Story and Pictures by Rick Archer
Ballroom Club had a turnout of 75 people for our visit to the
Chandelier Ballroom on Saturday, August 6. When you
add the people who dropped by to visit from the other tables, that number
came close to 100. It was quite
began at 5 pm here at our house in the Heights.
help, I offered two
free "Review Classes" for the students in my
Sunday Ballroom class.
The idea was to
review the material from my August Ballroom classes to give
my students a fighting chance out on the dance floor later
in the evening.
seemed to be very well-received. The Beginners
class at 5 pm had 8 people and the Intermediate class at 6
pm had 25 people. I thought the group did well.
Laury and Brent.
They were one of the first couples to arrive.
enough, 25 people were able to dance all at the same time.
I had no idea my dance room of 450 square feet could hold
this many people.
I wanted to
teach these review classes for a couple of reasons. One of the
great disappointments of my dance career was my first night
of Ballroom Dancing at Melody Lane in 1975.
I have NEVER
been so set up for failure as I was that night. I
showed up hoping to impress a pretty girl in my class only to
discover I didn't have a clue what I was doing.
For starters, I
couldn't tell a Waltz from a Foxtrot, a Tango from a Cha
Cha. I couldn't remember which pattern went to which
dance and I couldn't remember the leads either.
instructor stole my girl. It was a crushing defeat.
can be very complicated. Based on my own
miseries of the past, I knew that a Review class might at
least give some of my students a fighting chance at the
Chandelier Ballroom later on, especially the guys.
I don't know how
much the class helped, but everyone seemed to enjoy the
class. We had a fun time.
Clark and Nancy,
Alan, Al (blue shirt), Lila and Dave hiding in the back,
Teresa pretty in pink, newlyweds Pattie and Rick in front,
Lynda and Jim all the way in the back, newlyweds Phyllis and
Larry in front of the window, Jill and Sam in back, Joan and
Ken in front, Mel and Al, Lynwood and Susan.
Where's Lolita? Where's Marla? We are
missing at least 5 people.
Tim and Penney
Yvonne from my
Chapelwood class & her friend
The Blue Danube mural at SPJST
Mike and Joyce Peters.
Our tables are just beginning to fill
Ray and Jan from my
was surprised that our group quickly filled up our three
tables. Since there were 3 more empty tables next to
our group, at 9 pm I went up to the front desk to get permission to
appropriate the empty tables for the deluge of guests. On the way back, I passed
this lavishly decorated table.
pretty lady was having a birthday party. The gentleman
was so nice to me, I asked if I could take a picture.
Later I discovered he too is a Ballroom instructor. I
believe his name is Carl Rentz. Carl teaches at the
Bellaire Recreation Center.
my way back to our tables, I stopped to take a couple
pictures of the people dancing. Right now the floor is
half full, but later in the evening there were many more
people out there. There were at least 30 tables, probably
Assuming most tables sat 12 people and there were no empty
tables, I guess the room holds 400 people. After our
SSQQ Ballroom Club contributed 75 extra people to the mix, I
would have to say we nearly maxed out their space.
Ballroom Dancing is more popular than I realized!
dance floor at the Chandelier Ballroom filled up quickly.
Someday I need to walk the floor and get the dimensions.
However I can safely say that this is the largest dance
floor in Houston that I know of. Very spacious.
pretty girl? Just before I
got back to our tables, look who I found out on the dance
Sam look terrific while dancing a Waltz.
Larry and Bette
hiding (she is in a witness protection program), Judy, Jim
and Lynda, Bill and Sharon, Pattie waving, Rick
standing, Sam sitting, Peggy and Marla.
Judy wore my
favorite dress of the evening. This picture doesn't do it
justice, but it is a good start.
Nick and Ann.
Ann wore a very pretty dress.
Nick is a
veteran of several of SSQQ dance cruises. Like many of
the men, his coat and tie disappeared early in the evening.
All I can say is Nick looked a lot more comfortable than I
Orchestra did a great job. One of the men in the band
came over and flirted with Kristy Fuzzball.
and Peggy Sue wore matching dresses. Aren't they
pretty together? That's Kristy boyfriend Joseph.
Joseph didn't seem to mind that Kristy flirted shamelessly
with the Boys in the Band. I admire a guy who is that
Bert and Edith
are longtime friends from the days of SSQQ-Bissonnet.
They were sitting at another table, but were thrilled to
come over and say hi to all their friends.
Mel (short for
Imelda) and Al (short for Al). Like Bert and Edith, Al
and Mel are also Filipino. I have a hunch that
Ballroom dancing is popular in the Philippines.
Newlyweds Bob and Ana Graham were sitting at another table.
However, once they noticed our group,
they came over several times to say hi to everyone. They
were very excited to see all their friends from the studio.
There were hugs and smooches everywhere!
deeply regret not remembering to take their picture because
Ana was stunning in her red dress. Ana was clearly the
alpha hussy in the room. Naturally Bob also had the
best red tie of the night, a fact he pointed out to me
that I think of it, I probably didn't take their picture out
Back at SSQQ-Bissonnet, these guys always drove me
crazy by wearing FORBIDDEN matching outfits.
Now at SSQQ-Jester, they have started doing the same thing.
It is such an obnoxious habit and I know they do it just to irritate me. And it works. They are both
rotten rotten rotten. I don't know why I like them.
Maybe I don't... but I do.
Here we see
Wayne, Mike, Trenton, and Karen. That is Lyn (short
for Lynwood) standing while talking to Mike.
doesn't completely capture the size of our group, but it
helps. Every table you see is ours. Plus the
table behind me as I take this picture is ours as well.
We started out
with three tables and ended up expanding to three other
empty tables. Since each table had 12 chairs, I
estimate the size of our group at 75 (the rest are out
In addition we
had well-wishers from other parts of the room like Bert and
Edith and Bob and Ana drop by all night long to say hello.
When you count all the SSQQ "Diaspora" as someone referred
to them (someone with a better vocabulary than me, I might
add), our extended family came close to 100.
and Jan again plus Susan to the right. I think they all
agree my tie is ugly. Ray and Jan
are currently taking my Rumba class over at Chapelwood
Methodist Church on Mondays. There were seven members of
that class who joined us for the evening.
Vivacious Ann and her handsome son Tyler. Like Ray and
Jan, Tyler and Ann are taking my Chapelwood Rumba class.
It was Ann's idea in the first place to put Chandelier on
the schedule for August. That turned out to be a great
Joan and Ken.
I liked Joan's tasteful dress a lot. Both Ken and Joan
have been polishing up on their dancing recently because Ken and Joan's only child
Rachel is getting married soon and they want to look good at
Ken is planning to dance
synchronized polka with his daughter Rachel at her wedding.
Rachel is a very good dancer.
From what I gather, the prospective son-in-law has forsaken
dance lessons for the big "First Dance", a fact that drives
Joan a little crazy. I am curious how that turns out.
Marla took a look at the pictures the next day. She
said, "Oh, look, I am smiling in that picture. Wow, I
am smiling in that picture too. Hey, I am smiling in
another picture. I must have had fun last night!"
It's pretty sad when you have to review the pictures to know
whether you had fun or not, but then Marla is different from
look, I am smiling too. Imagine that. Gee, I
must have fun too! Actually,
we both had fun. This was a great party.
I can't believe
I forgot to take Sharon and Bill's picture at the
Chandelier. Sharon probably isn't surprised. She
will tell you I am forgetting all kinds of things these
Sharon and Bill
were kind to host our dining event at Barnaby's. This
took place after our
Review dance class and before our trip to the
Chandelier. I hope to make this dining experience a
part of every Chandelier event.
Unfortunately at first
Barnaby's didn't have enough seats for our group.
However, they were able to accommodate the people by seating
them at different tables.
Marla and I were
hesitant to join due to the seating problem. The last
time Marla and I were late to the Chandelier, we found other
people had taken one of our tables. We were determined
not to let that happen again. Thank goodness Sharon and Bill
were there to pinch hit for us at the first
Bette and Larry.
They met at their law firm. I think at the time Bette and Larry
met, Sharon Shaw was working there as well.
Sharon got them ready to dance at their wedding.
inadvertently gave me my biggest squelch of the summer.
He and Bette took a private lesson from me one day.
Larry said he and Bette wanted to brush up on their dancing
a little to prepare for a cruise. I blurted out, "Oh,
you must be taking a cruise out of Galveston to Jamaica!"
"Uh no, not exactly. We are flying to Sydney,
Australia, for a South Pacific cruise that ends in
Talk about a
dream trip! I am fortunate a large bug didn't fly into
my gaping mouth. I know people are envious at times of
the trips Marla and I take, but we have never come close to
a WOW Trip like this one. I have been plagued with
envy ever since.
Back, Jack and Jo!
The hit of the
evening was the appearance of Jack and Jo Myers.
became mysteriously ill after our Bahamas cruise trip over
Labor Day 2010 with some sort of intestinal problem. For
the next year, Jack was in and out of the hospital.
one could figure out what was wrong with him. It took
almost a year, but one day Jack magically got better. Whatever
was ailing him just disappeared. Pretty strange
Jack's trip to
the Chandelier was the first time his friends had seen him
in all that time. I cannot completely describe the
constant flow of friends and well-wishers who flocked to his
table to greet him. They couldn't wait to tell Jack how
much they had missed him...and Jo too. It was very touching indeed.
Let me add Jack and Jo were
This was a happy evening indeed for both. They missed
their friends just as much as we missed them.
Chandelier Event was a powerful experience. There was
a veritable explosion of warmth and camaraderie.
I had many
impressions of the night, but my overriding sense was
just how happy everyone was to see one another.
definitely an "Auld Lang Syne" type of evening. There
were a lot of people who were excited to see old
acquaintances just as the song goes.
Ever since the
closing of SSQQ-Bissonnet, there has been a sense of
nostalgia for our old stomping ground. The Chandelier
of all places was the first decent opportunity since "The
Last Waltz" for this huge circle of friends to reconnect.
It was a joy to behold. The reunion energy was crackling all
To be honest, I
don't recall dancing very much. Just like everybody
else, I was too busy visiting. As one couple after another
came in, I couldn't wait to sit down and chat. I had
so much catching up to do!
In fact, I got so involved
in conversations that for a while there I forgot to take
pictures. I am so mad at myself for missing out on
Sharon and Bill's picture as well as Carl and Margaux, Larry
and Phyllis, Jim and Lynda, Mark and Lisa, Carl and Nancy...
and so on. The list of missing pictures is endless.
I am the worst
host ever. I didn't go to dinner with my friends, I
missed taking half their pictures, I didn't get around to
speaking with many of our guests and I barely danced with
anybody. But nobody seemed to care. Why not?
Because it was
such an amazing experience being around so much enthusiasm. This
group of people spent years getting to know one other from the cruise trips
and from SSQQ-Bissonnet. And then suddenly their
playground was torn down.
It turns out I
am not the only person who has been wandering around for a
year now trying to figure out where I belong. You could sense how hungry
were to see the members of our former studio family rise up and
come together again.
It was a reincarnation of sorts. The
circle is complete.
Rick and Pattie,
SSQQ newly-weds. Rick and Pattie are joining Marla and
me on the upcoming Labor Day Dance Cruise. They are
practicing their Ballroom Dancing every chance they can get
to prepare for all the Ballroom Dancing during the cruise.
There are 51
people in this picture, but I estimate our total group at 75
people. We had quite an evening together.
By the way, just
a quick reminder that we are having another Ballroom Event
at Chapelwood Methodist
Church on Friday, August 26. The Goodfellas Band will
be playing Swing music and more all night long.