the answer.

Don't bother answering, and thanks for being such a wonderful American!!!

----- Original Message -----
From: Rick Archer
To: MD
Sent: Wednesday, February 22, 2006 7:41 PM
Subject: RE: Baseball Puzzle

Of course I know the answer. You didn't ask for the answer!! You STILL haven't asked for the answer.

It is a shame you have no mastery of the English language. It must be difficult for you to ask a simple question.

The puzzle directs you to send me the name of the First Baseman.

That was obviously too challenging an instruction for you.

And now my patriotism is called into question. How does that follow? Logic may not be your strength.

-----Original Message-----
From: MD
Sent: Thursday, February 23, 2006 7:24 AM
To: Rick Archer
Subject: Re: Baseball Puzzle

You are truly a simple minded bitter little boy aren't you! You think I'm asking you for the answer.

You have obvious problems with the English language. I simply asked if you "know the CORRECT" answer, which you obviously don't.

You probably still think Harry is the pitcher. THAT'S BEEN PROVEN WRONG!!!

You think he's the pitcher because you don't understand the English Language. Read the riddle again!!!!

Actually don't bother, because your clearly too simple minded to understand how he's NOT the pitcher!!

Another hint, Allen is NOT the Catcher either!!

-----Original Message-----
From: Rick Archer mailto:dance@ssqq.com
Sent: Thursday, February 23, 2006 10:10 AM
To: MD
Subject: complaint of the month Baseball Puzzle

First you waste my time by asking if I know the answer, then you question my patriotism, then you accuse me of being simple-minded, and now you are telling me how to solve the puzzle without being asked.

Then you state I have problems with the English language when it is obvious to anyone I have an excellent command of the English language. If you are so smart, in what way do I have trouble with the English language?

Why don't you simply admit you asked a stupid question to begin with?

And now I have a question for you, Michael. If you aren't asking me for the answer, what is it you really want? Do you just pick websites at random and enjoy insulting complete strangers?


-----Original Message-----
From: M D
Sent: Monday, May 22, 2006 10:48 AM
To: onlineregistration@ssqq.com
Subject: Re: SSQQ Walk-in Registration Confirmation for D M

After attending your class several sessions, I want you to know how wonderful it is to have something I enjoy doing with my spouse. I have learned so much in (blank's) class. She is a great teacher and makes the class enjoyable. I do have a concern and would like to share it with management. I am in class on (blank). I do not mind if someone would pull me out towards the end of class to discuss my concern.

Your Student, DM

(Editor's Note: Recently I noticed our Hall Monitor engaged in a fifteen-minute conversation with the student who sent the email above. Apparently the student was not satisfied with the explanation because this email was sent a few days later.)

-----Original Message-----
From: M D
Sent: Friday, May 26, 2006 12:05 AM
To: onlineregistration@ssqq.com
Subject: Re: SSQQ Walk-in Registration Confirmation for D M

I do not care much for switching partners during the dance sessions. I believe that if I take a partner to learn with and another woman does NOT why should I be left alone to dance while someone is dancing with my husband.

The class I was in on the 3rd session I danced by myself about 8-10 times on my own, and the other sessions about 5-7. I understand that it's a business and if you demand other women to take partners you would loose financially. You see I am an oral surgeon and take time out to do something with my husband after months and months of discussing this so we could relax together and do something enjoyable.

I am 5l and do not wish to dance with other husbands or single men, I believe that it just causes problems for I have talked to several couples in the hospital about my adventure with ssqq and surprisingly I was not alone.

Please don't get me wrong I think your classes are wonderful and will continue to attend I just don't believe that you should make it mandatory to have to SWAP. There are still couples that enjoy dancing with each other and not others. Therefore we are interested in your one-one classes, private lessons, I am not sure what you call them please send me information so we can register for them. Again thanks, a couple that loves to learn and dance with each other. D M

RICK'S RESPONSE: At SSQQ Dance Studio, we have Group Classes and we have Private Lessons. At our Group Classes, we insist that people switch partners. This is mandatory.

This Rule is posted in many places including on everyone's receipt.

I certainly can understand that not everyone likes this rule. Certainly this student has a legitimate right to prefer to dance with her husband. I don't have any problem with her position, but I still expect her to follow the rules.

If we allowed her to have her way, the Group Spirit of the Group Class would come to a grinding halt. This is not my imagination or a catastrophic fantasy. It is the truth. I have not only seen this phenomenon before, I have documented it as well.

Please read the story called "A Group Class Disintegrates Before My very Eyes."

Here is a brief excerpt from this article:

"I was so disgusted I vowed that from now on even if I had to ask people to leave the class and refund tuition, I would rather do that than have people refuse to switch.

Most people do not mind "sharing", but if even one couple doesn't switch, then the selfish side of human nature is tempted to appear. From now on I wasn't going to give anyone a choice. This incident convinced me that for our Group Classes to work, switching is necessary."

There was a time when I would have engaged this student in a thirty-minute debate over these issues. No more. I have written enough on this subject. As the Hall Monitor explained, Group Classes have Rules. No one expects you to the Rules, but you must respect them. If you desire an explanation, go visit the SSQQ Web Site.

You will discover I have already written a book on every subject you can think of.

If after reading the Web Site explanations you still refuse to accept the Rules for Group Classes, then you are invited to consider Private Lessons.


Milt Oglesby submitted the June Joke Picture. My friend Gerald McEathron sent it to Milt, so I figure they can share the credit. Other people have sent me the same email that is featured this month, but I can't keep track so I will simply credit Milt and Gerald and be done with it.

This month's picture is not funny as much as it is freakish. It is the picture of a seven and a half foot woman who is built like Sophia Loren in her prime. If you are a red-blooded American boy, this is a sight for you to see. If you are a red-blooded American girl, you are likely to be amused as well.



June Hall of Fame Jokes

June CS 01: Mom's Driver's License - Gary Richardson
June CS 02: Sunbathing Nude - Leslie Wagner
June CS 03: Son in College - Reza Taherian
June CS 04: Father and Son - Rick Archer
June CS 05: Understanding Engineers - Jill Banta
June CS 06: The Blonde and the Highway Patrolman - Hieronymous Anonymous
June CS 07: Engineers Are Smarter Than Lawyers - Jill Banta
June CS 08: The Beautiful Senorita - Gary Richardson
June CS 09: Wild, Wild West - Sylvia Key
June CS 10: Three Turtles - Patty Jones
June CS 11: The Hero and the Biker Gang - Donna Ruth
June CS 12: Catholic Mothers Bragging about their Sons - Jon Holverson
June CS 13: Ten Dollars is Ten Dollars - Ann Bush
June CS 14: Sleepless in Seattle - Patty Jones
June CS 15: Better Work on Your Short Game - Joanne Armstrong
June CS 16: Clinton and the Sooey Pigs - Mary Collins
June CS 17: The Mistress - Ralph Volz and Patty Jones
June CS 18: The Dog Who Liked Football - Sharon Russell
June CS 19: The Sailor Finds a Room - Sharon Russell
June CS 20: Signs Seen in Hotels Around the World - Michael Yount
June CS 21: Aggie Funeral Director - Kathleen Parker
June CS 22: The Hearing Aid - Mike Guillory
June CS 23: The Lawn Mower - Mike Guillory
June CS 24: The Fishing Trip - Mike Guillory
June CS 25: Judgment Day - Mike Guillory and Pat Roberts
June CS 26: Cannibal Dinner Plans - Joseph Stuteville
June CS 27: The Pope and the Chauffeur - Joseph Stuteville
June CS 28: The Catholic School - Leroy Ginzel
June CS 29: Mood Swings - Judy Walsh
June CS 30: Colored Folks - Leroy Ginzel
June CS 31: A Father-Daughter Talk About Politics - Chris Holmes
June CS 32: Why Men Lie - Tom Huddleston
June CS 33: A Frenchman, a German, and an Englishman - Chris Holmes
June CS 34: Saddam - Lynn Griffiths
June CS 35: Father Explains Condoms to His Son - Judy Walsh
June CS 36: Boys Night Out - Anita Williams
June CS 37: Girls Night Out – Chris Holmes
June CS 38: Time to Call CSI – Maureen Brunetti
June CS 39: Shortest Joke of the Year – Judy Walsh
June CS 40: Not the Sharpest Knife in the Drawer – Chris Holmes

Best New Jokes

My special Thanks to the following people for contributing the jokes listed below:

6 kinds of sex - Sam Longoria

The Mental Asylum - Loni Lewellyn

The Good Ole Boys - Milt Oglesby

California Then and Now - Gary Richardson

Subject: Clever Book Report - Carla Upchurch and Phyllis Porter

Dennis and the IRS - Loni Lewellyn

The Goldfish - Chris Holmes

Things Kids Say - Dakota Wilhelm

Leroy's Favorite Leroy Joke - Leroy Ginzel

Living to a Ripe Old Age - Abbie Barbley

Community Property - Carol Gafford

Old Henry - Paul Eustace

Osama Writes George a Letter - Milt Oglesby

Bill and the Pickle Factory - Milt Oglesby

The Restaurant - Milt Oglesby

Church Bells - Milt Oglesby

Six Classic Affairs - Lynn Griffiths

Things to Say When Caught Sleeping at Your Desk - Abbie Barbley

Three Thoughts - Bett Sundermeyer

Akelaah and the Spelling Bee - Paul Havlak

Ole and Lena - Lynn Griffiths


(Editor's Note: It appears that access to the SSQQ Web Site is increasingly being denied to people at their places of work, probably due to the presence of some pretty wonderful jokes with naughty themes like the ones above.

Here are two examples of this disturbing phenomenon. )


-----Original Message-----
From: G G
Sent: Thursday, August 04, 2005 6:03 PM
To: 'Rick Archer'
Subject: RE: August 2005 Newsletter

Oh My Gosh, Rick, our company internet police have struck again! This is what I got when I tried to check out SSQQ's site:


Strangely enough, it does let the registration pages thru, but not your main page. Weird! I was able to get to the
https://www153.ssldomain.com/ssqq/, but not the jokes...I will have to send it to my home...will take care of it.



-----Original Message-----
From: S.U.
Sent: Thursday, January 12, 2006 3:23 PM
To: dance@ssqq.com


Just thought I would let you know that my wife and I are no longer able to access your SSQQ website from our jobs computer because of the content of the website due to (as I understand it) the web police convicted you of "morally offensive humor" (i.e. not P.C.) The most negative impact I know of from this situation is that we can't do online registration from work. Since we are not at home on the pc there very much, this is an inconvenience.

Plus I was just trying to show the website & online registration to a lady I work with who, with her husband, have been talking about taking lessons for several months. But the website couldn't be accessed.

This restriction may also have been made by the nationwide web police which means that those of us with the web browsers (MS Internet Explorer) set to exclude "questionable" websites will not connect either.

A suggestion: Make a second website to hold the photos and jokes, etc but have one website strictly for your business. Considering WWW.SSQQ.COM has already been branded, you might think about bringing a new one up for the business ("WWW.SSQQDANCE.COM" might work?)

Good Luck, S.U.

-----Original Message-----
From: Rick Archer
Sent: Friday, January 13, 2006 7:38 AM
To: SU

Good grief. I don't even begin to know what to say. I guess its true that my web site is slutty after all. ;-)

Well, tough.

There might be a simple way around it. The Online Registration is at a different site.

See if you can access it from work.

-----Original Message-----
From: SU
Sent: Friday, January 13, 2006 10:06 AM
To: Rick Archer

Thanks, Rick.
I can access the registration directly.
That works fine.

-----Original Message-----
From: Rick Archer
Sent: Friday, January 13, 2006 10:51 AM
To: SU

And thank you for telling me. That was disturbing news, but I will live.

Besides, people have a way of getting around censors. No one likes Big
Brother telling them what to read and see. You know and I know the ssqq web
site is a little naughty, but mostly it is good, clean fun.


Although I am alarmed that the SSQQ Web Site is falling prey to corporate censors, I don't see what good it is going to do to fight the problem.

I suppose the number one problem is our Jokes page, but seven years of the SSQQ Newsletter has plenty of risquι stories and references as well.  And maybe I shouldn't tell anyone about some of the pictures from our Mardi Gras Cruise Trip either.

The entire problem is incredibly pervasive. I have people who email me begging me to remove pictures of them in bathing suits and belly dance outfits from Cruise write-ups and Halloween pictures. One woman who became a Christian thought a five-year old cruise picture revealed too much. I took a look and thought she was out of her mind. Another woman got an important teaching job only to find one her new students googled and oogled over teacher and her belly dance outfit.  She asked me to remove that too.

On the other hand, one lady said she got more business for her dermatology practice after a potential client saw her and her husband place in the Top 10 for our Halloween costume contest. Win some, lose some.

Thanks to Google, apparently no one can hide from the excesses of having good, clean fun.

I would appreciate if other people would email me to report further cases of censorship. If anyone has any advice or suggestions about this problem, please let me know.

I have a question: Do you think I should clean up the SSQQ web site or just let the Corporate Web Censors have their way?

And if I do decide it isn't worth changing the web site to make the Internet Police happy, do you think I should add the infamous Blue Side Jokes to our regular Joke Page?

This is YOUR NEWSLETTER too. It will not succeed without the support of the people who read it. So I would appreciate any opinions and input. Your responses will be kept private. I may reprint them, but I will never use your name.


In last month's Newsletter, I ran an article about two missing items of clothing. Here is a reprint from the May Newsletter:


Oddly enough, we have had two articles of clothing go AWOL so far this year.

"At the 2006 New Years Party, Iqbal Nagji discovered his coat was missing. On further inspection, he found another coat that was practically identical in appearance, but didn't fit. It is very likely that someone accidentally switched coats. The "wrong coat" hangs in my DJ booth at the studio in case someone reads this story and puts 2 and 2 together.

One year ago Mara Rivas loaned Marla Archer a black satin tie-up-front sleeveless "Sleazy Dress" for the April 2005 Sleazy Bar Party. Unfortunately Marla didn't feel comfortable wearing it, so she hung it in the studio's office next to the TV and wore something else. Neither woman gave the dress much thought until the 2006 Sleazy Bar Party. When Marla went to look for it in the office, it was gone. Perhaps the borrower will return it."

(Editor's Note: Last year, there was certain woman on our Rita Rhapsody cruise trip that skated right on the edge of verbal self-destruction on more than one occasion. I was certain this woman would cross that edge and say something during the Rhapsody Trip that would surely cross the line so blatantly that I would have marvelous fodder for my Cruise Writeup.

Alas, along came Hurricane Rita that devastated all of our spirits so greatly that none of us misbehaved except Phyllis because we didn't have the strength. This is how I believed the silver-tongued devil avoided my trap.

However, this year no hurricane is in sight. As the cruise draws nearer, the troublemakers are starting to stir again. I think this time I have the evidence I have been waiting over a year for.

Occasionally I obscure identities in order to protect the innocent, but I don't think this lady is particularly innocent of anything. In fact, I think she loves to get in trouble! I will call her by her code name JAN, short for 'Juicy And Naughty'.)

-----Original Message-----
From: Jan
Sent: Friday, May 26, 2006 11:49 AM
To: Rick Archer
Subject: repeat classes

Hello, Rick.

While signing Bob and myself up for repeat advanced swing classes with Patty-O, I thought I checked the repeat-class buttons, but evidently I did not and when I printed our receipts saw that we were paying full price. Not that the class isn't worth it, but is there a way to pay the repeat class price without a big hassle for anyone?

If it's a hassle, we are glad to pay for my mistake and I'll be more careful next time. Patty-O is worth the full price and we plan to fully enjoy her class.

By the way…about that missing black dress…

I'm thinking it might've been my husband Bob who took it because the last time I saw him in a basic black dress, it didn't at all fit.

Looking forward to the cruise, Jan

-----Original Message-----
From: Rick Archer
Sent: Friday, May 26, 2006 2:09 PM
To: j milz
Subject: RE: repeat classes

Jan, is that you? My, how I have missed your sharp-tongued wit!

The Mystery of the Black Dress solved! Thank goodness. Ask Bob to bring the dress along for the Rhapsody Cruise and consider wearing it to Formal Night.

Re the Mystery of the Repeat Class, your class history says you took Adv Swing Jitterbug Roman Numeral I and this month's class is Roman Numeral II. Therein lies the rub.

Ask anyone - particularly the Intermediate Salsa students - and they will tell you those Roman Numerals are probably the only reason we stay in business.

If money is a problem, I will be happy to consider discounting the price just as long as you continue to reveal further secrets of your handsome cross-dressing husband.

Do you think Bob would be interested in wearing the dress at the Rhapsody Drag Show?

-----Original Message-----
From: jan
Sent: Friday, May 26, 2006 2:27 PM
To: Rick Archer
Subject: Re: repeat classes

Aaaah. Roman Numerals. Who'd a thunk? I'll be on the lookout next time. Thanks for the heads up.

By the way, Phyllis and I are putting together another bus trip to and from Mara's apt. for the cruise. Please feel free to mention this to anyone who is going. We've got a bus lined up and it has a bathroom!

But I haven't booked it yet; waiting for passengers to commit with hard cash, and we'll be talking about it at Monday classes. The bathroom is necessary on account of the Mimosas we drink aaall the way to Galveston.

I haven't yet mentioned to Bob my suspicions concerning The Dress. He might balk at the thought it didn't hang well, and saying so might sound cruel. You know?


(Editor's Note: This is beginning to read like an episode from "I Love Lucy". I'm sure Bob will LOVE seeing this story in the SSQQ Newsletter. No wonder my web site has such a terrible reputation!!

My guess is if Jan can persuade Bob to wear the dress on the bus, it will sell out all remaining space swiftly. She just needs to take me up on my sure-fire marketing tips.)

And that's a wrap for June.

Thanks for reading this month's issue of the SSQQ Newsletter! Sorry it is so slutty as usual.

Please direct questions, comments, and contributions to:
Rick Archer at 

Table of Contents
Bottom of Page
SSQQ Front Page Parties/Calendar of Events Jokes
SSQQ Information Schedule of Classes Writeups
SSQQ Archive Newsletter History of SSQQ