SLOW DANCE AND ROMANCE!
2009 Important Moments
14. Adam Lathrop and Ren'ee Landry
13. Keith Patterson and Penny
12. Bob Wray
and Andrea Vaughan
11. Larry Parker and Donna
10. Gary Catalan and Dina
09. mystery couple who met on
the 2008 SSQQ Caribbean Cruise
08. Doug Gephart and Loni
07. Guy Hoover and Patty
06. Jack Benard and Jackie
05. Joe Wiggins and Peg Leland
04. Gerry Frances and Amy Adams
03. Gus Donnell and Fran
Luis Castillo and Olga Bochareva
01. Leo Skiba and
05. Bob Graham and Ana Torres
04. Conor O'Muirgheasa and
03. Adam Lathrop and
02. Doug Gephart and Loni Lewellyn
Valentine's Day - February
01. Richard Greason and Toni Maciel
January 2009 (New Year's
Toni Maciel and
Ana Torres and Bob Graham
and Renee' Landry
Cristina Lozano and Conor
Wedding Pictures and Stories
written by Rick Archer
Keith Patterson and Penny Gunderson
Dear Rick and Marla,
Penny Gunderson and I were recently married on Saturday, October the
10th, a date that will forever be etched into our minds as
We had met in the fall of 2005 at SSQQ, but didn't know each other
very well, except in dance classes and Tuesday nights at Wild West,
until one Saturday in late February, we took separate cars, and met
in Galveston on The Strand at the Mardi
Gras. A great live band was playing on one of the town squares
(little did we know they would end up entertaining our guests at our
wedding). A cold front had blown thru that night, and it was
bitterly cold; we found a vendor who sold Fosters beer across the
street, and a couple of those numbed the pain.
After that weekend, we started dating, and found out we
enjoyed many of the same things. We went to baseball and football
games, went to Summerfest in Milwaukee, to Wrigley Field in Chicago,
to rock concerts, on Caribbean cruises (Penny contracted a case of
Killer Pneumonia earlier this year, which caused us to re-schedule
this year's cruise), on Hill Country Road Trips, to Dallas, San
Antonio, Fort Worth, and we also danced a lot, practically
everywhere we went. In addition to
our old friends, we also picked up a lot of new friends along the
way, many of whom are SSQQ alumni.
Sometime in 2008, we wanted to get married, but decided to
wait until October of this year to have a wedding. We thought about
how we wanted to get hitched, and figured, What The Hell, let's
throw all the traditions out the window, and have a kick-ass party,
with a short ceremony. Somehow, it morphed into a Groovy 60's
Wedding, so for over a year we embarked on a quest to have
the grooviest party ever.
To our friends who were not there, we have to apologize,
because the facility was simply not large enough to accommodate
everyone we would have liked to have been there (our wedding guests
can probably attest to that, we had to cram them in like sardines,
in order to set aside room for a dance floor).
Our Groovy 60's Wedding was held at 5:55 pm on 10/10/09 at
the historic Houston Heights Fire Station on Yale and 12th Street.
People asked us "why 5:55?", and we had to answer, "why not?".
Our guests have been nice enough to tell us that they thought
it was the best wedding ever, and we are still thrilled they all had
a good time.
Everyone got in the mood at 5:55, downstairs, signing our
"Guest Book" (an old acoustical guitar), eating Bugles, Shoestring
Potatoes and Chex Mix, sipping refreshments, and watching a 60's
music video on our movie screen, that we had prepared just for that
night. We heard later that they were singing along to the tunes; far
After that, they made their way upstairs, for our Ceremony
(officiated by our Minister, Noel
Townsend, an SSQQ alumnus), followed by
dinner, with 60's music playing in the background.
Besides Noel, SSQQ alumni in attendance were: Keith and Betty Baker,
Tom Huddleston and Bette Polishak, Kit Carney, Elizabeth Arrazate,
Randy Piniola and Steffany Cunningham, Gus Donnell and Fran Zandstra,
Sheryl Marquez, Cristina Lozano,
Ed Anderson, Tina (Greer) Robert, plus Donald and Jean Taylor.
For the rest of the evening, The Fab 5 provided classic live
60's music (Beatles, Stones, Kinks, Procul Harum, etc.). They played
"Love Is All Around" by The Troggs, for our special
Wedding Dance. Later, we had a 60's Trivia Contest; we had over 20
groovy Door Prizes that we gave away according to which "place mat"
(the place mats were 60's vinyl album covers) was in front of the
winners; we had 6 different trophies for Best 60's Costumes. The
band was bitchin', the dance floor was hoppin', the drinks were
flowin', and well…you gotta see the pictures.
Afterwards, it took Penny and I days to unwind, we were so
wound up with our Wedding and all the
preparations. Thanks to a small army of volunteers, we had plenty of
help before, during, and after the wedding.
Eventually, we plan to make a display, showing what we wore
We plan to take a honeymoon sometime next year, when both of
our jobs afford us a better opportunity
than right now.
Suffice to say, if not for SSQQ, chances are slim to none that Penny
and I would have ever met each other.
Larry Parker and Donna Baker
From: Anita Williams
Sent: Tuesday, October 06, 2009 10:33 PM
Subject: SSQQ wedding couple larry parker donna baker
About four years ago I referred my co-worker Donna Baker to SSQQ.
met Larry Parker in a two-step class. They
were pretty much inseparable one they met. They were married September
18 in New Orleans. I think Larry took
pictures for you at one of your Halloween parties (or maybe it was a
Rick Archer's Note:
I know Larry and Donna very well.
And I remember their romance exactly the way Anita describes it.
For four solid years, Larry and Donna took every dance class under
the sun - and they were rarely more than five feet apart.
Larry is a professional
photographer and a good one too. I ran into him by accident
when he took the wedding pictures at Bryan and Lisa Spivey's wedding
in 2007. Throughout the Wedding Reception, Larry was always
working. I never saw him take a break once.
I don't think Larry has
ever taken the SSQQ Halloween photos, but I believe he took the
pictures at our fun
2005 Two Tons of
Steel Dance Party. If you are a Two Tons fan, you will enjoy
seeing these pictures of your heroes.
I was unable to find a
picture of Larry and Donna together at the Two Tons Party, but I did
find two suspicious pictures of Donna and Larry in separate pictures
with the same attractive young lady.
I do not know for sure, but I am guessing the young lady is Donna's
The lack of a photo with
Larry and Donna together indicates to me that Larry was unable to
take the pictures and be in the pictures at the same time. I
am guessing Donna took the other picture.
Surely one of these days someone will develop a camera to solve that
I haven't seen Larry or
Donna in well over a year. As always, I assume that as their
relationship deepened, their priorities changed and dance moved into
How many times have you
heard me say that before? No matter. I just miss them.
The important thing is
that the old SSQQ Slow Dance and Romance Magic is definitely alive
and well where this attractive couple is concerned. I am very
happy for both!
And I am also glad that
my friend Anita Williams took the time to send me the pictures and
the update on this wonderful story.
I am sure that Anita
enjoys playing Cupid just as much as I do!
2009 - Gary Catalan and Dina Burton
Rick Archer's Note: Gary and Dina were
married on August 17, 2009. They spent their honeymoon
on the SSQQ Dance Cruise that began the following Sunday.
Here is the story I originally wrote for the
2009 Cruise Recap:
Our second honeymoon couple played
a game of 'I've got a secret'
with me. On
Monday morning at breakfast, Gary Catalan and Dina Burton
announced to me that they had gotten married one week
Prior to the trip, I had noticed that
both were smiling more than the average guy. I assumed
Gary and Dina were smiling at the studio because
they were happy, but now I
know their grins concealed their big secret. Both Gary and Dina
are well aware how seriously I take "SSQQ Wedding Couples".
I think they were looking forward to their chance to spill
the beans and surprise me. Well, it worked! I started to
smile from ear to ear at the news. I was completely taken
That said, this news didn't totally bowl me over. In fact,
it gave me the chance to figure out what I had been feeling
for some time. I had been noticing for several months just
how much both of them always seemed to be grinning when I
would see them at the studio. Most people seem glad to see
me at the studio, but Gary and Dina seemed unusually happy
to see and I couldn't figure out why. Now I had the
explanation that allowed me to make sense of the special
rapport I had been observing for some time.
What I did not expect, however, is when they said they had
met at my dance studio. This was something I didn't know. I
first met Gary and Dina in a West Coast Swing class. They
showed up as a couple. I assumed they had met elsewhere and
were coming to the studio to learn WCS. What I did not know
is that they had originally met in a Salsa class. After
class, along with a group of friends they would go out
dancing. Over the next several months, the size of their
group dwindled slowly but surely, but Gary and Dina would go
dancing anyway. The group was no longer necessary - Gary and
Dina had connected. I have heard SSQQ Romance stories
EXACTLY like this so many times before, but I can assure you
I still get goose bumps when I learn what an important
contribution the studio can make to people's lives. I was
very touched by Gary and Dina's story.
I noticed this couple from the very start. Gary is an
accomplished Argentine Tango dancer (in fact, his Tango
teachers Martin and Natia Palaez accompanied Gary and Dina
on this year's cruise!) I don't think Dina knew much
Argentine, so Gary set about teaching her. Even though they
were at the studio on Sunday nights to learn Swing, whenever
the opportunity came along they would practice Tango. During
Breaks and Practice nights, I would see Gary working with
Dina on her Ochos and leg whips. Argentine Tango has a neat
look about it… as Gary would stand still, I enjoyed watching
Dina wrap her legs around him. I have a hunch Gary liked it
too. Gary and Dina looked really good together, so I went
out of my way to praise them. They deserved the praise,
2009 - Doug Gephart and Loni Lewellyn
Sent: Monday, August 10, 2009 8:10 PM
To: Rick Archer
Subject: Wedding announcement
Well, Doug and I made it official!
We exchanged vows Saturday, August 1st, 2009
at the home of his parents, James and Betsey Gephart,
in Moline, Illinois,
We were joined in our
Wedding Celebration by Doug's
parents, as well as his brothers
and sisters, niece and nephew, his aunt
and close friends. When I get a chance, I
will send some more wedding pictures.
Doug's family was especially kind to me. I felt very special
to be so welcome in their home. It was a very wonderful
Picture of Loni and Doug on the 2008 SSQQ Greece Cruise
Both Loni and Doug have
been important members in the SSQQ Community about as far back as my
memory goes. I am certain that Doug began taking lessons here
before 2001 and my hunch is that Loni goes back just as far.
Loni has been on the SSQQ Staff as Daryl Armstrong's assistant for
as long as I can remember. I doubt seriously his class would
be even remotely popular without his vivacious brown-eyed assistant.
I can now reveal that I was hoping that Loni and Doug would announce
their engagement on the 2008 Greece Cruise. Throughout the
trip I have never seen two people happier together.
Fortunately I didn't have long to wait... on Valentine's Day, 2009,
Doug took his sweetheart Loni on a dinner cruise out into Galveston
The Colonel Paddlewheel Boat is an authentic replica of an
1800-style Paddlewheeler that sails from Moody Gardens down in
Galveston. This 800-passenger paddlewheel boat takes guests on
year-round hour-long cruises in Offatts Bayou. The boat features a
large dance floor.
So Doug invited Loni out
on the dance floor on Valentine's Day. He was handed the
microphone, he got down on one knee... and right in the middle of
the floor Doug popped the question!
It was good that Doug was on one knee. Doug is pretty tall and
Loni is pretty... and pretty short... so for a change Doug and Loni
were eye to eye when she gushed with joy and said 'Yes!'
I tease Loni all the time about being short. Doug is so tall
that to get a good close-up picture I have to digitally lift Loni's
pretty face about a foot higher. Compare the two pictures to
see what I mean.
I don't mind letting anyone know that I have had a soft spot in my
heart for this lovely woman for a long time. Even though Loni
is Cuban by origin, I always pretend she is Scottish so I can call
her my "Bonnie Loni". This is a lady with a heart of
gold, so it make me happy to see Loni find such a wonderful guy to
settle down with.
Congratulations to Doug and Loni!
June 2009 - Guy Hoover and Patty Pennington
Rick, we finally did it! On Sunday,
June 14th, Guy Thomas Hoover and I were married
on Po'olenalena Beach in Maui.
your request, I have added some of the details of our courtship and
How We Almost Met
Kernersville, NC 1991-92
I lived in Kernersville, NC in 1991-92 and worked in
Winston-Salem. During the same time period, Hoover was living 8.7
miles from me and working at the Greensboro airport. Now
Kernersville is not a large metropolis, U.S. census figures indicate
a population of 17,126 in 2000.
hmm... maybe we passed each other on the road or stood in
line together at the Food Lion. For whatever reason, maybe the
timing wasn't right, our paths didn't cross until 10 years later
after we individually moved to Houston and felt the need to dance.
How We Finally Did Meet in
Dancing Machines - 1st Night in Beginning Two Step
In late 2002, my girlfriends Molly and Kim convinced me to take
dancing classes with them at SSQQ. They wanted to take Two-Step.
Country music -ick!! I didn't like country music but wanted to dance
so I went along with the plan. The first night of class I sized up
the potential partners. One in particular caught my eye. There was
something about him. As a rule, we switch partners during the class.
When it came time to dance with 'Hoover' as his name tag read, we
had a go at the dance steps and he finished by giving me a wink and
a grin before moving on to the next partner. A wink!! How crass. I
re-call expressing my dismay over the neantherthalic display to
Molly and Kim after class.
"Of all the nerve - he winked at me. hhuummppp".
But secretly, I liked the attention. Those
cavemen get all the girls.
Our Country-Western classes spanned four months. February is
rodeo-time in Houston and everyone is a cowboy or cowgirl at least
for a day. I had confided to Kim that I was interested in Hoover and
she arranged for Hoover, Molly and I to go to the Rodeo dance on the
same entry ticket.
Soon thereafter, Hoover, Molly and I began hanging out on a regular
basis. Hoover was in heaven - escorting not one, but two, lovely
ladies about town.
Not long thereafter, Hoover and I began dating on our own, freeing
up Molly to meet Alan Wilson, her fiancé, 6 months later.
On Sunday, June 14th, Guy Thomas Hoover and
I tied the knot on Po'olenalena Beach in Maui. We had 14 guests at
Hoover and I arrived in Maui on the Pride of America -
the same cruise Kim Runge and I went on
back in May 2007.
To begin the ceremony, orchid leis were presented by Hoover and I to
each guest. Don't they look stunning in their Hawaiian best!
Pastor Bob read 'Blessings for a Marriage' and officiated the
exchange of vows.
After the vow exchange and prayer I presented Hoover a his groom's
Pastor Bob offered a Hawaiian blessing to conclude the ceremony.
Then there was kissing.
After the ceremony the wedding party had dinner a nearby restaurant.
A few minutes after we were seated, we witnessed the most beautiful
sunset I've ever seen.
After the ceremony we had a dinner for all the guests, but no music
for dancing. I felt quite incomplete.
So when we got back to the ship we changed into our dancing shoes
and went to the Mardi Gras Lounge. It was
Sock Hop night
aboard the ship! Perfect!
When we arrived they were judging the Elvis competition. At the
conclusion of the Elvis judging we got to dance our first dance to
the Elvis classic "Can't Help Falling in Love With You".
Since we were still in our wedding duds the whole place knew we had
just got married and we were congratulated by all.
Then the band fired up a swing song and we strutted our stuff center
stage. Needless to say, everyone watching
was very complimentary. The end to a perfect day.
This was way too much fun!
Planning a destination wedding can be a bit harrowing, but the end
result was well worth the trouble.
Aloha! Patty P. (aka Mrs. Hoover)
Hey Rick, thanks
again for your kind remarks. Since
you asked for elaboration, I’m sending you portions of our
Patty Pennington and Guy Hoover
Maid of Honor Molly Wright and Best Man AJ
Runge and Kenny Hainline
June 2009 - Jack
Benard and Jackie Chang
Jack and Jackie were
married on Saturday, June 27, with a hundred people in attendance.
They had an elaborate reception immediately afterwards. Then
for good measure, they threw a party for 300 people later that same
night as well.
Jack and Jackie announced their engagement back in November 2007.
However, before they could get married, they had a hurdle of sorts
to clear. In the summer of 2008, Jack and Jackie took a
lengthy trip to Malaysia so Jack could get permission from Jackie's
brother - the head of the family - to officially marry his sister.
Apparently Jack passed with flying colors (as you can see, he is
quite colorful). This allowed Jackie to begin plans for their
When wedding pictures become available, I think we can finally
replace this wonderful shot from the 2007 Halloween Party.
May 2009 - Joe Wiggins and Peg Leland
From: Peg and Joe
Sent: Monday, May 25, 2009 1:21 PM
Subject: One More for the Tally
Hello Rick, We just wanted to email
you so you could add one more to this year's SSQQ matrimonial tally.
Joe and I met at SSQQ May 18, 2008 at one of your beginning two-step
classes. I was there to learn to dance. Joe says he was there to
meet some good women. Joe never could learn to polka and only lasted
the one class.
I went on to take 3 or 4 more classes.
We were married last Saturday, May 16, 2009, just a day or two short
of a year from our first dance. I am hoping that I can now talk Joe
into a few more classes! Needless, to say, SSQQ will always be a
special place for us.
Sincerely, Peg Leland Wiggins
and Joe Wiggins
March 2009 - Gus Donnell and Fran Zandstra
As promised, I am attaching a few pictures from our wedding &
reception. We were married on March 21.
As you will from the pictures, SSQQ was well-represented indeed.
I think you have a general understanding of how Fran and I met, but
let me fill you in a bit. Our connection is definitely through SSQQ,
but not that we met while taking classes. Fran started taking dance
lessons at SSQQ in 2004 and I started in 2006. Now here's the tricky
part, Fran and I have different stories about how we met. Fran
claims we met at a Sunday school picnic on Memorial Day weekend
2006, and I claim we met dancing at Wild West in June 2006.
And as is often the case the
truth is somewhere in between. We did meet at the Sunday school
picnic, but I do not remember the meeting (we were with different
dates). So.... there's the conundrum. If I don't remember, then did
we really meet? My first recollection is dancing at WIld West
sometime in June. Therefore, I always tell people ..."we met the old
fashioned way, at a bar"! And Fran tells the story of our first
meeting at a church picnic. Frankly, I think my story has a little
more sizzle (and hers has a little more steak).
We met up and danced a several times during June-Aug at Wild West,
and we dated a few of times in July and August, but still we were
not dating exclusively. Then we signed up separately for the 2006
SSQQ Phapsody Reloaded Cruise and the rest is history. As one of my
SSQQ dance class friends said upon my return to class after the
cruise, "You fell in love on the cruise!", and she was right. Fran
and I have had many wonderful times dancing at Wild West, taking
classes at SSQQ, and attending the SSQQ parties whenever possible.
Our wedding and reception was an East meets West event. Fran had 5
brothers & sisters fly in from California and I had 3 brothers &
sisters fly in from New Jersey. In addition, we had a large
contingent of SSQQ dancers at the wedding/reception. As usual, their
dancing was admired by everyone and they became a major source of
entertainment and fun at our reception.
Finally, I'd like to give a
special mention to Steve Gabino & Caitlin Prescott (from SSQQ).
Finally, Fran and I both want
to thank you for helping us get ready for our
wedding dance, the Western Waltz. We used the CD which you provided
and the dance went off almost flawlessly.
Caitlin was our wedding day Reception Manager. She made sure
everything ran smoothly and she did an absolutely wonderful job. She
was there when the first supplier arrived and she locked the doors
after the last vendor left. And in between she managed the setup,
handled whatever issues & decisions arose, and finally managed the
tear-down. This allowed us to focus completely on our guests.
Steve Gabino was our wedding/reception photographer and as I'm sure
you know, his photography skills are superb. He has a keen artistic
eye and gave us many memorable shots. In fact, he took the attached
pictures. I have included several pictures of some of the SSQQ dance
folks. One in particular of Steve and his beautiful girlfriend,
Of course, you will see both Fran and me around the SSQQ studio in
the future. We love dancing and will continue to take classes,
because that muscle memory needs refreshing, you know, especially
for me. See ya soon,
Gus Donnell & Fran Zandstra
March 2009 - Gerry Frances and Amy Adams
Gerry Frances and Amy Adams
were married on Saturday, March 28, 2009. They had both the wedding
ceremony and the reception at the Tin Hall Dance Hall out in
There were at least 60 guests from SSQQ, possibly more. I wish
I had pictures to post, but my camera ran out of juice after two
pictures. So I borrowed a camera and took lots of wonderful
pictures of the guests, the bride and groom, and all the great
dancing... except that the owner of the camera then left town for
Iraq. Oh well.
I can report the guests
had a marvelous time. Tin Hall has an enormous dance floor and
we filled it up with plenty of Twosteps, Waltzes, and Swings.
The non-dancing guests watched in awe as our group showed off.
Gerry and Amy danced a wonderful Waltz to Anne Murray's "Could I
Have This Dance (for the Rest of My Life)?" It was obvious
that Gerry had practiced quite a bit. They looked wonderful.
Gerry has been Marla Archer's Swing assistant for many years.
In addition he serves as a Hall Monitor once a week. Gerry has
been so helpful to SSQQ for a long time.
It makes me smile to see such a neat guy find such a neat gal.
January 2009 - Leo Skiba and Rebecca Koch
Sent: Thursday, January 22, 2009 10:12 AM
Subject: Taking a class
I'm going to make my bi-annual appearance at the studio to
take Beginning Twostep or Beginning western swing. A few friends of
mine wanted to take the class and I said I'd take it with them.
I think Rebecca will come along as well.
On a separate
note, Rebecca and I got married a couple weeks ago on a ski trip on
top of Sunlight Mountain, Colorado.
Rick Archer's Note:
I am very
happy for this lovely couple.
Leo played a major role
at SSQQ in the first of the 2000s. He started taking classes
in 2000. Leo was not only a natural dancer, he practiced all
the time. As a result, Leo became a great dancer. He was
also really good about dancing with the beginners. I was so
impressed that I actually hired him to come on our 2001 cruise as a
'dance host'. Leo was a great addition to the trip.
Pretty soon after the 2001 Vera Cruz Trip, Leo became a Western
Volunteer. Soon after that he joined his friend Wil as an
Assistant Instructor. Leo was promoted to instructor in
In early 2005, during Western Practice Night Leo met a pretty
brunette named Rebecca. Leo became a different person
overnight. Whereas he once danced with every girl in the room
all night long, Leo lost complete interest in the group. The reason
was obvious - Leo had fallen in love!
I watched their romance develop with a sense of doom. I had a
hunch that Leo's loss of interest in dancing would cost me an
instructor. After all, Leo had gotten his job in the first
place when his good friend Wil had gotten married and resigned as an
SSQQ instructor. Sure enough, not long after he and Rebecca
completed their 2005 Rhapsody Cruise, Leo did indeed resign to move
on to the next stage of his life.
So now three years later we have the final piece of the puzzle.
Leo and Rebecca have taken their commitment to marriage. When
I saw them again in February 2009, they didn't seem like Newlyweds
but rather people who been married for a long time. They were
If you are interested, I wrote a long story about Leo's time here at
SSQQ in my Matchmaker Saga. After all, Leo's
interest in dancing paid great dividends - he met his wife here!
Story about Leo
January 2009 - Luis Castillo and Olga Bochareva
Rick Archer's Note:
SSQQ Staff members Luis Castillo and
Olga Bochareva were married on Saturday, February 28.
Luis has taught Cumbia for here at
SSQQ for at least five years now, possibly more.
The lovely Olga has been a Salsa
assistant for nearly as long.
Linda Cook sent me
the two wedding pictures. Linda added that Olga and
Luis had a wonderful wedding and reception with lots of
dancing thanks to their Salsa friends! Olga's parents
flew in all the way from Russia for the ceremony. Olga
and Luis then left town for their honeymoon cruise.
I don't know either Olga or Luis very
well. I did a little sleuthing and discovered some pictures
suggesting that Luis and Olga have been an item at least as
far back as July 2006.
During the summer of 2006, Leisure
Learning wanted to do a Salsa cover. So we rounded up
a team of advanced Salsa dancers to model for the picture.
If you look closely at the group shot,
you will see Luis and Olga in the far back.
I happen to think Olga is very beautiful. As I study
the picture, I am still trying to figure out which moron let
Olga stay hidden in the back.
beautiful Olga is,
now how smart was that?