Story written by Rick Archer
First Published: January 2001
Last update: February 2010
Do you believe in jinxes? Well, I sure do.
When it comes to performing at dance, I
feel like I have a curse following me
around... and I only half-kidding. It isn't that I danced poorly
or failed to prepare properly. Only the first mishap could
be attributed to poor dance skills, but as you will see, it was
an incredible stroke of bad luck that did me in.
After my first breakdown, what haunted me is that things
kept going wrong. Weird things, stupid things, things I
had little control over. I had terrible luck at
If I didn't know any better, I would swear that Al Capp character
Joe Btfsplk with his dark cloud follows me around on the dance floor.
If I did stupid things like forget my routines or fail to
practice sufficiently, then I would only have myself to blame.
That wasn't the case. The things that happened to me
always felt 'supernatural'. It was the utter craziness of the mistakes that made me
feel so superstitious. To be honest,
my early experiences were so frustrating and so weird that after
the final humiliation in 1987, I just stopped performing.
No more. That's it. I've had enough. I quit.
My mishaps ranged from heart-stopping
dangerous freak accidents to humiliating
mistakes right out of slapstick. Although my
antics surely have been amusing to others, every problem has cut me to
the core. Just because I am paranoid doesn't mean I am crazy.
Maybe I have a reason to be crazy. You will just have to read the
complete story to understand.
Then let's see if you agree with me.
The Disco Era -
Saturday Night Fever-inspired Disco
Era lends itself nicely to plenty of jokes,
but it sure was fun while it lasted. For most
of the Seventies, an entire nation danced to the
music of Donna Summer, Gloria Gaynor and the Bee
Partner Dancing in America
actually got its start during the Charleston
Era of the Roaring Twenties. The
Charleston was originally danced apart, but people
found a way to Charleston in each arms. That
energy created the Lindy Hop which in
turn gave rise to Swing Dancing during
the Big Band Era of the Thirties and
After the war, people needed a little peace and
quiet. Not surprisingly, lullabies and ballads
became the popular music for the next ten years.
However performers like Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry,
and Elvis Presley got the nation partner dancing
again with the Jitterbug and the
Sock Hop Era of the Fifties.
However, thanks to the Twist and the Watusi, Partner
Dancing took a mysterious hiatus through the Sixties
and the most of the Seventies. It didn't help
that the psychedelic music of the late Sixties -
think Inna Gadda Da Vida - didn't
exactly fit most people's idea of compelling dance
The major legacy of the 1977 movie Saturday
Night Fever is that it got America Partner
The Rhythm is Going
to Get You!
Disco Era didn't actually start with
Saturday Night Fever. The popularity of Disco
music began in the early Seventies. Disco Music was a
mixture of black jazz and Puerto Rican salsa rhythms that
definitely got the toes tapping. I remember going to
Disco clubs as early as 1973. Disco Dancing was
popular throughout the Seventies, but more in the form of
freestyle dancing and Disco Line Dances. That changed
in 1977 when Saturday Night Fever hit the
Of course the major legacy of Saturday Night
Fever is that it created a fever pitch of interest
in Disco music and dancing. What many people forget is
that it also inspired everybody to learn how to
Partner Dance. Partner Dancing was pretty
uncommon before the movie came along, but it caught on big
thanks to a story line that built around a local dance
Like the dance competition in the movie, dance
competitions were big money makers for all the Discos.
Beautiful women with long legs, flashy low cut dresses,
glittering disco balls, sexy dance movements, stunning spins
and breath-taking acrobatics all made for quite a show!
People loved seeing dance contests!
I was right in the middle of it. Thanks to
being in the right place at the right time, I caught the
Disco Wave just as it started to swell. I surfed that wave
all the way into a career as a dance instructor.
However I fell off that surf board hard a couple times.
When I did, I really wiped out. The most stunning blow
of all came at a dance performance I did at The Ritz.
Something went wrong - very wrong. This
experience was so traumatic that it probably affected me
subconsciously throughout all my subsequent mishaps.
In retrospect, my Dance Curse started right
there at the Ritz.