March 2009
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There were Four Newsletters in March 2009

Issue One Issue Two Issue Three Issue Four
Issue One

The March 2009 SSQQ Newsletter  Issue One
Written by Rick Archer


On Monday evening, March 2, Mario Robau Jr will be the guest teacher for the SSQQ Martian Whip class.

Mario and I met for coffee on Thursday, February 19.  Mario said he would check his calendar and get back to me.  Here is what he said:
“Hi Rick, this is Mario Robau.  It’s about 1:50 in the afternoon and March 2 is in fact a go.  It looks like we will be set with no problems.  I look forward to teaching there on Monday the second of March.  We’ll talk to you later.”

And with that phone message, a new era at the studio has begun: the arrival of Mario Robau at SSQQ.


Long time veterans of the Houston Dance Community will recognize this name immediately.  But I imagine there are at least a couple newcomers who will ask the question, “Who is Mario Robau?”

Mario Robau, 41, grew up here in Houston.  He is a graduate of Sharpstown High School and the University of Houston.  Back in the mid Eighties, Mario’s father was an accomplished Whip dancer.  As the legend goes, Mario Senior lured his son to a Whip class by promising him a beer.  I guess to a teenage boy that’s a powerful incentive!

What Dad did not know was that he had a dance prodigy on his hands.  Junior, as Mario is often referred, turned out to have an enormous gift for dancing.  He learned to dance so fast!

As David Letterman says, one of the major signs of aging is when you ‘recall’ history instead of reading about it.  Here is an anecdote about Mario that is probably not well-known.

My own dance teacher was Glen Hunsucker, the gifted jazz dancer.  In addition to Ballroom dancing and Hustle, Glen was also my Whip teacher. 

I remember there was an unusual dance competition in 1985.  There was actually some serious prize money involved, enough to entice my mentor Glen into entering.  It was probably the only Whip contest Glen ever entered.   At the time, Glen was considered the finest jazz dancer in Houston.  He was also a phenomenal Hustle dancer.   Whip was probably not his dance, but since he was my hero, I assumed he would win the Whip contest too!   I thought the man walked on water.

So imagine how incredulous I was to discover this unheard of 17-year old kid had defeated the finest dancer in Houston.  I was in shock.  I did not see the competition and for the life of me could not figure out how Glen – Superman – had lost. 

Fortunately a friend of mine named Lester Buck handed me a copy of the competition.  I watched in disbelief as Mario won this ‘David versus Goliath’ matchup fair and square.   I had to admit the decision was legit.  Although Glen was clearly a more polished dancer, Mario looked better at what he was doing.  Glen’s style was a little too pretty.  His style was more ‘ballroom’ while Mario was more ‘barroom’.  Mario danced the Honky-Tonk style more suited to the Whip.  In other words, Mario got down and dirty.

And that’s how I first heard of Mario Robau.

I was 35 at the time; Mario was 18 years younger than me.  I was not at all happy at the arrival of this new talent on scene.  I might as well tell the truth – back in those days I was deeply jealous of his ability.  When I first heard of Mario, I had been dancing the Whip for about two years.  People told me I was pretty good.  I had ambitions of being one of Houston’s top Whip dancers.  I didn’t want anyone cutting in line ahead of me.

But now I was worried.   If Mario could beat Glen, what chance did I have?

I had one year of glory.  In 1986, I embarked on a crazy period in my life known as “The Streak”.  I went Whip Dancing after dance class 201 Nights in a row.  True story.  Dancing every night of the week does have its benefits.  I became a very good Whip dancer that year. 

Mario helped things by leaving town.  Shortly after his 1985 victory, Mario moved to Dallas for a year or so.  I think he had just finished high school and wanted to learn more about the Whip from the experienced dancers up there such as Gary Long.   For most of 1986, Mario was nowhere to be seen, but everyone continued to talk about him.  I sure didn’t miss him!  I was thrilled to have the stage to myself.  Enjoy it while it lasts. 

Sure enough, when Mario returned to Houston in 1987, it was all over.  Whatever Mario had learned up in Dallas had turned the guy into a dance machine.  He may have been a kid, but Mario was so good!  I watched him dance a couple times and hung my head.  I was good, but Mario was better.  Much better.  Mario was only half my age, but he could do stuff on the floor I had never even seen before.  His style was so mesmerizing!  Sometimes I would watch him dance and forget there was a woman out there with him.  I just couldn’t keep my eyes off him!

But while I watched in awe, I sensed a foreboding.  A dark shadow had come over my own dance ambitions.  The future didn’t look quite as bright any more.

This began a very stressful period of my life.  I had some growing up to do.

I wasn’t the only who noticed how good Junior was.  Suddenly every Whip dancer in the city lined up to take a class from Mario Robau Jr over at Southwest Whip Club.  He wasn’t even twenty years old, but no one cared about his age.  The young man had genius written all over him. 

My advanced Whip classes were directly affected.  Over the next two years, my classes dwindled as Mario began his ascendency.  My advanced students had gone about as far as I could take them; it was time to find a new challenge.  They made a beeline for Mario’s class.

Fortunately Mario’s brilliance did not hurt my studio financially.  Houston is a big city.  Although I lost a lot of talented students to Mario, there were always plenty of new students coming up through the ranks to turn my attention to. 

My pocketbook may have been intact, but that didn’t keep me from stewing.  I felt like road kill!  I had just gotten steamrolled by a kid half my age. 

The movie “Amadeus” (1984) kept rolling through my mind.  This movie told the story of how Salieri, a good composer but not great, had gone insane when his place in history had been destroyed by the emergence of some unknown kid named Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. 

Salieri was pretty good, but Mozart was a genius.  Mozart is still a legend today, but let’s face it, if not for the movie, none of us would have ever heard of Salieri.  While I was licking my wounds, Salieri’s fate seemed an eerie parallel to my own.  I had felt the taste of glory in 1986.  But those moments seemed long gone.  I was having a hard time accepting that I had been passed by a meteor on the way to the stars.

In late 1987, something unusual happened.  Out of nowhere, I was suddenly given the opportunity to take control of the entire studio here at Bissonnet.  Up to this point, I had been responsible for two rooms a night five nights a week.  That’s ten classes a week. 

Was I ready to take on five rooms a night seven nights a week?  That’s 35 classes a week.  Or to put it more bluntly, was I ready to take on a rent three times what I was currently paying?

That made me take a deep breath. 

I had a decision to make.   The Whip was my passion.  I absolutely loved the dance!  I could stay small, concentrate on the Whip and try my hand at dance competitions just like Mario.  Or I could give up my dance dreams and concentrate on running a huge dance studio. 

As you can guess, I chose running the dance studio. 

It was actually a fairly simple decision to make.  If I chased after Mario, where would I get the energy to run a major dance studio at the same time?  Besides, Mario had made the choice easy for me.  He was so good.  I knew I wasn’t going to catch him.  Who was I kidding?

So my life changed directions.  I dropped out of the Whip Scene and concentrated on expanding my social dance program.  I retreated to my castle and minded my own business.  Literally. 

I also did something new – I posted the name “SSQQ” on the door for the first time.  I was on my own now.



Mario used the next twenty years to become one of the most famous dancers in America. 

During the late Eighties and throughout the Nineties, Mario won dance competitions local, statewide, and national on a regular basis.  He competed against the top dancers in the country and won on a consistent basis.  His fame as a dancer was incredible.

Using a style reminiscent of Alexander the Great, Mario conquered Houston in short order.  Then he conquered Texas.  By the early Nineties he was competing on a National Stage.  By the 2000s Mario was teaching internationally as well.  With few worlds left to conquer, I imagine Mario now has his eyes on Mars and the rest of the solar system.  Why else would he agree to teach Martian Whip?

But Mario has always had a lot more going for him than just his dancing ability.  Over the years, Mario has developed many skills unique to the dance industry. 

For starters, Mario became a proficient public speaker.  Using his confident manner, his sense of humor and his vast knowledge of the major players, Mario’s leadership ability made him a natural choice to become the emcee of many competitions.  Mario became widely respected as the leader not just of the Houston dance community, but the entire country.

Mario has a great personality.  He is comfortable and confident teaching small groups and large groups.  In the Nineties, Mario began to travel extensively to give dance workshops across the country.  His natural rapport with strangers made it easy for him became an ambassador of Swing Dancing wherever he went.  Not only did Mario spread the Whip to other parts of the USA, he helped usher Houston into the new West Coast Swing era in the late Nineties.  

Unlike some gifted dancers who don’t have a clue what their feet are doing, Mario always knows EXACTLY what his feet are doing.  He has developed a reputation as a terrific dance instructor.  But Mario didn’t stop there.   After working with Glen Hunsucker – yes, Mario and Glen became close friends further down the road – Mario was able to expand his talents into jazz movements and dance choreography. 

Mario’s ability as a choreographer made him the man to go to if you wanted to win a dance competition.  Besides his dancing ability, Mario has an uncanny understanding for music as well.  He can take a song and visualize dance movements that accentuate highlights in the music. 

For example, Mario is the first person I know of to teach classes here in Houston on “Hitting the Breaks”.   In many R&B songs, there are spots where the music literally stops for a moment.  Mario would not only teach people how to anticipate these Breaks, he would make suggestions on things dancers could do to make themselves interesting during these moments. 

Mario is a rare combination of exquisite dancer, excellent teacher, and musical technician.  He is also quite a businessman. 

As if he doesn’t have enough talent, over the years Mario has learned how to organize dance competitions.  He has mastered the art of scheduling dance events and workshops, line up hotels and accommodations, and publicizing the events.  He has learned to network and cooperate with all the major dance personalities throughout the country (no mean feat indeed). 

Mario has learned to wear all the hats.  He not only organizes the events, he usually emcee the events, conducts workshops, competes, performs, tell jokes and sometimes he even deejays the party afterwards.   Mario has played a key role in the incredible upsurge of dance events throughout the United States.

When Mario is not the organizer, he frequently visits events as the ‘guest personality’.  Along the way Mario has developed a lifestyle the rest of us can only barely comprehend.  He travels to one city after another year-round.  Boston-DC-LA-Denver-New York.   When the United States grew too small, he expanded to other countries - Australia, Russia, France, United Kingdom among others. 

Forty weekends out of the year sees Mario in some city other than Houston conducting workshops, emceeing dance competitions, you name it.  This is how Mario Robau has become one of the most famous dance personalities in America.  If Cable TV ever opens up a “Dancing with the Stars” Network, I imagine Mario will be the likely choice for narrator.


In late 2007, Mario abruptly resigned his position as Director of Southwest Whip after a twenty year stewardship.  I don’t know the details and have the sense not to ask.  For the past year and a half, Mario has kept a low profile here in Houston.  I did not know much about what was going on.  I heard Mario was teaching a few private lessons locally, but not many.

One of the people taking private lessons from Mario was Cher Longoria, my talented dance teacher.  One day Cher asked me for permission to conduct her private lessons with Mario here at the studio.  I said I didn’t mind.  After all, the studio pretty much stays empty during the weekdays.  Besides, Mario wasn’t representing the competition any more.  Why not?

Cher’s request got me to thinking about the old days.  Why was I willing to allow the man whose name was synonymous with so many tough times back in the Eighties use my studio?

Maybe I needed to give this a little more thought.  That’s when the other side of the debate kicked in.  Yes, Southwest Whip is still a business competitor today, but Mario has clearly parted ways.  Mario is on his own now.  To my knowledge he isn’t offering any classes locally.

Furthermore, at this stage of our lives, Mario and I probably have more in common than we have differences.   Can two old warriors be friends?

Anyone who has ever taken a class from me knows I love teaching Whip and West Coast Swing.  I have taught these dances for 25 years.  That said, I have chosen to teach Whip for social dancing only.   When students with great talent come along, I openly admit I cannot help these people at the competition level.  There is a limit to my knowledge of the dance. 

For all these years, I have anguished over this gap in our dance program.  I have lost so many good students to Mario and Southwest Whip I could scream.   But Mario doesn’t work there any more…

Mario Robau is widely considered one of the finest dance instructors in all of America.  In fact, the more I thought about it, my mind kept coming back to the same thought:  MARIO IS THE BEST THERE IS. 

My advanced Whip students would love to have the chance to learn from Mario!   But would Mario be interested in teaching here?   Why not take a chance?   So I asked Cher to make a gentle inquiry. 

Mario’s quixotic reply was “I’m a businessman.  Give him my phone number.”

We didn’t talk on the phone, but we did exchange emails.   That’s when I discovered that Mario is just about the busiest man I know.  Mario had competitions to supervise.  Mario had a cruise to South America.  Mario had to be in Chicago/Atlanta/Moscow/United Kingdom/ you name it.  This guy’s lifestyle was wearing me out just reading the emails!

After three months of working out the details via email, on Thursday, February 19, we finally found the time to sit down for coffee.  Mario was surprisingly upbeat about giving this détente a chance.  Mario emphasized several times that he enjoys teaching and that he misses teaching ongoing group classes.  He also mentioned the possibility of creating the occasional social dance opportunity like a night out at the Big Easy.  I think he misses the good old days of getting the gang together for a night of dancing.

Mario made it clear that he would like to take over my Martian Whip class here at SSQQ.  Realistically, he said he doubted he could make the class every week.  March was the perfect example – he could only see one open Monday on his calendar.   So at some point we would need to find a capable substitute.  We decided we would cross that bridge when we got to it. 

I said the simple thing to do was schedule my March Martian Whip classes the old way and simply let him guest teach on the one night he was available.  Mario nodded and said that made sense.

So on Monday, March 2, Mario will guest teach our Martian Whip class.  I will teach the other three nights plus Jack Benard will continue his Friday night program (Martian Whip includes both Mondays and Fridays for the same price).

After that Monday night, Mario and I will sit down for some more coffee and talk about the future.  


Now I have a favor to ask.  I need the rest of you to back me up.  I want you to sign up for Martian Whip in March.  This is our BEST CHANCE to give Mario a huge SSQQ Welcome.  I want you all to help me show the finest Swing instructor in the United States that we want him here.

Or put a different way, YOU need to show Mario that YOU want him here.  Mario may have heard more applause than you or I can imagine and he may operate on a different life space than the rest of us, but I am pretty sure he still enjoys being appreciated.

I know when Sharon Shaw teaches her Western Waltz classes, she sometimes gets a hundred people.  I know when Linda Cook teaches her Salsa classes, she sometimes gets a hundred people. 

One hundred people for a difficult dance like Whip/West Coast Swing might be stretching things a bit, but let’s try anyway.  At least we are sure to have quite a crowd!  I want you to fill Room One to the brim.  I want you to help me make Monday, March 2, an amazing Rock and Roll dance event at SSQQ. 

Mario’s class will run from 7-9 pm.  Then comes Practice Night.  We will turn on the music, open up the cooler, turn down the AC, turn on the popcorn machine, and start smoking!  Let’s have one heck of a Practice Night dancing West Coast and Whip till we drop.  Doors stay open till everyone is too worn out to continue. 

Please come and help usher in the new era of Mario Robau at SSQQ.


Mario Robau and Gary Long

Mario Robau and Samantha Buckwalter









For you old-timers, here’s a trip down Memory Lane.

In a way, Mario’s upcoming visit to SSQQ brings one interesting Whip story full circle.  Only a few people know this, but Mario Robau is the man who inadvertently gave “Martian Whip” its name.

To this day, Mike Fagan is one of my best friends.  Mike first came to my attention at the 1984 Halloween Party when he put on an unscheduled Break Dance exhibition that brought the house down.  He was quite a character!  How many Rice University Computer Science PhD’s are also accomplished Break Dancers? 

Mike started learning the Whip in January 1985.  Thanks to some natural ability and his previous dance experience, he made rapid progress.   Mike improved so quickly that I invited him to join me and my former wife Pat over at the Four Palms for a Sunday evening of Whip Dancing to a live band.   The three of us rode together.  Mike was fascinated by the dancing and loved the music. 

When they announced there was a friendly dance competition that night, Mike turned to Pat and asked her to join him on the floor.  Pat smiled.  Sure, why not?

Mike didn’t win.  Not only did he not win, later on one of the regulars the club pulled Pat and me aside.  This guy said, “Pat, you need to ditch this guy.  You have what it takes to be a star dancer, but that weird guy is going to hold you back.  He doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of ever winning anything.”

This guy was pretty rude.  He obviously didn’t realize that Mike was our close friend.  On the way home, Pat told Mike what the man had said.  Mike was crest-fallen.  He asked me what I thought.  I said that his habit of incorporating bizarre break dance movements into the Whip was probably not a very good idea. 

The Whip had originated as a popular as a way to pick up women.  These old guys had a fixed idea of what the Whip was supposed to look like and didn’t think Mike’s New Age Break Dance moves belonged in the dance.  As we had this chat on the way home, I was reminded of the time when Mario had beaten Glen the same way – Glen’s clean-cut, graceful moves were precise, but Mario’s sexy interplay with his dance partner was more what the judges were looking for. 

Mike’s style was hardly sexy.  In fact, I secretly agreed with the judges that it was kind of weird.  When Mike was dancing socially, I could have cared less about his break dance stuff.  I knew he was just having fun.  It was Mike being Mike.  But when Mike was performing, that was another story.  I tried to tactfully steer him towards the more traditional ‘down and dirty’ look, but it was like talking to a wall. 

Mike refused to conform.  Mike was a Rebel.  The battle lines were drawn.  Mike kept entering that contest, Mike kept adding Break Dance moves, Mike kept losing, and the regulars kept hinting that Pat would win if she got a better partner. 

Mike was getting exasperated.  He knew he was a good dancer, he saw how much the crowd enjoyed watching him, but he couldn’t catch a break from the judges.  No one was willing to bend a little.

Finally Mike sought the advice of another friend, Mario Robau Jr.  Mike and Mario were buddies.  Mike figured that since Junior was hip to the Break Dance scene, he might be more sympathetic. 

So Mike popped the Big Question.  “Mario, what do think of my dancing?   Why do I keep getting criticized all the time?”

Mario replied bluntly, “Mike, you have great leads, great footwork, perfect timing, but your style is strictly from the Planet Mars. Are you sure your parents are not aliens?”

That quip from Mario became a major part of Mike’s journey through the World of Whip.  We teased Mike about it all the time, but our criticism backfired.  It made Mike more determined than ever to win on his own terms.  Mike became incredibly committed to improving his dancing. 

I am proud to say that Mike got the last laugh.

In 1987, two years after Mike had started learning the Whip, he caught a break. Due to the Dallas influence, a new competition dance category was created called "Contemporary Whip". Mike smiled like the cat that sees the canary join the household.  Yum!  This one’s for me!

This new format was a perfect fit for Mike's natural style. To heck with the less forgiving Traditional Whip.  Mike and his dance partner Debbie Anglin developed a routine based on acrobatics, break dancing, and jazz dancing, plus spectacular moves that only Mike had the natural ability to lead.

Their hard work paid off!

In 1987, despite receiving more criticism than probably any dancer in history, Mike Fagan won the Texas State Whip Championship in Contemporary Whip.  Mike was weird as usual, but now at least he was 'fascinating weird'.  This new category was practically designed for him! 

While his critics at the Four Palms had never won anything in their lives, Mike was now a State Dance Champion.  Ah, sweet revenge!

This victory was no mean feat for an Earthling, much less someone accused of having the footwork of an Alien.  I was really proud of Mike, especially since I knew what he had to overcome.  I thought he deserved a reward so I renamed my advanced SSQQ Whip class to “Martian Whip” in Mike’s honor.

Let me quickly add that Mario Robau’s influence played a major role in Mike’s victory.  Mario was one of the few people on this planet that Mike respected enough to listen to.  It was Mario’s advice and coaching that helped Mike alter his style just enough to make the judges smile instead of frown.

That was 1987.  It is now 2009.  Since Mario played an important role in naming the class, it is more than fitting that Mario takes his own turn at the helm of Martian Whip.

And that’s a Wrap for this issue!

Issue One Issue Two Issue Three Issue Four
Issue Two

The March 2009 SSQQ Newsletter Issue Two
Written by Rick Archer


As I wrote in our previous newsletter, the most famous dance instructor in all of Houston will be at SSQQ to teach the Martian Whip class on Monday, March 2.
Unfortunately, due to his busy schedule, Mario will not be able to teach here again in March. However the current plan is for him to begin teaching on Mondays full-time in April.
I invite all SSQQ Whip Dancers past and present to consider signing up for Martian Whip this month. I will be teaching the other Monday classes and Jack Benard will conduct his popular Friday program as usual.

One value to taking Mario's class this coming Monday will be to assess the talent level and the speed at which Mario teaches. This will give you a strong indication whether you are up to speed for the April program or not.
There will be a dance party starting at 9 pm on Monday. Everyone is welcome. Please bring food! I will supply the drinks.
If you did not read the previous Newsletter where I first announced Mario's arrival, you can read it on the SSQQ web site.


Rick Archer's Note: I received many email responses to the announcement of Mario's decision to teach here at the studio. I will now share my favorites.
From: P
Sent: Wednesday, February 25, 2009 2:08 PM
Subject: regarding Mario Robau

Hi Rick, G and I will be there Monday night......sounds great!

I think the information was fabulous,,, wonderful reading. I certainly enjoyed it ALL! So much info about Mario and the fabulous stories about the two of you!

Yes, Mario is a very gifted dancer, choreographer and teacher....he took almost a year to teach his advanced class about musicality. What a gift he gave to us. Dancing has been more fun since then...who would have thought dancing could be even more fun!!

We sure hope this works out for you two. We look forward to being at SSQQ Monday night and being in Mario's class.

Oh, by the way, I just found the anecdote part of the letter...... that is such a crazy story about Mike Fagan! I have been laughing for way too long. It was so much fun to read!

Thanks and much love, P


From: S
Sent: Wednesday, February 25, 2009 3:16 PM
To: SSQQ Newsletter
Subject: regarding Mario Robau

Rick, I love reading all your stories in the newsletter. Very entertaining! You may be a gifted dancer but you are also a gifted writer! S


Sent: Wednesday, February 25, 2009 3:52 PM
Subject: regarding Mario Robau


Your article about Mario blew me away! I've taken a half dozen workshops from Mario over the past two years at various weekend events here in the Northeast and from the first experience have been carrying on about this amazing person. I've got his 6 DVDs and return to them to refresh my memory on how to do this or that step. Some of the material I haven't mastered yet, but it's reassuring to know I've got a bit of Mario in my DVD cabinet!

I'm well into my 60s, started dancing about 3 1/2 years ago and then discovered West Coast Swing here in NYC about 2 years ago. That was that. WCS is the only dance I want to dance. By learning to dance WCS, at least to some small extent, I discovered that whatever my chronological age may be, I've got the spirit, soul and inner life of a 35-year-old!

I dance a couple of nights a week and have taken private lessons and classes locally off and on over the two years. I'm no where's near the dancer I'd like to be and I'm sure never will be. But at least knowing about Mario, I know I've found as good a resource as you can find in this universe, including Mars, for improving connection, musicality, technique and step vocabulary.

I am glad I signed up for your newsletter. I found it just from surfing the net on WCS sites. I came across SSQQ one day and signed on for the newsletter. Always enjoy reading them. One of these days, I'll take a trip to Houston and check it out. Not that far by jet plane.
The common denominator for some people throughout the country is their shared interest in WCS. I first encountered Mario at the "Boogie Bash" in Columbus, Ohio in the summer of 2007. That crowd tends to be more mature, so I was astonished to witness the thrill and excitement among a group of some 80 people in their 50s, 60s and 70s as they were first exposed for the first time to a Rock-n-Go. The noise level in that ballroom was huge as all those "teenagers" started talking at once, first at how hard it seemed and then, once they'd gotten it, how hyped up they were in doing it.
For me it was not only my first contact with Mario, it was also my first experience of dancing WCS outside of NYC. And, to my huge satisfaction, I was able to "speak the language" well enough to hold a modest "conversation" with some of those Columbusites...I.e, I was dancing with complete strangers and it was working. Since then, I've had the pleasure of "conversing" with people in the Connecticut, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and DC WCS communities and it's just great how we all fall right in with the dance. Since that summer of 2007, I'm still keeping up an email correspondence with a lady who I danced with in Columbus as we share stories about the dance events we've attended.
In the same way, keeping up with SSQQ's doings is part of that shared interest. And now the Mario article just puts the icing on the cake.
Thanks for all your work on behalf of this wonderful all-American dance. As you know, it's also become another fine American export and you can find WCS venues in London, Australia, Japan, France, etc. Click on the following to see a WCS venue and studio operating in Tokyo which was started by a Japanese dance student who spent some years studying social dancing in NYC and was especially taken up with WCS:
Thanks again for a terrific article. It will be passed on to many of my friends and acquaintances in the New York WCS dance community.

Jay Shapiro
From: N
Sent: Wednesday, February 25, 2009 4:56 PM
To: 'SSQQ Newsletter'
Subject: regarding Mario Robau

Rick, This is great news....the combination of Mario's great talent and passion and your untiring and MOST SUCCEFFUL effort of getting CITY OF HOUSTON to dance makes for a fun and exciting combination. This will help expand the number of Whip/West Coast dancers in Houston exponentially and add some excitement and buzz......

I agree Mario should have a regular class and should teach weekly...that is his element...He is a wonderful instructor and lights up when he is sharing his the same time he makes it entertaining and fun for his students.....A HOUSTON TALENT IN A HOUSTON INSTITUTION....I think SSQQ is a great venue and you are a GRACIOUS host with a BIG HEART.

MOST SUCCESSFUL effort of getting a CITY OF HOUSTON to dance: by the way the dance scene in Houston is one of the best in the country and primarily thanks to your effort have inspired and instilled more confidence by making the process more fun and less intimidating in more dancers....allowing them to learn more ..... that in turn has led to Houston having more advanced dance studios teaching different advance forms of dance...thanks to you they get a stream of fresh students joining their classes.

It is as if your effort is like preparing a child from KG thru 12 and letting them go forward to specialize at other institutions.

In the past when I was in Mario's classes I noticed that the majority of the students had progressed from SSQQ's Martian classes to his classes. If there is any way of informing (I bet they would jump at the opportunity) and encouraging them to come back I would not be surprised that we can fill up the large room and more.

I commend you on taking this bold step forward not only growing as a fine Human being with a great heart but also attempting something wonderful regardless of its outcome.

Best of luck and prayers for success always!

RICK ARCHER'S NOTE: This writer has spoken correctly on several key issues.

1) "I agree Mario should have a regular class and should teach weekly...that is his element"

When Cher Longoria asked me permission to let Mario use the SSQQ studio to conduct their private lesson, the first thing that crossed my mind was what a shame it was that Mario wasn't currently teaching classes. Someone with his talent comes along once in a generation.

2) "It is as if your effort is like preparing a child from KG thru 12 and letting them go forward to specialize at other institutions."

I have been teaching group classes now for over thirty years. With that kind of background, I should know what I am talking about. "Group Classes" are the same thing as public school education. There are too many people making too many mistakes for me to correct everything.

And when I do "Correct Everything", the class ceases to be fun. So like an NBA referee, I swallow my whistle and allow my students to have more fun. I simply make sure the women aren't mangled too death.

If a student is willing to practice his or her tail off after class, then Group Classes will take a lot of people a long way.

What Group Classes cannot do, however, is teach large numbers of people PRECISE FOOTWORK and PRECISE LEADS. That is what private lessons are for. Dance Champions are made in Private Lessons.

What SSQQ has always tried to do is get people started dancing and give them every opportunity to practice. But I have long been aware that the people with a GIFT FOR DANCING may leave us for a talented teacher to take them to the next level.

For the first time, SSQQ is poised to offer an "advanced degree" in Whip and West Coast Swing students. This, of course, is all up to Mario, but it is my hope that he will challenge our students like they have never been challenged before.

3) "I commend you on taking this bold step forward not only growing as a fine Human being with a great heart but also attempting something wonderful regardless of its outcome."

How perceptive of the writer!

I have suffered more for this stupid dance over the past thirty years than any man should. I am going to spare you the gory details, but I have literally had my heart broken over this dance on four occasions that I can think of.

At this point in my career, all I wish to do is contribute. My first love in life was the Whip and now I like West Coast Swing too. I love the music and I love how much fun this dance is. But Whip/WCS is not easy to learn. If I can do something to promote the dance, then I am willing to try.

Yes, the cynical among you may think that the almighty dollar is behind this, but you are wrong. I have bills to pay like everybody else, but I approached Mario for one reason only - I wanted him to start teaching again here in Houston. I believed that SSQQ has a neutral-enough reputation that would allow people throughout the city to feel comfortable accepting Mario in this new location.

We are nobody's enemy. SSQQ teaches people to learn to dance for the fun of it. If some of our students have a special gift, I have accepted it when they had to leave SSQQ to find their next master. Over the years, many of these people have headed straight for Mario.

But I can't be an effective teacher if I don't care about my students. I do grow attached. My students become my friends. If having Mario teach at SSQQ can persuade my friends to stick around longer and grow under his guidance, then you will begin to understand what it is I truly want.

I want my friends to stick around.

So when this writer says 'regardless of the outcome', I confess I am not certain this experiment will work out. It takes two to Tango. Mario is his own man. Mario does not answer to me in any shape, way or form. Nor does he owe me anything. How much energy Mario invests into the SSQQ project will come from within him. Nor will he allow you or me to bully him. We have to let him decide what it is he wants to do on his own terms. Otherwise he will simply disappear without a word.

Whatever is going through Mario's mind at this time is not being shared with me! Mario is the most private person I have ever dealt with. He has shields on top of shields. Nor do I criticize him for this. When you travel the circles Mario does, I bet you quickly discover the less you say, the better. And the less you promise, the better.

That said, I took a chance for this reason: the Houston Dance Community deserves to be led by its greatest leader. There are a lot of people out there who do not listen to me, but will listen to Mario.

This city used to have a thriving social scene for the Whip. People knew where they could go on a Friday or a Saturday night to a neutral territory for Whip Dancing. Mario has made it clear to me that the Houston Dance Community has its loyalties spread in too many directions with no common purpose.

I asked Mario to come to SSQQ for two reasons: to teach advanced students again and to help bring West Coast Swing dancing alive throughout the city. Both Mario and I both miss the days of the Four Palms and the Rusty Bucket. It is time to get this city dancing Whip again (or West Coast if you prefer).

I have done my part and will continue to do so. Mario may not be the great communicator, but if he sends me any smoke signals I promise to pass them on.

In the meantime, now it's up to all of you to join the party. I want to see you people at the studio on Monday. If you want this strange relationship to work, you have to help!


Lost but not forgotten in all the fuss is Dakota Wilhelm's new Super Salsa class starting Saturday, March 7th.

By an odd coincidence, last week Dakota walked into Starbucks at the same time that Mario and I had our meeting. Along with Scott Ladell, I consider Dakota to be the best male dancer on the SSQQ Staff.

Like many excellent instructors, I am not sure if Dakota always enjoys the structure of being told what to teach. Dakota thrives when he makes his own decisions. The students in his Accelerated Ballroom classes on Sunday evenings at 7 are incredible for their loyalty to him. This kind of loyalty can only come from excellent teaching.

With that in mind, I asked Dakota to begin teaching a Super-Advanced Salsa course on Saturdays. Steve Gekas teaches an awesome Super-Advanced Salsa class on Tuesdays, but our Salsa program is so vast I am certain we have enough advanced Salsa dancers to support Dakota's class as well.

Super Salsa begins Saturday, March 7, 430 pm. Give it a try!

To register, just show up.
On Sunday afternoon, March 1, at 3:30 pm, Anita Williams will return for her second month of teaching Line Dances. This four-week class will cost $30.

I believe Anita had a dozen students in February. They seemed to really love the class, but I will add there was a lot of confusion.

One of the things my studio is famous for is telling the wrong person what's wrong. No one wants to actually complain to the person in charge. They would much rather complain to someone else and hope the grapevine filters their complaint to the intended target.

In Anita's case, some people wanted her to review more. Other people told me they wanted her to review less. Other people told me they wanted more Western music. Other people told me they wanted more Western music, but faster. Or Slower. I estimate I fielded about 20 different requests last month. Interesting. I was not previously aware that Anita doesn't speak English.

Here's the deal. Anita has been a part of the SSQQ Staff off and on for ten years. Right now Anita is not an 'official SSQQ instructor'. Anita is literally a major player on the nationwide Line Dance circuit. One of these days I will get her to confess to all the contests she has won, but Anita is notoriously bad at self-promotion. So just take my word for it - Anita is the MASTER when it comes to Line Dancing.

Whether Anita can teach klutzes to line dance I don't know, but I bet she can. Anita is brilliant.

Now what Anita's students need to understand is that Anita does not work for SSQQ. She is renting the room. This means that when you come to pay, Anita doesn't have a credit card machine. Nor is there any On Line "Line Dance" Registration. Anita is her own boss. Besides, she never listened to me anyway when she worked here, but that's another story. ;-)

Bring her a check that is made out to 'Anita Williams', give her cold hard cash or make her an offer she can't refuse. Just don't try to pay SSQQ.

Now as for "Questions", you can continue to ask me, but it is much more effective if you ask Anita directly. I have no doubt that she bites, but I heard that she has had her shots. Or maybe try email if you are worried about being bit. You can email Anita to ask questions at


From: natalie
Sent: Saturday, February 21, 2009 1:31 AM
Subject: dance classes

I was looking over your schedule and I did not see any intermediate ballroom classes such as foxtrot or waltz and I was just wondering why.

From: Rick Archer
To: natalie
Sent: Sunday, February 22, 2009 3:12:18 PM
Subject: ballroom dance classes

We used to offer two months of Foxtrot and Waltz (beg and int levels) in the same class.

In Beginning Foxtrot/Waltz, the first hour would be Foxtrot, the second hour would be Waltz. In other words, you got about 4 hours of Foxtrot and 4 hours of Waltz.

In Intermediate Foxtrot/Waltz, the first hour would be Foxtrot, the second hour would be Waltz. In other words, you got about 4 hours of Foxtrot and 4 hours of Waltz.

Then it dawned on us that offering an entire month of each class separately accomplished the same thing and was less confusing in the process. If you take Beginning Foxtrot, you get eight hours of Foxtrot, the same amount of time if a student had taken both the Beg and Int Foxtrot/Waltz class.

And if you take Beginning Waltz the following month, you get eight hours of Waltz.

In other words, taking Beginning Foxtrot and Beginning Waltz in back-to-back months gives you the same amount of material as the old Beginning and Intermediate system. And, as I said, it is a lot less confusing to stick to one dance for a month.

I have discovered that teaching Ballroom Dancing is different from our other programs. If you learn Western Dancing, you could actually learn Twostep, Polka, Waltz, Night Club, Synchronized Polka, and Triple Two. But to keep it simple, you could stick to Twostep and Polka and still cover 90% of the music.

Swing Dancing is even easier: Swing Dancing covers all the music. Same thing for Salsa. Same thing for Zydeco. Same thing for West Coast Swing.

But Ballroom Dancing involves six different dances, all of them fairly equal in importance. "Ballroom Dancing" is a general term that is used to refer to about a dozen different dances, including dances like Cha Cha and Rumba that are considered Latin Dances as well.
Here at SSQQ, we offer Beginning-level courses in the five most important Ballroom and Latin dances: Foxtrot, Waltz, Tango, Cha Cha, and Rumba plus a special class on Slow Dancing. Swing Dancing is taught in its own separate course.

Under our new format, you can learn all five dances by taking Ballroom Dancing for five months.

For Advanced Ballroom classes, consider Dakota's accelerated Ballroom.


Very few people know this, but my lovely wife Marla teaches ten couples a week how to Slow Dance at their wedding. The reason people don't know this is because she does it during the day in private lessons.

Along the way, Marla has gotten pretty good at teaching Slow Dancing. There is a reason she stays so busy: happily married couples keep referring their friends to her when it is their turn to get married.

Here at SSQQ, we say that Slow Dance and Romance go hand in hand. There are special occasions like the First Dance at a Wedding, a fancy New Years Eve party, a romantic standard at the Captain's Reception on a cruise, or a sultry torch song at a nightclub where the ability to Slow Dance would sure come in handy.

Formal Dancing for these occasions comes in three forms: Slow Dancing, Foxtrot, or Waltz.

When it comes to Slow Dancing, the blunt truth is that most people don't have a clue how to Slow Dance gracefully. Women are lucky because they can probably wing it, but the men don't do very well when they are forced to fake it. Sad to say, they usually flub miserably.

As a word to the wise, there are certain moments in life when the ability to dance gracefully to romantic music becomes a mighty important skill to have.

Like the ability to change a tire comes in handy at an unexpected time, the smart person learns how to Slow Dance AHEAD OF TIME... because you never know when you will need to know how to Slow Dance.

Learning to Slow Dance is especially important to couples who are getting married. At least these people have of knowing when their time is due. As a result, they have the luxury to prepare in advance.

Classic romantic standards like Natalie Cole's "Unforgettable", "At Last" by Etta James, or American Graffiti-era hits like "In the Still of the Night", "All in the Game", "Only You", and "When A Man Loves a Woman" become special to dance to when you actually "Know How" to Slow Dance properly.

Slow Dancing is a derivative of Foxtrot. Most people can shuffle from foot to foot, but when it comes to Slow Dancing well, the majority of people are clueless. This course covers ways to Slow Dance gracefully with several footwork combinations. Marla will explain how different songs may require different timing and footwork.

Slow Dance has not been offered as a four week class in three years. If you are in the mood, here's the chance this Sunday!


My wonderful friends Pat and Jess Carnes are involved in promoting an upcoming Houston Grand Opera event on Saturday, March 7. In case you have forgotten, Jess Carnes won a Halloween Best Costume award for his scintillating turn as a the 7 foot tall Hula Dancer complete with grass skirt and coconut shells.

Here is what Pat Carnes had to say about the Houston Grand Opera:

"The Best Little Opera Guild in Texas" (Houston Grand Opera Guild) invites you to an evening of "Music, Divas, and Desperados", Saturday, March 7, 7:00 pm at the Briar Club.

Dancing to the StringBenders, a country band with a rockin' attitude. Entertainment includes singers and dancers, featuring SSQQ's own Ruth and Joel McCleskey.

(RICK ARCHER'S NOTE: Joel is a three time UCWDC dance champion, but his wife is even better and just as pretty. Joel and Ruth put on a stunning exhibition for us at last December's Christmas Party. The chance to see them perform is worth the admission right there!)
For more information or to purchase tickets, see

I am sure Pat will answer any of your questions, but I can answer one of the top of my head: No, Jess will not be giving Hula Lessons any time soon. But then it doesn't hurt to ask!
Contact Pat at


Milt Oglesby sent this in. I have little doubt he practices this all day long.

"You have to try this, it takes 2 seconds. I could not believe this!!! It is from an orthopedic surgeon...
This will boggle your mind and you will keep you trying over and over again to see if you can outsmart your foot, but you can't. It's pre-programmed in your brain!

1. Without anyone watching you (they will think you are GOOFY.......) and while sitting at your desk in front of your computer, lift your right foot off the floor and make clockwise circles.

2. Now, while doing this, draw the number '6' in the air with your right hand. Your foot will change direction.

I told you so!!! And there's nothing you can do about it! You and I both know how stupid it is, but before the day is done you are going to try it again, if you've not already done so.

(RICK ARCHER'S NOTE: I have seen Milt actually show this to women at the studio during Break. He uses it as his latest ploy to pick up women.)


(RICK ARCHER'S NOTE: We haven't had a joke in several issues. Here's three to distract you from doing your work just a little longer.)

Contributed by Gareld McEathron

A man returns home a day early from a business trip. It's after midnight. While en route home he asks the cabby if he would be a witness.

The man suspects his wife is having an affair and he wants to catch her in the act. For $100, the cabby agrees.

Quietly arriving home, the husband and cabby tip toe into the bedroom. The husband switches on the lights, yanks the blanket back and there is his wife in bed with another man!

The husband puts a gun to the naked man's head.

The wife shouts, 'Don't do it! I lied when I told you I inherited money.

HE paid for the Corvette I gave you.
HE paid for our new cabin cruiser.
HE paid for your season Pittsburgh Steelers tickets.
HE paid for our house at the lake.
HE paid for our country club membership, and HE even pays the monthly dues!'

Shaking his head from side-to-side, the husband lowers the gun. He looks over at the cabby and says, 'What would you do?'

The cabby replies, 'I'd cover his butt with that blanket before he catches cold.'

Contributed by Gary Richardson

One man's hobby was fishing; he spent all his weekends near the river or lake, usually paying no attention to weather.

One Sunday, very early in the morning, he went to the river as usual. However he didn't feel very good. It was bitterly cold and raining. After he got out of his car, he stood there shivering for several minutes. He shook his head and muttered something to himself about getting old, but to even his own surprise, he decided to pack it in and return back to his house.

He came in, went to his bedroom, undressed, and lay near his wife. The sun was just now coming up. "What terrible weather today it is today, honey," he said to her.

She yawned and stretched without bothering to open her eyes. "Yes, but can you believe my idiot husband still went fishing!"

Contributed by Rodrigo Aranda

Brenda O'Malley is home making dinner, as usual, when Tim Finnegan arrives at her door. "Brenda, may I come in?" he asks. "I've somethin' to tell ya."

"Of course you can come in, you're always welcome, Tim. But where's my husband?"

"That's what I'm here to be tellin' ya, Brenda. There was an accident down at the Guiness brewery..."
"Oh, God no!" cries Brenda. "Please don't tell me..."

"I must, Brenda. Your husband Shamus is dead and gone. I'm sorry."

Finally, she looked up at Tim. "How did it happen, Tim?"

"It was terrible, Brenda. He fell into a vat of Guinness Stout and drowned."

"Oh my dear Jesus! But you must tell me true, Tim. Did he at least go quickly?"

"Well, no Brenda... no."


"Fact is, he got out three times to pee."


Here is a list of all the things I meant to include in this week's Newsletter:

dynamic graphics!!!!! frank
Lost and Found
wordsmithy milt
gary's 90 / 10 Principle
Rick Archer Song help
joke what would you do
joke picture safety awards dulaney
linda's salsa party
problems reading the previous newsletter
11 Most Expensive Catastrophes in History
unexpected video activity
joke picture Motivational Posters dulaney
Valentine's Day (GOOFY)
lenox hill problems
joke picture little men
camping pictures
ballroom dance classes
Did you know dulaney re information video
Thought You Would Like to Know
teddy bear gareld joke picture story
Five Minute Management Course joke
the great dance party flipflop
found the article
Arizona Rancher
wedding pics dena snyder
wedding announcement loni and doug
the great matching outfit conspiracy
pot house
dubai headaches
motorcycle accident
Canyon Idiot

Maybe I can get to some of these topics in next week's issue. You know what, writing this Newsletter wears me out. I hope you appreciate it.

And that's a Wrap for this week! It's only thirteen pages long.
Talk to you soon,
Rick Archer

Issue One Issue Two Issue Three Issue Four
Issue Three

The March 2009 SSQQ Newsletter Issue Three
Written by Rick Archer


On Monday, March 2, Mario Robau was the guest teacher for our Martian Whip class. It was an amazing evening.
Estimates vary from 70 to 80 people. No one was tall enough to see over all three rows, but someone counted one row of 25 people and multiplied by 3. Very clever!
Quite likely the total would have exceeded 100 people if I had relented and sold one night tickets. I did not wish to sell one-night tickets because that I would have alienated the people who played by the rules and signed up for the entire month.
Besides, we topped 100 anyway. At least another 20 people dropped by at 9 pm for our party after Mario's 7-9 class. The place absolutely teemed with champion dancers.
I was deeply pleased to see former students from many different generations. Representing the Eighties were my three musketeer friends Mike Fagan - yes the Rebel I wrote about recently - as well as his close friends Ted Jones, a former state champion in his own right, plus Tom Easley. Representing the Nineties was Mike Dorman, another champion. Representing the 2000s were Glenn and Paula Morris, dance champions, as well as Michelle Haynes, yet another champion. And that's just a little name-dropping for starters. Cher Longoria said she had never seen so much talent at any dance event that wasn't a competition. The Stars came out tonight!
It was a night where Houston's dance royalty came out to welcome back the King, Mario Robau.
Although his weekend World Tour continues non-stop, Mario had been off the Houston Stage for nearly two years. What sort of reception awaited him?

Houston's Dance Community was quick to reassure Mario that he has indeed been sorely missed. The energy was so high! I had asked people to make this class a success to show Mario how much we want him back, but nothing had prepared me for this kind of outpouring.
The sight of 100 people dancing deep into the night was reason for celebration. The man with all the talent was back. Or was he?
That was the question on everyone's lips. Would Mario teach in April as he had earlier indicated? Or would he change his mind and vanish like the wind? After all, everyone senses that Mario is always being torn in so many directions. The entire world beats a path to his door with projects.
A friend of mine asked Mario point-blank whether this was the start of a comeback or was he just passing through?

Mario's answer? He smiled and said, "We'll just have to see."


Joy Al-Jazrawi and her sister Gina are still celebrating their victory in the Best Group Costume Contest at our Halloween Party. In fact, they are already planning to their outfits for next year!

These two ladies are truly SSQQ's twin bundle of happiness. Joy and Gina exude megawatt warmth wherever they go. Their smiles are a wonder to behold. I always feel happy when these ladies are around.

Still, as much as I enjoy Joy, she isn't nearly as perfect as other people think she is. I know for a fact that Joy has let me down. There is a certain Dragon Lady that Joy is supposed to protect me from. Joy promised to stick by my side whenever this threat appears. But every time the Dragon Lady enters the room to attack, Joy my bodyguard ditches me and leaves me to the mercy of this dangerous woman. As I squirm my way to safety, I can see Joy in the corner chuckling at my discomfort.

Plus Joy can be a real pain sometimes. For example, whenever there is a cute guy in another dance class, her knees begin to hurt and she disappears. And where does she disappear to? You guessed it... her knees feel much better in the class with the cute guy in it. She openly admits cute guys make her knees feel better. I could have fun with that remark, but I am too nice to exploit it.

Plus Joy is always pointing stuff out that irritates me. For example, last week she asked why there had been two March Newsletters and it wasn't each March yet. Who cares!!! Sometimes Joy can be a real Pain in youknowwhat.

Speaking of "Pain in the youknowwhat", Joy has been spreading malicious rumors about me. Joy continually runs into me on the dance floor bumper car style. Now I am a gentleman so I am prevented from saying that her bumper is superior to mine. But to claim that I have deliberately run into her is just plain wrong. Everyone knows I am always totally balanced and in total control on the dance floor. If you want my opinion, this is Joy's doing. Ask Joy's dance partners. They all think it is their own fault, but this has happened far too many times to be an accident. These men are innocent dupes. Joy is deliberately setting them up to crash into me. Tsk Tsk.
Joy refuses to wear blue jeans. I offered to buy her a pair of jeans for her birthday, but NO NO NO. Doesn't she know it is important to wear blue jeans? Joy is too stubborn to budge. I would reveal her bizarre reason for not wearing blue jeans, but it shorten my life span. Joy is an attorney. She swears she knows a way to commit murder and get away with it.

Gina has planned a blowout Birthday Party for Joy at Wild West on Saturday, March 7, starting at 7:30 pm. All the best people and many of the worst are planning on coming. It's a Saturday night; what better way to have fun than to dance and hang out with the crowd? Plus Free Birthday Cake! That's practically a meal right there!

Gina says that Joy's Birthday Cake was specially created to be compatible with beer. I am not quite sure what that means, but if the cake is even remotely as sweet as Gina, it will sure taste great. And maybe some of Gina's sweetness will rub off on JJ.
Just show up. No gifts necessary. Your presence is all the reward Joy would ever ask for. But watch out for her on the dance floor. Take it from me. The girl can be dangerous out there.


(RICK ARCHER'S NOTE: Speaking of Birthday Cake and Beer, I imagine the vast majority of you don't give a second thought to having a beer now and then, especially if the moment calls for it.

I am not a big drinker, but I enjoy a drink when the occasion calls for it. Last night I had a margarita along with my enchilada. Yum! I enjoyed it thoroughly. It was my first drink this week. I might have another one Saturday night; you never know!

Not everyone feels that drinking alcohol is acceptable. For example, yesterday out of the blue I got this amazing email. The sheer length of the letter indicates probably thirty minutes of typing, maybe more.

Draw your own conclusions. As for me, I was slightly astonished.)

From: Cindybin
Sent: Thursday, March 05, 2009 4:38 PM
Subject: Terrible That Wedding Couple is Shown Drinking Alcohol on Your Site

Hi, I was doing a Google image search for something, and up came a picture of this middle aged couple holding champagne or wine glasses. It was on your site, and I found out it had to do with them getting married in 2005, it was an email congratulating this couple on their marriage. Their name is (xxxxx). It is just terrible that this couple would drink alcohol. What a bad example this sets! They are making it look like you use a mind-altering drug to celebrate and have a good time. They wouldn't smoke pot. Heaven's no. That's because drugs are bad and it is bad morals to use a mind-altering drug. But they are using a drug! Alcohol is a DRUG! Ask any drug abuse website or a doctor. Just because alcohol is legal doesn't make it right! Here they are, grown adults, and they are using a DRUG to celebrate. I'm not saying they are drunk or anything. But how are they any better than a common pot-smoker? Except for not breaking the law, they aren't any better! They are after the SAME psychoactive effect! This sets a terrible example. Nobody should drink alcohol. A grown adult should be WELL PAST the age where they want to use a drug, legal or not. We can hardly chastise our youth for underage drinking, when grown adults make alcohol look so fun, romantic, acceptable and sophisticated. A grown adult needs to set an example and NOT DRINK. yet this couple, well beyond the age where they would want to experiment with a psychoactive drug to see what it is like, is STILL using a psychoactive drug to celebrate and socialize. They think it is all romantic and sophisticated and just "the thing to do". Why can't they take a stand and set an example and NOT DRINK! Besides being a drug, alcohol is terribly unhealthy! It is a TOXIN. It poisons cells. Alcohol has been linked to cancer, heart disease, brain and liver damage. New studies show that alcohol SIGNIFICANLTY increases the risk of breast cancer in women. Even moderate drinking increases this risk. So this woman is increasing her risk of breast cancer by consuming this chemical which she wants to use in order to get a "buzz" or whatever one gets from this psychoactive drug. It just makes me sick. I would be fuming if I saw them in person, drinking booze. They think champagne is all elegant and sophisticated. And this just gives the pot-smokers justification to continue THEIR drug use. I know, because pot-smokers online have told me. And I don't blame them! Why should they stop smoking pot, when grown adults, happy and well-adjusted, want to use THEIR drug in the form of alcohol! Booze drinkers are no better than pot-smokers, except they aren't breaking the law. They are after the SAME psychoactive effect. Of course they'll use excuses like, "Everything in moderation." Oh brother. That's like saying smoking a joint is okay in moderation! Again, I bet this couple would NEVER smoke marijuana. Yet they think nothing of using a mind-altering drug in the form of alcohol. No wonder pot-smokers call booze drinkers hypocrites. I would never drink champagne or wine or anything like that! Anyway, I saw this picture and it just really upset me. It is terrible this nice, happy, well-adjusted middle aged couple would use a DRUG to celebrate and be social. They should set an example and NOT DRINK! And you should not post a picture like this on your website where anybody can see it! Thank you and take care, Cindy

Contributed by Gary Richardson

There is a video making the rounds of an incredible dance event that took place at the Liverpool, England, Street Station on January 15, 2009.
The event was a recent commercial from T-Mobile that included what seemed like a cast of thousands. Basically a bunch of confederates are walking around in a train station when they bust out in dance and go wild. Meanwhile the surprised onlookers go "what the f***?" and a couple old people question if they remembered to take their medication. You have to see this. Can you imagine if you were just been passing through on your way to catch a train? Such an experience.

This video is remarkably fun to watch.
The second video explains the story behind the dance commercial. It is also fun to watch.

Contributed by Annie Fletcher

I took a so-called Fifth Grade test recently. I got maybe two out of 10. It was pretty sad. See how well you can do.

As if I weren't feeling stupid enough, Annie Fletcher passed on a difficult math quiz titled "5th Grade Math Problem".

I confess I actually solved this problem a year ago, but it gave me fits. So I tried again. I still didn't get it right until the third try. Mind you, I made nothing but A's in Math for the majority of my grade school career. So don't think this humiliation sat well with me.

This is supposed to be a 5th grade math problem. I promise it is not a trick question. It is a real math problem. Don't bother playing games like saying that a bus has no legs. Treat it as a straight math puzzle and do the arithmetic.


There are 7 girls in a bus.
Each girl has 7 backpacks.
In each backpack, there are 7 big cats.
For every big cat there are 7 little cats.
Question: How many legs are there in the bus?
Okay, let's see how well the rest of you do. When you think you have the answer, email Rick Archer,

I will send you the answer sheet plus the puzzle so you torment your friends.

I will also report in the next newsletter how the studio did as a group. If you wish your answer remain anonymous, let me know.

Contributed by Gareld McEathron

This is a fun trip down memory lane. You get to read some of the famous Burma Shave commercials with a neat Statler Brothers song in the background.

You may need to watch it twice; once to watch the Burma Shave signs and once to catch all the pictures. Listening to the music of the Statler Brothers makes this trip really great!

You probably need to be over 50 to seriously enjoy it because most folks under 50 would have no idea what these pictures are all about. The Fifties were definitely a pretty goofy era.


I traditionally schedule a Swing Dance Party for the Saturday closest to St. Patrick's Day. So what happened to the Swing Party originally scheduled for this night?
On Monday, February 9, Maureen Brunetti, our famous Swing instructor, informed me there is a big Swing dance elsewhere this same weekend. Maureen said SSQQ has been going head to head with this same event now for several years. She said that people have been complaining for a long time that it is a shame they have to choose. I replied that I had no idea of the conflict till now, but that I didn't see any reason why our "Irish Party" had to be Swing Dancing.

The more I thought about it, if anything, it would probably make a better Western Party! Instead of Western Waltzes I could play Irish Waltzes - same speed of music! Instead of a Country-Western Polka John Paul Jones we could have Irish Polkas... very fun dance music incidentally.

So I decided to Flip-Flop the March dance parties. The March 28 Western Party is now the Red and Black Swing Dance and the St Patrick's Irish Party on March 14 is officially a Western Dance.

Saturday, March 14, 9 - 11:30 pm

7-9 pm Crash Courses
Register at the door; it goes very fast
SLOW DANCING - Marla (cpls only)

That Synchronized Polka class will be a perfect preparation for the Big Irish Jig Dance later in the evening... 10 minutes long! And you Waltz experts will love the patterns I will challenge you with. I promise this will be the biggest WALTZ PARTY of the year!

Don't forget to wear Green or don't make the Scene.


From: Sonja Strathearn
Sent: Wednesday, February 11, 2009 6:40 PM
To: Rick Archer
Subject: unexpected video activity in argentine tango class

Hi Rick, Yesterday in our Tues class we had a minor incident that wasn't a big deal - but I thought I should mention it to you.

Noe was teaching on his own. I was with my child in the hospital getting his hand stitched (after he punched a window at home having a temper tantrum - sigh).

During the class Noe related to me later, that one of our students started videoing while he was teaching without his permission. He did not want to interrupt what he was trying to say, so he spoke to her about it as soon as he could get to her when he was finished.

She is a student who means well, needs a lot of explanation and she is European with sometimes not such a command of understanding English very well - kind of the persistent type. You know the sort.

I don't think she knew of the studio policy about videoing during class and was just ignorant about it. If I had been there I could have probably nipped it in the bud, but Noe was doing the best he could. She had given me her email in the past, so I will email her and explain again what is appropriate - only in private lessons, not in a class situation, and always with permission of people involved. We'll also make an announcement in our class so others don't think they can also do it.

Perhaps you could say something again in the studio newsletter - although I know not everyone gets it, maybe it would help.

By the way, my son (8 yr old) is fine, there wasn't a cut tendon like they thought - and even though Lane is in Florida at a conference I am holding up ok. These things usually happen when the doctor of the house is gone! Sonja

(RICK ARCHER'S NOTE: There are two good reasons why taking pictures and videotaping classes is prohibited at the studio.

One reason is PRIVACY. Do you think it is fair to the other people in the room to take their picture?

Of course not.

Our students have the right to take classes without having to worry where their image might show up. We actually had some fool post a video of an ssqq dance class on YouTube without permission. The video was used to embarrass someone for looking ridiculous while dancing.

The old saying is to "Dance Like No One is Watching". That's a lot more difficult to do when there are cameras in the room.

The other reason is IT IS NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS.

If we let people tape our classes, then our classes cease to be our own property. What will stop people from bootlegging free copies of patterns to friends? Certainly most purposes for taping are more benign than that, but we still won't let it happen.



(RICK ARCHER'S NOTE: I first printed this story in March 2008. Marla looked at me and I looked at Marla and we both nodded this sounded like too much fun. Marla and I actually made it to the RV show at Reliant a few weeks back. You never know.)

My guess is that every once in a while you just want to say to heck with it all, get in your car and head out into the wild blue yonder to see the world. I know I sure do!
In February 2008, my buddy Leroy Ginzel sent me an email complete with photographs of a super duper luxury Recreational Vehicle. Quite an eye-opener!
I had no idea that RVs could look so comfortable! The more I stared at those at those pictures, the more curious I became. So I did a little research and came up with a very entertaining story. Up till now I have been satisfying my own wanderlust with Marla's excellent cruises. But once that RV fantasy came into my head, I have been thinking about it every day. It seems almost within my reach! But do I have the guts to go for it?
I know a lot of people here at the studio who have already reached retirement age or are knocking on the door like I am. If you are a Boomer, I GUARANTEE you will find this story fascinating. And if you are a youngster, I have no doubt you will be amused as well.

Go read it right now: The RV Lifestyle


From: Dena Snyder
Sent: Friday, February 13, 2009 7:04 PM
Subject: Wedding Pics

Hey Rick, As I was reading your latest newsletter, I realized I told you about our engagement, but never reported back on our wedding. Gotta keep the SSQQ Romance stats up!

Chuck and I met in Ben's Beginning Two Step class in February 2002, and he was the first guy to ask me to dance when Ben told us to partner up. We were friends for several months before we started dating that May. We were married on September 30, 2006. Here are a few pictures from our wedding and first dance.

Evidently Ben's class was a big hit - there was another marriage that also originated there (Philip Ritchie and Kathy Fink). And, by the way, my advice to anyone who complains about not having a special someone is always... go to SSQQ!

We plan to brush up on our dancing skills this year, and hope to see you at the studio soon!

Dena Jackson and Chuck Snyder

Rick Archer's Note:

Chuck and Dena met in February 2002, then joined us for the August 2002 Rhapsody Cruise. But that was the last time I saw them. As you can see, their courtship covered 4 years (2002-2006). Since the final three years of their courtship took place away from the studio, I would never have known their complete story if Dena had been not kind enough to check in 2 1/2 years later to report about their wedding.

I call this phenomenon "Flying Under the Radar" - couples who meet at the studio, then disappear to pursue other activities. The story of Chuck and Dena is a perfect example why I believe the true wedding totals at SSQQ are probably under-reported by 20%. For every 4 couples I know about, there is a fifth couple that met at the studio and moved on without a trace. Or maybe they reported the engagement, but got busy and forgot to tie up the loose end. This explains why I emphasize including "engagements" in my total just in case I don't hear about the "wedding" further down the road. For example, Chuck and Dena were listed on my site as "engaged", but it took three years to add in this final piece of the puzzle. Since I take so much pride in the studio's uncanny ability to help create matches, it makes me very happy to bring closure to Chuck and Dena's wonderful story.




On Valentine's Day, Doug took his sweetheart Loni on a dinner cruise out into Galveston Bay.

The Colonel Paddlewheel Boat is an authentic replica of an 1800-style Paddlewheeler that sails from Moody Gardens down in Galveston. This 800-passenger paddlewheel boat takes guests on year-round hour-long cruises in Offatts Bayou. The boat features a large dance floor.

So Doug invited Loni out on the dance floor on Valentine's Day, was handed the microphone, got down on one knee... and popped the question!

Now Doug is pretty tall and Loni is pretty... and short... so Doug and Loni were eye to eye when she gushed with joy and said 'Yes!'

Doug knows how to do it the right way! I know one guy who really messed up his proposal, so it warms my heart to hear of another guy who knocked it out of the Ballpark in his own pressure-filled romantic situation!

Loni has been helping Daryl Armstrong teach his Wednesday Western class for many years now. I give her a lot of credit for keeping Daryl's basic insanity within socially-acceptable norms. No easy feat!

I have had a big crush on Bonnie Loni for many years. She is just the sweetest and kindest person. Even though she claims to be of Cuban descent, I prefer to pretend she is Scottish so I can call her 'Bonnie'.


It is my understanding that SSQQ instructors Luis and Olga were married on Saturday night, February 28. However I am waiting for the exciting details!

So I will write again soon about this special event.


From: Leo Skiba
Sent: Thursday, January 22, 2009 10:12 AM
Subject: Taking a class

Rick, I'm going to make my bi-annual appearance at the studio to take Beginning Twostep or Beginning western swing. A few friends of mine wanted to take the class and I said I'd take it with them. I think Rebecca will come along as well.

On a separate note, Rebecca and I got married a couple weeks ago on a ski trip on top of Sunlight Mountain, Colorado.


RICK ARCHER'S NOTE: I am very happy for this lovely couple. Leo was a dance instructor here at SSQQ who 'retired' in 2004. I mentioned his wedding a few Newsletters back, but thought I would add some details.

As the recent engagement of instructor Bonnie Loni, plus the wedding of Luis and Olga plus the wedding of Leo and Rebecca show, one the fastest ways I know to get married is to become an SSQQ Instructor. SSQQ Dance Instructors are hot tickets! I have been marrying off one instructor after another for thirty years. Let face it, Slow Dance and Romance go hand in hand. Learn to Dance and Romance is sure to follow.

Here is Leo's story:

Leo played a major role at SSQQ in the first of the 2000s. He started taking classes in 2000. Leo was not only a natural dancer, he practiced all the time. As a result, Leo became a great dancer. He was also really good about dancing with the beginners. I was so impressed that I actually hired him to come on our 2001 cruise as a 'dance host'. Leo was a great addition to the trip.

Pretty soon after the 2001 Vera Cruz Trip, Leo became a Western Volunteer. Soon after that he joined his friend Wil as an Assistant Instructor. Leo was promoted to instructor in December 2003.

In early 2005, during Western Practice Night Leo met a pretty brunette named Rebecca. Leo became a different person overnight. Whereas he once danced with every girl in the room all night long, Leo lost complete interest in the group. The reason was obvious - Leo had fallen in love!

I watched their romance develop with a sense of doom. I had a hunch that Leo's loss of interest in dancing would cost me an instructor. After all, Leo had gotten his job in the first place when his good friend Wil had gotten married and resigned as an SSQQ instructor. Sure enough, not long after he and Rebecca completed their 2005 Rhapsody Cruise, Leo did indeed resign to move on to the next stage of his life.

So now three years later we have the final piece of the puzzle. Leo and Rebecca have taken their commitment to marriage. When I saw them again in February 2009, they didn't seem like Newlyweds but rather people who been married for a long time. They were totally content!

If you are interested, I wrote a long story about Leo's time here at SSQQ in my Matchmaker Saga. After all, Leo's interest in dancing paid great dividends - he met his wife here!

Matchmaker Story about Leo




From: Polly
Sent: Saturday, February 07, 2009 9:28 AM
Subject: Thought You Would Like to Know

Rick - -

Just finished reading the latest issue of the Newsletter and could not resist the impulse to write. This past Thursday, February 5th, Jose and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary.

How did we celebrate this special night? Dinner at Tony's, Cafe Annie or some other posh place in Houston?

No, we jointly agreed that the place we wanted to be was at SSQQ in our advanced salsa class with Martin, Michelle, and Alex.

Why, you ask would we do this? First, because SSQQ is a place we feel comfortable and relaxed (there is no need "to put on the dog" there.) Second, we have alot of fun with the instructors and many students with whom we have crossed paths in various classes. And, last but not least, one of the things that has helped to keep our marriage strong for all these years is our mutual love to dance. In fact, that is how we fell in love in the first place.

SSQQ is just such a wonderful place for us to be together. It gets us out of the house and away from the kitchen AND television. All music is danceable, and there are lots of friendly people. Not only that, but when we get stuck, ( i.e. either Jose's air partner or I refuse to follow his excellent lead) there is always someone around to help us figure out where we got lost.

You often talk about the number of romances SSQQ has produced, and the list is quite impressive! I just thought you might like to know also that the atmosphere you have created for social dancers can be just as important for "long timers" who work hard to stay in love for the long haul.

25 years and counting. . . . . . . . Polly and Jose


Contributed by Chris Holmes
A Blonde is watching the news with her husband when the newscaster says:

"Two Brazilian men die in a skydiving accident."

The blonde starts crying to her husband, sobbing "That's horrible!!! So many men dying that way!"

Confused, he says, "Yes dear, it is sad, but they were skydiving, and there is always that risk involved."

"Of course there's risk! There's risk washing dishes and picking up the Newspaper. But how could so many young men in the flower of their life have died at once?"

"Gee, honey, just two guys died."

"Huh. Really? No, I think a lot more guys died than just two."

After a few minutes, the blonde, still sobbing, says, "How many is a brazilian?"

Contributed by Judy Walsh

A filthy rich Florida man decided that he wanted to throw a party and invited all of his buddies and neighbors.

He also invited Leroy, the only Redneck in the neighborhood. He held the party around the pool in the backyard of his mansion.

Leroy was having a good time drinking, dancing, eating shrimp, oysters and BBQ and flirting with all the women.

At the height of the party, the host said, 'I have a 10 foot man-eating alligator in my pool and I'll give a million dollars to anyone who has the nerve to jump in, that is if he lives to collect!'

The words were barely out of his mouth when there was a loud splash. Everyone turned around and saw Leroy in the pool!

Leroy was fighting the gator and kicking its ass! Leroy was jabbing it in the eyes with his thumbs, throwing punches, head butts and choke holds, biting the gator on the tail and flipping it through the air like some kind of Judo Instructor.

The water was churning and splashing everywhere. Both Leroy and the gator were screaming and raising hell.

Finally Leroy strangled the gator and let it float to the top like a dime store goldfish. Then Leroy slowly climbed out of the pool. Everybody was just staring at him in disbelief.

Finally the host says, 'Well, Leroy, I reckon I owe you a million dollars.'

'No, that's okay. I don't want it,' said Leroy.

The rich man said, 'Man, I have to give you something. You won the bet. How about half a million bucks then?'

'No thanks, I still don't want it,' answered Leroy.

The host said, 'Come on, I insist on giving you something. That was amazing. How about a new Porsche and a Rolex and some stock options?'

Again Leroy said no.

Confused, the rich man asked, 'Well, Leroy, then what do you want?'

Leroy said, 'I want the name of the Sumbich who pushed me in the pool!'

Contributed by Chris Holmes

Robert's father was not doing very well. A terminal illness had entered the final phase. The doctors gave the elderly man a couple months to live.

Robert got the bad news. Outwardly he frowned, but inwardly he was thrilled!

Robert was due to inherit a fortune when his sickly father died. The man was a widower and had also outlived all his relatives and most of his friends.

Robert and his father had never gotten along well. The old man could barely stand his rotten nature, his gambling, his womanizing, his drinking, and laziness. Robert had barely worked a day in his life, preferring to suck off of his father's wealth instead. His parasitic lifestyle didn't bother him at all.

"So what if he doesn't like me?" Robert thought. "I'm his only heir. The old man's got plenty of dough. Heck, why bother working?" Of course Robert didn't like his father's constant needling, but he had gotten used to it. Who cares? Let him rant and rave as long as the money kept coming like it always did.

What a cosmic joke! Once his jerk of a father died, Robert was set for life.

Robert was getting friskier by the moment thinking of all the things he was going to do with that dough. He decided he needed a woman to enjoy it with.

So Robert went to a singles bar and he searched until he spotted a woman whose beauty took his breath away. He thought of a quick way to get into her pants.

"Right now, I'm just an ordinary man," he said, walking up to her, "but within a month or two, my father will pass away and I'll inherit over 30 million dollars. Show me a good time tonight and I'll take you on a trip anywhere you want to go!"

The woman raised an eyebrow. She let Robert buy her a drink and sit beside her. As she sipped her drink, she asked him a couple questions to see if he was on the level.

Robert could see she dug him. Her smile grew broader with each tale he told her about the money. Later that night the woman indeed went home with Robert.

As they pulled into his driveway of the house his father had bought for him, Robert couldn't help but be pleased that his clever ploy had worked so effortlessly. This woman couldn't wait to get her hooks into him! The only trip she was going on was right here in his bed. In fact, he decided to have some fun and make her envious. He taunted her all night long with the things a guy like him could do with that kind of money. He knew that kind of talk would drive a gold digger like her wild with temptation!

He had been right about her. He bragged about his money all night long. The woman just smiled quietly, but he could tell she listened to every word he said about what a fool his father was. It was so much fun to see the power his money had over foolish women like her! He couldn't wait to play this game again.

But, sorry to say, his little game was only played once.

Four days later she became his stepmother. Four days after that there was a new will.

And that's a Wrap for this week! It's only fourteen pages long.
Talk to you soon,
Rick Archer

Issue One Issue Two Issue Three Issue Four
Issue Four

The March 2009 SSQQ Newsletter Issue Four
Written by Rick Archer


Saturday, March 14, 9 - 11:30 pm

7-9 pm Crash Courses (Register at the door; it goes very fast)

SLOW DANCING - Marla (cpls only)


That Synchronized Polka is a fun class.  It will be a perfect preparation for the Big Irish Jig Dance later in the evening… 10 minutes long!   Irish Jigs are polka-rhythm Irish songs that are really fun to dance to.  Some of the songs like the “Rocky Road to Dublin” are pretty fast, but I have found some slower tempos to use for the Big Dance.

A lot of Irish music is the same speed as our Western Polkas.  However I will be the first to admit these Irish Jigs have a bounce to them.  So if you feel like putting a hop in your Polka, go right ahead!   But the music is energetic and fun.  Even the grumpiest human usually is grinning head to toe after ten minutes of Irish Jigs! 

Someone in class asked me what a "John Paul Jones" is.  This oddly-name tradition is a Party Dance Mixer.  A John Paul Jones (JPJ) is a group dance where the men and women form two concentric circles.  The men are on the outside facing the ladies on the inside. 

While the music plays, the men circle the ladies in a counter-clockwise direction while the ladies move in a clockwise direction.  During this rotation, the person in front of you is constantly changing.

When the whistle blows, both circles stop.  Each male is supposed to dance with the lady in front of him.  However, unless the numbers are perfectly balanced, there is always an odd man out so to speak.  However experienced dancers don't give up that easy.  They know that there is often a potential partner lingering on the other side of the room.  They will move to the center of both circles where it is easiest to spot a single man or lady to dance with.

Partners will dance for a minute or so, then comes the next whistle.  This second whistle indicates the two circles need to reform and start a new cycle.

This system allows 50 men and 50 women the chance to dance with a up to 10 different partners during a ten-minute John Paul Jones.  It is a wonderful "Mixer" activity, i.e. a chance for everybody to dance with everybody.

One neat thing about a John Paul Jones is that even guys with a limited number of moves can have fun – you may only have a minute’s worth of moves, but that’s all you need!   And even though the Irish Jigs are energetic, rotating in the circle gives you a chance to catch your breath.

Veteran JPJ dancers are well aware of the other benefits - the chance to dance with someone new and break the ice, the chance to dance with some of the best dancers even if you are a beginner, the chance to ditch a jerk after the longest minute in your life, as well as the chance to flirt with dozens of people as the faces fly by in the rotating circles. 

An Irish Jig John Paul Jones adds a special air of suspense to the evening - you never know when you might get Lucky!



You Waltz experts will love this party.  I promise this will be the biggest WALTZ PARTY of the year!  For some reason, there is a great abundance of very pretty Waltz music to be found in these various Celtic music collections.  Every album I buy seems to have at least one marvelous Waltz.  Not only are the songs recorded at a danceable speed, the lyrics and the melodies are very beautiful.  Two warnings – some of the Waltzes are a little faster than you are used to.  And some of songs are so sad, you might begin to cry right in the middle of your Triple Twinkle.

By the way, I will be teaching an advanced Western Waltz Crash Course this same night.  The patterns I will challenge you with Easy the first hour and Hard the second hour.  So there is something for everyone.  However if you are a total Waltz beginner, let’s not try to fake it.

One more thing:  Wear Green or don’t make the Scene.   Erin Go Braugh!  (Ireland Forever)

Our Saint Patrick's Swing Dance Party is one of my favorite parties of the year.  You can expect lots and lots of beautiful Irish Waltzes so consider taking the Irish Waltz crash course!

In addition, a fun part of the night is an Irish Jig John-Paul-Jones.  A lot of Irish music is the same speed as our Western Polkas.  If you feel like putting a hop in your Polka, go right ahead.  Even the grumpiest human usually is grinning head to toe after ten minutes of Irish Jigs!  This is a fun party so we hope you will join us!


St. Patrick's Day Quiz

(RICK ARCHER’S NOTE:  Encarta is an encyclopedia created by Microsoft.  I purchased a copy a few years back.  Every now and then I get an email from Encarta that has some really interesting stories.  Now that I think of it, their Newsletter is a lot more intelligent than my Newsletter.  That explains why I borrow their stuff all the time.

Try taking this neat St. Patrick’s Day Quiz to get you all in the mood.  I am dying to know if the studio’s three most famous Irish people Conor O'Muirgheasa, Cher Longoria and Diane Murrell can beat my score! )


St. Patrick's Day Quiz

By Myriam Gabriel-Pollock

Don't forget to wear green on March 17! St. Patrick's Day, which has its origins in Ireland, is now celebrated in many parts of the world -- a chance for everyone to be Irish for a day and wear a shamrock, drink green beer and watch a lively parade. Ace our St. Paddy's Day quiz and your friends will be green with envy. Luck o' the Irish to you!

1 - St. Patrick's Day honors Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, also called the Apostle of Ireland. He is credited with:

a) Making the shamrock Ireland's national symbol

b) Converting Ireland to Christianity

c) Driving the snakes out of Ireland

d) All of the above


2 - A popular St. Patrick's Day tradition is wearing green clothing. What does the green symbolize?

a) The green on Ireland's flag

b) Ireland's lush landscape

c) The emeralds on St. Patrick's bishop's scepter

d) The wealth of the leprechauns


3 - The first St. Patrick's Day parade in the United States was held in which city?

a) North Bend, Ind.

b) New York City

c) Dublin, Ohio

d) Boston


4 - In Irish folklore, a leprechaun is a small magical man who has a hidden pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. What is a leprechaun's usual job?

a) Blacksmith

b) Shoemaker

c) Baker

d) Candlestick maker


5 - In Ireland, where St. Patrick's Day is an important religious holiday that happens to fall during Lent, many enjoy a traditional meal that includes colcannon -- boiled potatoes and this vegetable, mashed together with butter: 

a) Rutabagas

b) Turnips

c) Cabbage

d) Beets


6 - The shamrock, Ireland's national symbol, is from the Irish "seamrog." What does this translate to?

a) Tiny treasure

b) Little clover

c) Green flower

d) Sweet hope


7 - Which is a classic Irish toast, especially when having a pint of stout or lager at the local Irish pub?

a) Ceapaire!

b) Sláinte!

c) Geansaí!

d) Ríomhaire!


8 - In Chicago, what popular St. Patrick's Day tradition started in 1962?

a) Dyeing the Chicago River green for a day

b) Free green beer at Wrigley Field

c) Lighting the Sears Tower antennas green

d) The Leprechaun Parade on the Magnificent Mile


9 - Baseball's Boston Red Sox was the first team to play in green jerseys to mark St. Patrick's Day. In what year did this lucky tradition begin?

a) 1915

b) 1967

c) 1986

d) 2004


10 - Which Caribbean destination is only one of three places in the world where St. Patrick's Day is an official public holiday?

a) Aruba

b) British Virgin Islands

c) Montserrat

d) Cayman Islands


(ANSWERS AT BOTTOM OF NEWSLETTER.  Good luck, Conor, Cher, and Diane!)



In last week’s issue, I reported that Joy Al-Jazrawi was having a birthday party at Wild West on a Saturday night.  I added that the whole world was invited. 

Joy’s wonderful sister Gina immediately got worried.  She hadn’t counted on me posting the information in the Newsletter.   After all, it was Gina who had promised everybody some birthday cake.  I mean, Gina is gifted, but she doesn’t know how to turn empty beer cans into birthday cakes and feed the masses if you follow my biblical allusion.

So Gina panicked and went out to buy three more birthday cakes to make five in all.  Sure enough, the whole world did show up.  80 people dropped by to wish Joy a Happy Birthday, waltz her around the dance floor and consume the promised cake.

This created some unexpected benefits for me.  The next day when I showed up for my Sunday Waltz class, Lo and behold, there were three wonderful scrumptious Birthday Cakes sitting on a table in my room.  Oh, the Joys of Joy’s Excess Birthday Cake!!

I was so pleased to see my good deed of announcing Joy’s BD Party had been rewarded!  So often all the wonderful things I write go completely ignored, but this time I reaped what I sowed!   Despite the masses of people to attend Joy’s Party, there was all this cake laying left over.

Sure enough, my Waltz friends and I happily consumed Joy’s Birthday Cakes for the rest of the day.  And these cakes were BIG cakes.  You have no idea how far these cakes go!  In fact, I think there is some still sitting there if any of you want some.

I am thinking of announcing another birthday party for Joy soon.  I will make sure Gina knows about it.



Since I last mentioned this year’s Dance Cruise two Newsletters ago, we have added 24 more passengers!


29.  James Culotta

30.  Elizabeth Northcutt  

31.  Jim Duncan

32.  Denise Duncan

33.  Gordon Grant

34.  Janis Peccia

35.  Linda Fleischer

36.  Jo Ann McCracken

37.  Gareld McEathron

38.  Virginia McEathron     

39.  Karl RoraBacher      

40.  Velma Roppolo

41.  Lisa Mallett

42.  Jon Monteith

43.  Linda Wade

44.  Richard Greason

45.  Toni Maciel

46.  Rebecca Westmoreland

47.  Leah Maciel

48.  Deborah Jenkins

49.  Sharon Allen            

50.  Sam Lathrum

51.  Vivian Gustafson

52.  Steve Gabino


You may have noticed the last name on that list – Steve Gabino.  Steve has agreed to be our official Cruise photographer and late night DJ. 

As most of you know, Gary Richardson has done a remarkable job filling this role since 2003. But Gary has a problem – he has no one to watch his computer store while he takes this week-long trip.  Last year, Gary actually had to close his store for a week to go on our trip.  In his mind, that was simply too big a sacrifice to try again. 

When Gary read my recent Newsletter story about The Great Gabino and the wonderful job he has been doing as our Halloween Party photographer, he felt like Steve could fill his shoes.  I agree!

Quick reminder that the deadline for Cruise Registration is coming up next week.  After this deadline, there is a chance that Conquest will remove our group discount and begin to charge the prevailing rate.

I realize in this uncertain economy, everyone prefers to wait till the last moment on everything, but there is also something to be said for making your move now if you really want to go.

From: Marla
Sent: Thursday, March 12, 2009 7:10 PM
Subject: Conquest info

Hello Everybody,

Well, our 2009 Conquest first deposit deadline is just around the corner.  Yes, hard to believe but the registration forms need to be in by next Wednesday, March 18th.  We recently added 23 people to our group since the last posting.

We are currently up to 53 people who will be enjoying the beautiful Western Caribbean on Carnival's fabulous Conquest from August 23rd through August 30th.  Our annual cruise event is a week-long party that is surely not to be missed!

Be sure to schedule your vacation time accordingly, and then either email or fax me your registration form so you can join us for another fun-filled week of adventures as we dance our way across the Caribbean Sea.

Don't miss out on all the fun! 
Marla Archer




A couple years ago, I wrote a story about a Pot Cave in Tennessee.   To my surprise, my story became a huge Internet favorite.  I ended paying a couple hundred dollars in Web Site surcharges because the whole world clicked in to read my story. 

The story involved these crooks who converted a cave into a massive underground marijuana farm.   Now for those of you who are not A&M graduates, one major component for growing dope is LIGHT.  And there ain’t much of that in caves.

Well, the pot farmers installed grow lights.  BIG GROW LIGHTS!  Suddenly they were paying a small fortune in electrical bills which cut down on their illegal profits.  Then they had a bright idea.  Why not tap into the power lines illegally and get some free juice?  Brilliant!

Except that the power company noticed it was losing a lot of power somewhere.  Plus there were bizarre fluctuations in the power grid.  So they got nosy. 

You guessed it… the criminals got caught because they were too cheap to pay for the electricity!

Here is a recent letter on the story:

From:  E
Sent: Sunday, March 08, 2009 12:00 AM
Subject: pot cave

I love this story!!!

The thing that gets me no one thought of getting their own generator?? 

Heck, I have 2 generators and I'm just a carpenter.

I think it is hysterical to see a smaller crime lead to the big crime being busted.  LOL!

Thanks for your great writeup!


RICK ARCHER’S NOTE: Can any of you explain why the generator idea wasn’t any good?  I am guessing the gas to run these generators would have cost more than the electricity, but maybe some of you can explain it better.  After all, I may be weird, but I don’t have a criminal mind.

Go read POT CAVE




You all had a lot of fun trying to solve last week’s math puzzle about the cats on the bus.

Out of the 20 people who responded, 9 got it right on the first try.  That’s a lot better than I did… I solved it on my fourth try a year ago and on my second try last week.

We have some very smart people around here.

It is kind of upsetting to realize how much smarter all of my dance students are than I am, but on the bright side I now have a wonderful pool of people to consider hiring as Registrars.


Olga and Luis are both SSQQ Salsa Instructors.  Luis Castillo has been at the studio since 2001.  He caught the rise of Salsa here in America all the way back to the “Living La Vida Loca” days.  Luis began teaching Cumbia and Merengue for us in 2003. 

Olga Bochareva came to the US from Russia.  She began taking Swing classes here at the studio in the summer of 2005 and soon moved over to Salsa.  I believe Olga became an Assistant Instructor here in late 2006.  I am really happy that the studio was able to help these two special people find each other!

As I have pointed out many times, one of the fastest ways to get married in the entire Universe is to become an SSQQ dance instructor.  The recent wedding of Leo Skiba plus the upcoming wedding of Gerry Frances plus the recent engagement of Loni Lewellyn underscores this point dramatically.  So when you have not one, but two instructors who are single, you are definitely daring Cupid to make a move.  Luis and Olga’s wedding is simply the latest story in a long line of SSQQ instructors to find love on the dance floor.

(see pictures from Luis and Olga’s Wedding)

As you all know, Salsa has been the top program at SSQQ for most of the 2000s.  Linda Cook has done an admirable job of keeping the energy high for all these years.  Linda took over guiding the Salsa program from my ex-wife Judy in late 2004.  Since Judy had built our Salsa program from scratch, at the time we all wondered if the bonfire was about to go out.  To our delight, Linda made the program even bigger.

People often ask me, “Rick, Salsa is your biggest program.  Why don’t you teach Salsa?” 

Linda is much more easygoing than I am.  Her laid-back approach is probably the right touch for the Salsa crowd.  When I look at all that energy, I figure Linda must be doing a pretty good job.  Since I am such a control-freak, I have little doubt I would stick my nose in there and mess things up.  So I step aside to let Linda work her wonders.  As I watch things from a distance, I can’t help but be so proud of what Linda has accomplished!   All the credit goes to Linda plus help from the great instructors like Steve, Jim, Jill, Maureen, Martin, Dakota and the many others who make it all happen.

The downside of this hand’s-off arrangement is that I don’t get any gossip about the SSQQ Salsa community.  They have a lot of fun and they don’t talk about it to me.  I hear stories of wild Salsa parties that go on to the early hours of the morning… maybe it is better that I don’t know.

When I find out that Luis and Olga are getting married, I am practically the LAST PERSON at the studio to know.  This explains why I have no juicy details to share other than Luis and Olga are off somewhere on a honeymoon cruise. 

The one thing I know for sure is that all this Salsa dancing will inevitably lead to something called “Romance”.   You simply cannot have all these beautiful women moving their bodies to the fast, pulsating Salsa beat and not get the blood boiling in the men.  These guys become easy prey for Cupid’s darts. 

March 2009 marks the third Anniversary of the SSQQ Matchmaker Story.  SSQQ has quite a reputation for creating marriages.  The Matchmaker Story is the article I wrote that actually explained the reasons behind the studio’s legendary success.  At the time, I was worried that talking about this phenomenon might actually damage the subtle magic behind it.  I shouldn’t have been so fearful.  I am proud to announce that counting Luis and Olga’s wedding, we have had 46 SSQQ marriages since I first wrote the story three years ago. 

Obviously the Magic lives on!

In the "Matchmaker" story, I explained the recipe for how Dance leads to Romance.

For those of you who have been too busy to read the entire article, I will give you a brief synopsis.

Dancing turns out to be a simple, graceful way to get to know people with their guard down.   in a relaxed setting. For a variety of reasons, SSQQ has always seemed to attract a high number of intelligent, educated, down-to-earth people. With such a large group of talented people, it is easy to find any number of people who have a lot of things in common with you besides dancing.

At SSQQ, you can take a class with someone, dance with him or her at Practice Night, and strike up a conversation at Break or after class. Talking to strangers is always difficult, but it is much easier when you have a common reference point like dancing and the studio to start with.

It is important to note that if you were to meet the same person in a club, it would be much more difficult to start a conversation.  As I said, SSQQ has a way of putting people at ease.  It is a natural setting as opposed to an artificial, forced environment like a club where the pressure is on to 'make a move' or 'come up with a good line'. 

The next step is the art of dance itself.  After a simple invitation to dance is accepted, once you put a man and woman in each other's arms, you allow chemistry to begin.  You have eye contact.  You have a smile. You have touch.  Your senses and instincts go to work immediately.

Who you see is who you get.  You have a person right in front of you who will not airbrush their picture, doctor their profile or lie about their age and weight. You don't have to respond to 15 Internet ads.  Nor do you have to e-mail back and forth to negotiate the complicated first meeting.

This is a living, thinking human being who has signaled interest in you by agreeing to share a dance. 

Cupid's magic starts to work immediately.

Not my magic, but Cupid's magic.


More about the Matchmaker Article:

In Chapter One titled "Discovery", I talk about how absolutely stunned I was the day before the start of the new Millennium. This was the moment when I first grasped how effective the dance studio was at creating marriages and engagements.  Up till now I had a hunch the studio was good at connecting people, but I had never looked at the complete picture before. This moment literally took my breath away.

In Chapter Two titled "Turf", I explain the connection between dance and romance in greater detail. I begin to explain in general why dancing is so effective at creating romances.  Then I go into specific stories about several former students and the lessons they taught me along the way. 

For example, I talk about the concept of how "Marriage is the Death of Dance". 

I explain how people grow more confident through dancing and actually make themselves more attractive to the opposite sex in the process.

I explain how the dance studio can actually help people recover from a broken heart through dancing.

And I discuss the issue of whether SSQQ is a dance studio or a singles group.

In Chapter Three titled "The Eighties, I start telling the background of the SSQQ Social Program. I talk about how the movie "Urban Cowboy" got the ball rolling even more effectively than "Saturday Night Fever".

Then I talk about how my bizarre 1986 Streak where I went Whip Dancing 201 nights in a row.  This strange time in my life actually created so much energy that several marriages and several Texas State Dance Championships were the end result.  You will just have to read it to believe it.

My story on the Eighties at SSQQ includes the tale about the wackiest character in the studio's long history, how the loss of two key leaders nearly crippled the studio, about the woman who saved the studio, about the time I lost an entire dance class to another dance studio, and how a computer chess game saved me from a descent into madness.

In Chapter Four titled "The Nineties", I talk about the Studebaker Days, how the instructors replaced the students as the new studio "In Crowd", about a long list of dance instructors who parlayed their dance skills into marriages, and about the studio's slow but steady erosion into a mere shell of its former self.

In Chapter Five titled "The Comeback Kids", I write about a man with amazing charisma and the people around him who spun the studio inside out, upside down, and turned the whole place around.  I talk about how three leaders put the studio on their backs and turned the studio absolutely on fire as the Millennium approached.  And I mentioned a small contribution that I made that would pay off in a big way further down the road.

In Chapter Six titled "Millennium Madness", I talk about the fever pitch at which people started to get married at SSQQ. I write about an amazing moment in studio history when three female instructors all got married on the same day. Then I discuss the problem known as "Flying under the Radar" which prevents me from knowing the true number of SSQQ marriages.

In Chapter Seven titled "Love Boat", I talk about two important individuals who made contributions that transformed the studio and how the eight SSQQ cruises have resulted in a phenomenal number of marriages and relationships.  I talk about why SSQQ Slow Dance and Romance Magic becomes even more effective out on the high seas.  I conclude the chapter with advice on three very important subjects:  Participation, Community, and Contribution.  You will enjoy this chapter.

In Chapter Eight titled "Bon Voyage" I discuss my theory that one reason Ballroom may be making a comeback is due a growing desire to see more "Glamour" in our lives.  Nothing wrong with tee-shirts and blue jeans of course, but once in a while wouldn't it be nice to dress up and go to a beautiful dinner club and dance the night away to an orchestra? 

In this chapter, I discuss the amazing effect that SSQQ cruises have had on our studio and how the new studio "In Crowd" has grown to include not only the instructors, but a long list of "Usual Suspects" and other celebrities from our cruises. 

I conclude the chapter with speculation about where the studio is headed plus a fetching vision of what might lie ahead for the cruise program.

I hope you all will take the time to learn about the history of how SSQQ became the Romance Center of Houston, Texas. It is a pretty neat story.




Did you know that two people accused me of actually writing that preposterous letter from last week’s Newsletter?  Did you know that one of those people was my own wife? 

My question is:  I realize you all think I am weird, but do you really think I am THAT WEIRD?   I mean, that woman was very disturbed.  Now I am worried what you must think of me. 

So my attitude is this:  If you are going to openly speculate that I am really weird, then that gives me permission to include some really weird stuff in the Newsletter.   I mean, if your opinion of me is THAT LOW, then maybe I should do something really awful to justify it.  So I have decided to print something that is really awful.

READ THIS AT YOUR OWN RISK   (Warning: This joke is in very poor taste)
Contributed by anonymous

A man is waiting for wife to give birth. The doctor comes in and informs the dad that his son was born without torso, arms or legs.  The son is just a head!  

What a tragedy!   But the dad loves his son and raises him as well as he can, with love and compassion.

After 21 years, the son is old enough for his first drink. Dad takes him to the bar and tearfully tells the son he is proud of him for facing his handicaps and making the best of them.

Dad orders up the biggest, strongest drink for his boy. With the entire group of bar patrons looking on and the bartender shaking his head in disbelief, the boy takes his first sip of alcohol.

The alcohol has a bizarre effect on the poor boy.  He struggles and twitches, then suddenly…

Swoooop!   A torso pops out!  The boy had a body all along… it was just trapped inside!

The bar is dead silent; then bursts into a whoop of joy. The father, shocked, begs his son to drink again. The patrons chant "Take another drink"!  The bartender still shakes his head in dismay. He is sure nothing good is going to come of this.

Swoooop!  Two arms pop out.  Unbelievable.

The bar goes wild. The father, crying and wailing, begs his son to drink again. The patrons chant "Take another drink"!   The bartender goes to the back of the bar and crosses his arms.  By now the boy is getting tipsy, and with his new hands he reaches down, grabs his drink and guzzles the last of it.

Swoooop!  Two legs pop out.

The bar is in chaos. The father falls to his knees and tearfully thanks God.  The boy stands up on his new legs and stumbles to the left....then to the right.... then lurches out of control through the front door, into the street, where a truck runs over him and kills him instantly.

The bar falls silent. The father moans in grief.

The bartender sighs and frowns, "That boy should have quit while he was still a head."


RICK ARCHER'S NOTE:  In last week's Newsletter, I printed a very strange letter condemning a picture on my web site of two people with two champagne glasses toasting their wedding.   I see no reason to embarrass the couple in question by naming them, but I assure you it was a very innocuous picture.  I promise you we have many pictures on the ssqq website that are far worse.  For example, any Cozumel story from our summer cruises is bound to yield pictures that are far more naughty. 

Many people found the woman's rant to be very disturbing.  I was surprised at the number of people who commented on that letter. 

One person at the studio - I actually can't remember who it was - said the letter was so bizarre they assumed I had written it.  I can't help but mention how odd I thought that comment was!   Then that same night when I got home, Marla asked me about the letter too.  She also asked me if I had written that letter. 

For your information, I don't make any of this stuff up.  One, I don't have to. Two, that would be wrong. 

But I can't help but wonder just how strange do you all really think I am? 

I realize I write some pretty silly things on the website, but that alcohol rant was really OUT THERE.  No, I did not write that letter.  I may be weird, but I am not 'strange'.  

For starters, how about a terrible joke about the Evils of Alcohol? 

It was 8 in the morning.  The winos were sound asleep in the pews as they tried to recover from their drunken stupor.  Too much Mad Dog 20/20 last night.  Now it was time for their free meal at the church shelter.  But first they had a little ritual to get through.

With his usual punctuality, at 8 sharp the Reverend confidently strode into in the room.  He surveyed the scene with disdain.  When will these people ever learn?  So now he called to his flock to wake up. 

Slowly but surely, the winos stirred uncomfortably.  Let's get it over with.  The price for their meal was this daily lecture from the Reverend. 

The Reverend launched into his usual diatribe about the evils of alcohol.  As always, he droned on and on and on.  The winos could barely keep their eyes open.

Today, however, the Reverend had a new wrinkle.  He took out two drinking glasses.  Into one glass he poured water, into the other glass he poured gin.  The gin got their attention.  They hoped maybe he would forget the bottle...

Then the Reverend pulled out a worm and ceremoniously dropped it into the water.  Sure enough, the worm swam happily around the glass.

Now the Reverend pulled the worm out of the water and dropped it into the gin.  Poof!  The worm quickly disintegrated, its body destroyed.

The Reverend had a look of delight on his face.  "And now, you sinners, what can we deduce from this experiment!"  The Reverend asked the question with the same triumphant air that comes with knowing that only one obvious conclusion could be drawn.

"Yes, I know, Reverend" came a voice from the back, "it means if you drink alcohol, you'll never get worms!  Now let's go eat!"

In addition to the two people who asked if I had written the "RANT" myself,  I received 9 emails commenting on the woman's letter.  Here is my favorite response:


From: Keith
Sent: Monday, March 09, 2009 7:03 AM
Subject: Regarding the Horrendous pictures of a couple drinking what appears to be CARBONATED soft drinks on your site

Dear Mister Archer,

I was looking thru your website, in search of a dance class on the Michael Jackson Moonwalk, When much to my chagrin, I spotted this picture:

I am quite flabbergasted and astounded that you have the audacity to show people drinking CARBONATED soft drinks in your website.

It is a well-documented, if not researched, fact, that CARBONATED soft drinks can lead a normal person down the road to harder, more sophisticated soft drinks, such as Monster, Red Bull, and SoBe No Fear.  Not to mention tooth decay, obesity, and between-meal cravings.   How dare you!

Sincerely, Keith


RICK ARCHER’S NOTE:  Now that I realize you all secretly think I make this weird stuff up, I think I will publish some of my poetry, but pretend it isn’t mine. 

Yes, it is true I write sensitive poetry all the time.  That’s what I do with all my free time.  But I am afraid you will laugh at me if I tell you I wrote it.  I am tender, so it would hurt me if you laughed at my poetry.

So I think I will print some of my poetry, but pretend it is another Bizarre Letter sent to me by a dance student.  Now mind you, I really wrote this myself.)


-----Original Message-----

From: A
Sent: Tuesday, February 03, 2009 1:34 PM
Subject: Re: SSQQ Online Registration Confirmation for A

I really hope that my shoes are in the car

Maybe I picked them up and then put them

Down somewhere else but I am worried bc

I have really really uncomfortable shoes on

And I just am not going to be able to dance

In them


WTF is up with switching partners?!?

I don't want to be dancing with a bunch of

Strangers the whole point is that we are supposed

To be doing this together I don't think I should

Be required to dance with just any guy

I am not so sure about this now

What do think about this?



Me and baby



From:  Judy Walsh
Sent: Tuesday, March 03, 2009 3:32 PM
Subject: Best Octomom Joke

I'm sure you all know who the "Octomom" is.  She is the brilliant lady who has twice undergone in vitro because she likes having kids.

 Most recently she had eight babies (hence the title "Octomom") and prior to that she had six babies. 

This woman has no job, no means of income whatsoever, and just is creating lots of little welfare recipients.  Anyway, I heard this on the way to work this morning and it cracked me up.  So, enjoy….

 “Did you hear that Denny's has put out a new breakfast item called the "Octomom Special". 

It comes with fourteen eggs, no sausage, and the guy at the next table gets to pay the bill!”

Contributed by Jim Dulaney

See it this very minute before they take it off the air.


Contributed by Chris Holmes

Okay, you have definitely heard of most of these events.  The Titanic is on the list.  Exxon Valdez makes the list.  So what other disasters are included?   Think ahead of time.  See if you can anticipate at least five more of the disasters on the list ahead of time. 

It shouldn’t be that hard.  I have heard of every one of them but two.



Contributed by Tresa Frazier

Traveling down the interstate and needing to use the restroom, I stop at a rest area and head to the restroom.

 I was barely sitting down when I heard a voice from the other stall saying:

"Hi, how are you?"

I'm not the type to start a conversation in the restroom and I don't know what got into me, but I answered, somewhat embarrassed,

"Doin' just fine!"

And the other person says:

"So what are you up to?"

What kind of question is that? At that point, I'm thinking this is too bizarre so I say:

"Uhhh, I'm like you, just traveling through!" 

At this point I am just trying to get out of here as fast as I can when I hear another question.

"Can I come over?"

Ok, this question is just too weird for me but I figured I could just be polite and end the conversation. I tell them:

"No..I'm a little busy right now!!!" 

Then I hear the person say nervously...

"Listen, I'll have to call you back on the cell.  There's some idiot in the other stall who keeps answering all my questions!" 



Contributed by Anita Williams


A good Irish man, John O'Reilly, met regularly with his toastmasters club.  One evening they were hitting the Guinness Stout and having a contest at who could make the best toast.

John O'Reilly hoisted his beer and said, "Here's to spending the rest of me life Between the legs of me wife!"

That won him the top prize for the best toast of the night!  He went home and told his wife, Mary, "Guess what?  I won the prize for the best toast of the night."

She said, "Aye, and what was your toast?"

John hesitated for a moment, then said, "Here's to spending the rest of me life Sitting in church beside me wife."

"Oh that is very nice indeed, John!" Mary said.

The next day Mary ran into one of John's toasting buddies on the street corner.  When he saw Mary, the man chuckled leeringly and said, "John won the prize the other night with a toast about you, Mary."

She said, "Aye and I was a bit surprised meself!  You know, he's only been there twice!

Once he fell asleep and the other time I had to pull him by the ears to make him come!"



Bob Graham and Ana Torres have been giving me headaches.  This rotten couple are the studio's notorious Fashion Rebels.  Every week I warn them to knock it off with the color-coordinated stuff, but every week they keep sneaking into class wearing these ridiculous matching outfits!

What is worse is that other students encourage them to keep it up.  I am worried that the entire studio may end up defying me on my prohibition against deliberately wearing matching outfits. 

This is wrong.  It is wrong wrong wrong.  It is very wrong.

Now in case these people seem familiar, just three weeks ago I wrote about them in the Newsletter.

Here is some of what I said at the time:

Excerpt From Issue Two, SSQQ February Newsletter
click here to read entire story about Bob and Ana

Who are these scary people?  Or, to paraphrase the Lone Ranger, "Who are those masked men?"

For two straight years, there has been a very scary couple that has REFUSED to take their masks off. This presents a real problem for me. You see, many people who come to the SSQQ party worry about people who don't take off their masks.

To them, this goes straight to their deepest fears that REAL MONSTERS DO ATTEND THIS PARTY. I refuse to confirm or deny this allegation other than to say it is a distinct possibility. Let me add this is a subject I prefer not to write too much about for fear that it might affect attendance. There have been mysterious disappearances over the years. People come to the Party and then we never see them again. I just tell them they met someone cute and have better things to do than dance, but deep down I admit I wonder myself.

That said, I openly admit this particular 2008 Monster couple (Chucky and the Spike-haired Alien Babe) are flesh and blood human beings. But other people didn't know this. Chucky and Spike certainly did frighten a lot of people at this year's party. I got a lot of complaints!

Actually, it is kind of ironic that Ana Torres of all people gets "The Big Ugly" Award. What the world doesn't realize is that inside her Monster Costume lurks the face of a real beauty!  When it comes to 'inner beauty', someone surely had Ana in mind.  But Ana packs a lot of 'outer beauty' as well.

That's right, Ana Torres is not only one of the sweetest ladies I know, she is knockout pretty!  In my book, a woman this beautiful who spends an entire evening looking gruesome and repulsive two years in a row marks her as one heck of a neat girl!  So when you see me hugging her as I am wont to do every time I see her, now you know why I think Ana is so special!

And while I am giving out compliments, Bob is definitely one of the nicest guys I know as well. He and Ana fit like a glove with their smiles and warmth.

You might be surprised to learn that despite the fact that I really both people, Bob and Ana are in BIG TROUBLE with me.

One week ago on Wednesday, January 28, these two characters showed up for my Ghost Town class wearing Matching Green outfits. Now, here's the deal. It is obvious the two have a lot of affection for each other. I don't have a problem with that. But when they wear Matching Color-Coordinated Outfits, they cross a line. People who are lonely see how happy they are and how obnoxiously cute they look together and they get envious. That's right - Bob and Ana are guilty of flaunting their happiness in front of an entire class (secretly, I think they are getting back at all of us for not appreciating them enough when they are ugly.)

So last week I gave them a warning - no more cute color-coordinated outfits! Knock it off.

Imagine my consternation when they wore the exact same obnoxious matching green outfits to the studio on Monday, February 2. The nerve! So I chewed them out again! They deserved to be chewed out!

Excessive cuteness is a serious fashion crime at SSQQ.

I figured two warnings should do it. You would thing a word to the wise should be sufficient. Wrong! On Wednesday, February 3, Bob and Ana were in my Ghost Town class. It was a big night. There were over 200 people at the studio that night! 50 of them were in my class. Fifty people is a lot of people to keep track of. So I was a little preoccupied.

But then it happened. Twenty minutes into class Bob and Ana made a big mistake - they stood next to each other. When I saw them wearing color-coordinated Burgundy outfits, I nearly went ballistic. The nerve!!! It didn't matter that they both turned Barney-purple with embarrassment. That ain't gonna get them off the hook. They were TOO CUTE!! Shame on both of them!

You know, Once is an incident. And Twice is a coincidence. But THREE TIMES IS DELIBERATE! They are both guilty of deliberately being TOO CUTE! This burgundy incident was no accident. Trust me. I have been around too long. I know when people are being deliberately color-coordinated because I am an expert. I am telling you they did it ON PURPOSE as a shameful attention-getting device!

And I told Bob and Ana I was going to teach them a lesson and write them up in the newsletter. Do not feel sorry for them. Do not try to make them feel better. They are getting what they deserve! This unacceptable behavior is tantamount to publicly sticking their tongue out at me! Tsk Tsk!

So let this be a warning to Bob and Ana and any other color-coordinated couples that this kind of behavior will not be tolerated at the studio. Knock it off! From now on, cute couples must wear un-matching outfits or expect to be publicly called out.

It is hard enough to be lonely and see a couple together that is so obviously happy together. But when they start dress alike, that is TOO MUCH. And I have to tell you, everyone in that room agreed with me.  Bob and Ana had gone too far. They were TOO CUTE FOR WORDS!

Let me explain something.  The SSQQ Color-Coordinated Award goes way back in time.  It originated back in the Eighties as a way to acknowledge two total strangers who came dressed in matching outfits. 

For example, on Friday, March 6, Gail Tschirhart and Richard Abuzalaf showed up for Beginning Western Swing wearing shirts that matched perfectly.  Aren't they adorable!!!

Just to show you how SERIOUSLY we take this award, here is a pop quiz to test your color knowledge.  What color name most accurately describes their shirts?  Answer below.

01  atomic tangerine
02  burnt sienna
03  carrot orange
04  cinnamon
05  coral
06  gamboge
07  goldenrod
08  ochre
09  orange peel
10  peach
11  persian orange
12  persimmon
12  pink orange
13  pumpkin
14  salmon
15  tangerine

As you can see, we take this award very seriously.  As you can see, color-coordination is very powerful stuff.  It takes Two to Tango and Two to be Color-coordinated.  One person alone is no big deal, but two matching people stand out in a crowd!  This award was always meant to honor people like Gail and Richard who accidentally looked great together, not two trouble makers like Bob and Ana who go out of their way to be attention-thiefs! 

People go out of their way to say how adorable they look together.  Well, heck, they are cheating!  It isn't fair to wear matching outfits.  It makes other people feel less adorable.

Gail Tschirhart and Richard Abuzalaf 

Bob and Ana have committed a very serious FASHION CRIME! 

It is illegal for two people who already like each other to deliberately come to the studio wearing matching outfits. 

What is worse is that Bob and Ana's fashion crime wave has begun to affect other people.  Their badness is contagious!  Look how rotten they are.  Deliberate Color-Coordination is breaking out all over the studio!  Pretty soon everyone will be wearing Tangerine outfits like Gail and Richard!  It won't be special any more to give out the award!

All the proof you need is right before you.  That is Liana Waldberg wearing a matching purple outfit with our Color Bandits.  She is clearly infected with a bad case of Color Cuteness.  Look how happy she is!  She knows that when she matches our Bad Examples, she is much too hot.  Look at the grin on her face!  Liana knows that in the of presence of our notorious duo, she is irresistible.

That's not fair to other people.  This is just getting ridiculous.  Liana is cute enough as it is.  She gets enough attention around here without having to cheat.  It isn't right for Liana to participate in this studio's fashion epidemic!

Let's face it.  Thanks to our ringleaders, our studio has a real problem on its hands.  If you don't believe me, take a good look at our final picture.  Do you see my point now?  This has gone too far!

Don't you agree that Bob and Ana have to be stopped before this gets any worse?   They sure have a lot of nerve! 

Look how happy they are.  They make me so mad!

St. Patrick's Day Quiz ANSWERS

Erin Go Bragh!

You got 7/10 correct.   Good Score!  Now go Challenge a Friend!

(Rick Archer’s Note:  I admit I guessed on every single question.  I did okay.  I think it is because Disney’s “Darby O’Gill and the Little People” was my favorite movie as a kid.)


1 - You were Incorrect

The correct answer: D All of the above

Your answer: C Driving the snakes out of Ireland

 St. Patrick's Day is a holiday honoring Patrick (389?-461?), the patron saint of Ireland, also called the Apostle of Ireland. It is celebrated annually on March 17, his feast day and the anniversary of his death. St. Patrick was a missionary who worked to convert the people of Ireland to Christianity; he was appointed successor to St. Palladius, first bishop of Ireland, sometime after 431. His use of the three-leafed shamrock to explain the doctrine of the Trinity led to its being regarded as the Irish national symbol. He is also credited with having driven the snakes out of Ireland.

2 - Correct!

The correct answer: B Ireland's lush landscape

Your answer: B Ireland's lush landscape

Green, the national color of Ireland, symbolizes the Emerald Isle's lush landscape. A popular tradition of St. Patrick's Day is to wear green clothing -- and for reasons unknown, those not sporting green get pinched by those who are. 

3 - Correct!

The correct answer: D Boston

Your answer: D Boston

The first St. Patrick's Day parade in the United States was held in 1737 in Boston -- organized by the Charitable Irish Society of Boston, the oldest Irish society organization in the Americas (founded in 1737). More than 100 U.S. cities now hold St. Patrick's Day parades and festivals. New York City's parade, which began in 1762, is one of the biggest. It marches up Fifth Avenue and traditionally stops at St. Patrick's Cathedral.

4 - Correct!

The correct answer: B Shoemaker

Your answer: B Shoemaker

In Irish folklore, a leprechaun (from the Old Irish "lobaircin," or "small bodied fellow") is a mischievous little male fairy with magical powers who has a hidden pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. A leprechaun usually works as a shoemaker or cobbler. Leprechauns actually had no relation to St. Patrick's Day until sometime after 1959, when Walt Disney Studios released "Darby O'Gill and the Little People." The film introduced America to a happy and funny leprechaun, rather unlike the crabby little fairy of Irish folklore. The cheerful leprechaun soon became a symbol of both St. Patrick's Day and Ireland in general to American audiences. 

5 - You were Incorrect

The correct answer: C Cabbage

Your answer: B Turnips

In Ireland, St. Patrick's Day is an important religious holiday celebrating the conversion of the Irish to Christianity. Many enjoy a traditional meal that includes colcannon -- boiled potatoes and cabbage mashed together with butter. The day is also seen as a reprieve from the sober weeks of Lent, and adults may drink a pint of ale (called "drowning the shamrock") and allow their children some candy. Businesses are closed, except for some restaurants and pubs. People attend church services honoring St. Patrick and learn about his life. Many Irish people wear sprigs of real shamrock and greet each other by saying, "Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig oraibh," or "May the blessings of St. Patrick be with you."

6 - Correct!

The correct answer: B Little clover

Your answer: B Little clover

 The shamrock is from the Irish "seamrog," meaning "little clover." It is the common name for any of several trifoliate clovers native to Ireland. The shamrock is the national symbol of Ireland -- most shamrocks, especially the rare four-leaf clover, have been considered by the Irish as good luck symbols since earliest times. Shamrocks or various representations of the plant are worn by celebrants on St. Patrick's Day. The hop clover is widely accepted as the original shamrock picked by St. Patrick.

7 - Correct!

The correct answer: B Sláinte!

Your answer: B Sláinte!

On St. Patrick's Day, if you are lucky enough to be having a tasty pint of stout or lager at an Irish pub, the perfect toast would be "Sláinte!" (Irish for "Cheers!" or "Toast!"). Otherwise you would be toasting with "Sandwich!" ("Ceapaire!"), "Sweater!" ("Geansaí!") or "Computer!" ("Ríomhaire!"). Many Irish-themed pubs in the United States, just for the special St. Patrick's Day holiday, go as far as serving green beer -- beer with a few drops of green food coloring added.

8 - Correct!

The correct answer: A Dyeing the Chicago River green for a day

Your answer: A Dyeing the Chicago River green for a day

A popular St. Patrick's tradition since 1962 has been dyeing the Chicago River green for a day. The idea came to Stephen Bailey -- business manager of the Chicago Journeymen Plumbers Local Union #110 -- when he was approached by a plumber whose coveralls were covered with green dye. This dye, a perfect "Irish green" to Bailey's eye, was originally used to detect the illegal dumping of sewage into the river. After some experimentation and trial and error, Chicago now uses 40 pounds of a vegetable-based, non-polluting green dye to turn its river green. The Sears Tower antennas have been illuminated with green lights for St. Paddy's Day since 1997.

9 - Incorrect

The correct answer: D 2004

Your answer: B 1967

 Baseball's Boston Red Sox was the first team to play in green jerseys to mark St. Patrick's Day in 2004 (their socks, however, stayed red). The "Luck o' the Irish" must have been with them, for 2004 proved to be a banner year for the Red Sox. Their 98 wins in the regular season were followed by a history-making American League Championship series, when they overcame a 3-0 deficit to the Yankees, beating them in seven games. The Red Sox became the first team in Major League Baseball history to recover from a 3-0 deficit. The pot of gold was a Red Sox World Series championship -- their first in 86 years.

10 - Correct!

The correct answer: C Montserrat

Your answer: C Montserrat

The Caribbean island of Montserrat -- along with the Republic of Ireland and the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador -- is one of the three places in the world where St. Patrick's Day is an official public holiday. In Montserrat, March 17 also commemorates the martyrdom of those who died in a failed slave uprising in 1768, when African-Montserratian slaves revolted against the island's Irish plantation owners. Montserrat, the "Emerald Isle of the Caribbean," hosts a week-long celebration of the St. Paddy's Day holiday.


AND THAT’S A WRAP FOR THIS ISSUE!   This issue was only 20 pages long.  Thank you for reading to the bottom, although I realize that probably only Conor O'Muirgheasa and Diane Murrell made it this far.  They wanted to be sure some stupid Texas Boy like me didn’t beat ‘em at their own quiz. 

And did Cher make it this far?  Very unlikely.  She is still probably watching the Octomom video.

See y’all at the Irish Western Party on Saturday!

Rick Archer


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