Rick's Gabfest with Gertrude
Written by Rick Archer, March 2006
Saturday Night Fever Disco Era
1980 - 1984
Urban Cowboy Western Era,
1985 - 1987
201 Nights of Dancing, Tom
1988 - 1997
Studebaker Gang, Sharon
Crawford, SSQQ Staff
1998 - 2000
Millennium - The Daryl Armstrong Experience,
Heartbeat, Swing Kids!
"So it's the Nineties
now. You have started a new
decade at SSQQ. Who took the place of the Third
Generation leaders like Tom, Jim, Diane, and Margie?"
"My new set of
instructors took over the studio. This group was drawn
mainly from the people who loved to hang out at Studebakers. I usually refer to them
as the Studebaker Gang or the Fourth Generation.
After the twin "death comets" of Southwest Whip and Houston's
Economy wiped out my entire Third Generation, into the
enormous leadership vacuum stepped the new leaders -
Maureen Brunetti, Donna Ruth, Linda Rooks, Ben Liles, Susie
Allen (Merrill), Ben Liles, Debbie Reynolds, Judy Stidham,
and of course Sharon Crawford - always Sharon, my rock. Another
important leader, Linda Cook, came
along in the early 90s. Daryl Armstrong came
along in the mid
These instructors were the people who supplied the heat throughout the
1990s. This talented group of people were the true
leaders of SSQQ. Yes, I contributed, but not nearly as
much as I used to. It was more of a team effort now. I was very
grateful to have these fine people to help shoulder the load.
As they say, I couldn't have done it without them.
My name was synonymous with SSQQ all the way till the end of 1987.
Over half the
classes were taught by me. At some point, everyone
ended up in one of my classes during the Eighties. However when we took on the
additional space in late 1987, this important detail changed quite a
bit. I was still the public face of SSQQ, but now I
taught only 20% of the classes. From this point on,
many people came through the studio who never actually took
a class from me.
Naturally each new person bonded with their first
instructor. And let me tell you something - I had some
from 2 rooms to 5 rooms created an instant growth spurt.
During this expansion, I tried hiring experienced dance
instructors who had received their training elsewhere. Unfortunately I had one miserable experience after another
hiring people from outside our program to work here.
We discovered the outside instructors had trouble adapting to
our format because SSQQ is so unusual in its approach to the
dance business. The outside instructors could teach
just fine, but they were baffled by the importance I placed
on our social program. They didn't understand why I
considered Practice Night to be so important. All they
cared about was talking students into private lessons.
They were not a good fit. As a side note, of all the
outside instructors, only Debbie Reynolds was able to adapt.
She was the single exception to the rule. Debbie was
popular, funny, and very responsible. I really
regretted losing her in the late Nineties.
With one headache after another finding new instructors,
I remembered how well things had worked out when I took my
best students - Sharon Crawford, Diane Head, and Jim
Smith - and turned them into dance teachers. I
concluded bringing people up within the organization was my
best bet. From now on, I would hire the most talented
dancers among our own students and train them to be
teachers. This was one of the best decisions I ever
made - grow my teachers from within the studio.
Starting in 1988, whenever a Staff Member left, I would pick the best
student and convert them practically overnight into an
Instructor. We would work with them right before
class, then throw them into the water and hope they could
If you think this is a little brutal, you might be right.
This method was very stressful for the new teachers. As you
remember from Sharon Crawford's experience, Sharon got so
nervous during her first class that she could barely speak above
Sharon of course
survived, but afterwards she suggested there had to be a
more humane way to train dancers teachers than simply
throwing them to the wolves like I did with her. After her
horrible experience, I agreed there might be a better way to
do this "new teacher" thing, but it took me a while to
figure out how to do it.
Starting in 1992,
I began to train new teachers using the “Apprentice System”.
These people were basically my 'next in line' instructors. The
most talented students were hired to help to veteran
Instructors. Called “Assistants”, they learned via
on-the-job training. When someone would resign, we would
simply promote one of our Assistants to become an
Instructor. This system worked much better.
"Assistant" innovation brought with it new problems. I will
simply admit our 'Assistant' program in the early
90s became a
major pain in the butt for me.
As our program continued to grow, Assistants became so
valuable that the Instructors began to fight over who got to
have an Assistant and who didn’t. At first we had one
Assistant on a Friday night. Then we had an Assistant on
every night. Then we had two Assistants on every night. Then
on some busy nights we went to 3 Assistants.
However with 5 rooms each night, the economics prevented
SSQQ from hiring an Assistant for every Instructor.
That meant that the Assistants were a limited resource.
With 2 or 3 Assistants for 5 Instructors, the Instructors
began to argue over who deserved to get an Assistant and who didn't.
Sometimes it got pretty testy.
Meanwhile, SSQQ finished with $300 in the bank at the end of
1995 due to our bloated payroll.
This pathetic showing for 1995 meant we had more instructors than at any time in
studio history producing less results.
was a lesson there. I decided I didn't need an
economics degree to conclude we were
paying too many people to do the same job.
So in 1996 I introduced the “Volunteer Program”. I
encouraged our Instructors to recruit one or two students to
help them teach their classes. These people would
basically volunteer their free time to help our instructors
teach their class.
Believe it or not, we soon found out the spirit of Tom Sawyer lived!
People lined up to volunteer. We didn't pay them a
cent, but they didn't care. They weren't in it for the
money. Some wanted to become a dance teacher.
Some liked helping people. And some wanted to find a
boyfriend or a girlfriend. Or all three...
The big hit song in the movie Urban Cowboy was 'Looking
for Love in All the Wrong Places.'
Obviously that song writer could not have been referring to
If finding love was the goal
of a volunteer, they were definitely looking
in the Right Place here at SSQQ.
Throughout the decade of the 1990s, we married our
instructors off at a phenomenal clip.
That energy filtered right down to the assistants and
volunteers as well.
In fact, if you were a female and absolutely determined to get married, all you
had to do was become my Assistant. At one point I lost
six assistants and
volunteers in a row to Engagement and Marriage (Paula Yerks, Amelia Cate,
Hannah Baker, Mary Collins, Kathleen Alexander, Kathleen
I don't know if these six lovely women gave me any
credit for their marital success, but this
phenomenon did seem to be more than mere
coincidence. In fact, this situation actually got to be a little ridiculous.
Just when I got them trained, someone proposed to
them! Thanks a lot.
So finally I started asking married women to
be my assistant. Good move. That solved my problem
nicely. Finally I got to keep an assistant for more
than a couple months!
Starting as early as 1990, it was the SSQQ instructors who
made SSQQ Slow Dance and Romance Magic hum at a steady
is a statistic that should catch your eye:
During the Nineties, 33 different SSQQ instructors found
husbands or wives at SSQQ.
When you add in
Volunteers, the number climbs well above 40 but I am unsure
of the exact number. The problem
was that I didn't keep the names of the volunteers. Hmm.
Adding in the Staff and Volunteer numbers from
the 2000s, I discovered an amazing statistic - One SSQQ
instructor got married every three months!
List of SSQQ
Instructors Who Got Married in the 1990s
Paula Yerks (no picture)
Liliana Ashley (no picture)
Terry Johns (no picture)
David Bagesse (no picture)
Jeff Hieber (no picture)
Wil Coulbourn (no picture)
Beth Hentges (no picture)
Allen Hentges (no picture)
Janet Wukman (no picture)
"What did the SSQQ Instructors do to
get so lucky?"
"These people had three things going for them.
First, these were very sharp people. I always hired
the people with terrific personalities who just happened to
be my favorite advanced students. These students were
good dancers, good-looking, and most of all, blessed with
terrific people skills. The new Staff members were
invariably people who were leaders in other walks of life
besides the studio. In other words, they were very
attractive people to begin with.
As one lady (who will remain anonymous) once said to me
after her wedding to one of my male instructors, "I figured if he was good enough to
impress you, he was definitely going to get a second
Interview from me." That odd compliment brought a big
smile to my face.
Second, they became the SSQQ-equivalent of Rock Stars.
They were the best Dancers. They were the Teachers.
They were the Leaders of the new In-Crowd. Most of
all, they were on their "Turf", a concept I introduced
earlier. Wherever they went, eyes were sure to follow.
Third, they had the pick of the litter if I may be so crass
as to describe it that way. The Instructors would line
survey the new crop of students each month the same way a
high school basketball coach looks for the tallest kids in
each freshman class.
SSQQ attracts 1200 students a month, many of whom are people
who are recently out of relationships and looking to find
new romance. Let's just say the Instructors had a huge
head start on everyone else and leave it at that. They
would look for the cream of the crop and use their position
at the studio to get the inside edge.
My instructors knew what they were doing.
PICTURES OF SSQQ STAFF MARRIAGES FROM THE 1990S
(Please note the 'Years' are guesses)
Mike and Hannah Hitzhusen, 1995
Brian and Amelia Swanson, 1993
David and Arlene Vining, 1994
Nancy and Reid Faulkner, 1992
Mike and Lisa Fagan, 1995
Michael and Kathy Stephens, 1994
Mike and Hannah Hitzhusen
Tom and Tonya Binig, 1992
Trina and Tony Graham, 1993
Joanne White and Daryl Armstrong, 1998
Mike and Hannah Hitzhusen
Richard MacDonald, Peter and
Lesley Shores, 1992
Linda and Rad Decker, 1998
Diana and Ben Liles, 1999
"Any other Instructors who met their spouses at SSQQ to write about?"
"Well, I suppose you should add my name to the group above.
Judy and I were married in 1990.
1989 was a brutal
year for me. I became hard, bitter and cold.
I felt disappointed. I was so damn mad at the
world that I finished up
1989 with a computer chess game as my
In 1990, I snapped out of my funk from the previous year.
I forgot about Janet. I decided it did no good to
brood about Southwest Whip Club. I started to pay more
attention to my business again.
I finished my twelfth year as
a dance instructor at the end of 1989.
had to admit SSQQ had finally become a business to
me. The pain of the previous year had taken a
lot of the fun out of running a dance studio.
Too many friends had gone somewhere else. A
shift took place in my mind. Maybe it was time
stop making a bunch of fickle
single people my family. Maybe I needed a
family of my own.
and Judy Archer
SSQQ had grown to become the largest dance
studio in Houston. The continued economic success of the studio
seemed likely enough that I could consider raising a family.
The first twelve years had been an exciting time. Not that it had always been easy. I
had more than my share of ups and downs.
I wasn't lonely. Unless you wall yourself off like I did in
1989, how can you be lonely when you are
surrounded by a sea of people?
But I did feel terribly
alone. My life was time-shifted. When the rest of the
world was having fun in the evening, I was working.
When I had time to play every weekday morning, the rest of
the world was working. Some of my best friends had
become the waitresses at Denny's who brought me coffee while
I worked the crossword puzzle each morning.
I had no trouble finding girlfriends, but my
lifestyle made it difficult to sustain relationships.
Like Gail who broke up with me in 1987 just so she could get
some sleep, women with day jobs were risky prospects. I
was whipped cream and lots of fun, but when it came to the steak and
potatoes role of 'being there most of the time', I came up
Other people's children were a problem.
Like Janet in 1988 and other women I dated previously with
school age children, my weird hours made it tough to fit
into any traditional parenting role with a stepchild.
This same lesson had haunted me in five different
over the years. Let me put this another way. Of
the five women with a child or children whom I dated
seriously, children proved to be the obstacle that ended
My unconventional lifestyle
did not allow these women to think of me as good
Step Dad material.
I worked nights. Mothers would have to stay up very
late to see me. This took away time not only from
their job, but from their children as well. In
the beginning, the women were able to sacrifice a
little sleep to see me and still have energy to tend
to their children, but over time, this always became a
I began to wonder. What if I
had my own
children? Maybe then 'adapting' wouldn't be quite so difficult
for the kid, the mother, or me. They would
grow into my weird lifestyle over time.
So 1990 was the year I decided to look for a wife
to have kids with.
I didn't have to look very far. I already had
someone in mind. Not surprisingly, I married
one of my dance teachers. Judy and I had dated
some in 1989 after my breakup with Janet.
Actually Judy brought up the idea first. One
day she pulled out some childhood photographs.
Out of nowhere Judy blurted out, "Wouldn't I make
some really beautiful babies!?"
I stared at her
for a moment, then nodded. Once Judy told me she wanted to raise a family and
become a dance teacher to boot, that was exactly
what I wanted to hear. Finally I would have
companion who lived the same lifestyle and hours
that I did. So towards the end of
1990, we tied the knot.
I didn't have to wait
very long for children. In 1991,
Judy and I were blessed with the birth of
our daughter Samantha.
Sam, my favorite
Rugrat at age 4.
This picture was taken at an SSQQ Sock Hop
Sam led a very odd life as a
'Studio Kid'. There was no one in our
neighborhood to babysit, so Sam spent six nights a
week of her childhood right here at the
dance studio. With no neighborhood children
to play with and no siblings, Sam was never around
children her own age at home. My dance
studio was even worse. It was advertised as a
'playground for adults'. That meant there were
no other children at the studio.
Sam had no choice but to
spend her nights hidden away in the studio office
Sam could hear my
voice as I taught in the room next to the office and
knew she was welcome to come out of the office
whenever she wished. However, she preferred to
stay in the office and read or watch TV.
Sam passed her time reading
books about the Berenstein Bears and
watching every Disney movie ever recorded.
Later it was 'Rugrats' on Nickelodeon.
As she grew older, like her mother, Sam
became a big fan of 'I Love Lucy'.
wasn't a complete hermit. Desperate for a
little human contact, Sam would come out of the
office at Break Time and walk around chatting with
the adults she had made friends with. There
were many dance students who recognized her and went
out of their way to talk with Sam whenever she made
The positive side of this unusual upbringing
is that the adults Sam grew up around were
always kind to her. As a result, at
an early age, Sam lost her shyness around adults
completely. Sam wasn't afraid of strangers. Quite the contrary, Sam became
very outgoing. Sam was unfailingly
polite and respectful with the adults who
stopped to speak with her. I might add
became quite the conversationalist. Sam would talk
to anyone about anything.
kids her own age were the problem. As an only child, it took Sam a while to
catch up to kids her own age. Sam had
trouble handling the inevitable childhood
teasing because she led such a cloistered
Sam was perplexed about what to do when kids
bullied her or teased her. We decided to send Sam to Duchesne Academy
for a pre-kindergarten program primarily to get her around more
loved Duchesne so much that she spent 14 years at the
school. Duchesne was a beautiful school located in a pine tree forest in the Memorial area.
With modern buildings surrounding a lovely inner courtyard, this
place felt like a sanctuary from all strife.
attended all the way from Pre-K through graduation from high
school. I loved the quality of Sam's education.
Duchesne was an academic powerhouse. Only the smartest
students were admitted. Class sizes were small, maybe
15 students at most. Sometimes I got the feeling that
Duchesne operated more as a family than as a school.
suppose it was a little weird going to an all-girls school
for 14 years, but I will let the results speak for
themselves - Sam developed tremendous self-confidence.
Even better, she developed a big heart. Sam's
graduating class was only 54 students. Sam was popular
with all of her classmates although her parents were not
rich enough to afford to let Sam hang with the wealthier students on a
social basis. Oh well.
Fortunately there was a significant group of girls who could not
have cared less about money either. Sam fit in with
this group perfectly.
Sam benefitted tremendously from the close interaction with
her classmates. Sam thought of many of these girls as
more than just friends. They were her sisters.
One year I taught
the entire school to dance for
Go Texan Day. That's me up there in the far corner
Duchesne was always
one big family. The student body was only 700 girls, so this is
practically the whole school
dancing in the middle of the throng along
with Sister Dunn, Headmaster of Duchesne.
about 8 when Judy and I began to have our
disagreements. Our home was not a
horrible place to live during this time, but
Sam was aware her parents weren't doing very
well. Things became rather
formal between Judy and I for two years
culminating in our divorce in early 2001. It broke my heart
to see Sam suffer because I went through the
exact same thing at the same age. The
irony was not lost on me.
Duchesne family really came to Sam's aid.
Throughout this tense time (4th and 5th
grade), Sam's teachers and friends at
Duchesne helped Sam immensely. Nor did
the support end after the divorce.
Throughout high school, the support Sam
received at school really helped keep her
Academy was the center of Sam's existence.
Duchesne reached out to help Sam for a
simple reason - Sam's teachers loved her.
All that poise Sam had developed in her
early years at the dance studio helped make
Sam the ideal student. Sam was polite,
respectful, warm, and inquisitive.
Sam didn't come out of the divorce
unscathed. For the next six years Sam
divided her time evenly between my house and
her mother's house. Back and forth,
back and forth. I felt tremendous
sympathy for my suitcase kid. However I wasn't
about to give up my 50% share of time with
my daughter unless I thought it would be for
her own good. I asked Sam what she
wanted to do and she said to keep it the way
it was. So for six years till HS
graduation the three of us made the best of
the strange situation.
longer had the perfect home life. Her
grades plummeted. Due
to her teenage difficulty
getting homework assignments in on time, Sam
became a stranger to impressive academic
scores. Sam and I had several
discussions about her haphazard work ethic,
but to no avail. I wasn't happy about
her decision to coast through high school,
accepted it. Things were tough enough
as it was.
I was consistently
thrilled at the quality of her
Whenever we talked about what she was
learning, I could see that the lights were
definitely turned on. This school didn't
just drill in the facts, it taught Sam to
think for herself.
early on to look past stereotypes and
question assumptions most people take for
granted. That pleased me no end.
grades aside, during her HS career,
won several major writing and speech awards.
awards plus the fact that
Sam generally got her
work done helped keep me at bay.
Nevertheless I constantly frowned at the
disconnect between her grades and her
then there was Senior Year. What a mess. A serious case
of Senioritis led to a wildly exciting final
two months of Senior Year. Sam's
highly dramatic finish left me wondering if
she would ever be a success at the college
Despite her academic
rollercoaster, once Sam discovered
her talent for Drama, she really hit her groove.
During her high school years at Duchesne,
Sam had the lead in several plays. I
admired Sam up on stage. I know a
Father is always supposed to think his
daughter is wonderful, but I honestly thought she
was an excellent actress. I wasn't the
only one who thought that way. Thanks
in large part to
her stage talent, Sam's promise
as an aspiring actress helped her get into
the University of Texas via their Fine Arts
Department. I might add that I
put Sam's acting talent to use in a unique
way - Sam and her friend Maddie played
monsters in the SSQQ Halloween Haunted House
throughout HS. Pretty scary duo.
entered UT in the Fall of 2009. She
immediately began to thrive at
absolute delight, Sam started to do some
homework. Lo and behold, she
made the Dean's List her first semester.
Then she did it again. Amazing what
Sam can do when she tries a little.
Although Sam has
changed her major several times, her grades
have stayed high. In addition, Sam has
become a real leader at school. I
could not be more pleased with her progress.
it is time for a
pictorial tribute to SSQQ's Original Studio
Let's watch Sam grow into a young
lady before our eyes.
Halloween Party 1991, 3 months old
Princessa Age 2
Hey Sam, next
time put on the skis AFTER you get outside
Do I have to admit she's mine?
should have adopted
Age 3 on Dad's
shoulders as usual
Hey kid, can't
you find somewhere else to sit?
Snow White and
Age 4 with
Sam's dog Amy
Wake up, Dad!
It's time to have some fun!
My upside down Pickleworm
Age 2, doing
the Stroll at a Sock Hop
Age 7, the
Life of the Party. OMG is that a Rice logo?
Why can't I
look more like Shirley Temple?
Judy and Sam.
See any resemblance?
Sam is helping us put down the new studio
dance floor at SSQQ over Christmas Break
asked Sam if she wanted to own the studio
some day. Sam replied, "No way. You and Mom
have to work too hard."
wasn't kidding either. Sam never once
changed her tune. She had no interest
whatsoever in inheriting the studio.
Nicholas at Sam's Easter Egg Hunt
Nicholas Mann were Sam's second family
Potter Kids at the 2001 Sock Hop
Tommy, Sam age
Halloween Age 14
Halloween Age 15.
Sam and Maddie
were the Monsters in the SSQQ Haunted House
wrapping his arms around the PE teacher...
Sam's most traumatic grade school moment ever
You need a new
Sam and Mom.
Sam's first cruise trip, age 7
You get a lot
of attention when you're the only kid on the
Dad and Sam,
After the 2001
divorce, some wistful times
and Sam, 2001 trip to Virginia
Starting to cheer up a little
Festival 2001, Age 10
A fateful day
- Sam meets Marla, Dad's new girlfriend
Sam on a 2003 cruise to the Cayman Islands
school. Is that the Hand Jive?
Born to be
11. Dad's little girl is growing up
with Marissa at Rick and Marla's Wedding
fact - Sam
and Marissa were both 'only children'
By the way, Sam has a secret - she just got braces
Larry and Aunt Roz
Marissa's Wedding 2008.
Glenn became a neat brother who loves to
in Keystone Colorado
Marla just stuffed a snowball inside Marissa's
later. Christmas 2010.
Welcome to the family, Lucas!
Marla's cruise magic, Sam got to see the
world. Sam, Rick, Marissa, Marla in Alaska
2008, Age 17. Ah, I see teeth again.
Judging by the smile, the braces must be
to Italy 2008.
That is Rome's beautiful Trevi Fountain in
Play - The Man Who Came to Dinner
I feel sorry for the guy who ever has to face
Play - The Prodigious Snob
Sam was in two
plays a year throughout high school.
Her skill as
an actress became her ticket to UT
Maddie and Sam, Best Friends Forever
17, in Stage
Sam, 16, The Man Who Came to Dinner
price of popularity
Sophisticated Lady at the Prom with
Sam, Emily, Nicholas. The Harry Potter kids have
Sam... friends for so long they are almost sisters
and Carl Mann are Nicholas and Emily's
They are also wonderful parents to Sam.
They both played a key role in helping Sam
overcome her Senior Year crisis.
Graduation Present - a Trip to France and the Louvre
Thank you, Carl and Margaux!
proud moment indeed - the end of a 14 year career
Duchesne May 2009
and Margaret, another set of remarkable parents.
They say you need a village to raise a child.
There's a lot of truth in that.
Queen, Sam's favorite teacher. This school taught
my daughter to question everything. I cannot begin
how pleased I was with Sam's education
Well, take another look at her
Isn't it amazing what swans our little girls turn into
with just a little love?
Duchesne education was the greatest gift
Judy and I could give our daughter.
I thank the SSQQ Community for helping us
afford to send Sam to this fine school.
Packing up for
after she's gone.
Not exactly the Empty Nest Syndrome
Sam in her UT dorm room, 18
Sam home from
college with Peanut for company.
Sam's own bed was too cluttered to sleep on
It should be
no surprise I wanted Sam to go to Rice,
but if Sam is happy, I am happy.
Sam in her HS
Year at UT
Year at UT.
Year at UT
Year at UT
Year at UT
Sam, age 13,
No matter how old she gets, Sam will always be
Sam, age 16,
Gee, Dad's hair just keeps getting whiter
I think it is
pretty obvious just how much we love each other
I might add I am very proud of Sam.
She has turned into quite a young lady.
On July 23, 2011, Sam celebrated her
Her first two years at the University of
Texas have been productive. In addition to making excellent grades,
Sam earned a coveted Rapoport scholarship in
her Freshman year. As part of her
scholarship, Sam is expected to do community
service. In her first year, Sam worked
for the Texas After Violence Project, a program
that fights injustice in our legal system.
In her second year, Sam did volunteer work
at a school for underprivileged students.
Last time I checked, Sam was the official
Chess Instructor in addition to many other
has become a leader at the University of
Texas. Although she decided a career
as a Theater Major would probably not pay
the bills down the line, Sam continues her
acting career through the Madrigal and
Improv programs at the Student
Events Center. Sam was so impressed at
the impact of the Student Events Center on
student life, Sam became involved in the SEC
at the administrative level as well.
For her Junior year, Sam will be a
vice-president in charge of planning Student
Events throughout the year.
In her Freshman year, Sam
was hired for a summer job as an Orientation
Advisor for incoming students. Sam
also did volunteer work helping parents with
special weekends at UT. One afternoon Sam
went out of her way to help a lost set of
parents locate their children on the massive
campus. Unbeknownst to Sam, a woman in
the Admissions Office noticed this simple
act of kindness. This lady encouraged
Sam to apply for a job in the Admissions
Office. She got the job. As a result, throughout her
Sophomore year, Sam served as a
representative for the
University of Texas. In her job as counselor
for the Office of Admissions, Sam answers
hundreds of calls each week from parents who
need information about how to send their
children to UT. In addition, Sam
conducts daily tours escorting potential UT students and
their parents around campus when they visit UT.
Sam appears to be
a natural in this role. She is
confident without being obnoxious.
Sam is respectful and extremely
gracious to all people. I
might add that Sam doesn't have a
prejudiced bone in her body.
Race means nothing to her, religion
means nothing to her, nor does a
person's homeland. Sam took
Arabic in her Freshman year.
Her roommate is from Tunisia.
Interestingly, Sam's best friend
Freshman year was a girl from
College Station. As a result
Sam visited the A&M campus several
times and made friends there as
well. Sam is mature in
ways that are well beyond her years.
When I said earlier it takes a Village to
raise a child properly,
I credit her
unusual early years at the dance studio for
helping Sam become a born goodwill
I think back to all
the kindness Sam received at the dance
studio while growing up. Sam learned
not to fear strangers. She
began enjoy wandering around the
studio greeting people and soaking
up well-meant attention.
I watched from afar as people went
out of their way to be nice to my
daughter. Not one
evening passed when an adult didn't take the
time to engage Sam in a serious
conversation. Sam would answer
their questions without hesitation. She was so good at expressing
herself and welcoming people that as early
as the Eighth Grade Duchesne gave
her a recurring role their own "Visitor's Day"
for prospective students.
University of Texas has put her in the exact
Sam is perfect at an international campus
like the University of Texas.
She loves being a walking talking United
Nations-style tour guide
And it all started at SSQQ.
Sam is the original studio kid.
I always used to fret that our dance
studio might not be the best
environment to raise a child.
I could not have been more wrong.
The people who came to my studio on
a nightly were intelligent, educated
decent people who had children of
their own. They enjoyed
befriending my daughter.
And now look how she turned out.
Please join me in being proud of
her... after all, if you were part
of the Village, then Sam is your kid
too. Maybe you never met Sam,
but if you ever took a dance class
at SSQQ, then you helped her receive
her remarkable education at
I thank you all so
much for helping me to raise such a
great young lady. RA
AFTER THE DIVORCE
Rick, you have told us about your daughter Sam. Now
what about her mother? What happened between you and Judy?"
contributions to the dance studio during the Nineties. We were good business partners. And
of course we helped each other raise a wonderful daughter.
Throughout the Nineties, these two areas of our life turned to gold.
During Judy's years at the studio, her
greatest strength was creating dance
Judy was way ahead of the curve on Swing Dancing. She
was the person who literally brought the Lindy Hop to
Houston in the mid-Nineties. The Lindy rebirth started first in New
York and then out in Los Angeles. Thanks to Judy, Houston
was probably the next city in line to greet the Swing Era. You don't believe me? Go read the story -
The History of Swing Dancing.
Judy deserves a lot of credit.
During the Swing Era,
Judy created two excellent Swing Teams. Her second Swing
Team was simply incredible. These talented dancers blew people
away with their performances at 1998 and 1999 dance parties.
(read about it in
Unfortunately, some pretty messy politics put an end to this
great group of dancers far sooner than I would have
preferred. They disbanded just when they were hitting
Frustrated by some really
nasty politics in the world of Swing Dancing, Judy turned her attention to Salsa
Salsa wasn't even on the map when Judy got started.
She was learning Salsa patterns way in advance of
"Living La Vida Loca", the Ricky Martin song that
marks the start of the Salsa Era. Thanks
to Judy's head start, she built the SSQQ Salsa
program into the largest salsa training program in the city.
Judy struck gold again. Judy deserves a lot of credit
for repeating her Swing success with Salsa.
She was also the person who first introduced Zydeco
and Night Club to the studio.
Judy's creativity was not confined to dance. I
can think of many contributions. Judy was the person who added
the Haunted House to our Halloween Party. Judy
had a clever idea how to create a very good amateur
haunted house. She suggested we buy some six
foot black felt curtains and hang them from the
ceiling. Her idea worked like a charm.
Then Judy set
about decorating the Haunted House. Judy was
uncanny at designing monsters. Her first effort was
Dracula complete with an impressive coffin. Then Judy added
Mother Bates from Psycho. For good measure, Judy created
a Mummy that was incredibly
favorite monster was a truly amazing 8-foot Frankenstein.
No one who ever walked through our Haunted House
will forget that massive monster lit up by lightning
flashes and thunder in the eerie claustrophobic
Thanks in large
part to Judy's genius, the SSQQ Halloween Party
became the talk of the town.
Judy was the guiding force
behind acquiring our beautiful dance floors at
Christmas 1998. Judy's Swing program had made
us so much extra money in 1998 that she suggested we
plow our profits back into a dance floor.
Judy's floor was a stunning addition.
Dickens Village we used to display at Christmas time was
also started by her. Judy had many talents.
Many of the wonderful things at SSQQ Dance Studio
that people took for granted were created by Judy
to me like you and Judy were a pretty good team. So what
"You're right. Judy and I were a very good team.
Judy and I worked hard together. We were raising
an exceptional daughter and building our business together.
the very end of 1995, Judy paid every single bill SSQQ owed.
The studio was completely debt free.... and we had $300 left
in the bank. That was ridiculous. Once Judy got
her Swing program going, she not only rescued the studio
financially, she made enough extra money to buy a $100,000
dance floor as well. Trust me, that got my respect.
Judy had tremendous talent.
Judy was a good mother and good for the business. So
it doesn't make much sense that we didn't make our
relationship work. Our downfall was related to our
inability to agree on how to combat serious business
problems created by HSDS (Houston Swing Dance
Society) over a three year period. Looking back, maybe
we fell victim to the Curse of the Mummy.
A lengthy article known as the
HSDS-SSQQ Swing Feud details how two unethical people combined forces
to essentially pirate Judy's Swing Dance achievements for their
own purposes. Obviously
Judy and I could see what was going on, but we disagreed terribly
on what to do to
stop it from happening.
understand me is to understand that I have not one, but
two children. SSQQ is not just my business, it is my
career, my legacy, my achievement... whatever you want to
call it. I take great pride in first creating this dance
studio, then building it up over thirty years into an
when someone comes along and attacks my studio, they are
attacking my baby. I am ready to go to war.
Judy prevented me from standing up for what was
right. I was so incredulous that Judy would
allow these people to smear our reputations and walk off
with our business that I was never able to forgive her.
can offer the short story or the long story. If you
want the long story, go read
Harvest Moon Ball.
The short story is that
Judy took a man named Carnell Pipkin under her wing in 1997.
Carnell was black, but the color of a person's skin has
never meant anything to Judy nor me. All that mattered
was that Carnell came to SSQQ as a student. Judy
recognized his talent and asked him to be on her Swing team.
Carnell was a gifted dancer. He quickly became the star of
Judy's first Swing Dance team. Judy liked Carnell on a
personal level. She made him her protégé.
Judy taught Carnell everything she knew about Lindy and East
Coast Swing, the two dances that Judy had singlehandedly
resurrected here in Houston. I am not exaggerating by
the way; Judy personally put these
dances back on the map.
the early part of 1998, Judy became sick with a problem
pregnancy. She had to withdraw from her Swing Team
activities. At the same time that Judy was crippled
with pain, Carnell and some of his Swing Team friends went
to a dance at the Jewish Community Center. They put on
quite a show. Later that night a a woman named
Rowena came over to their table to introduce herself.
Rowena had her own agenda. Sensing that Carnell was
the key, over the next couple months Rowena persuaded Carnell to help her form a
Swing Dance Society. Judy vaguely knew what was going
on, but was too sick to do anything about it.
For reasons I will never
understand, Carnell switched loyalties. That was
Carnell's right. However,
Carnell behaved unscrupulously. He didn't tell us what
was going on. Instead Carnell continued to teach
for SSQQ while also teaching for Rowena and lying about
it. Even more serious, Carnell would quietly suggest
to his SSQQ students that they should also try his other
class over at the Magnolia Ballroom. Carnell was
heard rumor after rumor, but Carnell said they weren't true.
Finally Carnell got tired of lying about it. He had an
unusual way of announcing his true loyalties. One day Carnell had the nerve to wear an HSDS tee-shirt to
his SSQQ Swing class. When Judy saw him wearing that
tee-shirt while teaching his class, she got angry. After class, Judy
confronted him. What's going on? An argument
ensued. In a huff, Carnell quit and left the
building never to return.
the damage was done. Carnell took Judy's knowledge, some of the
members of Judy's Swing Team, and Judy's course syllabi
along with him. He and Rowena
set up shop. Now we had a competitor on our hands.
And they didn't play nice either. Pretty soon members of the
new HSDS organization were coming to SSQQ practice dances.
These 'spies' would ask various students to dance with them.
If they developed a rapport, they would pull the student
aside and begin the sales pitch. They would suggest
that if this student wanted to learn dance Swing the "RIGHT
WAY", they should try out the new HSDS program
led by the best Swing/Lindy dancer in Houston, Carnell Pipkin.
Or they would simply get an email address and invite
students to check out HSDS activities. Unfortunately,
this email trick worked like a charm. Curious, people
would indeed visit HSDS dance parties.
SSQQ started to lose students.
Judy and I were infuriated by this nasty infiltration
technique, but we had no way of identifying who the culprits
Meanwhile Judy lost the pregnancy, lost her Swing team, and
lost her protégé. She had been betrayed.
Why I don't know. It was a very stressful, ugly period.
Judy eventually picked up the pieces. Thanks to the
famous Gap commercial, in 1998 Swing exploded on the American
landscape. Despite HSDS inroads, SSQQ was still the city's leader in Swing Dancing.
Overnight hundreds of new students began dancing with us. Soon
there was so much talent that Judy decided to create a
second Swing Team and start all over.
Swing Team was good. Very good.
Furthermore business was good, very good.
We decided to
hire a live band and let the new Swing Team perform
at a huge Swing bash.
The day before
the big party, Judy came home to see there was a
message on our answering machine. It was from
Carnell. Judy had not heard from him in
months. What was this about? Carnell's
message warned Judy that he intended to come to our party.
Judy looked at
me. I looked at Judy. There was no way
in hell we were going to let this guy crash our
Judy called back
and left a polite message that basically said,
"Carnell, you aren't welcome."
The party was a
huge success. Meanwhile, Carnell saved the
tape of Judy's message.
Carnell turned around and told the world that SSQQ had racially discriminated against
him. That was a lie.
Now it was true that we asked this man to please not
come to our dance party at the studio. However our reasons had
nothing to do with race. Heck, the man was once Judy's
protégé, her most trusted second in command. If we were such bigots, why would
we have hired him in the first place and train him for free?
The real reason Carnell was not welcome was easy to explain
- this was the man who
had stolen our Swing program from us and given to HSDS.
We didn't trust him.
there was one problem. No one knew the story of
Carnell's betrayal except Judy, me,
and Carnell. Judy had kept this entire brouhaha a
secret. No one knew the real reasons behind our snub
but us and
Carnell certainly wasn't going to share the reasons.
Once Carnell played the tape to the Executive Board at
HSDS... without bothering to explain the history of
course... these people
turned around and screamed "Judy and Rick are Bigots" to the whole world.
Well, the whole world bought Carnell's story. On the
surface, it appeared we had told a black man he wasn't
welcome at our studio!
Once Judy and I realized Carnell had used the tape to sell
his story, we realized the man had set us up. Carnell
knew full well we would not want him at the party, so why
did he call in the first place? Because he wanted
to see what we would say. Judy and I had thought it
was weird to call us on our unlisted home phone number to
tell us he was coming. If he intended to come to the
party, why not just show up and see what happens?
Why phone ahead of time and warn us? Unfortunately we
had let our guard down. We had played right into his
hands. What a pair of chumps we were.
The rumor that Judy and I had snubbed a black man
because of his race raged through the entire dance community. That made
people very angry... and I don't blame them. No one
deserves to be treated that way. Except that Carnell had
Judy explained the circumstances to her Swing Team, but it
didn't do much good. Any time they tried to defend us, they got shouted down in the dance clubs.
We were losing this PR war badly because the world only
heard one side of it.
you say, "Gee, Rick, why didn't you just tell everyone the
truth behind the incident?"
Well, that's what I
wanted to do.... but Judy wouldn't let me.
Judy's decision allowed the rumors to go unchecked.
Since we said NOTHING to refute the allegation, people
continued to believe we were racists. I had a student ask me to my face why I
didn't let the man come to my party. What was so awful
about letting a black man come to a dance party? Why was
I such a bigot?
seethed with resentment at this
insult. I tried to explain what the truth was,
then gave up when I saw he wasn't listening. We had
let the story stay out there far too long. People had
made up their minds.
Having learned my lesson
from my 1986 slugging experience with my first wife Pat, I wanted
desperately to tell the world about his past treachery and the
behind the snub. I knew that our silence
allowed the other side to manipulate the spin. But Judy
wanted no part of the controversy. Her private nature
made her recoil from the threat of a nasty public squabble.
Meanwhile back at the
house, I would not take 'no' for an answer. Every day
for 3-4 days in a row, I begged Judy to let me do something.
But Judy was adamant. She didn't want any more mud
thrown at her. Judy refused to permit me to tell the true
story at the time it was happening.
I could see she was in
tremendous pain. Finally I just gave up asking.
A huge sense of futility swept over me.
I did eventually tell the
several years down the road, but by this time it did
little good. What I wrote served
no other purpose than to act as a history lesson."
the consequences of your silence?"
"Since we did nothing to
refute the false rumors when it would have mattered, a
tremendous amount of damage was done to the studio's
reputation. Emboldened by our weakness, HSDS continued
to claim to be the superior Swing organization. Since
we seemed to be incapable of defending ourselves against
their verbal attacks, the HSDS organization continued to
send secret members to our studio to suggest to our students
(behind our backs) to try their program instead. One
night Judy and I found a discarded HSDS flyer left behind at
my own studio. Someone had been recruiting our
students during Swing Practice Night under our very noses.
This raid on our students
caused a déjà vu experience. Memories of how I lost
dozens of students to
the SW Whip Club ten years earlier haunted me. I
found this new
situation impossible to tolerate. I was
furious. Get your head out of the ground and take my handcuffs off, Judy. Let me fight back!
I was ready to counter-attack this
ethically-challenged organization, but again and
refused to give me permission to retaliate.
I was dumbfounded. As
I watched Judy lose her first her Swing team, then her Swing
instructors, and then many of our Swing students to the
HSDS organization, I could not believe Judy refused
to permit me to speak my mind. What were her
motives? What on earth was Judy thinking? It was
all a mystery.
Look at this from
my point of view. My two worst experiences in
the Eighties were the
loss of my Whip students to
Southwest Whip Club in 1988 and the lies I allowed
to be spread about me after
getting slapped in the
face by my ex-wife Pat in 1986.
Now right here under my nose, I was seeing a
vivid repeat of my two worst nightmares from the Eighties.
But this time I had the experience and the sense
to fight back... only to chafe at my shackles
because Judy refused to
let me retaliate."
"If you were that upset, why didn't
you simply tell Judy to sit back and do it anyway?"
fight would have been a wasted effort. Sure, I could
have said something anyway, but Judy would have felt
Without Judy's permission,
this was a No-Win
situation. To defy her like that would have cost
me my marriage and my best dance teacher.
Besides, it was
her Swing program more than it was mine. She
built it up from nothing. Who was I to tell
her what to do?
So I threw in the
towel. Judy's reluctance to fight
forced me to sit back and watch my studio be
that anger inside me that should have been directed
at Carnell stayed inside to fester. I began to feel a resentment towards Judy
that I simply could not shake."
ever figure out why Judy kept your hands tied?"
"No, I didn't. I was completely baffled by Judy's
position at the time. Years passed, but no information was
to me to cast any new light. I knew that Judy had a
very rough childhood. I assumed she had reasons of her
own to shrink from this fight, but I was unable to decipher
what they were.
not find a way to forgive Judy for backing down. It
was so completely against my nature to shrink from a fight.
crying out loud, we held the moral high ground. They
were lying, not us. All we had to do was cry 'foul'
and things would have been much different. But Judy
was afraid to appear in public with all these nasty people
thinking nasty things about her or saying them to her face.
Judy doesn't handle open conflict well. She said it was her
that was going to suffer, not me.
I backed off. Judy was my wife. I felt I had to
honor her wishes above what was good for the studio.
consequence of Judy's aversion to controversy was that HSDS
was allowed to siphon off students who were once loyal to
SSQQ and smear our reputation in the process. I estimate we lost
40% of our Swing students due
to Judy's decision. What a
surprisingly, our constant arguments over how to deal
with this major threat to our business drove us far apart.
I am sorry to say this, but our inability to reach
any kind of accord on how to handle the problems generated by HSDS cost us our
Judy had felt betrayed by Carnell and now I felt
betrayed by Judy. Judy's behavior made no rational
sense to me. First a depression set in. Then I grew bitter and cold.
I began to pull away from Judy. I knew what I was
doing was wrong, but I couldn't stop myself. As the
Judy felt betrayed by me. Who could blame her?
yet who could blame me either?
What if you had a small child and some playground bully slapped your baby in
the face? Every ounce of your being would want to
retaliate and get justice. Well, that's how I felt.
I blamed Judy for letting these nasty people hurt my studio,
We not only lost customers, we let a
liar and a traitor call us 'bigots' to the entire world and get away with it.
Every ounce of my being hated slavery, hated racism, and
hated the ignorance of people who thought less of someone for the color of
their skin. And yet thanks to Judy's bizarre refusal
to fight, there were now people in Houston
who believed Rick Archer was a racist.
blamed Judy. I didn't care what demons she was
fighting. Judy refused to explain her 'reasons' to me
in a way that I could understand. All I knew was
that Judy had shown kindness to this man who in turn had betrayed us not once, but twice.
For no legitimate reason, this man hurt Judy, he hurt me, he
hurt my dance studio and now Judy was
letting him get away it. In this world, you have to
stand up for yourself!
Let me write an open
letter to my dance students saying the very same things I
have just explained and this incident would have turned out
much different. Yes, it might have been ugly for a
little while, but we would have won.
That's right, we would have won. I am convinced if
Judy had set me free, Judy and I would have
prevailed in the end. But I stayed muzzled.
First we lost the battle with HSDS. Then we lost our
marriage. There was absolutely not one thread of
silver lining in this event. Nothing good came out of
it, just puss and slime and the foul odor of infection.... all because we
didn't stand up and fight for what was right.
am not a forgiving person. It is this character flaw that
cost me my marriage. In my mind, Judy had opened the
door to let a really bad person cripple MY STUDIO and then
she had deliberately prevented me from standing up for our reputation and
closing the wound.
I could have understood her reasons, I might have been able
to forgive Judy. However, as it stood, her behavior
seemed inexcusable. I punished Judy by turning cold as ice,
something I am not proud to admit. I stayed in the
marriage for the good of our daughter and the good of our
studio, but mentally I retreated into a world of my own.
About this time, the SSQQ web site came to the
Internet. Angry at Judy, I withdrew to my office and
began to work on the web site at all hours of the day and
night. Thanks to my passive
aggressive shenanigans, Judy and I began to
lead separate lives. This went on for two entire
Whenever I went to the studio, Judy stayed home to watch Sam.
Whenever Judy went to the studio, I watched Sam. Judy took
Sam to school in the early morning while I slept late, then I picked Sam up
in the afternoon. Judy went to bed early because she
had to get up early. I stayed up late.
I found ways to avoid
Judy for days on end. We were rarely seen in public
together. For that matter, we were rarely seen at home
in the same
place either. I was mad and refused to forgive her
without an explanation. The Cold War had begun
and neither of us had the answer to thaw it out.
Finally at Christmas 2000, Judy said she was tired of being
shut out. She wanted a divorce. I said okay. I
didn't blame her one bit for feeling shut out. After
all, it was the truth.
didn't hate Judy. In fact, I admired her in many ways.
Judy had overcome a lot to get this far in life. She
was brilliant at the studio and dedicated as a mother.
I just couldn't forgive her enough to go through the awful
struggle of saving our marriage. To me, it was easier
to break it off and move on.
That said, I didn't wish for Judy to leave my life. It
wasn't like she had been a bad person. If anything, I
was the one who couldn't find the answer. I did not
have the wisdom or the spiritual strength to find a solution
to our impasse. I was a very angry man. Angry at
Judy, angry at myself, angry at the world.
The uncontested divorce moved swiftly. Five months
later it was over. It was actually very amicable.
Judy said she would like to continue to work at the studio.
That was fine with me. We hugged on the courthouse
steps and promised to remain friends.
Judy and I did our best to work together at the
studio after our divorce in 2001. Things were tense at
times, but for the most part I was glad she was there.
Judy had just as much loyalty to SSQQ as I did. I
guess the only downside is that any time we disagreed on
something, Judy wasn't about to take orders.
met my future wife Marla in August 2001. Out of
respect for Judy, Marla kept a low profile at the studio.
However, once Marla began organizing cruise trips for the
studio in 2003, Marla assumed a larger role at the studio.
This became a new source of tension.
October 2004. One month later
Judy decided it was time to move on. In November 2004,
Judy quit without notice. Considering Judy's vast number
of responsibilities at the time, her decision to leave in
this manner left us in a serious bind. No Swing
teacher. No Ballroom teacher. No bookkeeper.
What about payroll? What about registration? Her decision to leave suddenly forced us to scramble to fill gaping holes.
circumstances, Judy's departure could hardly be described as
amicable. I got the message loud and clear. Maybe she was punishing me like I had
punished her. The games people play are not always
Looking back, I still think it
is a shame that Judy left the studio. Judy belonged
here. Judy was an extremely gifted woman who used her
talents to make a big difference at SSQQ.
The SSQQ Halloween Party doubled in size thanks to her
creativity. For example, that gruesome Dracula in the picture was
yet another one of the exquisite monsters that Judy created
to set the mood.
Unfortunately, like many highly creative people, Judy had her
Judy absolutely detested controversy. Unfortunately a
dance studio is a very public place and there will always
problems of some sort when there are that many people to
deal with. You can't hide from people in a public
There is no doubt in my mind that Judy loved the dance
studio just as much as I did. You have no idea how
hard Judy worked to keep the place clean and looking nice.
You only work that hard if you love something.
No one can compare to
Judy for the genius she displayed in creating dance programs
for SSQQ. The glory days of SSQQ in the late
Nineties and early 2000s would never have been possible
without the Swing and Salsa dance programs that Judy
Thanks to Judy, at the turn of the Millennium
SSQQ was making money hand over fist. The extra money
generated by the EC Swing program paid for our beautiful
dance floor. Then the Salsa Program paid for Sam's
college education. Judy was dynamic.
a shame that Judy and I were unable to remain friends during
Sam's high school years, but we were both pretty mad at each
other. We both had our axes to grind. Judy was angry at me for giving up on the
marriage and not being more understanding about her fear of
public dispute. I was angry at Judy for leaving the
studio since I depended on her so much.
have to say that Sam suffered quite a bit from the divorce.
The constant tension between her parents was surely
unbearable at times. I still feel a lot of regret that
her high school years were affected by all her parents' bickering.
Sam never did well academically in high school
didn't do her homework. And yet the
moment she made it to college, Sam made the Dean's List.
Considering the extent of the turnaround, I have to assume the constant drama of her
suitcase lifestyle had a
lot to do with her underachievement.
Fortunately, Sam turned out more or less intact. I am sure she is
angry about a lot of things that occurred in this period,
but hopefully time will heal the wounds. There is one
thing I am sure of - despite our quarrels, Judy and I have
always loved Sam completely.
SSQQ owes Judy a huge thank you. The glory days of SSQQ in the late
Nineties and early 2000s would never have been possible
without the Swing and Salsa dance programs that Judy
I am more than happy to give her
credit. Judy deserves it. Maybe someday we can be friends again.
I would like that."
FLYING UNDER THE RADAR
Flying under the
"Getting back to
the studio, did anyone else get married in
the Nineties or was it
just the Instructors?"
"This turns out to be an awkward question
for me. The answer is that I think lots of people got married
at the studio, but I probably only know of about half of
them. Quite a few people eluded
I called this phenomenon "Flying Under the Radar".
Most of the SSQQ Slow Dance and Romance
from the Nineties would have to be summed it up this way -
can't find your picture on the Halloween Poster or a Sock Hop
poster during the Nineties, you don't exist.
Nor was getting your picture taken any guarantee. Three parties were photographed a year, 100 pictures each,
10 years in the decade. 3,000 pictures makes it
tough to look through and make sense of it all.
Let's face it,
the Nineties were a largely undocumented era. There were a lot
of marriages that may not be found. Here are some of
pictures I was able to spot."
(By the way, Readers, please feel free
to contribute any information on missing marriages.
HERE ARE SOME OF THE SSQQ MARRIAGES IN THE NINETIES
Virginia and Gareld McEathron, 1994
Jan and Steve (last name?), 1994 ??
Gina and Mike Dorman, 1998
Bill Stumph and Diane Huber, 1992
John Sarabia and Danee Hamilton, 1989
Stacy - Ms Raisin Dance - Steve (last
His name is Peter. Her
name is Patty. 1992??
Barbara and Jim Hordern, 1992
Chuck & Mystery Lady. Chuck was engaged to this lady, then changed his mind.
He later married Stephanie on the right.
And this is Stephanie. No
picture exists of
Stephanie and Chuck together. 1997?
Unknown Mystery Couple 1992
Mike and Donna Maresh, 1996
Joe and Jackie Clark (Jackie is the
This lovely couple only made it
through a couple years.
Too bad, I really liked them both.
1990, John Goode and Pam Thomas
1990, John Goode and Pam Thomas
The Beautiful Couple.
No one got their name.
They are actually both quite straight, but I couldn't
that is certainly a lot of couples. Are you satisfied
with that count?"
How many couples have their picture up
there? I count 17 couples. Seventeen couples in ten years?
That is an average of a little more than one couple per
C'mon, in 2005 we had 15 couples get married in one
year alone!! So you can't expect me to believe the
couples up there are the only ones who met at the studio and
got married in the Nineties.
I bet there are 30 more couples from the Nineties I will never know about.
A lot of couples flew under the the radar in
There is no other way to describe the Nineties other than it all boiled down to whether a couple got
their picture taken or not. My entire memory is locked
If you weren't on the SSQQ
Staff or didn't get your picture taken at a Halloween Party, you did not exist.
Much of the Slow Dance and Romance scene from the Nineties remains
undocumented to this day."
MARRIAGES FROM THE NINETIES BEGIN TO SURFACE!
August 2007 Update from Rick
Since the Matchmaker Article was originally
published in January 2006, twelve more couples from the
once flew under the radar have resurfaced.
Judy Horton and Scott
Dianne Raef (Nineties)
Danee Sarabia (Eighties)
- Chris and
- Kelly Keiser and Sandy
Bob & Sharon Manning
Mary Collins and Mike Moore (Nineties)
Carl Gray and Mira Frosolono
Jon Monteith and Linda Wade
- Dave Issac and Connie
- Bob and Jenny Bailey
- Bill Stumph and Diane
Judy and Scott's story is included in the previous
The other stories are covered
Stuart and Dianne Raef
"Rick, what makes you so sure
there were other people getting married during the
Nineties that you
didn't know about?"
"Funny you should ask that.
When I contend that a lot of couples flew under the
radar during the Nineties, the story of Stuart Raef and his lovely wife
Dianne serves as a perfect example of what I
I knew Stuart because he dated Linda Rooks,
one of my instructors, for a while. But I did
not know him very well. I have a hunch I
met Dianne at the studio, but I didn't get to know
her. Dianne's picture was familiar.
Stuart and Dianne got married in
1997, but I never heard a thing about it. Even
though this couple had very strong SSQQ connections,
I remained completely in the dark until Dianne wrote
me in 2006.
At this point we struck up a conversation and I
learned the entire story.
From: Stuart and Dianne Raef
Sent: Thursday, October 19, 2006 6:12 PM
Subject: dance step instructions
Rick, I am Dianne Raef and my hubby, Stuart Raef, and I
took dance lessons from you for several years, back in
the 90's….in fact that is where we continued our
romancing until we decided to make our last name's the
same….in 1997…since then we have retired and moved to
the country….we are trying to help some friends learn a
few dance steps but neither of us can find any of the
handouts from the two steps and waltz lessons we took.
Would you mind sharing those with us?..we think we have
most of them correct but thought it would be great to
check them out to see if we are helping or hurting our
friends…thanks so much….
From: Rick Archer
Sent: Friday, October 20, 2006 10:41 AM
To: Stuart Raef
Subject: RE: dance step instructions
I doubt seriously the syllabus from these two classes
will do much good, Diane, but you are more than welcome
Your name is very familiar to me, Diane. Did you and
Stuart meet at the studio or just enjoy your courtship
The truth of the
matter is that I did not recognize the name at all. I
was just fishing. Fortunately Dianne helped me out.
From: Stuart and
Sent: Friday, October 20, 2006 12:21 PM
Subject: slow dance and romance dance step
You are a sweetheart…thanks so much…we met
dancing at the Long Horn…Stu was with Linda
Decker and and Gareld and Virginia McEathron and
another gal, small blond, that danced a lot with
your studio…Stu was part of the Lindy Hop
group…I enclosed a photo…I am sure You remember stuart more than me…(a little greyer but still
dancing….) thanks again… by the way, my son,
Tony Lazarine, has taken Salsa from you a couple
of times too…great place to learn and meet
Gareld and Virginia? You
have to be kidding. I know both of them well
because we have shared a half-dozen cruises together.
I remembered that Virginia and
Gareld were dating about this same time before
getting married. Gosh, why didn't Virginia or
Gareld ever tell me about this couple?
While I was puzzling over my ignorance, I looked at
the picture Dianne had sent. Once I saw the picture,
I remembered Stuart immediately. Like a lot of
people, he was a big part of the studio Western
group for a couple years. Then one day he
stopped coming and I was so out of it I never even
minutes later I got a second email from Dianne
From: Stuart and Dianne Raef
Sent: Friday, October 20, 2006 12:51 PM
To: 'Rick Archer'
Subject: RE: dance step instructions
It was Linda Rooks…and Kaye Reed that we
Reed? She was a big part of the studio in the
Nineties. I knew her well. Kaye was
easily one of the top three female Western dancers
and a friend of mine as well. I had to ask
myself why the heck didn't Kaye tell me about Dianne and
This was getting ridiculous.
The straw that broke the camel's back was when
Dianne named Linda Rooks. Now I was
really frustrated at my ignorance.
I knew Linda had dated Stuart for some time, but
both had moved on amicably.
After Stuart and Linda went
their separate ways, a new man
named Rad Decker entered Linda's life.
Linda and Rad were serious about each other from the
word "GO". You could tell they clicked well.
I was happy for Linda. I had known her for
eight years and she was one of my best instructors.
I had the greatest respect for this talented woman.
Linda only had one weakness - she went nuts whenever
a camera appeared. Why I will never know
because I thought she was very attractive. Nevertheless
Linda would panic every time I tried to photograph her.
This Halloween picture on the right is probably the
best picture of Linda I ever took... and that
picture is not exactly a prize winner.
But why didn't Linda, a close friend of mine, bother
to mention Stuart and Dianne's wedding? This
was turning into a mystery.
From: Rick Archer
Sent: Friday, October 20, 2006 1:17 PM
To: Stuart Raef
Subject: RE: dance step instructions
Dianne, now that I see the picture, I remember you both
Kaye is a longtime friend of mine. You know what,
Dianne, that does it… you and Stu have an SSQQ marriage
unless you talk me out of it.
Look at it from my point of view: I taught Stu to dance.
Stu used dancing to meet you. And many of your friends
during the courtship were SSQQ dancers.
Okay, you didn’t meet in dance class, but those were
SSQQ moves that got things going ;-)
I intend to claim you guys as another SSQQ romance!
From: Stuart and Dianne Raef
Sent: Friday, October 20, 2006 3:48 PM
To: 'Rick Archer'
Subject: RE: dance step instructions
I see your point, Rick…the times we had there were great
times…too bad we are so far from there now or we would
return often…we could use some refresher courses….
we have sent many a folk your way since then, but maybe
Stuart and I can sneak by one of these days.
I was frustrated that no one told me about Stuart and Dianne's wedding.
Linda my instructor did not tell me. My friend Kaye Reed
didn't tell me. Gareld and Virginia didn't tell
me. I languished in
Actually, it probably isn't a mystery why no one told me. I think I know why no one told me
- back then I wasn't keeping track of weddings. There
was no newsletter and no web site. They didn't know I
cared, so why bother?
This story serves as a perfect example why I am convinced
there are many SSQQ marriages from the Nineties that I will
probably never know about. This was a period in my
life where I just wasn't paying very good attention.
Now that I write this story, I feel tremendous regret.
I wish I had known better. Oh well.
While I am at it, here's
another story. John Sarabia and Danee Hamilton
were card-carrying members of the Studebaker Gang.
In fact, Danee even made it to the Bahamas with her
friend Liz Perry on Sharon Crawford's 1988 trip.
John and Danee got married in 1989. And guess what?
I attended their wedding! (you can even see me
in the picture.)
But did I list them
as one of my married couples when I originally wrote
the Matchmaker story in 2006?
Heck no. Like I said, if I didn't have a
picture, I didn't have a brain.
Fortunately one day John and Danee read my
Matchmaker article. They loved the story, but
couldn't imagine how I managed to omit mentioning
them, especially since I was AT THEIR
WEDDING (look in the picture; that's me in
John was kind enough to send me the
From: john sarabia
Sent: Wednesday, January 24, 2007 1:15 AM
Subject: Howdy from the Studebaker crowd!
Danee and I were looking up some information on
the net and found your website. We spent the
next 2 and a half hours reading about all the
articles and thinking back to the days we spent
with you and SSQQ. Danee is even in a couple of
pictures you have posted of the Bahama trip of
'88. Seeing pictures of you and Diane Head (Archies
"Sugar, Sugar" ) Maureen, Liz Perry,
and Sharon Crawford
brought back memories.
Danee and I initially met at Studebakers as we
were both part of the THE GROUP but didn't know each
other at the time. We then began taking classes
together. You were at our wedding and reception
in Sept of 1989. We pass by the studio from time
to time and we've talked about going back and
taking lessons. So far, our dance has us moving
to a different song.
Love and Marriage is a dance, Rick, but a dance
within a dance. We wish you all the best. Who
knows we may surprise you and pop in on you one
God Bless, John and Danee Sarabia
So here we have
another couple who was once a big part
of the studio who flew under the radar because I
simply didn't keep track in those days. Now I
wish I had!
However the nice thing is that I can continue to
update and add to my story as more information
comes in. The Fourth Generation just
added another marriage!
So my point is this - if I left you out on the first
run (2006) and the second run (2007), there is still
plenty of time. If you want to be added to the
story, email me some pictures and add whatever
details you wish.
In this regard, I am grateful to Danee and John for
helping to make my story even more complete.
Thank you to both of you!
On Saturday, July 28, 2007, I was
scheduled to teach a Western Crash Course on
Synchronized Polka. There was a couple in my
class that seemed very familiar. I stared at
them a little too long and they noticed. They
smiled back at me and walked over to say hi.
That's is when Chris and Karen Whitaker
reintroduced themselves to me. They told me
they met in my Western class back in the early
Nineties. They took lessons for a year or so,
then disappeared to get married and start a family.
'Marriage is the death of dance'...
Now fifteen years later Chris and Karen had a
free evening. So they decided to drop by, say
hello, and see if their Polka still worked.
There was a little rust, but they did great.
Dancing is just like riding a bicycle!
and Sandy Butcher
From: Kelly Keiser
Sent: Friday, September 21, 2007 1:22 PM
Subject: 90s Wedding
Thanks for all the fond memories... dancing at
Studebaker's, 4th of July and Halloween costumes,
etc. After years of
volunteering in beginning classes, when I met Sandy
in September, 1990 at a Wednesday night practice,
the room blurred around her.
I could see no one else in the room. We
married a year later!
We are now retiring to be with our Grandson and
watch the construction of our new home in Schertz,
just North of San Antonio. Although we will now have
the time to resume dancing, unfortunately it will
not be here in Bellaire with SSQQ.
Kelly Keiser and Sandy
From: Bob Manning
Sent: Saturday, August 25, 2007 9:00 PM
Subject: Matchmaker Article
Hi Rick and the Gang,
I was on your website because Sharon and I are
looking to take some more dance lessons. I was
looking at your “Romance” section and noticed
the weddings only went back to 1999.
Sharon and I met taking Jitterbug/Swing classes
at SSQQ in 1991 and got married in 1994. Your
organization has a formula for romance. We
stopped taking lessons because of the distance
to the studio (and we got busy, the sun was in
our eyes, we tripped on a rock, …). We hope to
start and see all of you again soon.
Bob & Sharon Manning – SSQQ Students 1991-1994
From: Rick Archer
Sent: Monday, August 27, 2007 10:49 AM
To: Bob Manning
Subject: RE: Matchmaker
Gosh, your names are familiar. Hmm.
Your romance falls into the era I refer to as 'Flying
under the Radar'.
Unless I took a picture at one of the dance
parties that prompts my memory, the Nineties are
now a complete and total blur.
You see, in the
Eighties I taught all the classes and I knew
everyone. But in the Nineties when the studio
expanded to five rooms, I couldn't keep track of
everyone's story any longer. Believe
me when I say I am filled with a lot of regret
about this period in the studio's history!
I will add your story to the Matchmaker Saga
immediately. In the meantime, I am very grateful
that you have shared your story with me.
free to add any more information.
Thank you! Rick
Collins and Mike Moore
In October 2007, as I
entered the studio I was greeted by a
familiar face. My wonderful friend
Mary Collins... now Mary Moore... was at the
studio to take a dance lesson.
Mary Collins was my assistant in
Western classes for about two years in the
late Nineties. I believe she met her
husband Mike while dancing at a Western
club. He took several lessons
here at the studio during their courtship
period. Not only was Mary a great
assistant, she was also my friend. I was
very happy for her when she married Mike in
However, as I feared, like many
couples Mike and Mary faded into the sunset
not long after they got married. As I
have said repeatedly, marriage is such a big
step that people's priorities and lifestyles
go through radical changes.
So it was quite a surprise after nine
years to see Mary's smile again as I entered
the studio. Apparently Mike's
grown daughter by a previous marriage wanted
to learn some Western dancing, so Mike and
Mary not only signed Melissa up at the studio,
they came along with her!
Guess what was the
first thing I did when I saw Mike and Mary?
I took their picture, of course! These
guys are SSQQ celebrities after all.
So how did Mary (Collins) Moore manage to
fly under the radar when I knew her so well?
doesn't completely qualify as a marriage
that escaped my attention. I have her
marriage listed in two previous places on
this page. What I didn't have,
however, were any pictures! Even
though Mary was a mainstay at the studio for
several years, I guess she wasn't a
Halloween person. I could not find a
picture of her to save my soul.
However, Mary's wedding to Mike did have a special
distinction. I mentioned her upcoming
wedding as part of the first
I ever published at the end of 1998.
And now I get to add their picture to the
story. Welcome back!
Carl Gray and Mira Frosolono
Sent: Thursday, May
21, 2009 11:01 AM
Subject: Is there going to be a party
this weekend at the studio?
Mira and I will be traveling to Houston this
weekend and was wondering if there was going
to be a party (practice night) this
Saturday, May 21, 2009?
Sent: Thursday, May 21, 2009 11:40 AM
To: Carl Gray
Subject: RE: Is there going to be a
party this weekend at the studio?
Good to hear from you, Carl.
Unfortunately, we are winding down for a
week's vacation so nothing is going on. Wild
West is where everyone plans to hang out.
My memory is super-fuzzy. I have
forgotten Mira's last name. plus I can't
remember when you guys got married? Didn't
you move to Arkansas? Help me out!
Sent: Thursday, May 21, 2009 12:00 PM
To: 'Rick Archer'
Subject: RE: Is there going to be a party
this weekend at the studio?
Mira’s last name is Frosolono (she kept it after we
We met at the studio (per Mira) in 1992, when you
had me go dance with her at one of the parties.
(This is what Mira tells me
happened. I do not remember that, so
many women so little time). But, I do remember
her coming across the floor at the Rose on Richmond
in a little black mini skirt and asking me to dance
I moved to Arkansas in
1993 and got married in 1996.
Where is the Wild West these days?
Maybe, we will go there a do a little dancing.
BTW, Rick, you are the
reason I stuck with dancing. I had just about
given up on learning the pretzel, and was going to
quit. But, since I had already paid for the
class, and only had one more class to go. I
went to it anyway, I could just hide in the back.
Then you made me dance with you to demonstrate the
move to the class! And guess what? I got
it (with a lot of back leading
Have not stopped dancing since. Even after I
shattered my heel working
around the house (almost lost my foot). Long
Glad to hear from you, miss the SSQQ!
Carl and Mira
RICK ARCHER'S NOTE: As
you can read for yourself, Carl and Mira met at SSQQ
in the early Nineties. A year later, they
moved to Arkansas. In 1996, they got married.
Their marriage occurred about as far under the radar
as possible. When they got married, Carl and
Mira had been gone from the studio for three years
and were living in another state. Their story
is just another example of why I say the true number
of SSQQ marriages will always be under-reported.
I suspect there are many other couples like Carl and
Mira out there with similar stories.
and Linda Wade
Rick Archer's Note: On
Wednesday, March 4, 2009, I got this email from my
Sent: Wednesday, March 04, 2009 9:36 AM
Subject: 2 New Names for Barcelona
My eyes grew wide.
I had not heard from these two for over
twenty years! And now they had
just signed up for the 2009 Barcelona
I first met Jon
Monteith back around 1981. Jon was
instrumental in helping me put an emerging
new dance -
Western Swing - into a format that
would make it easier to teach. During
a four-month stretch, Jon and a lady named
Belinda would frequently meet with me on
Saturday mornings at the studio to share new
patterns and figure out how to lead them.
I immediately dashed
off an email to Jon.
Linda and Jon
taken on the 2009 Barcelona Cruise
On Mar 6,
2009, at 3:08 PM, "Rick
Jon and Linda! Welcome
Gosh, you guys go all
the way back to the very
start of the Eighties.
I didn't even realize
you got married! I
knew you were dating,
but… you know… I can't
keep track of
I am really happy I will
get to see you again! Do
you guys dance much
From: Jon Monteith
Sent: Saturday, March 07,
2009 8:26 PM
To: Rick Archer
Subject: Re: 2 New Names for
got married in
Still dance on
days I am mostly
into very long distance
bicycle riding. We are
looking forward to the
trip. It will be
good to see
8, 2009, at 10:03 AM, "Rick
1992! When did you
guys meet? Wasn't it
sometime around 1982?
No wonder I had no idea
you got married!
From: Jon Monteith
Sent: Sunday, March 08, 2009
To: Rick Archer
Subject: Re: 2 New
Names for Barcelona
and I met in 1987. But
if you remember, I
started taking lessons
with you earlier with
Well, there was my answer. I remember
that Linda and Jon were dating in the
Eighties. Those were the days when
they were here at SSQQ all the time. In fact, I ran across a
picture of them at the 1989 Halloween Party
just the other day. Then I found the
picture on the right from the 1988
Like many couples, as their relationship
deepened, their interest in dancing faded
into the background. That's when Jon
and Linda moved onto other things. As
I have said repeatedly, "Marriage is the
Death of Dance."
As you can see,
Jon and Linda's 1992 wedding is
another classic Flying Under the Radar
SSQQ Marriage from the Nineties. I
first wrote the story about my problem
keeping track of Nineties Weddings back in
2006. When I found out about Jon and
Linda in 2009, that meant nine couples had
resurfaced in the space of just three years
to fill me in on the news. That makes
me pretty happy!
By the way, I would again like to credit
Marla for her work with the SSQQ Cruise
Trips. In 2009, we had 15 SSQQ Wedding
couples join our two cruises for the year.
That is quite a number! On the
Barcelona Trip alone, we had 9 SSQQ wedding
couples. Jon and Linda, of course,
were one of the nine couples. I was so
impressed by the number of SSQQ Wedding
Couples aboard our cruises that I wrote the
following newsletter brief about Marla and her work
with the cruises.
"Back in the old days
of SSQQ, people would marry and drift
away. These couples might make an
occasional reappearance at the Halloween
Party, but by and large they were gone
for good. It hurt at first because these
people invariably had become my friends
as well as students. However the same
thing kept happening again and again, so
eventually I had no choice but to grow
philosophical about this development. I
didn't like it, but I learned to accept
it. Their priorities had changed and
importance of dancing in their lives had
That phenomenon has changed quite a bit
here in the 2000s. The nice thing about
the SSQQ cruises is they give SSQQ
wedding couples a pretty neat way to
stick around after the ceremony. These
days, SSQQ wedding couples discover our
cruises give them a way to hang with the
studio and have fun in the process.
Whether dancing is still important or
not, everyone enjoys taking trips with a
great group of people.
add, to their surprise, once
they are here they frequently
discover dancing is still fun!
Marriage might be the Death of
Dance, but Cruises bring Dance
back to Life!"
Party at SSQQ
Issac and Connie Ware
On Wednesday, December
23, 2009, I had just finished teaching my
final dance class of 2009. It was time
for Christmas break!
Just as I was headed to the door, someone
tapped me on the shoulder.
That is when I was
re-united with Dave Isaac and Connie Ware,
two of my friends from twenty years ago.
Now living in Colorado, they were in town to
visit children and grandchildren for the
Holidays. Wouldn't it be fun to stop
by SSQQ while they were here?
Back in the Eighties,
Dave and Connie were part of the Studebakers
Era where every Monday night the group met
for Swing Dancing at a posh Fifties Retro
Club over in the Galleria. While they
were here at the studio, Dave and Connie
took every Swing class, Whip class, and
Western class we had to offer.
And then one day they
Now twenty years later, Dave and
Connie returned to say hello and reassure me they
had not been alien-abducted after all.
Dave started dancing at SSQQ
in 1986. Connie started a year later.
They met at SSQQ during Practice Night.
Although my memory is fuzzy at best, I am pretty
sure they started out as friends. It probably
wasn't until 1988 that they were definitely a
couple. I believe their dance career at SSQQ
lasted another year, then they drifted on to other
activities and interests.
The problem with this slow
fading of interest is that it never occurs to people
to say they are moving on. After all, they
don't even realize it themselves. They assume
they will be coming back to the studio for the
Halloween Party or maybe a dance class further down
the road. But that day never comes and
meanwhile they join the parade of discontinued faces
and disconnected names that roll around in the back
of my mind.
Of course I had no idea where
they got to.
In 1992 Dave moved to
Michigan. If I remember what they told me,
Connie went with him. Then in 1996, Dave moved
again, this time to California. That is the
year they got married.
In the 2000s, Dave and Connie
decided to move to Manitou Springs in Colorado near
Colorado Springs. Although both Connie and
Dave are retired now, Dave goes into Denver
periodically to do volunteer math teaching in the
Dave and Connie's return to
the studio gave me a real lift. It is so
wonderful to connect to friends who were once an
important part of my life. Yes, I admit
it gets old getting attached to people and having
them move on. That is one part of the business
I have come to accept, but it still makes me wistful
that people have to leave. However, when they
are nice enough to come back and say hi, that's
pretty special. I have had a big smile on my
face for two days since our neat talk.
Here again is another Nineties
marriage that flew under the radar for twenty years.
and Jenny Bailey
From: Bob Bailey
Sent: Friday, December 11, 2009 12:52 PM
Subject: Reminder for Bob and Jenny Bailey
Rick, per our phone
conversation, Jenny and I will plan
on being there this Sunday (13th) from 7 to
9 PM for a refresher on Whip/West coast
Swing (heaven knows we need it).
We need a dance refresher badly to prepare
us for a cruise next week.
If you do a real good job, and don't laugh at us
too much, then we promise to pay you.
Bob and Jenny Bailey
SSQQ Class of 1998
From: Rick Archer
Sent: Sunday, December 13, 2009 10:56 PM
To: Bob Bailey
Subject: RE: Reminder for Bob and Jenny Bailey
There won't be any charge.
I just hope you remember enough of this stuff
for the cruise!
From: Bob Bailey
Sent: Monday, December 14, 2009 10:00 AM
To: Rick Archer
Subject: RE: Reminder for Bob and Jenny Bailey
Rick, Thank you again for
We are going to practice more at home this week
and hopefully remember all that stuff you showed us.
Jenny and I are already planning a return visit to
the studio next year for a crash course in jitterbug
(another one of our favorite dances).
Christmas Card to Rick
from Jenny Bailey
Rick, thanks so much for the free Whip class! We
really appreciate it!
Bob and I are practiciing on our living room floor.
Hopefully after our cruise we will see you in 2010.
By the way, here's a photo of us and our two boys
(ages 7 and 10) from our trip to Breckenridge,
Colorado, this past summer.
I know you warned us, but that Whip class really did
Have a Happy New Year!
Rick Archer's Note:
Bob called me on the phone in mid-December 2009.
He and Jenny were going on a cruise and wanted some
dance lessons at the last minute to use on the trip.
Since I am well aware how ineffective last-minute
lessons are, I was too skeptical to charge them
anything. My reward was simply getting to see
Bob and Jenny again after 11 years.
During our phone call, Bob explained that he and
Jenny had gotten married in early 1998.
swear that somewhere I have a story about Bob and
Jenny from 1998, but until I run across it, I will
just have to stay aggravated.
meantime, Bob and Jenny got married just before the
SSQQ Newsletter came online in October 1998. I
am thrilled to add their story to our collection of
memories. Let me add how great it is to see
two more SSQQ Kids!
Stumph and Diane Huber
April 10, 2009, Newsletter
WE ARE CELEBRATING A VISIT FROM THE
From: Bill Stumph
Sent: Sunday, March 29, 2009 9:45 PM
Subject: Visit Friday, April 17
My lovely wife Diane (Huber) and I will be in
Houston and would like to come by the studio for
Practice Night on Friday, April 17. We are hoping
you will be there so that we can say Hi and catch up
on the last 17 years or so. Will you be at the
studio that night?
Diane and I got married in 1992. We
still live in San Diego and are still dancing. Hope
to see you! Let us know.
(aka, THE WALTZ KING!)
ARCHER'S NOTE ABOUT BILL STUMPH:
Long ago, back in the days of the Winchester Club,
Gilley's and "Urban Cowboy", Bill Stumph was the
undisputed Waltz King here at the studio. We are
talking about 1981.
Bill was way ahead of the rest of us guys and that
includes me. We had no idea of the awesome effect
that dancing a Waltz had on women. There were no
Western Waltz dance classes in those days. Bill
must have taken a Ballroom Waltz class or something
behind our backs and figured out how to adapt it to
the Western floors.
There was no denying his success. Women pestered
Bill all night long for a Waltz. We would have a
party. All night long women would ask me when the
next Waltz was coming on. They would announce to me
that they were "Waltz girl number six" on Bill's
dance card. What a racket! The seriousness in
these women's eyes made me realize Bill was really
on to something. In my idle moments, I wondered if
he was charging for each dance. Maybe I could get a
cut. Play some extra Waltzes, get a kickback.
You know how you say to yourself, "If I only knew
back then what I know today?!" Such a lament! Gee
whiz, Bill cleaned up with his Waltz ability. He
only knew a few steps, but that still put him miles
ahead of me and everyone else. Bill is a pretty
nice guy, so I think he will forgive me for saying
this, but I don't he knew any super-duper Waltz
patterns to compare with Sharon Shaw's modern day
course. I think "Crossovers" was his biggest go-to
move. But that was enough to put him way ahead of
the rest of us stiffs.
It didn't matter than Bill's Waltz moves were
Intermediate at best because the rest of us were too
stupid to even learn the basic step. It's like the
old joke about the two men in the tent with the
growling bear outside. As one man puts on his
shoes, the other guy says, "What are you doing? You
can't outrun a bear!" "Maybe not, but all I have to
do is outrun you!"
Bill was the first guy I ever met who understood
that all women are transformed into Cinderella at
the Ball whenever a Waltz comes on. Women
absolutely love to Waltz and they are helpless to
resist the Mythology!
I was so amused by Bill's prowess on the dance floor
that I later wrote a story about him on the web
site. That is when I named Bill the "The
Waltz King". You guys in particular should
go read the story! It will definitely help you
with your love life.
Another man who was pretty famous at SSQQ for his
Waltz dancing was JOHN JONES.
In the mid-Nineties, a friend of Sharon and mine
named John Jones began to study the Western Waltz in
earnest. Thanks to a fledgling new industry known
as "dance tapes", John ordered Western Waltz
videotapes from around the country. Every Wednesday
night John would practice his new moves with his
wife Mary down in Room Three.
John quickly became the greatest Waltzer in the
history of SSQQ. He was more graceful and knew
more patterns than any man in studio history.
However, John was a complicated guy. He never
danced the Waltz on a social basis like his
counterpart Bill Stumph. Bill clearly used the
Waltz in the same practical way the Three Musketeers
used their swords. Bill enjoyed the attention of
the Fair Sex and realized the Waltz was the perfect
vehicle to gain an advantage. John Jones, however,
might dance with Sharon and Mary and no one else.
John wasn't shy, but he was kind of a loner.
That didn't keep the rest of us from noting how good
John was. Whenever I would go to the drink room, I
would see two or three people lingering in the
doorway to watch in awe as John and Mary danced
around the floor in Room 3. Mary of course looked
like Ginger Rogers. What amazing dancers John and
Mary were and what a lovely dance!
So many people asked John Jones about where he had
learned so many awesome moves that he decided to
suggest to his friend Sharon that she teach a
course. And that is how Sharon (Crawford) Shaw's
wonderful Western Waltz program got its start.
Sharon will be the first to tell you that John
deserves much of the credit. John Jones was the
Sad to say, John passed away a couple years ago. He
was the toughest guy I ever met. We are all in
great debt to John for helping Sharon create the
SSQQ Western Waltz program. I miss him and I know
Sharon does too. To this day I think about him
whenever I dance a Waltz at the studio.
You would definitely enjoy
the story I wrote about
Today thanks to Bill Stumph, John Jones, and Sharon
Shaw, today's SSQQ Western Waltz program is
enormous. That is quite a legacy.
"Rick, What do you remember
about SSQQ Romance in the Nineties?"
"Well, one of the best
Romantic Stories in the long history of SSQQ has remained
untold for over fifteen years.
Back in 1993, Gareld McEathron
became the first person to ever propose to his
girlfriend here at the studio. He popped the
question to his girlfriend Virginia right in the
middle of an SSQQ dance class! They got
married about a year later in 1994. To this day, in
the 30 plus year history of the studio, Gareld and
Virginia remain the only SSQQ couple to get engaged
on the studio premises and go on to get married.
This was a very touching
story, but at the time very few people knew what had happened
since there was no newsletter in those days.
As a result, their wonderful story went completely
Unfortunately, Gareld and
Virginia's story took place so long ago that I am a
bit fuzzy on the details. I think
I will simply ask Gareld to tell the story himself."
Recollections on Meeting and Marrying
Virginia and I met at SSQQ with both
arriving via different paths with the same
thoughts of learning to dance.
Virginia worked for MD Anderson Hospital as
a teacher with the responsibility of keeping
children cancer patients up to date with
their studies. One year the hospital
organized a party at Eddie's Country
Ballroom south of Houston. Virginia attended
the party. However,
due to her strict Baptist upbringing, she
did not know how to dance. An instructor
from SSQQ was there and gave beginning
lessons early in the evening. Virginia
enjoyed the experience and decided to take
lessons at SSQQ, which was near her home.
I learned to dance at age twelve. I was
shining shoes after school and on Saturdays
in the local barbershop in a small town in
South Dakota. The recently widowed barber
was dating a young lady who was caring for
her sixteen year old sister while her
parents were away. The barber wanted to take
his girlfriend to a dance on Saturday night
but she couldn't leave her sister by
herself. He told me that he would pay our
way if I would escort the sister. She wasn't
too happy to be seen with a twelve year old
as her date but, since there was an
oversupply of young ladies, my "date" spent
much of the evening teaching me to dance.
My family moved to Corpus Christi, Texas,
the next summer.
This put a brief end to my dance career.
I did not get back to dancing until
the middle of my junior year of High School.
At that time, I was a district route manager
for the newspaper and had my own car, a
rarity for a teenager during World War II.
This was during gas rationing and I was
issued "C" ration stamps which should
provide just enough gas to service my
district in addition to the standard "A"
stamp book provided to each vehicle for
personal use (about five gallons per week).
I strapped a bicycle to the front of the car
and would ride it to check that all of the
paperboys had made it out of bed in the
mornings. This, along with an occasional can
of cleaning fluid dumped in the tank, left
me with gas for occasional dates, etc.
However, since I had a car, I had plenty of
requests to double date. My standard reply
was, "I will be happy to take you and your
girlfriend if you can talk your family out
of a five gallon stamp from your family
was great for me. The only problem was
explaining to the rationing board how I
could wear out so many tires on the gas I
was allotted. Things
were a bit different back in those days.
My best friend's girlfriend had taken ballet
lessons as a child and liked to dance. He
only liked Country Western music and didn't
like to dance. When
we double dated to a dance at her
insistence, she and I started working out
jitterbug steps from what we saw on the news
clips at the movies as well as what others
were doing. There
was no such thing as dance lessons; you
watched it and tried to copy it. Then
you stepped on a lot of toes till you
figured it out.
As time went on, I found girlfriends to
dance with. I
seldom missed the Friday night Twix-Teen
dance. When I was dating my first wife,
Ruth, dancing was a big part of our
courtship. The dancing came to an end when
she contacted polio while she was pregnant
with our daughter, Deborah (pregnant women
were nine times more susceptible to polio
than were the general population).
Polio was a huge problem here in America
during the late Forties and throughout the
About the only time I danced for the next
forty years was at occasional parties where
there were wives with husbands that didn't
dance. However, during
most of the last six years I worked,
I had several projects in France. I spent a
good deal of time in the same hotel in the
small town of St. Dizier.
The hotel proprietor and his family
started inviting me to dinner parties in
their home and to local social functions
which frequently involved dancing. I only
remember Waltzing one time as a teen-ager
and could not do so with the French ladies.
None the less, I had a great time with the
swing and foxtrot dances..
I retired at the end of 1991.
Sadly, my first wife
Ruth passed away
the next summer.
My children gave me a certificate to Leisure
Learning for Christmas that
1993 was my year to try
some new things. The first thing I did with the certificate
was go to a class to become EPA certified to
handle Freon so I could continue to maintain
my car and home air conditioning systems.
The second thing was to go to cooking class.
Ruth had complained to her sister that since
I never cooked, I wouldn't be able to take
care of myself when she was gone. I had
never had a need to learn since Ruth was
such a good cook.
As the oldest child in a family of
working parents, out of
necessity she had become an
accomplished cook by the time we were
The third thing was to go back to
France for a visit during the party
season but this
time I wanted to learn to
Waltz first. Unfortunately, or
fortunately depending on how you
look at it, there were
no Waltz classes offered.
So I delayed going to France
and took Swing,
Tango and Western Polka classes.
In the third month, I took a Rumba
class in which there was an excess
of men. Paula
Stegemeier, the teacher,
recruited women from her previous
classes to come and fill in for the
balance of the month. Virginia was
one of those women.
The next week, Virginia organized a
group to go dancing at the Inn
on the Lake.
I signed up. The Inn turned
out to not have a dance at that time
so the event was cancelled.
now had my telephone number.
About a week later, Virginia called me and
said that there was going to be a birthday
party at Eddie's.
Virginia said that she and her friend
Dee were going.
Virginia invited me to join them. I
offered to drive. I hung up and called my
to see if she knew anything about Eddie's.
I also asked if wearing a white shirt
be appropriate attire.
Deborah informed me that my plaid
shirt would be better.
I said "Oh no! That one is not
Deborah promptly came over and ironed the
plaid shirt. We went to the dance and stayed
to the end. On the way home, I offered to
stop at a diner and buy breakfast but the
place I knew about was already closed.
Virginia offered to cook breakfast at her
house. Dee said she was tired and wanted to
go home so we dropped her off. When we got
to Virginia's, there were only two eggs in
the refrigerator and some bread for toast,
which was our breakfast.
The next week, I was practicing my newfound
cooking skills. I
invited my daughter, Deborah, to come for
she accepted, I called Virginia on her cell
phone while she was driving home from work
and invited her to stop by for dinner.
her that my daughter would be
well (in case she felt the need for a
The dinner went well. No one was
after dinner. I
played my WWII Hit Parade CDs so we could
practice our dance steps.
From that beginning,
Virginia and I dated frequently.
We took the time to meet each other's
families. I took Virginia to Dallas to meet
my late wife's sister, Roberta. They
immediately became friends.
"Whew! That takes a load off of me.
Ruth made me promise that I would
find a suitable woman for Gareld and he did
it on his own!"
When I decided that I was going to ask
Virginia to marry me, I asked my children's
opinions. Deborah was quite happy with my
decision. My son Ross said, "Thank God, I
thought you were going to screw around and
let her get away". The
unwavering support from both of our families
has been wonderful.
Virginia had given me a card that said, "I
love you, I need you, I want you". The
envelope was addressed with a bold red "G".
I casually asked where she got the card.
Later I went to the shop and bought
a card identical
to it. Inside,
I wrote in bold, red letters "Will you marry
me?" and put it in her original envelope.
By chance, Paula
was teaching a Rumba class again.
I signed us up to repeat the class.
informed many people of my
intentions to propose in the same
class as the one
in which we first met.
To allay Virginia's suspicions when
family members and friends
appeared toward the end of the
class, I told her that
were meeting us
to go Country Western
dancing after the class and
that my son
had his video camera to take movies
while we were there.
I arranged with Paula to call
Virginia to the end of the room to
be in camera range. When she
arrived, I pulled the envelope out
of my coat pocket and said to Paula,
"You know we first met in your Rumba
class and I want to show you how far
this relationship has progressed."
Virginia, on recognizing the
envelope, started to protest and
said, "What is going on here?"
I handed Virginia the card and
suggested she read it to Paula. She
was obviously flustered.
When she opened the card and
saw the message her immediate
reaction was to exclaim, "I didn't
Then it soaked in.
In an instant, I got a big
hug, kiss and a
"It seems like
Gareld and Virginia didn't need your help. Is it always necessary
for you to be directly involved for the Romances to
flourish? Do you have to be in the picture for
Cupid to operate at SSQQ?"
"Probably not. My
major contribution is maintaining a Fun Playground. The
Birds and the Bees do the rest of the work. I have
very little direct contact with most of the wedding
you can see from my previous story about all the unreported
marriages, obviously the Magic was still there
while I snoozed a decade away. SSQQ
Romance Magic was definitely alive in the Nineties despite my
another story to prove my point.
The picture at the right is
from the 1991 Dogpatch Dance Party. His
name is Richard, but I cannot remember the lady's
name for the life of me. They met at SSQQ and
eventually got married. Together they are another
"unreported Nineties Wedding" that flew under the
radar. The only reason I remember them
is because I ran across this picture taken during their
courtship. After their marriage, they
disappeared and I never saw them again. Marriage is the Death of Dance.
I also found a group picture from the
same party (see picture with red circles).
What makes the group picture so unusual is that I
people in this picture who met their husbands or
wives through the studio. That's right, 11 out of
28 people in the picture got married to someone from
SSQQ. That's 40% if you like percentages.
Since I have no statistics to compare this picture to,
maybe I am guilty of over-exaggeration, but isn't
11 out of 28 a ridiculously high number of
All 28 people are single. I don't see
one married couple in this picture. Richard
and his pretty girlfriend are the only two people
who got married 'within' the group picture.
The other 9 people circled in this picture would
eventually meet someone else at SSQQ
who was not present in this picture.
Picture represents 11 people who met their spouses
so far I have only reported the names of 5 of those
marriages - Richard McDonald (instructor), Arlene
Phillips (instructor), Sharon Crawford (instructor),
and Reid Faulkner (instructor). The lady in
red was Stephanie who married a guy named Chuck.
The other six
don't have their names anywhere.
Romance was obviously alive and well at SSQQ during
Another aspect that makes this
unusual is I only know the names of 14 people out of 28.
In the 1990s, the studio had grown so big, I barely knew
half the people at my own dance party. I knew them by
This picture pretty much says it all -
There was plenty of SSQQ Slow Dance
and Romance Magic in the 1990s, but since I wasn't really
counting or writing down names, a lot of it flew under
Obviously I did not have to be directly
involved for Love to flourish. I think Dancing as
always was the real ice breaker. Dance is a direct
road to Romance."
"About this Flying Under the Radar problem. Doesn't that
make it a little difficult to write a story about SSQQ
Romance in the 90s?"
"Tell me about it! Back when I was
'Leader of the Pack' I knew everyone's name and everyone's
story. Now that I had become CEO of Houston's largest
dance studio, I was lucky if I knew 30% of the names of the
people who took classes. It wasn't until Daryl
Armstrong started using name tags during dance classes in
the late Nineties that I started to learn names again.
I scoffed at Daryl's idea at first as an invasion of
privacy, but then I realize people really liked it! So
I started supplying name tags for all the classes.
That was a good move thanks to Daryl.
As the studio grew, in a large way, the studio became more
impersonal. There was no real 'Center'. If I
wasn't in the mood to get the party started, our guests
would often drift around rudderless like any bar crowd.
The people would search for someone cute to dance with, but
leave the moment they decided the pickings were slim.
In other words, people didn't get to know each other like
they used to because the family atmosphere had dwindled
somewhat. 'Anonymity' might be the ugly word to
best describe the problem. The studio had become
like a bar where people come and go. Some of the homey
feel of the studio had disappeared.
Whereas back in the Eighties there had once been a single 'In-Crowd', now the
studio had 'The Staff' and 'Various Students Hanging Around'.
Just as a simple example, let me analyze this 1994 picture.
There are four instructors in the picture
- Larry Carlton on the left
with his hand on Kaye Reed's shoulder. Debbie
Reynolds is smiling the very center of the picture (Debbie was one of
my most important instructors during the Nineties).
Instructor Tony Graham at the bottom plus his new wife Trina
in red on the far right. They had just gotten married.
So four members of the picture were SSQQ Staff.
Kaye Reed was an off-and-on member of what little In-Crowd we
In this picture is a Third Generation couple Chuck and
Laurie Gray. Laurie is standing next to Trina with Chuck peeking
over their heads.
Chuck had dropped in because Laurie wanted him to take her
dancing. He and Laurie came to the studio partly to
dance and partly to see their old friends.
This was the party where Chuck came up to me and asked me
where all the 'Old Gang' was. Remember that story from
the previous chapter? I had to explain to Chuck how
the old crowd had moved on. Once Chuck and Laurie
realized they would never see their old friends at SSQQ, one
of their major incentives to return was removed. That
was 1993. I think they came to a 1994 Halloween Party,
but I haven't seen Chuck or Laurie at a party since.
The other six people are 'faces in the crowd' as far as I am
concerned. I don't remember their names. Thirteen
people; I know about half of them because they worked for me. In some ways, the
studio had grown too big for its own good. The studio was
struggling for a new identity.
To be more honest, SSQQ was struggling for a Leader in the
early and mid-Nineties. I wasn't really doing my job."
"What did you do about
SSQQ's 'Identity Crisis'?"
"To be frank, I let
the social side of the studio drift. I was
suffering from my own 'Marriage is the Death of
'Leader of the Pack' is a difficult role to sustain
day in and day out for a lifetime. Don't forget my
official job title was 'dance teacher', not 'social
director'. I did my social director thing
because I wanted to, not because I was paid to.
At this point, I was busy raising a child now. And my
wife Judy did not enjoy socializing in our free time.
Since I am basically a loner as well, I found it
easy to drift into the 'Family Thing'. The
three of us - my daughter Sam, Judy, me - did things as
a family which cut down my time at the studio. Increasingly I left the singles to find their own
In my defense, every time one of my instructors got
married, they either resigned or trimmed their own 'Life
of the Party' roles back to the bare minimum.
History has shown that once you become a 'Double',
it is hard to maintain your wild and crazy 'Single'
persona. Once people get into
relationships, they settle down.
For example, as I write this story in 2006 I am
thinking of three guys who love to go on our dance cruises
- George, Gary, Steve.
At different times in previous years, they were
definitely the Wild Men on the cruises. They
did all sorts of crazy things to generate energy and
have fun. They were clearly the life of the
But the moment each man got into a relationship, on the
next cruise they
were so tame and well-behaved, you had to blink
make sure it was the same guy.
It is tough to be a Singles Leader when you are in a
During the Nineties I admit I
felt guilty about neglecting the social side of the
studio. I hated the dilemma I faced - whenever
I pursued my own happiness in a relationship, the
studio drifted. Whenever I was lonely, I turned to
the Group for companionship and immediately the studio
Take the Misery side of the dilemma. In 1986,
I channeled my misery after my divorce from Pat
201 Nights of Dancing
energy I created during that strange year
transformed SSQQ into a supernova. The studio
was so hot in 1987 that the effects of the Streak could still
be seen on into the Studebaker Year of 1988. I was
miserable; the studio did great.
Then came my 1991-1995
Married With Kid years. No Saturday Night dancing in the clubs for me.
On a Saturday Night, I took my family to the movies.
Titanic, Jurassic Park,
and the Fugitive took precedent over
the Longhorn and Melody Lane. During the week, I showed up at the studio, taught classes and went
The energy at the studio dwindled.
The classes got smaller. Practice Night
tapered off. 5 years of neglecting my business
took its huge toll. 1995 was the year that
after we finished paying every single bill, we had
$300 left in the studio checking account. That
shows you just how far the energy had dropped.
Is there ever a happy medium? That is a great
question. I'm not sure. Let's talk about
it again later."
Nineties, didn't you do anything? You didn't lift a finger to help with the Social Side?"
"Unfortunately people don't have the luxury of knowing the effects
of their decisions until it's too late.
I knew I was taking a gamble getting married back in 1990. I had enough
experience to know the worse my love life was, the happier my
studio was. The cynic in me believed that seeking happiness was bad for the studio.
On the other hand, this lonely stuff gets old. I hoped
that maybe having a large Staff
would mean the social side of the studio could flourish
And I suppose most people would agree I had a right to have
a family. I had a right to take a couple nights a week
off from the studio. I had a right to think my staff
could do just as good a job as I could. Unfortunately
I had to find out the hard way that I am the heart of the
studio. No one ever seemed to get the party started
when I wasn't around.
One of the new developments - perhaps good, perhaps bad -
was that now I ran all the social activities at the studio
which I began to call 'Fort SSQQ'.
My days of dancing
in the 'Real World' as I called it were few and far between. People would say, 'Gosh, Rick, there's a big dance contest
this weekend at Melody Lane. So and so is competing!! Let's go
cheer for him!"
Out of guilt sometimes I did show up for the dance contest on a Saturday
night. I had worked the night before at the Friday
Night SSQQ Practice. Saturday was my night off, but
here I was watching people dance. I resented every
single second I was spending at the dance contest.
I knew Sunday was my
toughest day of the week with five hours of classes and
practice. Going to that Saturday contest on what should have
been my night off would practically ruin me for Sunday!
look at it from my students point of view. Good things
happened when I showed up. The first thing that
happened would be my Pied Piper duty of rounding everyone
up. You see, there were always little pockets of SSQQ
people all over the room, but they didn't know each other so
they didn't sit together. Once I showed up, all the
little pockets of people would come join me where I sat.
They would be happy to see me because I was their leader and
they recognized me. Suddenly little groups of one,
two, or three people became two tables of thirty people!
Once I got my tables organized, I would begin my social
butterfly duties. I would ask students to dance with
me or I might ask someone to go dance with a beginner. I would greet
new people when they got there and invite them to sit with
us, then I would introduce the newcomers to
some interesting people who in turn would look out for them
and continue the introductions. Within the safe
haven of our group, people would be less shy about
introducing themselves. Pretty soon conversations
would develop between strangers because they had something
in common - dancing at SSQQ. Pretty soon they would
ask each other to dance and the ice was broken.
At this point a group spirit would develop for the evening.
I had done my job of getting the party started.
Good for the studio, bad for Rick. I had made a contribution, but
at a sacrifice. I had worn myself out in the process. I would definitely be exhausted the next day
from four hours of dancing the night before. While my
students could goof off
the next day if they were tired, I was facing my longest day of the
week on Sunday. Furthermore, I never had fun at these
events. I simply wasn't interested. I suppose I shouldn't admit this, but
I don't enjoy watching dance contests. Dance Contests
may be entertaining for my students and I understand their
interest, but from my point of view, who wants to
watch dancing on their day off? Furthermore, I hate
the politics of dance competitions. I often got
aggravated because I often think the judging in dance contests
is suspect. Frequently the crowd favorite would lose
to some boring couple was technically perfect
I rarely had much fun at the dance contests, I would skip the next contest. My little pockets of
students would stay scattered throughout the evening. Left
with no main SSQQ group to attach themselves to, they
intermingled with people from other dance studios. The
following week I would discover
half a dozen students went to the contest and someone
recruited them to take classes from someone
else. "Learn from so and so and you will get
good enough to win dance contests too!" Since
SSQQ was about social dancing and not competitive dancing,
any SSQQ student interested in competing was easy pickings.
Invariably the students I lost were my best dancers.
As you can gather, losing students at dance competitions was
a headache that never ended.
So there was no Win-Win for me. It was always a trade-off. It
usually boiled down to
whether I was single or in a relationship. If I was single,
I didn't mind going to contests as much because it was a way to hang with the Gang.
But if I was
married or in a relationship, I usually preferred to skip the event
only to fret as my business would suffer. Obviously
being single was better for the studio, but it meant I would
Throughout the Eighties when I was usually single, the
studio thrived. Throughout the Nineties when I was
married, the energy at the studio dropped perceptibly.
Throughout my marriage in the 90s, my attitude was, 'I am
married. I will not be Leader of the Pack on my day
off'. And sure enough, I had to learn the hard way my
business suffered for that attitude. You snooze, you
certain politicians, religious leaders and lots of other
professionals who work with large groups of people have
similar trade-offs. Doing what you want to do is fun.
Going where the people are is good for business but maybe
not so fun. So you try to find a balance.
I think there was something to be said for the good old days
when we had ski trips, Bahama Mama trips, volleyball
parties, Charades, Jigsaw Puzzle Parties, Hill Country trips, and
so on. Of course we had the major dances at the
studio, but we also did a lot of things outside the studio
which helped our group establish its spirit.
But my attempts in the early 90s to recreate those earlier
years were met with failure. The studio had grown so
big that intimate events like a Charades Party just didn't
get off the ground. I would suggest a jigsaw puzzle
party only to see four people show up.
One time in the early Nineties I scheduled a Trivial Pursuits
on a free Saturday night. We had maybe a dozen people
show up. Attendance in dance classes that month was
around 1,000. 12 people out of 1,000... not very good.
In the old days of the Third Generation when we were a
close-knit group, we would get 40 people out of a student
body of perhaps 200 for a Charades Party because that's
where the action was.
You get my point. Social Groups are not like faucets. You
cannot just turn them on and off. Social Networks have
to be built gradually.
The Momentum of a dance studio
built one step at a time. In 1980 I got it
going with Urban Cowboy. I stoked
the fires with the Winchester Club. Then I super-charged
with 201 Nights of Dancing and kept the energy going
in the late Eighties with Studebakers,
the Bahamas Trip, and the Banff Ski Trip. Our
mega dance parties like the Halloween Party, the
Sock Hop and the Sleazy Bar Party kept the studio
rolling strong right
through to the end of the decade.
And then I started to coast. The first
half of the 90s was not a strong period for the
studio. By the mid-90s, there was no In-Crowd.
There was no Core Group. Even the instructors
weren't that close. SSQQ was no longer
a Singles Club. It had grown so big that it was only a
business now. The social side was barely
help much that dancing in general had hit a lull. The rap music of the day killed interest in Whip
dancing. Western dancing had been strong for a
long time, but it was hitting a long overdue dry
dancing had not come along yet. Swing Dancing
had faded once Studebakers closed down.
Houston's interest in Ballroom dancing was pretty
quiet. Obviously the studio was stuck in a big muddy
After Judy finished paying every bill at the end of
December, we finished 1995 with $300 in the SSQQ
checking account. When Judy showed me
the checkbook, I turned white. It was time to
get back in the saddle whether I wanted to or not.
The studio was in trouble.
next Chapter, we learn how SSQQ got the energy going