The SSQQ Newsletter
is written by Rick Archer
THE AMAZING SSQQ SOCK HOP
QUICK REMINDER: WE WILL TWO
MORE ONE-HOUR SOCK HOP LINE DANCE WORKSHOPS THIS
6-7 PM WEDNESDAY
6-7 PM FRIDAY
Come learn the Hand Jive, the
Harlem Shuffle, the Hully Gully, the Money Dance,
Twisting the Night Away, the Cha-Cha Hustle and the
SSQQ Classic Dance “Heard it Thru the Grapevine”
Raisin Dance. Plus we cover “Land of 1000 Dances”
featuring the Pony, the Monkey, Watusi, Cool Jerk
These one-hour workshops are
free and you can come late if you wish. All you
have to do is show up.
SATURDAY, JUNE 21, 9 PM ON
7-9 CRASH COURSES:
SWIRLEY-TWIRLEY SWING YOUR GIRLIE
TRAVELING JITTERBUG SHOW - Rick
(a crash course to learn more
about Jitterbug for slower Sock Hop music).
BEGINNING SWING - Marla
DIFFICULT SWING ACROBATICS -
Paul (Couples Only)
INCREDIBLE HUSTLE PATTERNS -
BEG WEST COAST SWING - Patty/Joe
JACK’S FAV WHIP PATTERNS - Jack
STORY ONE: SSQQ NEEDS HALL
We have finally filled our
open Thursday Hall Monitor spot. But my guess is we
will have more openings as our regular group take
trips and honeymoons.
This is a great job for
teenagers who are out of school this summer.
If you have a big lunk of a
kid taking up space on the couch and would like to
get rid of him or her for one evening a week, please
contact Marla. Not only will we pay them to leave
you alone, they can have all the popcorn they can
You can email her at
STORY TWO: ANN’S BIG
In our previous Newsletter, I
wrote that Ann Al-Jazrawi and her husband Sam would
be heading off to Europe late in May for an amazing
two-month Odyssey across Europe.
Ann is a vivacious blonde
lady who has been in a couple of my Western
classes. You might know Ann from her Swing classes
or the aforementioned Western classes. Or perhaps
you know one or both of Ann’s lovely daughters -
Gina Nelson and Joy Al-Jazrawi - who are quickly
becoming talented Western Swing dancers.
Joy and Gina are my official
bodyguards (inside joke). One night while they were
on Protection Duty during Friday Night Western
Practice, I was yapping about my upcoming Greece
trip and how proud I was to finally get the chance
to see a little bit of Europe.
Well, they couldn’t help
themselves. They immediately began to tell me about
their mother’s amazing two-month trip! My eyes
began to bulge. I mean, Ann’s Itinerary is
incredible - Madrid, Alicante, Istanbul, Athens,
Rome, Nice, Geneva, London, Bremen, and Paris! And
did I mention the 7-day cruise across the Aegean
Sea? The thought of a trip like this knocked my
socks off. I would kill to visit the Swiss Alps!
So when I saw Ann in dance
class the following week, I told her how envious I
was. Ann grinned at me and began to rattle off the
same mouth-watering locations her daughters had
teased me with a few nights earlier. I was hooked.
It was the trip of a lifetime.
Finally I decided I had to
share in this vacation in some way. I asked Ann if
I could follow her progress around Europe via her
two daughters. Ann said of course. In fact she was
tickled pink at my interest.
Today I am proud to report
that Ann and Sam are halfway through their big
So far they have visited
Spain and Turkey. They have completed a seven-day
voyage across the Aegean Sea in a small yacht-style
cruise ship known as the Windstar. They have
visited Greece and Italy. They have visited
And today Wednesday, June 18,
Ann and Sam are traveling up to Switzerland.
Go check out the stories of Ann’s
STORY THREE: RETURN OF THE
ANCIENT CURSE - THE STUDIO’S ROOF IS FALLING!
Last night Tuesday, June 17,
the roof literally caved in on Salsa Dancer
Extraordinaire Ulyses Rosas. As he practiced his
dancing in Room One, a ceiling tile fell and hit him
on the head. To say he was surprised would be a
Fortunately it was only a
segment of ceiling tile and it was soaking wet.
Ulyses has a very hard head and appeared to be
unhurt. So the incident was more funny than
But the incident served as a
painful reminder that we have a leaking roof again.
RAIN LEAK 2008
Do you have a wound from the
past so painful that you prefer not to think about
it? And once you do start thinking about it, you
get so spitting mad again you find you can’t get the
Anger Genie back in the bottle?
I have a problem just like
that - the leaking roof of the studio.
Back in July 2006, we
developed a serious leak in the roof in Room One. I
complained bitterly but discovered it didn’t do a
bit of good.
The new Landlords - Haya and
Jacob Varon of Lenox Hill Holdings - refused to do
anything about it.
They told me they were taking
bids on a new roof. Since the roof problem was so
severe, small patches here and there were a waste of
good money. Calling it their “Big Picture
Strategy”, they would fix the entire roof soon.
Just be patient.
As a result, they did
nothing. Meanwhile the hole in the roof kept
getting worse... and worse... and worse.
Baby the Rain Must Fall - the Leaks Begin
Leaking Even Worse
Leaking Much Worse
The Waterfalls Begin
Roof is Finally Fixed
Seven months passed with this
problem. Water leaked constantly whenever it
rained. The problem got so bad we had little
waterfalls pouring from the ceiling during dance
class. Everyone thought it was funny... everyone,
that is, except me. I was furious.
You see, the previous
landlord had a different philosophy. Whenever there
was a leak, patch it immediately. Using that
philosophy, in 14 years (1990-2004), not one drop of
water ever hit our expensive dance floor.
Now take a quick guess which
philosophy I prefer.
Once we hit the waterfall
stage in February 2007, I was on the verge of filing
a law suit. A couple weeks later, the problem was
If you are morbid enough to
wish to read the entire story, read “Landlord
Disputes”. Warning - this story may make you very
So here we are in June 2008.
That brand new roof only lasted 16 months. I guess
that’s what happens when you give the contract to
the lowest bidder.
I first noticed our new
problem on Saturday, June 7th. I
immediately climbed up on the roof to have a look.
The roof had a major depression in the area above
our leak. The depression was full of water. I
looked around - not one air-conditioner nearby. The
only explanation had to be rain. There had been a
brief rain in the Bellaire area; I imagine all the
runoff from that rain collected to create this small
pond on the roof. I got a broom and swept the water
away. The leak disappeared immediately.
I sent this email to Mark Ray
the Management Company, Office Buildings of Houston.
Or Kensington Property Group (I can’t figure out
their official name so I will list them all).
Here is a recap of our email
exchange so far:
EMAIL RICK ARCHER TO OFFICE
BUILDINGS OF HOUSTON
Sent: Saturday, June 07, 2008 4:44 PM
To: Mark Ray
Subject: serious leak at studio
I came to the studio at 11 am to
discover water all over my floor in Room 2.
When I looked into the ceiling, I
could see the water was coming from the
When I inspected the roof, I
could one area on the roof has developed a
depression. When I went up there,
I discovered a virtual lake right above
the leak area in the studio.
There was no air conditioner in the area, so I
can only assume it was rain water
that had gathered there.
I would imagine a patch in
this specific area will solve the problem.
EMAIL RICK ARCHER TO OFFICE
BUILDINGS OF HOUSTON
On Wed 06/11/2008 10:23 AM
It has now been four days
since my first email to you.
I have not received
acknowledgment of my first email.
It rained yesterday and a
great deal of water fell on my floor for the second
I would prefer NOT to wait
seven months this time.
Please call the roofer and
have a patch put on immediately.
Linda Cook knows exactly
where the problem is.
EMAIL OFFICE BUILDINGS OF
HOUSTON TO RICK ARCHER
Sent: Wednesday, June 11, 2008 1:11 PM
To: Rick Archer
Subject: Re: serious leak at studio 4803
Bissonnet SECOND SEND
The roofer was sent to the
bldg Monday and said he corrected the problem
apparently he didnt get it all, I will send him out
EMAIL RICK ARCHER TO OFFICE
BUILDINGS OF HOUSTON
Thu 06/12/2008 12:32 PM
Unfortunately, what you say
makes no sense.
When I went up there
yesterday, there was absolutely no sign of any
recent work done on the roof. I took pictures
yesterday to support my words.
Besides, how would the roofer
know where to look?
If you the Newsletter Reader
have been following the dialogue above, you will
notice that someone is telling a fib. Obviously no
one has fixed a damn thing because Ulyses Rosas was
struck by a wet ceiling tile last night.
Ten days have passed and
nothing has been accomplished.
TO BE CONTINUED.
STORY FOUR: WANT TO OWN A
(RICK ARCHER’S NOTE: Margie
is one of my dearest friends from the early days at
the dance studio. Margie was my constant companion
during one of the darkest periods of my life back in
1986. She and several other people at the studio
were instrumental in nursing me back to sanity.
The best story about Margie
involved a great practical joke known as the “Tom
Easley Look-a-Like” Party.
Sent: Wednesday, June 18, 2008 2:15 PM
A member from PASH called and
asked about dance lessons, so I went out to your
website to get a telephone number for him to call.
Wow, you’ve been busy working
on your page! It looks really nice.
I ran into Maureen (Brunetti)
last year at Sam’s and she said something about you
might be retiring from dance when the lease is up at
Hope all is well with you.
Sent: Wednesday, June 18, 2008 3:00 PM
To: Marjorie Saibara
Subject: ssqq studio
I am closing in on 59. The
studio’s lease ends on April 30, 2010.
There is no way they are
going to renew my lease at my Bissonnet location. I
will have no choice but to leave this location. I
don’t necessarily want to retire, but I sure as heck
don’t want to be signing a new long-term lease at
age 61 by myself.
The thought of moving
mirrors, sound equipment, that massive floor,
locating a new location and haggling over a new
lease doesn’t seem very appealing. Marla and I
could just as easily get a job as Ballroom
Instructors on a cruise ship. Or buy an RV and see
That said, I have a great
operation, Margie. I have a wonderful staff and
great customers. The SSQQ web site is a marvelous
business tool as is the Newsletter.
Best of all, after 30 years,
SSQQ is a household name throughout the city. We
have a great Reputation and wonderful momentum.
Business is so good we don’t even have to
advertise. Word of mouth and the Newsletter seem to
be all that is necessary.
It would be shame to close
the curtain on something this good.
There is no reason why
someone with two feet and some business sense could
not take up the reins and guide a program as
successful as this into the next generation.
You would think someone would
be interested in becoming a partner and help me lead
the studio into the next phase.
RICK ARCHER’S NOTE: I wrote
an article on this subject a year ago. If you are
STORY FIVE: STORY IN THE NEWS
LESBIAN KISS AT BASEBALL GAME
(RICK ARCHER’S NOTE: I know
you are curious, so let me reassure you I am
printing this recent story for a reason.)
June 5, 2008, 8:11AM
Lesbian kiss at Seattle
ballpark stirs up controversy
SEATTLE—Most of the time, a
kiss is just a kiss in the stands at Seattle
Mariners games. The crowd hardly even pays attention
when fans smooch.
But then last week, a lesbian
complained that an usher at Safeco Field asked her
to stop kissing her date because it was making
another fan uncomfortable.
The incident has exploded on
local TV, on talk radio and in the blogosphere and
has touched off a debate over public displays of
affection in generally gay-friendly Seattle.
“Certain individuals have not
yet caught up. Those people see a gay or lesbian
couple and they stare or say something,” said Josh
Friedes of Equal Rights Washington. “This is one of
the challenges of being gay. Everyday things can
become sources of trauma.”
As the Mariners played the
Boston Red Sox on May 26, Sirbrina Guerrero and her
date were approached in the third inning by an usher
who told them their kissing was inappropriate,
The usher, Guerrero said,
told them he had received a complaint from a woman
nearby who said that there were kids in the crowd of
nearly 36,000 and that parents would have to explain
why two women were kissing.
“I was really just shocked,”
Guerrero said. “Seattle is so gay-friendly. There
was a couple like seven rows ahead making out. We
were just showing affection.”
On Monday, Mariners
spokeswoman Rebecca Hale said that the club is
investigating but that the usher was responding to a
complaint of two women “making out” and “groping” in
“We have a strict
non-discrimination policy at the Seattle Mariners
and at Safeco Field, and when we do enforce the code
of conduct it is based on behavior, not on the
identity of those involved,” Hale said.
The code of conduct—announced
before each game—specifically mentions public
displays of affection that are “not appropriate in a
public, family setting.” Hale said those standards
are based on what a “reasonable person” would find
Guerrero denied she and her
date were groping each other, saying that along with
eating garlic fries, they were giving each other
On Tuesday, Guerrero said a
Mariners director of guest services had apologized
to her. The team spokeswoman could not immediately
After the story broke, the
Mariners were blasted by the sex-advice columnist
Dan Savage, who wrote about the incident on the blog
of the Stranger, an alternative weekly paper.
“I constantly see people
making out,” Savage said. “My son has noticed and
asked, ‘Do they show the ballgame on women’s
Savage called for a “kiss-in”
to protest against the Mariners.
Web sites have been swamped
with blog postings for and against Guerrero and her
date. And the story has people talking in Seattle.
“I would be uncomfortable”
seeing public displays of affection between lesbians
or gay men, said Jim Ridneour, a 54-year-old taxi
driver. “I don’t think it’s right seeing women
kissing in public. If I had my family there, I’d
have to explain what’s going on.”
“It all depends on the
degree,” Mark Ackerman said as he waited for a hot
dog outside Safeco Field before Wednesday’s game.
“Even for heterosexual couples.”
Since the incident,
Guerrero’s job and her past have come under
scrutiny. She works at a bar known for scantily clad
women and was a contestant on the MTV reality show
“A Shot at Love With Tila Tequila,” in which women
and men compete for the affection of a bisexual
“People are saying it’s 15
more minutes for my career,” Guerrero said of the
ballpark furor, “but this is not making me look very
In 2007, an Oregon transit
agency chief apologized after a lesbian teenager was
kicked off a bus when a passenger complained about
her kissing another girl.
Also in 2007, a gay rights
group protested a Kansas City, Mo., restaurant they
said ejected four women because two of them kissed,
and a Texas state trooper was placed on probation in
2004 for telling two gay men who were kissing at the
state Capitol that homosexual conduct was illegal in
“There’s a double standard.
That’s the bottom line,” said Pat Griffin, director
of the It Takes a Team! Education Campaign, an
initiative from the Women’s Sports Foundation to
eliminate homophobia in sports.
STORY SIX: WILL JOYE WRITE A
RICK ARCHER’S NOTE: The
story about the Lesbian Kiss raises this important
When is it appropriate to
defy prevailing social norms?
The story of the Lesbian Kiss
serves as a snapshot moment. The incident appears
to violate a social prohibition against gay behavior
in non-gay public places. As I glanced through the
Internet for reactions, the prevailing public
sentiment supported the Seattle club in their
decision to remove the women from the stadium by a
wide margin. This indicates that as of June 2008,
the mood in our country is that the Seattle baseball
organization did the right thing.
So will the Lesbian Kiss
strike a blow for gay civil rights? Or will it just
be written off as rude behavior in a public place?
When it comes to civil rights and the Gay movement,
it boils down to this: When is it right to violate
On the one hand, you have a
gay couple who wish to express their affection for
another openly in a non-gay public place. On the
other hand, you have other people who prefer the
kissing couple keep their expressions of affection
I am writing about the
Lesbian Kissing incident for two reasons.
First, the issue of Same Sex
Dancing at SSQQ has been debated at various times
over the years. The Kissing incident seems to
support my contention that the majority of customers
at SSQQ are not ready for Same Sex Dancing in our
This is an issue I have
discussed in the Newsletter. Although I have never
put it to a vote, it is my gut feeling that the
majority of our students prefer that boys dance with
girls. If you are curious to know more about
previous discussions on this sensitive topic, please
visit this page:
Same Sex Dancing
The main reason I listed
Lesbian Kissing story is because it reminds me of a
weird story that took place at the studio almost ten
One day back in 1999, a
female dance student signed up for a group class
expecting to dance the “Lead”, i.e. the boy’s part.
She did not bother to warn us in
She did not see anything wrong
with what she was doing.
She expected a woman who was a
total stranger to be willing to dance with her.
In our minds, her behavior
seriously violated existing social norms at the
time. When we pointed this out, the woman
disagreed! She said we were sexually discriminating
In fact, the woman’s
arguments were quite similar to the Lesbian Kissing
couple in Seattle.
Here is the story. A very
attractive young lady named Joye signed up for a
Beginning Swing class. When the instructor told
everyone to get a partner, Joye walked right over to
a woman who was a total stranger and put the woman
in her arms. Without any explanation whatsoever,
Joye expected the woman to cooperate and be her
As Joye wrapped her arms
around the woman, the look on the woman’s face was
sheer consternation. The woman simply did not know
what to make of it.
The instructor took the cue
from the woman’s face and concluded she was highly
uncomfortable with the situation. So the instructor
decided to ask Joye to explain what was going on.
Joye said she wanted to learn
to be a “Lead”. She did not explain why.
Furthermore, to her mind there was no reason why she
had to ask permission or explain herself. The
A very ugly argument ensued
that resulted in Joye being asked to leave the
A couple days later I
received a letter from Joye claiming that her rights
had been violated and that we had discriminated
I wrote a letter back
explaining my position. To my knowledge, she did
Soon after, I posted this
story on my web site for two reasons.
The main reason I posted the
story is because I had long believed the majority of
my students strongly preferred dancing with the
opposite sex. Now we had an incident that proved my
hunch was correct.
I also posted the story as
one of my “Adventures of a Dance Teacher” because it
was literally a ‘once in a career’ kind of situation
(knock on wood). That was back in 1999. Since
the lady never surfaced again, there the two
versions of the story sat undisturbed for eight
In 2007, the story came
back. Please read the email.
Sent: Tuesday, August 14, 2007 3:13 PM
Subject: Please remove my name from your
Dear Mr. Archer,
When my name is googled, your web
site is the first one that comes up.
I am asking you to please take my
name out of your web site. I do
not authorize you to use my name.
Thank you, Joye
There was no Google back in
1999 when I wrote my story. I commonly put
everyone’s full name in each story and didn’t think
anything of it. But here in 2007, Google had become
a huge force on the Internet. Joye’s reputation was
taking a serious hit!
As I studied her email, I did
not want to remove her name. I had absolutely no
sympathy. In my opinion, the woman had behaved
Eight years had passed, but I
realized I was still angry at the way Joye had
disrupted the Swing class.
In my opinion, her actions
had been self-centered. She wanted to dance with
the other women in the class without any regard for
their feelings. She did not ask permission. She
did not even show the courtesy to explain to the
women what she was up to. She had absolutely no
respect for our rules against Same Sex Dancing. And
she made such a fuss that the entire class was
seriously disrupted. People left the studio. Let
me add that our Staff was completely out of sorts
for the rest of the night as well. No one enjoys a
confrontation as ugly as this one. We were all very
shaken by the experience.
In a nutshell, Joye had
created a horrible Scene.
However now Google had played
a nasty trick on her. To Joye’s dismay, the events
of this story were plastered on the Internet as the
very first hit when she typed in her name. As her
career in Washington as a highly placed assistant on
a Congresswoman’s staff took off, this awful story
was following her every place she went!
Although her email to me
showed not even the slightest hint of regret, I
decided to do the woman a favor. I removed her last
name from the page as she requested.
At the same time, however, I
was fascinated by the power of Google. In fact, I
was so curious about Google’s effect on society that
I wrote an eight-page essay on the subject of
To my surprise, seven months
later Joye contacted me again. It was now March
2008. Apparently Google had uncovered another SSQQ
web site page with her full name on it. This new
page had immediately soared to Number One any time
she typed her name into Google. She demanded that I
This time I was reluctant. I
did not like her approach the first time, but I
cooperated anyway. Now she was demanding I remove
her name again. I didn’t like being told what to do
the first time and I definitely resented it the
second time. So this time I ignored her request.
Joye decided to try a
different tactic. Two months later, Joye persuaded
a gentleman to write me in her behalf. His May 2008
email letter took a much different approach.
Instead of telling me what to do, the gentleman
asked nicely. So I acceded to his wishes and
removed her last name from the second page as well.
I assumed that was the end of it. Wrong.
In June 2008 I received a
second letter from the same gentleman. Google had
uncovered yet a third ssqq website page with her
full name on it! I had not been previously aware
of this page either. Google certainly works in
mysterious ways! I wondered why Google kept finding
one page at a time. Why didn’t it find all three
the first time?
On practically the same day I
received the new request to remove Joye’s name for
the third time, the story about the Lesbian Kissing
incident came out. Talk about a strange
As I placed the two stories
side by side in my mind, I kept wondering over and
over what Joye’s motivation could possibly have been
to violate such an obvious social norm in our dance
So I made a decision - if
Joye would tell me what she was thinking nine years
ago, I would remove her name permanently.
If you would like to read the
complete story and the letter I wrote to her, please
And that’s a Wrap! Thanks
There were two
Newsletters in June