Why SSQQ does
Written by Rick Archer
First Draft: July 2000
Last Update: August 2007
This story deals with the
origins of the SSQQ approach to staying in business - Keep it Fun
and People will continue taking lessons automatically.
2007 marks the 30th year of business for SSQQ Dance Studio. I
have always believed that if you make dance classes enjoyable and
give people an opportunity to make friends, they will fall in love
with dancing and continue to take dance classes willingly.
Get the students to laugh and give them a sense of accomplishment
and that is all the encouragement they need to sign up again.
For 30 years, this Philosophy has worked like a charm. Our
customers, or 'students' if you prefer, have voluntarily returned
time and time again to sign up for classes one month at a time.
And if they don't sign up again, they frequently send a friend over
to take their place. Something must be working - our
advertising budget is practically Zero.
I have always preferred the light touch. The very thought of
using sales tactics goes completely against the grain of the
studio's friendly ethic.
With this tradition in mind, imagine my shock when I saw this Review
about SSQQ posted on City Search.
SSQQ - Least Recommended
Posted by katklaw
I have taken numerous lessons through the
years in Houston to keep my dancing skills up to date and would
never send a friend to SSQQ.
The management, as well as the staff that
works there regularly, are unusually snippy and sarcastic
(unless you agree to buy the big package)
and the pressure to buy is their
I would like to go to their studios (they are in close proximity to
my house) but since I have yet to have one pleasant experience with
them , and since my last dance experience with them was so negative,
I am going to keep going to other places in town.
I appreciate that they have been in business
for quite a while in Houston, but there are too many other dance
studios in the city that have a friendlier and
less pressure filled environment.
Definitely try somewhere else first!
Pros: Been in business for a while, larger
Cons: Surly service, unusual clientele,
parking, high pressure sell
Does this Review sound like the SSQQ you know?
Considering I have spent my entire career trying to make SSQQ the
least commercial dance studio possible, those criticisms really got
my blood boiling. Heck, we don't even push tee-shirts much
less dance packages!
However, before I respond to the criticisms listed above by Katklaw,
I would like to tell you the story of how and why SSQQ developed its
low pressure marketing philosophy.
Houston studio. It was
located at the time on West Gray over in the River Oaks
(Incidentally, I do not know how the Arthur Murray Studios
conduct their business in modern times. Please
keep in mind this event occurred over 30 years ago.)
One of the most depressing experiences of my life
involved taking dance lessons at a franchised Ballroom Dance studio here in
Houston back in 1975.
I was 25 years old.
I was persuaded to try an
inexpensive Introductory Offer
for Ballroom lessons at
One afternoon Maggie, a
young lady I had met over
at Rice University, called me up.
Maggie said she
wanted me to take Ballroom dance lessons with her. She told
me about an ad that said we could take 4
half-hour Introductory lessons for $5 a
Maggie and I had been dating for a month. Maggie knew I had been taking
somewhere else (Learning to Dance).
As she put it, I was the only man she knew who had ever admitted to
an interest in dancing. In fact, we had gone out dancing on
our first date. Maggie was impressed and said I was a great
freestyle dancer. She assumed my Disco skills could be
transferred over to Ballroom dancing as well.
I wasn't so sure about that. I had only been dancing
for a year. All I knew was a bunch of Disco line
dances. I had never partner danced in my life.
As I listened to her pitch, I had serious misgivings.
Furthermore Ballroom dancing didn't
interest me at all. I was strictly into Disco music. But a persuasive beautiful woman is
difficult to resist. And she was right about my interest in
dancing. It took
Maggie twenty minutes
to persuade me,
but I finally gave in and agreed to go
The first half-hour lesson consisted of one move to
dances - Foxtrot, Tango, Waltz, and Cha Cha. (4 dances, but we
skipped one dance each week).
We had a male
instructor. From the very start,
Henry was not even the slightest
bit interested in me. He took one
look at me dancing with Maggie and realized I possessed almost no natural
ability. My dancing was so bad I got the
feeling he was slightly disdainful. I
was embarrassed. He and I never
developed a rapport
On the other hand, Maggie thought
he was wonderful. They clicked
instantly. The rest
of the first lesson consisted of Henry telling me to watch
how he did it as he took Maggie in his arms and swept her
away. Maggie enjoyed
herself thoroughly. She seemed to
glide effortlessly across the floor in his arms while I watched in
consternation. How did Maggie learn those moves so
In 30 minutes - the length of the lesson - we did 10
minutes of Foxtrot, Cha-Cha, and Tango each.
How much do you suppose I
few times I was actually allowed to try, I struggled mightily. I
didn't understand the rhythm, I had no idea how to lead, and
the footwork was a complete mystery. Maggie's frown
didn't help either.
I did give it a try, but I was kind of hopeless.
Nevertheless, I am not a quitter by nature. I
dutifully showed up with Maggie for my second lesson.
THE SECOND LESSON
I was disappointed to find
the second visit was no better than the first. I had actually
nursed a secret hope that I could overcome my jitters and figure
this Ballroom stuff out.
This week Henry skipped Cha Cha and added Waltz. I could not
get the hang of this rise and fall business. Plodding along, I
moved with the grace of a three-legged elephant.
as my instructor basically gave up on me. He and I did not
click at all. Instead he spent most of the half
hour flirting with Maggie who was having the time of her life.
I stood still and fumed while Maggie danced the night away in
Henry's arms. At this point, I had pretty much had enough.
I left in a very bad mood. The advertisement had said dancing was fun.
Not in my opinion.
THE THIRD LESSON
As you might gather, it wasn't easy for Maggie to
get me to show up for the third lesson. I resisted mightily, but
I finally succumbed to the Magic Words, "You Promised."
The first 30 minutes of the third
week was an instant replay of the first two, except that Henry ignored me
even more as if that were even possible. I didn't care
anymore. Promise or no promise, I wasn't coming back. I
could not wait to get this over with.
However at the end of the lesson,
Henry surprised me with a twist so bizarre I could never
have imagined it. He called Maggie and me over for a
Before my very eyes, Henry
actually got out two Report
and proceeded to pencil in a
letter grade for each dance we had learned!
I stared at my Report Card in open-mouthed shock. I
could not believe for a moment that Henry had the
nerve to grade us! Whose ridiculous
idea was this? What planet had Henry beamed down from?
Finally I got hold of myself and actually looked at my
Report Card. I frowned.
To his credit, Henry was at least honest.
While Maggie got straight
A's, I got a C in Foxtrot, a C- in
Cha-Cha, a C in Waltz, and a D in
Gee, if I had only known, I would have
done more homework or brought him an apple. As I
stared at my C- dance average, I thought darkly to myself
that even these miserable grades were inflated. In my
opinion, I deserved a 4-F.
Let's have a little fun with this moment. Let's say
that Henry and Maggie decide to celebrate her Straight A
Report Card. They are Waltzing the Night Away.
Meanwhile I stare at my Ballroom Grades. Pretend I
lose my balance and accidentally bump against a magic
Poof! A Genie comes out and whispers to me not to
despair. The Genie predicts that from these humble
beginnings I would someday rise to create the largest dance
studio in Houston Texas and produce the most popular dance
studio website in the world.
Now if you had seen me dancing, you would absolutely gag at
this suggestion. C'mon, a story this improbable only
happens in the movies and fairy tales! I in no mood to be humored.
I would stare at the Genie like he was out of his mind and
tell him just how absurd that idea was. I would tell
him to go back in the Lamp and leave me alone. Dumb
I wasn't that bad of a dancer. Maggie had
been right - I was actually a pretty fair Disco dancer. I
definitely knew my right foot from my left. But
freestyle dancing and partner dancing were completely
different ballgames. At the time I knew absolutely
nothing about the inner workings of Frame, the Ballroom
technique where you use your shoulders to signal to the
woman where to step next. Nor did I like the music
very much. And I definitely didn't like my instructor.
It was his job to explain how to lead, but he could not have
I had been set up for failure from the get-go.
No one can
expect a Beginner male to learn to lead and dance nine
patterns (3 per week) to four dances in three 30 minute lessons simply by
watching some instructor dance with his girlfriend the
I was completely
lost in a sea of self-criticism. Since I was
clueless about the realities of partner dancing, I did not
realize I had never had a chance.
would not shut up about her straight A Report Card.
Not only was I disgusted with the stupid grading system, I
was ready to kill Maggie for rubbing it in how the
instructor had said she had danced much better than me.
Even though I agreed it was true, what exactly possessed Maggie to
put me down like that? I guess she thought she was
I said nothing, but I was upset.
Beneath my cold exterior, I was actually very embarrassed at
being exposed as a crummy dancer. This entire
experience was deeply humiliating. I can't remember
more than a couple other incidents in my life where I have
ever felt more ashamed of myself.
It is a good thing I did not realize
my pathetic performance was in truth mostly the fault of my
would have given that jerk a piece of my
ADDING INSULT TO
INJURY - TIME FOR THE SHAKEDOWN
As if my Report Card
humiliation, Henry had saved another little surprise for us.
Just as Maggie and I were getting ready to leave, some new guy came up to
Henry to say something to him. Henry turned to us and asked
us to follow him to the back. He
told us the Dance Director wanted to see us.
The Dance Director?
Although I did not understand what was going on,
the tone in Henry's insistence warned me this might not be pleasant.
What did Henry know that I didn't?
As you surely have guessed, we were about to be sold a package of
Ballroom Dance lessons. But I was so young, I really did not
know this myself as we walked down the hall.
I sensed a trap, but to be honest I had a morbid
curiosity just to see what this was all about. With
Henry leading and the new guy behind us, I got the feeling they
weren't taking any chances that we might slip away.
Maggie and I
were shown the way into a cramped room. We were given
two wooden chairs which faced a desk. The door was behind
the desk. In other words, if we wanted to leave, we would
have to walk around the desk.
The Dance Director was already in the room. He greeted
Escape was made even more difficult when the Dance
Director invited Henry to join the meeting. Now we
had a desk and two men blocking our exit. Henry would literally have to move his chair in order
for us to leave.
Then they strapped us both to a chair... well, just kidding.
However we were clearly cornered. To say I felt
intimidated would be an understatement. What kind of
racket were they running here?
The Dance Director began
by saying there was an important dance competition coming
up. He said he had been walking by and had noticed just
how well we were picking up the material. I frowned. He
obviously hadn't seen me.
Since we had shown unusual promise,
the studio wanted us to represent them in the Big
Contest! Maggie beamed with pride.
I stared at her and I stared at him in total disbelief. Had
Maggie taken some medication? This guy was so phony it
Then I turned my gaze to Henry. After that line about our "unusual promise",
Henry was deliberately avoiding eye contact.
He was busy doing goo-goo eyes with Maggie. I assumed he was
also making a mental note not to give
anyone a C- in the future just minutes before the big Sales Meeting no matter how bad they were.
Paying no attention to my existence, the Dance Director smiled at
Maggie and continued his happy talk.
He announced that his studio was counting on Maggie and me - Mr. C
Minus Gift to the World of Ballroom Dancing - to help them win the
big dance competition. "We can't do it without you!"
'However, in order for you to do
well, you would need a little more polish.'
They were ready, willing and able to
give us in-depth training!!
because they desperately needed our help with the Novice phase
of the competition due to our 'unusual
promise', they would give us a
if we would sign up Right This Minute.
He looked straight into Maggie's eyes and said how important it was
that people with our kind of potential should fulfill their dance
Have you ever heard a more ridiculous line of
bullshit in your entire life? These guys were not smooth at all.
In fact, the Dance Director was the first hard-sell person I
had ever met, but I imagined two guys selling me fake
watches in an alley couldn't be any clumsier than he was.
On cue, the Dance Director magically
produced a Contract for Dance Lessons. On the Contract
in bright red ink I could see the word DISCOUNT that reduced
a $2,000 sales price down to $1,000 ($979 to be exact).
I was amazed at
their audacity. Does this stuff actually work with
What person in their right mind would cooperate with an
approach this stupid?
MAGGIE TAKES CONTROL
At this point my morbid
curiosity was satisfied. I had guessed some sort of sales
pitch was awaiting us but I had wanted to see how it was delivered.
Okay, I got my show. I was ready to leave now.
Just as I was
about to say something, Maggie took control of the interview.
Putting her hand on my arm to calm me, Maggie whispered, "Let me handle this."
Surprised, I backed off and said nothing. I didn't really know
Maggie that well. She and I had only been dating for a few
weeks. But her behavior regarding this Ballroom stuff had left
me bewildered on more than one occasion. What was going on
between her and Henry? I thought Henry was gay, but maybe not.
Was she trying to make me jealous? And why rub it in that my
dancing was so mediocre compared to hers? Had the tables
been reversed, I certainly wouldn't have acted that way.
Now for the second time
that evening, my morbid curiosity had gotten the better of me.
I decided to stick around and see what Maggie had up her sleeve. So
I sat back and watched.
Maggie chose a negotiating style best described as "cute them to
Maggie laughed and joked and made one excuse after another
why we couldn't sign the contract. I did not like her style at all. In
my mind Maggie was prolonging the torture.
|'We don't have enough
|'we are kind of busy'|
|'we don't know much about dancing'|
sure if this is right for us, couldn't we think
about it?' |
|'how about if we let you know
As Maggie yapped away, I stared
at her incredulously. Why
don't you just say 'no' and let's get out of here?
I grew sick in
my stomach. This cute stuff was giving me
could not understand
why Maggie was prolonging
this conversation. What is the point of
toying with this guy?
He was practically drooling that Maggie was trying to match wits
with him. Doesn't
she realize he had absolutely nothing to lose by dragging this out?
At first I wasn't
mad at the Dance Director, just impatient. In fact, after
I figured out
that this was how he made a living, I felt sorry for him. I
could see he was
to close this deal. He did most of the talking, but
occasionally let Henry get a word in edgewise so he could catch his
breath. As far as I could
tell, he was just waiting till she tired out.
Between them, the two
salesmen pressured Maggie for an hour
- yes, an
hour - to sign the expensive
contract for dance lessons.
They literally would not take "no" for an answer.
Subtlety was clearly not their forte. I
did not appreciate being cornered in this small back room by two
con men who sat between us and
Despite their pressure, Maggie appeared totally un-phased. She
showed absolutely no sign of nervousness. Whatever Dance
Director said, Maggie parried it with the same broken record...
'too broke, too busy, not enough confidence,
blah blah blah'.
Maggie kept giving excuses and
the salesmen who had nothing else to do hung in there waiting for her
to give them an opening. I watched
the three of them bandy arguments back and forth like a tennis volley.
I could not figure out Maggie's strategy. Was she trying to
wear them out? I suppose erosion works when you are
talking eons, but I am not as patient as
the Grand Canyon...
We had been in here for nearly an hour. Finally I had had enough.
Life is too short for this charade. The shtick was growing old and
I resented the high pressure techniques of these con artists and I
was disgusted with Maggie's evasive negotiating style. So I got up and
said, "I am ready to go. Would you permit us to leave now?"
The two men were stunned. They didn't know Mr. C Minus Cha
Staring down at the seated men, I gave them a look that said I meant
What I was not prepared for was the look of disappointment that
crossed Maggie's face. On a night when one shock followed
another, I was incredulous to realize Maggie had been enjoying
Believe it or not, Maggie tried to calm me.
She wasn't ready to go! She asked me to sit back down. I was astonished that Maggie was
contradicting me for the second time. That was my last straw
with her. I snapped at Maggie, "Sit
down? What for? I have no intention of signing this
contract. I am sick and tired of watching you let these men waste our
time! We have been here for an hour and letting you handle this
has gotten us nowhere."
The room fell silent. My hostility had a chilling effect
indeed. However, thanks to Maggie's intervention, they
not yield. Seeing that the two men continued to block my exit,
Maggie started up again. I stood there incredulously as they
once again began treating me like the Invisible Man.
Through some sort of non-verbal communication, the three of them
had resurrected the debate!
the fact that I was standing up, despite my appalling rudeness
to these two men and despite my confrontation with Maggie,
they began chattering away again as if I wasn't
I was baffled by their determination. Not once
had I given the slightest hint I would cave in and sign their stupid
contract, but they hung on anyway. As far as they were
concerned, it wasn't over till it was over. Incredulous, I
just stood there
and silently watched them begin to dance again.
do I explain my behavior? Call it 'Fascination'. I could
not figure out how three people who were supposed to be on opposite
sides of the fence were in such tight collusion with each other.
Maggie kept saying she didn't want to sign the contract, but her
smiles and body language were encouraging. Furthermore, how on
earth did she manage to ignore my presence and my stated wishes so
effectively? As far as she was concerned, I didn't exist.
I was mystified.
Round Two lasted ten more minutes. Finally I couldn't take it any more. It
was time for a show of force.
I may have been the worst dancer in history and I may have
only been a 25 year old kid, but I was still 6 feet tall and 200 pounds.
If I was determined
to go, a couple of wimp dance instructors would have a serious time
stopping me. Considering my mood, I was ready to walk across
the desk if necessary. "Gentleman, I am leaving now.
Please get out of my way."
They took one look at my face.
That did it. With obvious resentment, Henry begrudgingly moved
to let me pass.
To my surprise,
Maggie followed me wordlessly which I might say was a departure for
her. It was the first time she had followed me in three weeks.
Heck, I was ready to leave her in the room. I didn't care.
It was very awkward moment for everyone. From the
look on their faces, I realized these two men had actually
believed they had a real chance at a kill. They were so close
until that stupid lug got up and ruined it...
Sorry to disappoint you, Guys. Too bad I wasn't the spineless
dork you assumed I was.
What an ordeal! As I walked to the car, I tried to
understand the motivations that created such a hostile showdown.
I laid the blame right at Maggie's doorstep. It occurred to me
that by leading them on, Maggie had actually gotten their hopes up.
I believe they thought they were on the verge of making a sale.
Why did Maggie tease them? What did she get out of it? I could not
fathom what reason Maggie had for leading them on, but I blamed her for the debacle
just as much as I blamed the salesmen - I may have only gotten a D,
but I understood the meaning of "It takes two to Tango".
Who knows, maybe she wanted to sign up for those lessons and was
hoping I would somehow be persuaded if I listened to her long
enough. But the pressure from the salesmen turned me cold from
the start. No way.
As you might suspect, I did not return for my fourth and final lesson. This
also wrapped things up for Maggie and me.
Watching her tease and
banter with these two men when she had no intention of signing a
contract disgusted me. Why give one excuse after another why we
couldn't sign the contract when in my mind a simple "No, thank you"
would have been sufficient? Maybe she was raised to be polite.
Not me, I am too direct by nature to understand her
tactics. Evasion is a pretty lousy way to negotiate.
MAYBE I DID LEARN SOMETHING AT THAT STUDIO AFTER ALL
I didn't do too well at learning the Tango, but I did learn a
valuable lesson nonetheless.
As you might gather, this Contract experience was so distasteful
that when I did go into the dance business for
myself four years later, I made sure that SSQQ
would never breathe a word about
contracts. I preferred to let people sign up
for ten weeks at a time (later shortened to one month).
At the time, my decision went completely against the accepted way
dance studios historically used to obtain customers. But as
far as I was concerned, my decision was a no-brainer.
This high-pressure sales job still ranks as one
of the most distasteful experiences of my entire life.
Who on earth invented this
business tactic, the Mob?
The behavior of the Dance Director made no sense
to me. While I watched in mounting anger, I could see the
reason these salesmen were so desperate was obvious - they were
selling an over-priced service that no one needed. Everyone
needs a car. Everyone needs a house. But no one "needs"
dance lessons and definitely not at that price!
People do not like being pushed around. Did it occur to the
Dance Director there might be an easier way to sell lessons?
Dance lessons are basically entertainment. Why not try making
the lessons fun and see if that worked?
After all, I had been returning to my Disco lessons faithfully every
week for nearly a year without the slightest bit of arm-twisting.
Not one person ever lifted a finger to ask I was going to continue. I wasn't particularly good at it, but somehow during that time,
Dancing had gotten under my skin. Why not give people a chance
to fall in love with dancing and see what might happen?
So when it was my turn to become a dance teacher,
my attitude from the start was to allow my students to make up their own minds
whether to continue or not
I did my job the best I could and hoped
that was enough.
In 2000, one of my dance students remarked that every dance program
he had ever been to in Houston operated pretty much the same way that
did. He asked why I made such a big deal out of 'no contracts'.
I was beating a dead horse.
His comment took me off guard. I thought about it for a while
and decided he had a point. As far as Houston was concerned,
the old contract system was practically dead.
Back when I started SSQQ, my decision to avoid using the contract
system was considered a
risky move. Since contracts were the accepted way to run a dance
studio at the time, SSQQ was clearly going against the grain. In
that sense, I was a pioneer going about things my own way.
Fortunately this new approach was effective. I have no idea
whether my studio's success played any part in making the contract
technique go bye-bye, but the non-pressure philosophy
definitely became the accepted way that most independent dance instructors
in Houston conducted their business. Although I do not pay
much attention, today I would guess only a few franchised Houston dance studios
still stick to the contract system.
SSQQ has proven you can run a
successful dance studio without strong-arming students.
Dance lessons are fun. When there is no pressure, people will take more lessons quite
willingly. In fact, they protest when another level isn't offered! Why other
dance studios still use the contract system is one of life's great mysteries.
may have been ahead of its time, but it
seems to have worked since we are going strong after
30 years while many of our high-pressure competitors have
quietly exited the scene.
Although I endured a deeply humiliating
experience with my first Ballroom lesson, you might be surprised to
know I decided to take Ballroom lessons again later that same year
Sorry to say, this was no tale of redemption.
I did better in my second attempt. I completed the entire
six-hour program which used a Group Class format similar to the SSQQ
system. A young lady
I met in the class gave me a lot of encouragement that I was doing
well. She said I was one of the best guys in the class.
I wanted to ask her out in the worst way, so I decided to make my
move at Graduation Night.
At the end
of the six weeks, the instructor invited the entire Ballroom class to join
him for a night of Ballroom Dancing. This evening would prove
to be my downfall. It turned out I had learned only enough to
get myself set up again. my inadequacy at Ballroom Dancing was
badly exposed that night.
Sorry to say, I ended up losing the girl again, although this time it hurt much
worse than Maggie because I had a huge crush on this girl.
The pain was intense, but I recovered.
After licking my wounds, I picked up the pieces and joined another
Disco dance class a month later. I kept plugging away.
Whenever one dance class ended, I took another. I was determined to
I am not a natural dancer. However, I am a determined person.
I got knocked down several times, but I got back up. I refused
With a nod to our friend Nietzsche, that which doesn't kill you
makes you stronger.
In all, it took me four years to become a very
good dancer which is probably twice the time it takes most men to
accomplish the same thing.
Amazingly, my hard work paid off in ways I could never have
anticipated. Beginning in late 1977, I parlayed a remarkable
series of lucky breaks into a dance career. Today SSQQ Dance
Studio stands as living proof that I am indeed a lucky man... the harder I work,
the luckier I get.
So think about it. If you want to learn to dance, then don't
fold every time something goes wrong. If I
can do it, you can definitely do it too. Just put your mind to
On August 17,
2007, I received the following email.
From: Alex S
Sent: Friday, August 17, 2007 1:34 PM
To: Rick Archer
Subject: SSQQ reviews on Google Maps
Rick, I did a google map search for SSQQ and
I noticed some reviews. I think this is pretty important since
google maps is so popular.
Click on the placemark and you should see the reviews
Apparently the Google Map links is connected to
something called 'City Search'. That is where I ran
across this review of SSQQ by someone titled 'Katklaw'. I have
no idea who this person or what their experience was at my studio.
I believe that everybody has a right to state their opinion.
After all, didn't I just get through evaluating a dance studio
myself in the "No Contract" story?
That said, I think I have a right to respond to the critic.
Some of what Katklaw says is correct. We do have parking
problems. And there are times when we lose our patience with
Although we pride ourselves in being
friendly, I will be the first to admit that we do stand our ground
at times when we think a customer is unreasonable. We give
service, but we are not servile. There is a difference.
That said, I think Katklaw is guilty of some deeply inaccurate
These statements are false:
- (unless you agree to buy the big
- the pressure to buy is their
- less pressure filled environment
- high pressure sell
Anyone who is familiar with SSQQ knows we do not
have any "big packages" to sell. This false statement alone
compromises the integrity of the entire complaint.
Furthermore, since you have finished my article on "No
Contracts", it should be clear to you by now that SSQQ absolutely
refuses to pressure its customers into taking any classes.
Quite the contrary, we pride ourselves in being the least
commercial dance studio that has ever existed.
Furthermore, I defy Katklaw to identify anyone at SSQQ who is
involved in high-pressure sales.
In short, this person is a liar. They
don't even know what they are talking about.
So on August 30, 2007, I decided to send this
response to Katklaw's poison pen review.
SSQQ Responds 08/30/2007
Posted by richardjarcher
My name is Rick Archer. I
am the owner of SSQQ. I would like to point out that several
comments posted by Katklaw in one of the SSQQ Reviews on City
Search are deeply inaccurate.
The following 3 allegations have no merit whatsoever:
1. (unless you agree to buy the big package)
2. pressure filled environment
3. high pressure sell
Everybody has a right to express their opinion, but they do not
have the right to speak incorrectly.
Anyone who is familiar with SSQQ knows we do not have any "big
packages" to sell. This false statement alone compromises the
integrity of the entire complaint. The truth is that our classes
sell for $40 and $50 for a month of group dance lessons.
Furthermore, SSQQ absolutely refuses to pressure its customers
into taking any classes. Quite the contrary, we pride ourselves
in being the least commercial dance studio that has ever
Furthermore, I defy Katklaw to identify anyone at SSQQ who is
involved in high-pressure sales.
In truth, we try to make our classes fun and hope our customers
will return of their own free will. There is no arm-twisting at
SSQQ Dance Studio, of that I can assure everyone. 30 years
of business indicates that our low key philosophy is effective.
As for Katklaw's curious assertion about our "unusual
clientele", consider the source. Besides, our students would
probably take that as a compliment.
review on City Search
A STUDENT RESPONDS TO THE KATKLAW CRITICISM
(Rick Archer's Note -
I have said repeatedly that SSQQ does not pressure its students.
This is a fact. If you want to know what pressure is like,
read this letter)
Sent: Tuesday, August 21, 2007 11:56 AM
I just had a few moments and decided to give the newsletter a once
Now, you must know me well enough to know by now...my big mouth has
to give at least a couple cents input, if not an entire dime!! I
will go chapter by chapter here since I am just appalled at the
lengths some people will go!
First off....let me be the very first to tell you that the very
essence of SSQQ is the reason I stayed here!! I
have taken a few classes here and there and I can tell you first
hand that the PEOPLE here at SSQQ make all
the difference, students and teachers alike!
I first took an introductory class at Fred Astaire
on Memorial years ago. I became so aggravated that I could spit
gravel. They made sure to take what little time I could afford to
spend in their studio and harass me throughout the entire lesson! It
was all about the hard core sell. Bring in your family, your spouse,
your friends, your dog, your first born to sign up for our massively
expensive lessons!!! The way I felt was I was paying him money to
teach me, not to become his sales recruit! I finally lost it on my
instructor. He actually pushed me to the point of pure anger and
that takes quite a bit of pushing let me tell you!
After consistently hounding me, and I had tried in every possible
way with as much politeness as I could muster,
I just blew it. I had explained to
him that I only had one co-worker and she hated to dance. My family
lives out of town therefore they wouldn't be coming in to dance. I
basically had no local friends and had actually hoped to make some
friends that shared a common interest when starting class there. He
then started in on my husband.
I love my husband dearly, but the very reason we have worked out so
well over the past 18 and 1/2 years is because neither of us push
the other into our hobbies. He doesn't care to dance or paint and I
don't care to fish or hunt. He does his thing and I do mine and then
we get together and talk about it. It works out fine for us and I
encourage anyone else to do the same. You should not have to
sacrifice things you enjoy just to share your lives together. I
would never dream of expecting him to quit fishing or hunting, those
are things important to him. Just as he would never hope to expect
me to quit my art work or to stop dancing. He knows it is something
I love to do.
Now once this instructor had started in on my husband and had
actually had the audacity to insinuate that should my husband CARE
about me, why wouldn't he want to make me happy and learn to
dance!!!??? Can you believe this imbecile??!! You know, you can say
what you want about me, but make the mistake of attacking my loved
ones or friends....you are in for whatever this Italian/Irish temper
is about to sling your way!! I take my friendships and my family
very seriously. I will be the first to defend them in any way
through any given situation with all claws and teeth bared.
I immediately ceased dancing and told him with my icy cold stare
shooting daggers into his eyes...."I tell you what.....I can
guarantee that I will be able to get my husband up here. As long as
you don't mind if he comes in full camouflage
gear and sits right there at the top of that staircase and
proceeds to use you as an arrow target. Would that be fine with
I don't know if it was my death stare, or the idea of just how
painful a broadhead would feel striking his ass, but he immediately
backed down. I left and never returned.
After doing some hunting, finding only many places far too expensive
for me to attend, I came upon another studio located actually, not
far from Fred Astaire. It
was Dance Arts off of Memorial and Dairy Ashford. Although
I could not afford the regular classes (at $50 a pop it was an
impossibility!) I scooped up as many scattered group classes I could
afford, practice parties too. But
this place too pushed the very expensive private lessons. The owner
begged me to join her tango team stating I had good latin hips!!
Said I had natural dance talent...she needed me. (Of course, I
thought she was going to spit up her coke when I told her no....my
ass is fat. It is kind of hard NOT to swing your hips when you have
a fat ass LOL!!) Thing was....I simply could not afford it. Plain
and simple. Eventually I had to quit all together as I hit a hard
financial bump in my life and could not even afford the scattered
classes I had managed to round up at that time.
When I moved to The Heights (having previously lived in Katy), I
thought well, maybe I can find a place where I can scoop up some
group classes when I have the money, or maybe a weekend party or
something. I was hopeful. Thing was...there just aren't that many
places willing to accommodate someone that doesn't have a shitload
of money to plunk down for private lessons. Their parties are
usually reserved for those money bearing people. I did find one
place I visited for a Friday night party and it was the most dull,
most boring place I had ever stepped foot into. All the dancers were
couples. And they danced only with their partners. I sat there the
ENTIRE evening sipping on a soda and danced ONE dance the entire
night and that was with the owner at the end of the night. Nuff
Then one night I stumbled over SSQQ. I originally thought it was too
far away, I have had no such luck so far, am I sure I want to do
this anymore..... It just happened to be the Sock Hop party I
attended. Everyone was SO friendly here! People
talked to you. People danced with you. I made 3 new friends that
very night and went to eat at IHop till 3 in the morning and I still
see two of them regularly at the studio!! I thought this too good to
be true when I decided to look further into SSQQ. I found out that
no one sporting rubber mallets were ready and waiting to whack me
over the head demanding I bring in recruits to line their pockets!
And the classes were very much affordable as a whole. I could take
one group class all month for less than the cost of a private
lesson! And the best thing was that even as I could not afford to
personally take advantage of the low prices....I was perfectly
welcomed ALWAYS to attend as many parties as I wanted or could
afford to go to!!!
I have stayed ever since and sing SSQQ's praises to all with a
willing ear. I can not say enough good about the place that is for
Now for the next subject.....ex-SSQQ members.
The question should be how come there are STILL so many current
members???? Your numbers should speak for themselves. There are
people out there just waiting to dip the tip of their poison arrows
into your gut. They are jealous and wish to steal business by
slinging crap everywhere. As I mentioned before....I will stand up
to anyone against my friends and I consider SSQQ just that. A family
of friends is what I have found here. Just try me! How many
ex-members still come to visit or attend a party even though they no
longer take classes? How many partnerships and friendships have
started within the walls of SSQQ? The fact that this studio is full
of warm, caring people ensures its success no matter what.
Poor Instructors?? WHERE??? Yes, good instructors will be people
with natural talent and skills....but as instructors here pretty
much hand picked, aren't they? I can not imagine Rick hiring anyone
to teach a dance class that he has not seen for himself how they
dance. Don't you think someone running a dance studio for over 30
years would be able to spot someone with talent?? DUH!!
Every single instructor I have met at SSQQ are brilliant! They are
happy, kind, helpful and don't ever mind taking an extra minute to
explain or demonstrate something for you! Not only do they have
talent, they are good, decent human beings that are there to share
their love of dance with others.
Well, this ended up a long winding email...LOL...but like I
warned...this must be more a quarters worth than a dime LOL!!!
Have a great day!
THE FINAL WORD TO THE
'NO CONTRACT' STORY
From: Joe C
Sent: Tuesday, August 07, 2007 9:54 AM
To: Rick Archer
Subject: RE: August 2007 SSQQ Newsletter
The thought of you retiring, Mr. Archer, made me want to
register asap for your
classes. It will be a sad day when you do. After 30
years which is hard to
imagine, how fast time flies. I recall taking classes in
the mid-eighties, and again in
2004 and both times for 4-6 month stretches, were
good times for the wife and I. Heck,
we been married 30 years this year!
Anyways, we plan to come back and take several
classes. Thanks for your
From: Rick Archer
Sent: Monday, August 13, 2007 11:40 AM
To: Joe C
Subject: RE: August 2007 SSQQ Newsletter
Thank you very much, Joe. Those are kind words indeed.
From: Joe C
Sent: Monday, August 13, 2007 12:59 PM
To: Rick Archer
Subject: RE: August 2007 SSQQ Newsletter
Don't retire Mr. Archer! Semi perhaps.
You're a legend.
If it were not for your
classes, the wife and I may have thrown in the towel.
When we were at the stretch,
we signed for dancing to spice our relationship and
believe me, it has.
say it in your website. Women love to dance.
And when we
go to different revues, over
the last 20 years, I have seen more guys on the
sidelines because of not knowing how to dance.
Too many females just dying to
be asked. They always seem to have that sparkle in their
eye of a man who knows how to
This past year, the man I have trained under since '84,
retired after 39 years
teaching martial arts. I bet you
know who I am referring to - Grandmaster Kim
Soo of Kim Soo Karate, started off in downtown,
now home to the Toyota Center.
It was a set back when it was announced two years
before. Just the idea that we
wouldn't have him teach on a fulltime basis. However we
are fortunate to have him
teaching on a semi-retired format.
Anyways, I hope you stick around for a long time to come
- either fulltime or semi
-retired. I cannot imagine the thousands of marriages
you saved from your dance
instruction. Take care.
From: Rick Archer
Sent: Monday, August 27, 2007 2:06 PM
To: Joe C
Subject: Kim Soo
I don't think I told you this, but I actually took
karate lessons from Kim Soo myself.
Back in the early Seventies, a movie called Billy
Jack did the same thing
for karate classes that Saturday Night
Fever did for Disco classes.
Seeing an outnumbered Indian half-breed kick the
hell out of some redneck
bigots on behalf of underdog Indians and Hippies
was one of the most joyful
experiences of my life! Justice
So in 1974 I signed up for
karate lessons at the downtown location you
mentioned. I took
class for about six months until one day I came
to the realization that the
circles I traveled in were unlikely to require street
fighting skills. It was about
this point I concentrated more on my dance classes.
Nevertheless, I thoroughly enjoyed my karate
classes. Kim Soo taught
several of my classes himself. He was a real leader;
very poised and impressive.
This movie played a big part in his eventual expansion.
I have often compared his good
fortune to my good fortune in that we both parlayed a
surprise hit movie into a career. It never dawned
on me that he really is not
that much older than I am.
From: Joe C
Sent: Tuesday, August 28, 2007 6:36 AM
To: Rick Archer
Subject: RE: Kim Soo
Billy Jack during the '74 release was one
of my favorites besides the Bruce Lee movies. Tom
McLaughlin did an earlier
movie titled Born Losers in '67 so I was a
big fan. It's
coincidental that several years ago, GM Kim Soo had
mentioned wanting to learn to dance. I think he felt
both arts shared the same - passion, discipline, and
grace. That's why I say you as well as GM Kim Soo are
what I would refer to as "Living Legends" of Houston.
You both started something in Houston when there was
very little to offer in dancing and martial arts.
I recall taking the 5 lessons for $5 dollars from Arthur
Murray studio on West Gray. This was in '73 or '74.
After the last class, I was escorted into this large
office surrounded by the pretty instructor and three big
gorillas that resembled bodyguards in the Godfather. I
was pressured into signing a one year contract for
That was like a million bucks for me. After repeated
failed pressure tactics, I was allowed to go.
Everyone knows SSQQ and Kim Soo Karate. I hope you never
retire. Stay in excellent health and take care.
our next dance lesson....
From: Rick Archer
Sent: Tuesday, August 28, 2007 4:10 PM
To: Joe C
Subject: Kim Soo and Arthur Murray
Are you sure we are not leading parallel lives? I had a
near-identical experience at that exact
same Arthur Murray studio!!!
In fact, it was just as stressful as your experience. You should
read the story. I
am sure it will make you laugh.
Do you mind if I publish your
letters? I would print them under
Joe C... your letters are the
perfect conclusion to my own story about this same
shakedown experience. I would
be very grateful.
From: Joe C
Sent: Wednesday, August 29, 2007 8:17 AM
To: Rick Archer
Subject: RE: Kim Soo and Arthur Murray
That's funny Mr. Archer. I read your
experience. It's a great story.
The ad I answered to was in the "Zest" magazine, advertisement back
section, of Sunday's Chronicle. Mine were 5 lessons for 5 bucks.
There was another dance school offering the same. Arthur Murray's
happen to be closer for me to travel from.
If I recall the room I was corralled into, seemed 15x15 size
dimensions and had a large nice executive desk. The salesman and the
three gorillas were nicely dressed, pin striped Mafia attire.
My torture was around 45 minutes of every known sales tactic to get
me to sign the contract without breaking every bone in my body. I
resisted the intimidation but for a good portion of the time spent
in that chamber, I thought I would never be found if I said no.
Finally after I mentioned I would have to talk to my Father who I
said was a police officer (I lied to desperate measures), they
abruptly released me without further containment.
I never looked back and my unfair judgment was that I figured all
dance schools were the same and did not
pursue any further avenues to enhance my personal values.
It would be 15 years before I tried the approach again and lord and
behold did I strike out again. Up on
45 south at Monroe was a C&W dance school so
I gave it a try. The wife was with
me and we wanted to learn together. It was a Saturday afternoon and
just as soon as we arrived well before the 5:00 pm closing, one of
the dance instructors was locking up. However
she agreed to extend the dance instruction at "her house" a few
She had converted her living room into a min-dance floor with 360
wall mirrors. After the cordially
introduction, we agreed to the private lessons of $20 per session.
That's when the Dance Instructor from hell arrived.
I couldn't get the steps down - two
left feet with their own minds, so after trial
after trial, the physical and verbal abuse
went into high gear. She pulled,
jerked, pushed if I was not in the right pattern, then she said
perhaps I was too dumb to learn how to pick up the simple dance
steps. We endured this for another
sessions and finally I decided not to return. I think I still have
war wounds from that fiasco.
Our next adventure was with Gilbert Huron. He was good but sometimes
some of the classes did not meet the number of minimum headcounts
and besides, the instruction was fast. If
you got left behind, you were doomed. We took several months of
instruction but felt our needs were not being fulfilled.
But we did buy
a good number of his tapes.
Then I heard about SSQQ. The
recorded message - the 861 or something number I dialed seemed
genuine. Excited, the wife and I
gave it a try. Our first class was 2-step and it was packed to the
gill. It was easy and fun!
We had a great time, met a
lot of good people and couldn't get enough.
We wanted to learn all SSQQ had to offer. That's the
feeling I think everyone who passes through your doors get. I want
more and I want it from here. So
please Mr. Archer, you cannot retire.
The company I work for - Air Liquide - has
a portion of summer intern package for French interns to learn as
much about Texas during their 3 month stay. SSQQ
is part of the package and every year, they all are registered to
take several of their favorites - Salsa, C&W, and Zydeco. No one can
ever fulfill the big shoes you leave when you retire.
You said it yourself, dancing keeps
you young and vibrant!
I have no problem using my letters. It
would be an honor. Take care sir.
Who would have thought I would run across
someone who had the identical experience I had over at the same former
Arthur Murray dance studio on West Gray?
As I stated earlier, if you make the classes fun and treat people
with respect, they will continue to take dance lessons
And if they graduate, then they will either come back again sometime
further down the road or they will send their friends.
Now you see why I resent Katklaw who claims to the world that SSQQ
uses pressure tactics... nothing on earth could be further from the
You do not have to strong-arm people in order to get them to sign up
dance lessons. Just make the classes fun. The dancing
will do the rest.