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Rick's Gabfest with Gertrude
Written by Rick Archer, March 2006

Chapter Six: 
MILLENNIUM MADNESS

"So you had a Cruise, Heartbeat, Swing Kids and Leather and Lace.
What happened to all that wild and crazy energy after the Millennium?? 


"The old joke is that no good deed goes unpunished, but fortunately this story has a very happy ending.  All the key leaders were rewarded for their Service with wonderful blessings.

Daryl Armstrong met Joanne. They married in 1998 and have two children, Austin and Ali.

Ben Liles met Diana.  They married in 1999.  They have two children, Cole and Allison.

Susie Allen met Bill Merrill, although she cheated and used the Internet.

The point is, these people contributed such tremendous energy during the period that they became very attractive in the process.  Each person found a terrific life partner in the process.

Nor was it an accident. The identical thing happened to Tom Easley back in 1987 when he parlayed the lunacy of the Look-a-Like era into the successful courtship of his beautiful wife Margaret.   The lesson is clear - people who contribute and give leadership to the dance community are rewarded many times over.  If finding a partner is important, Service to the group is the surest way to accomplish your goal.  "

"Did that pre-Millennium flurry of energy have any effect on SSQQ Romance in the 2000s?"

"Absolutely. It lit the place up like a bonfire!"

"The studio became red hot with marriage fever! 

"Although that 'flying under the radar' problem of the 1990s prevents me from making an accurate comparison, I would guess the incredible total of 33 SSQQ marriages in 1998 and 1999 surpassed all the weddings we had in the previous eight years of the Decade.

That energy kept flowing right into the 2000s."

The most remarkable day in studio history was Saturday, November 8, 2003. 

By a remarkable
coincidence, 3 SSQQ Instructors - Rachel Seff Koenig, Vicki Bernard Smith, and Patricia Or Holmes - all got married on the same day!!

Three
lovely SSQQ instructors became three lovely SSQQ brides on the very same day!! 

(Even crazier, these three marriages were just the tip of the iceberg for 2003 SSQQ Slow Dance and Romance.  2003 was the year we broke our record of 30 marriages and engagements from 2000 with 31.  2003 was quite a year!  2003 Romance)

If you have been following the bouncing ball throughout these stories, I assume you have concluded that finding a husband or a spouse is practically a guaranteed fringe benefit of a job at SSQQ!  

It is a done deal if that is your objective.  No one can escape Cupid's Darts if you hang around here long enough. 

No one.  It may take a while, but it is inevitable.

List of SSQQ Instructors Who Married in the 2000s... and there are more on the way!

George Wallace and Suzy Kish
Kathleen Alexander and Kenneth Parker
Paula Henderson and Carlos da Silva
Mike Fagan and Trisha Bradford
Larry Carlton and Brenda Evetts
Karen Davidson and Dennis Clawsen
Jim Coulter and Ulrike Lange
Tracy King and Jeff Perry
Carol Armand and Arthur Madrid
Ann Bush and Brian White
Vicki Bernard and Johnny Smith
Patricia Or and David Holmes
Rachel Seff and David Koenig
Michelle Wann and Trent Haynes
Michelle Yeiter and Scott Keepers
Joel McCloskey and Ruth Scheyberger
Randy Winfrey and Melissa Gauthier
Sharon Crawford and Bill Shaw

Sharon and Bill Shaw

Arthur and Carol Madrid

Randy and Melissa Winfrey


"The 2000s have been pretty impressive so far.  What do you think about that?"

"I am in total awe of what is going on around here.  In the 1980s all the students got married. In the 1990s when all the instructors got married.  In the 2000s, the SSQQ students are matching the SSQQ instructors marriage for marriage!  In other words, our marriage output has doubled over any previous time in the studio's history.

Look at it this way: During the 2000s, SSQQ averaged one marriage for every MONTH of the year!

Even crazier, I think there are more marriages out there I don't know about!!"

"You are kidding, right?"

"I am not even remotely kidding. In preparation for this story, I chased down one unreported SSQQ marriage after another! 

No one has any idea how difficult it is me for to assemble these names and pictures. 
The original name for the SSQQ Wedding List was 'Heard it Thru the Grapevine' for the simple reason that most of the wedding couples never bothered to tell me a thing.  If it wasn't for rumor, I would be in the dark.

Usually it was one of their friends who gave them up!!  I literally heard about half of all SSQQ weddings through the Grapevine!"

"Let me ask this again. You believe there are even more SSQQ marriages out there you don't know about? "

"Oh, goodness gracious yes.  Absolutely!! 

Remember the 1990s were the days of flying under the radar?  I would guess a dozen, even two dozen marriages are out there from the 90s that will probably never be reported to me.
 

"Okay, those were the 70s, 80s, and 90s.  But surely you keep careful track in the 2000s?"

"I wish!  But seriously, I have fits keeping track of these weddings. 

Here is a perfect example of 'Grapevine' in action. 

Two days ago at the studio someone asked what year so and so got married.  So I went to Tammy, my Hall Monitor, and asked her to bring up the main Romance screen on the ssqq website where all the marriages are listed.

As I looked around, Tammy asked why Randy Best and Kim Gray's wedding wasn't listed for 2003. I stared at her blankly.

Tammy said she knew that Randy and Kim had gotten married in August 2003.  So I nosed around and discovered I had a listing for their engagement in February 2003, but no wedding listing.  So I wrote their name on the back of my hand, got teased several times for my goofy reminder note, then added them to the list the next morning.

That's how haphazard it usually is. 

The main reason I have such a hard time keeping track of the weddings is due to the huge time disconnect. 

First, when people get serious about each other, many of these people stop taking classes and drop out of sight.  How am I supposed to keep track of the personal lives of 1,200 people a month.  Sure I noticed some neat people don't show up for class the next month, but so many people take a month off and come back the following month, I don't pay much attention any more.  As they say, 'out of sight, out of mind.' 

Like I said earlier, the point is that a lot of people don't stick around the studio after they meet.  And since most couples take several years to make up their mind to marry, by that time the studio has become an afterthought.   Any motivation to report their story to me is long gone by now.

Second, many people mention to their ssqq friends that they are engaged, but then there is a six-month break, a one-year break, or longer between the engagement and the wedding. Perhaps their friend at ssqq was just a dancing buddy who never had frequent contact to begin with.  During the engagement to wedding interim, sometimes that link gently fades away.

I have a lot of engagements listed with no mention of the weddings further down the road.  Obviously some people change their mind, but over half of the engagements end up as marriages that go unlisted.

I think that is what happened in the case of Randy Best and Kim Gray.  But not everyone has a friend like Tammy to give me an update.  Other engagements just float out there.

For example, I have no desire to embarrass the couple at right, but currently their name is listed as a fairly recent engagement.  However there is no follow-up listing of a wedding. 

Did they change their mind?  Did they get married?  I don't know.  Help me out, Grapevine.

Just because someone drops out of the studio doesn't usually mean they get married immediately.  Last time I checked, getting married is still considered serious business, so most people are smart to take their sweet time.  More commonly they take a year or two to get to know each other as they slowly make their move to the altar. 

Therefore, unless these people have a friend at the studio who keeps in touch with them, a period of one, two, even three years may pass between their studio days and their wedding day. 

Let's face it, Gertrude, there are twelve hundred people flying around this place a month.  I personally come in contact with maybe a quarter of these people.  There are many stories I have no idea about.

The Salsa crowd is a huge mystery to me.  We have Salsa classes with a hundred people in it.  You have this intoxicating, sensual music and fast, hip-gyrating dancing.  Many of the women are drop-dead gorgeous.  With these kind of numbers and this kind of sexy dancing, Cupid is bound to get it going.

But I never hear a word about Salsa engagements and weddings!!  I currently have ONE Salsa couple - Gonz and Claudia - whose engagement is on the books. 

Salsa has been hot for 7 years and SSQQ has one couple??   Give me a break.  You aren't going to tell me there are not a dozen SSQQ Salsa marriages out there flying under the radar. 

This is why I believe the true number of SSQQ weddings is seriously under-reported."


"How do ever find out about them or do you just give up?"

"I find out about many marriages in some of the most unlikely ways. 

The SSQQ Newsletter helps dig up some weddings. Since there are so many people who stay loosely connected to the studio, something I write about might be read by the right person at the right time.  Here is a good example.  

In 2001 I wrote an article called Halloween Stories which contained tales of the legendary SSQQ Halloween Party.  I told the adventure of the poor lady who had screamed bloody murder when one of my monsters came to life in the Haunted House.  Terrified, she threw her entire basket of M&Ms in the air!

Then I published her picture and said how much I regretted that I had no idea who she was.  A few months later I received this email:

"Hey Rick, Steve Mink and Gayle Luber, the M&M's from Halloween '99, would like to announce our marriage on May 19 of this year 2002.

We first met at one of the Extravaganzas, then got to know each other in Judy's Zoot Suit classes on Monday nights in the summer of 1999.  We've been together ever since. Thanks for all the dance and joy that brought us together.

Still Swingin' after all these years!    Gayle and Steve"

Not only did I learn Gayle's name, I had a Swing Kid marriage appear out of nowhere!

-----Original Message-----
From: Gayle L. Mink
Sent: Sunday, December 18, 2005 9:08 AM
To: dance@ssqq.com
Subject: SSQQ Halloween stories

Rick,  Steve was reading up on some of your old stories……..the M&M’s have multiplied since then. Here are pictures from last year, Halloween 2004. Our little M&M is Lindsey. She’s sweeter than any plain or peanut M&M. J

We still get out and dance every now and then at parties. Amazing, we still got that swing! We don’t remember all the fancy zuit suit steps, but the basics are like riding a bike. Well, easy for me to say…..Steve leads, I just follow.

Happy Holidays!   Gayle 

"So why don't people tell you more often like Gayle did?"

"There are several very good reasons.

Sometimes a person's interaction with SSQQ is very superficial.  Two people might meet at a bar and leave together. Even if this is the start of something special, the bar may have little importance for the rest of their life. 

This couple at right - Alan and Christine - were Swing Kids.  They took some Swing classes at SSQQ in 1999 at the same time the M&Ms, Gayle and Steve, did.

After Alan and Christine connected, they left the studio.  I don't recall ever meeting them.  When they decided to get married, I believe they mentioned on their pre-wedding web site that they had met at the studio. 

Someone emailed me a link to their wedding web site.  After clicking in, I read their story and noticed the SSQQ reference. I also found this neat picture which I gracefully borrowed to put in the Newsletter.  What a gorgeous couple!

In addition, I emailed my congratulations and invited them to say more about the wedding for the Newsletter.  But they did not respond.  I am sure they were busy.

Sometimes the SSQQ connection is so weak I probably shouldn't even bother to take credit.  This guy is Ted Peyser.  I met him at the Jewish Community Center playing volleyball. We became friends, so I invited him over to the studio.  He said he didn't know how to dance, so I told him to take a crash course.  On the night of the party, he skipped the crash course, but showed up for the party afterwards. Most of the night, he just stood there watching. 

Then I noticed Ted was gone. End of story??  No, there is more.

The next week Ted thanked me profusely for inviting him to my party. He said he had met the greatest girl!!  I raised an eyebrow.  Ted continued.  He said that during the John-Paul-Jones where everyone dances with everyone in a big circle, practically ever person in the room had gotten out on the floor.

That's when he noticed a pretty girl who like him was just standing there watching the dancing.  Ted may not have known how to dance, but he was not shy.  He went over and asked her why she wasn't dancing.  That's how they discovered they had something in common - they were the only two people in the building who didn't know how to dance!!

So Ted had an idea. 'Let's go get a drink!'   The pretty girl smiled at him and said sure.  And that's how Ted met Mary.

A few months later, Ted announced they were engaged.  I just shook my head and grinned at the same time.  What a goofy story.

I remember back to the day when I read my book on how to meet girls.  The book suggested to learn to dance, learn to cook, or learn to talk to girls.  I chose dance.  Ted learned how to talk to girls.  I have yet to meet the guy who took the cooking route, but  the point is that Ted was never shy when it came to women.  

So one reason I never learn about weddings is like with Alan and Christine or Ted and Mary, the SSQQ connection isn't strong enough for them to bother.  In Ted's case, I just happened to know the guy from the Jewish Community Center.  That's the only reason I found out about his story.  And in Alan and Christine's case, I heard it thru the Grapevine.  Someone turned them in!!

And then in M&M Gayle's case, she just happened to notice my Halloween story and thoughtfully dropped me an email.

The 3 stories I wrote about are just the tip of the iceberg. Just the smallest thread kept each one of them from total anonymity.  Surely there are other chance-meeting stories out there I simply don't know about it.    I believe the numbers are under-reported.


"Do any of these secret marriages ever resurface?"

"Many couples are gone permanently.  Whether I ever learn about them or not is usually a function of how much time they put in at the studio before they made their getaway. 

In particular, a 'love at first sight' romance like Ted and Mary or Alan and Christine is usually the kind I never hear about since both couples were virtual newcomers to the studio.

In the case of Alan and Christine, the Renaissance couple, just a random mention about the studio on the Internet was the only way I ever learned of them. Although I don't know the real facts, I don't think they would mind if I made some educated guesses about their story.  There was something about their web site writeup that gave me the impression they had a whirlwind romance.

This is not a bad thing, mind you.  I think it is perfectly okay to fall in love quickly.  My point is that in the case of an immediate attraction, it is far more likely for the couple to make a quick exit from the studio.

I am guessing they met fairly soon after they began to take lessons, maybe Beginning Swing class or perhaps Intermediate.  I am guessing they began to date seriously right from the start.  At this point the dance lessons quickly lost their importance so they didn't come back. This means the love of dancing never had time to really settle in nor give them time to develop any sentimental attachment to the studio. 

Since it is unlikely a couple that didn't stick around very long will ever return, I will probably never know a thing.  

On the other hand, people come out of the woodwork all the time to report weddings I had no inkling about.  It all depends on how much they enjoyed the studio while they were here.   Here is how it works.

A couple really enjoy their dance lessons, but at some point put the lessons aside when they meet because their priorities change.  They leave the studio so quietly we don't know they are gone and continue their courtship outside the studio.  Down the road, one thing leads to another and they eventually get married and get on with the next chapter in their lives. The studio becomes a remote afterthought.  

As
time goes by, the couple notices a sentimental attachment to revisit the place where their romance first began to flourish. Many couples indeed return, especially for special events like the Halloween Party or the New Year's Eve Party, or to simply take a refresher dance class. 

And this is a good thing or else I would have no idea about their story!!

 
This scenario fits the story of Greg and Susan Broer, my dance couple from 1979. I am fairly sure they didn't stick around the studio too much longer after the Disco class I introduced them in ended. 

They left the dance scene and continued their courtship till they married the next year in 1980.  It just so happens they came back to the dance studio 26 years later and were kind enough to share their neat story with me. 

By the way, do the names of Don and Susan Brownlee ring a bell.  Greg and Susan told me these were two friends of theirs who also met at SSQQ at the time and went on to get married.  SSQQ Slow Dance and Romance has existed from the start of the studio.  I just wasn't paying close enough attention.

Another couple whose story is closely parallel to Greg and Susan's tale is Hart and Linda Brupbacher.  They dropped by the studio in November 2005 to take some more dance classes. 

I knew them because they had been in some of my advanced Whip classes at one point.  But I had a nagging feeling like I hadn't seen them for a while.

How long had it been?  That's when they laughed and said they hadn't been at the studio since 2002.  They explained they met at the studio and left to get married!  My mouth dropped open. I did not realize this. 

Wow! Another SSQQ couple appears out of nowhere!!! 

The next day I added their name to the list of 2002 SSQQ Weddings.  A couple months later they came to the studio to take another class. This time I was ready for them - 'Would you mind if I took your picture??'

They smiled and graciously consented.  What a great picture!

Furthermore the exact same thing happened with yet a third couple.  In August 2005 I was greeted by another smiling couple.  They introduced themselves as Mitchael and Brenda Page.  They informed me they had met at the studio and had gotten married in 2004.  This was news to me!!  

I thought to myself, 'Holy smokes, how many other couples are out there?'  

So I took a step back and took another look.  I recognized Brenda very well.  She was a great dancer who had taken many lessons in 2002 and 2003.  In fact she had made it as far as several Ghost Town and Death Valley Western classes.  The more I thought about it, I realized I had probably been her teacher for many of those classes which explained why I remembered her so well.

And I recognized Mitchael too.  He had taken quite a few Western classes himself, but I didn't recall the two in the same class because they had started a year apart. 

So I asked them how they had met.  They explained that they had met at SSQQ Practice Night where all the Western classes mix together.  Brenda dropped back so she could take one or two classes with Mitchael, but not long after, they dropped out of the studio scene as they grew more serious. 

They got married in April 2004.  The next week I brought my camera to snap their picture but didn't see them again.  I felt so aggravated to have missed that chance! 

They said they came back because they missed the place... a sentimental attachment. 

In the space of four months, I ran into three different couples who had met at the studio, then quietly dropped out of sight to pursue their pursue their romance.

Fortunately for me, all three couples decided to come back a couple years further down the road (or 26 years for Greg and Susan) and check back in.  That is how I came to understand that whether I eventually learn of the marriage or not usually depends on what stage of their SSQQ dance career the couple made their connection.

Based on Greg and Susan's story which dates back to 1979, my guess is this flying under the radar thing has been going on at SSQQ for thirty years.  I bet there is a whole iceberg of marriages out there I am completely clueless about. 


"
Is there any way you can track them down?" 

"No, not unless the Grapevine turns them in.  Heck, I can't even get the modern-era people to tell me what's going on!"
 

"What do you mean?" 

"You might be surprised to find out I took the time to track down six different weddings in preparation for this article!  Instead of sitting back and waiting for the news to filter in like I used to do, I actually started doing some detective work!!

For example, I heard through the grapevine that my friend Shirley G. had gotten married to her boyfriend Tim.  I knew they were engaged, but I had lost sight of them.  Does that sound familiar??  

Shirley is a terrific volleyball player. She had been a key part of my 2002  Mud Volleyball SSQQ Super Bowl team.  I first met Tim and Shirley on our 2003 Jubilee Cruise.  I saw them at the 2004 Halloween Party then again at the Feb 2005 Ezra Charles Swing Party.  But I had not seen them since.

But someone, I have forgotten who, said they thought Shirley was married. So I asked my friend Gary Richardson to ask her at Wild West.   Sure enough, I was right!   My Grapevine tip had paid off.

 

Then there was Jeff and Sally.  They had actually just begun dating when they went on the 2005 Alaska Cruise in July.  I knew they had a great time, but I had not seen them since the cruise.  Does that sound familiar??

Then one day in February 2006 a lady named Heidi took a private wedding dance lesson from my wife Marla.  Heidi mentioned that a co-worker named Jeff Gray had recently gotten married.  Heidi said Jeff was the reason she had heard of Marla because he had referred her.  

So Marla came back to the house and said, 'Guess what?  Jeff and Sally recently got married!'   As usual, I heard it through the grapevine.

 

Just one week ago, a lady named BK emailed me to ask if I had heard anything more about John and Becky.  I had announced their engagement in April 2005, but had not seen them since.  Does that sound familiar??

So I looked up their email address.  With that kind of time gap, I had to be careful. So I sent two different emails politely asking how they were doing.

I got a return email from John.  Before I opened the email, I crossed my fingers. It was good news!  They got married in January 2006. 

A smile crossed my face as I emailed back to tell them to send me a better picture or I would use their Halloween picture!  Obviously they weren't intimidated, so now I have to follow through on my blackmail threat.

 

Larry and Cathy Leising are a big exception to my 'Marriage is the Death of Dance' axiom.  One day in my January 2006 right in the middle of my Adv Western Swing class, I noticed a wedding ring on Cathy's finger as I danced with her.  Very pretty ring, I might add.  

Confused, I looked up at Cathy and asked her what the story was.  I had not even realized they were engaged!!  Which was stupid of me since they went on our recent Rita Rhapsody 2005 cruise as a married couple.  I don't know why I was so disconnected about their story. They were hiding in plain sight!

Cathy looked over at Larry and they both got a sheepish look on their face.

They said they had been married since July 2004, but hadn't gotten around to telling me. 

'Haven't gotten around to telling me!  You're taking my dance class for crying out loud!  How hard would it be to tell me?'

Larry and Cathy turned a couple shades of red and we all had a good laugh. 

They turned out to be pretty good sports after my discovery.  They sent me some nice details about their wedding plus several great pictures which I included in my Newsletter.

What makes Larry and Cathy an exception is that they have continued to take many dance lessons since their wedding, especially Ballroom Dancing.  Cathy mentioned they enjoy Ballroom Dancing on the cruises, so they want to continue to improve at their favorite hobby together.

I guess one difference is the stage of life people are at when they get married.  The younger you are, the more likely you are to move on to have kids or develop careers.   But a lot of 'Baby Boomers' have grown children and established careers.  In this situation, people enjoy either sticking around after the wedding or coming back to the studio a few months later. 

In Larry and Cathy's case, I am glad they did!  They are a very nice couple.

Larry and Cathy's story is very similar to what happened with another couple, Linda and Bill Malin. 

They have been engaged for quite a while.  When Bill and Linda took a cruise to Alaska with us last July 2005, I politely asked if they had set a date yet. Nope, not yet.  So when their close friends Eric and Michelle announced their engagement on the same trip, I teased Bill and Linda that Eric and Michelle would probably be married before they were.

Linda furrowed her brow and said that would not happen.  I took note of the look in her eye and filed it away. So when I saw them at the studio one night in November 2005, I asked if they were married yet.

'Yes,' Linda said, 'as a matter of fact, we got married last month.'

Bill, who was sitting next to Linda, just kind of rolled his eyes.  My guess is that Linda and Bill are a deeply private couple. 

No one enjoys being a number or a statistic, especially about something so deeply personal as a marriage.  I am sure that has something to do with some people's reluctance to let me know."


"Do you feel like you are invading their privacy?"

"Sometimes I do feel like that.  I have mixed feelings.  Part of the problem is that I don't know a lot of these people on a personal basis.  I am like a high school principal running a school with a thousand students.  It is difficult to know how people I barely know will react to my desire to share a very personal story with the larger community.

On the other hand, since people are obviously so slow to share their stories, I have decided I don't have any choice but to be more assertive about asking for details.  And it is a good thing I did or many of the many neat stories I have documented in my article would never have seen the light of day.

The vast majority say they don't mind if I tell the world.  It wasn't a priority for them, but when they realize I am genuinely happy for them, they surprise me by offering extra parts to the story I had no idea about.

I am glad I decided to take more chances.  So far the rewards have been marvelous!

For example, as I was writing this story, it dawned on me there was one very special couple I had not heard from in four months. 

In October 2005, Aubrey Smith had approached me about giving him and his fiancée Billye private Foxtrot lessons for their upcoming wedding dance.  They wanted to look the best they possibly could out on the floor. 

I knew they had gotten married over Thanksgiving Weekend the following month, but now it was February 2006 and I had not heard a word from them.  Does that sound familiar?

Finally one day I lost my patience and emailed to ask for a wedding picture. 

Boy, was I surprised!  Aubrey Smith sent me twelve stunning pictures of their dancing at the wedding.  His new bride Billye looked absolutely radiant as she danced in his arms!!

The pictures were so pretty that I actually started to cry.  I mean, who wouldn't be proud to help a couple as nice as these people shine at their wedding?   I was genuinely happy for them!

On the other hand, if I hadn't been nosy and pushed things along, the community would not have had this great story to read about their Cinderella Wedding.

But on the other hand, I emailed another couple for the same reason the same day and never heard back from them.

In conclusion, I win some, I lose some.  I will respect a couple's privacy if they ask me to. 

But nine out ten couples don't seem to mind at all.  Most of them said they were just busy getting on with things and contacting the studio hadn't really crossed their minds.  Some of them appreciated me checking in! 

My point is, unlike the old days where I didn't pay much attention, one reason our numbers have increased in the Modern Era is because these days I just say what the heck and go chase them down."


"How precise are you with your statistics?"

"What do you mean by that?"


 

"How do you define who is an 'SSQQ Wedding couple'?"

"Now that is a good question, Gertrude. 

Sometimes it is a judgment call.  Who gets to officially claim a wedding couple isn't always cut and dry. 

When it comes to SSQQ Marriages, quite frankly some marriages I count are a toss-up. 

When it came time to post Bryan Spivey and Lisa Palmer's 2005 engagement, that was easy. They have been a huge part of the studio for many years.

Another no-brainer in the opposite direction was Cyndy Richardson.  In 2005, my friends Gary and Betty Richardson watched proudly as their daughter Cyndy got married. 

I knew Cyndy well since she had taken several dance classes here and had come to several of our parties.

But since Cyndy and her fiancé Mike had neither met here nor taken any dance lessons here together, it would be wrong to add their name. 

Nevertheless, I printed the pictures and story of their wedding on my 2005 Wedding Page. 

Someone questioned why I had included their pictures on the SSQQ 2005 Wedding Page.  I explained to the person that I published their story in the Newsletter because I know how many people like Gary and his wife Betty.  Then I pointed out I did not include their names on my list of 2005 SSQQ Wedding Couples. 

So they calmed down. They thought I was inflating my statistics.

If a couple meets at SSQQ, they are still automatically an 'SSQQ couple' even if I never see them again.  Sort of like being born in the USA makes you a US Citizen. That's an easy one.

For example, take the case of Alan and Christine mentioned earlier in this article. They met at the studio taking Swing classes in 2000.  They quickly hit it off and the dance classes soon became a distant memory.

Their personal connection to SSQQ was fleeting, but as they said on their wedding web site, they met here at the studio.

They count.  Case closed.


Sometimes the claim is pretty strong while at other times the claim is debatable.  Take for example the story of John Otts and Cynthia Hall.  They did not meet at SSQQ nor did they ever take a dance class from us... on shore.  But they did take a dance class at sea!

I first met John and Cynthia on our 2005 Rhapsody cruise.  Unfortunately that cruise was shortened by Hurricane Rita down to three days.  There were a lot of new people on that trip, so I barely learned their names before the trip was over.  I had wanted to ask them how they heard about the trip since they were not dance students, but I really never got the chance to talk to them.

I was pleased when I saw they were coming on the 2006 cruise as well.  When I saw John and Cynthia, they were beaming.  They were going to get married on the cruise, but decided it would be too complicated. Instead they had just gotten married a couple days ago so they could celebrate their honeymoon on the 2006 SSQQ Rhapsody Cruise. 

In this case, the studio can only take partial credit.  But they are so happy in this picture taken on the cruise, how can I bear not to claim them?

Like John and Cynthia's story, the quibbling starts when a couple meets elsewhere, but participates a great deal at SSQQ during their courtship.  I freely admit I 'adopt' couples. I tell them they belong to SSQQ!   Our next story is a perfect example.

This lovely couple is  Jason Kapplinger and Tammy Kidwiler.   Their wedding is in April 2007. 

-----Original Message-----
From: Tamara Kidwiler
Sent: Monday, March 05, 2007 6:36 AM
To: dance@ssqq.com
Subject: engagement

Rick, Jason and I met at Tumbleweed Texas dancing on April 2, 2005!!  Jason had already taken dance lessons. He impressed me from the first night I met him. As a pilot, he was soon to be leaving for training in Salt Lake City. I was still in physician assistant school and studying a tremendous amount.

We knew that we had found someone special and made time for each other!

Our love continued to grow through deaths in the family, Jason's move to Chicago with Skywest airline, PA graduation, a vacation to Jason's grandparents' farm in South Dakota, and then our engagement in Prague, Czech Republic.

I am 50% Czechoslovakian, and I had always wanted to trace back my heritage. We had planned a trip there in April 2006. Jason surprised me by a romantic proposal on Charles Bridge!! The country was beautiful and we highly recommend this vacation site to everyone.

During our engagement, Jason and I began taking dance lessons. I was taught by my father to dance at an early age, but never professional dance. Our experience at SSQQ has been terrific! Our wedding is planned for April 21, 2007 and since it is fast approaching, many details are awaiting completion. We are taking a break from dance lessons for now.

We will be back soon-- we promise!

I first met Jason in the Fall of 2004 in one of the Western classes I taught.  I remember Jason for two reasons - he was easily the best male dancer in the class and he was also unusually quiet.  Due to his quiet nature, I did not know him very well.

Then in the Summer of 2006, Jason showed up in one of my classes with Tammy.  I could not help but think what a perfect couple they made together!  Plus they were perfectly matched - Tammy was quiet too!

And then they disappeared for a while only to return a few months later in my Western Waltz class in January 2007.  One night in February, as I was dancing with Tammy, an odd thought crossed my mind - What a lovely woman! Jason should ask her to marry him! 

It is none of my business to interfere with something this important, so I kept my mouth shut.  However the next week, my assistant told me how happy she was to learn that Jason and Tammy were taking the Waltz class to prepare for their wedding dance.  As I recalled my thought from the previous week, my mouth dropped open.  Why was I always the last person to find out?

So as I danced with Tammy that night, I told her how pleased I was at the good news.  I said I had just found out.  So Tammy lifted her right hand and showed me her lovely ring.  She had been wearing it for the past seven weeks during dance class. 

Duh.  I am so stupid sometimes, but at least I mean well.

Okay, now you know the facts.  Do I have the right to count Jason and Tammy as an SSQQ couple? 

I say yes.  Although Jason did not meet Tammy at the studio, he definitely learned to dance here.  Then he met Tammy through dancing - Tammy made a point that Jason used his dance skills to impress her.  And, after they met, Jason and Tammy made the dance studio part of their courtship.  So I think the studio should be given some credit.

That said, I admit that in situations like this, another institution might also have a legitimate claim as well.  The Texas Tumbleweed has a good claim as well.  In that case, I will be happy to share credit just like football players share 'quarterback sacks' or hockey players share assists. 

You have my word that for every couple on our list, SSQQ can claim either complete credit or partial credit.  In fact, sometimes the studio actually deserves more credit than I realize!

The biggest problem is that I usually don't know the details of people's courtships.  So for the purposes of this article, I actually chased down a couple of 'suspicious couples' and asked them some direct questions.

Risa Pippen and George Keiller are a neat couple. They have taken many classes plus they went on the 2005 Alaska Cruise and the 2006 New England Cruise.  The other day I wondered if Risa and George met at SSQQ.  So I decided to be nosy and email them to ask them how they met.

"Risa and I met doing Scottish Country Dancing.  However, SCD is not real prevalent, and early in our courtship we decided to take some dance lessons at SSQQ.  I believe we started with a Swing class and then went on take almost everything!

The studio has been big in our relationship and it certainly helped it to develop into the love we share.  It also helped us develop skills (however small) so we could share this common interest some more. I proposed to Risa on a dance floor - a very upscale Ballroom in Mexico. 

No question though, you've had a good effect on a lot of people!   George"

I have never added George and Risa's marriage to the SSQQ Wedding List, but you know what, now that I know more about their story, I would be honored to list them as an official SSQQ Wedding.  I think George is hinting we have a claim to partial credit, don't you?   The next time I see them, I will ask permission!

Joel McCleskey and Ruth Schaubarger first took our 'Two Left Feet' class together in the summer of 2002.  Both of them eventually ended up in my Western classes and Whip classes.  Ruth was an excellent dancer while Joel was unbelievably gifted.  I went to the trouble of telling my friend Anita just how good I thought Joel was.  Acting on my suggestion, Anita recruited him to compete with her in Country-Western Pro-Am competitions.

Joel is now a three-time World UCDWC Dance Champion.  He married Ruth in January 2005, just a couple days after he won the first Championship. 

Even though they did not meet SSQQ, I claim them as an official SSQQ Wedding couple.  They were a big part of this studio for 3 years before they got married and no one else can have them!

 

Wil Uecker and Karen Fess have been taking dance classes together practically non-stop for a year now.  When I decided to check, I was astonished to see that Wil had taken over 20 classes in less than a year.

Holy Cow!  It might be time to give this guy a free class, what do you think??

Then I took at Karen's list. She is close to 40 classes. Wow!  Karen started in 2004, Wil in 2005.  They have clearly put in their floor time!

When they announced their engagement in February 2006, I had assumed they had met in an SSQQ dance class.  So I asked which class they met in.

That is when they told me they met through match.com.  I stared at them blankly.  I could have sworn that SSQQ had brought them together.

Karen broke the ice by saying that after they met on the Internet, she had suggested to Wil that they take dance classes together.  Wil enjoyed the classes so much that he told Karen he would like to continue. SSQQ became a big part of their courtship.

So I said, 'match.com or not, You belong to SSQQ!  You are on the list!'

Karen grinned at me.  Then she replied, 'We don't mind being on the list. Otherwise we wouldn't have told you.  The fact of the matter is our fun at learning to dance together and taking classes together has brought us much closer.'

Karen narrowly missed a big hug.  Wil might shudder to know he was at risk too.  I am sure when I offer them that free class maybe they will forget all about match.com even more.  What do you think? 

As I interviewed several couples for this story, I learned there are many couples who met elsewhere that have used the studio as a big part of their courtship. One woman offered to share her story with me, but only on condition that I kept her name anonymous. 

I said of course I would respect her wishes, so she happily spilled the beans.

This lady said she went out dancing with a group from SSQQ.  During the evening, she spotted an interesting man sitting at the bar.  So she went over to talk to him and, in her words, picked him up.  So in this sense, SSQQ indirectly assisted her man hunt.

After they started dating, she insisted he come over to SSQQ to take dance lessons.  If he didn't know how to dance or try to learn, she said she would dump him on the spot.  She said their experiences taking lessons together was one the things that sold her on this guy.

In her words, 'I used the studio  to seal the deal'.  Then she added with a smile, as far as she was concerned, I can add her marriage to the list anytime I want to.  She blew a kiss at me, then went and grabbed her honey.  True story.  And that's where I will leave it." 


In our next Chapter, we discuss the powerful effects that the SSQQ Cruise Trips have had on SSQQ Romance.

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