Home Up Hot Stuff


The Dance Curse!!

Part Three - Superstition

Story written by Rick Archer

First Published: January 2001
Last update: February 2010


Victoria was my first true dance partner.  Later Victoria became my girlfriend as well.  In the four years I knew her, Victoria made huge contributions to my dance program.  Although she left my life before SSQQ ever became 'SSQQ', Victoria deserves a lot of credit for helping  my fledging dance career make dramatic advances. 

Before I get much further I guess I should point out that Victoria was married the entire time she was at the studio.  No, she wasn't married to me.  Yes, my affair with Victoria will always be the single great mistake of my life.  The entire story can be read in Risky Business

No story about Rick's Dance Curse will ever be complete without discussing Victoria.  She was the woman who first proposed its existence.  People have speculated that my mixed feelings about the complicated affair somehow contributed to the three accidents I experienced with Victoria, but I doubt it seriously.  Every one of the three mishaps was a freak accident that had absolutely nothing to do with my feelings of guilt or any lack of concentration on my part. 

So where does Victoria fit in to the two previous stories about the Dance Curse?

After the Ritz Disaster in May 1978, my dance friend Suzie completely disappeared from my life.  I have little doubt the trauma Suzie experienced from our disaster when the lights went out was directly responsible.  After what we went through, I would not have blamed her if she moved to another country.  The humiliation we both felt was that intense.

After the Stiff Arm Disaster in May 1979, my girlfriend Susie broke up with me two weeks later.  Our relationship had been on the rocks for some time now.  Using the dance contest to somehow get our relationship on firmer ground, the plan had backfired badly. 

Susie's humiliating busted lip at the dance contest only served to deepen her disgust for the Disco lifestyle.  That was a shame because Susie had come very close to seeing things much differently that night.  If there really is such a thing as "Fate", then the curious stiff arm accident must be considered as a perfect example of its existence. 

I had first met Victoria in August 1978. I met Susie two months later.  From the very start, Victoria was fascinated with Disco dancing. Although she was married and had a 6 year old daughter, Victoria found time to be at the dance studio two or three nights a week.  Unlike Susie, a very reserved woman, Victoria was extremely outgoing.  She made friends easily.  Victoria was a born salesman.  Victoria had an amazing ability to encourage people to take follow-up classes.  Thanks to her persuasion, the size of my classes grew rapidly.

Victoria was also a born organizer. Victoria promoted the dance program by organizing one big Saturday event a month. She would either speak to people in her dance classes or work the phones during the daytime to promote a weekend get-together at the Pistachio Club. Victoria was definitely the secret of my success.

At the time of the Clear Lake incident, Victoria was nearly as big a part of my life as Susie was.  In fact, they were rivals.  They both wanted the same thing - me.  Susie had the inside track.  She had one big advantage over Victoria - Susie was single.  She was also terribly suspicious of Victoria.  Susie recognized that Victoria was far and away more valuable to my love of Disco than she was.  Out of spite, Susie made sure that Victoria would never become my dance partner, a role Victoria continued to lobby for. 

With Susie conveniently out of the picture, Victoria swiftly moved in for the kill.  She had been helping me with my dance classes for nearly a year.  In July 1979 Victoria became my official dance partner.   Four months later she became my girlfriend.  Those were the wildest four months of my entire life. 

Glen Hunsucker

The Ritz Disaster in June 1978 had underscored something I already knew - I was lousy at partner dancing.  I was an excellent freestyle dancer.  My first job teaching dance was explaining the popular Disco Line Dances to my students.  Partner Dancing in Houston didn't even exist until Saturday Night Fever came out.  This "partner dance" stuff was completely new to me.  Thanks to some bullying from my boss, I had been forced to perform at partner dancing at the Ritz way before I was ready.   It was clear I would need professional training if I was ever going to amount to much in the dance world.  I didn't have a clue how to partner dance, but I really wanted to learn! 

There is a Hindu saying that the teacher will appear when the pupil is ready.  Two months after the Ritz Disaster, one night I was out disco dancing with my future dance partner Victoria.  It was August
1978.  I saw a man partner dancing with a pretty blonde teenage girl out on the floor at the Pistachio Club.  This guy was so good he seemed like he was straight out of the movie. I was mesmerized and so was everyone else The dance floor completely cleared so everyone could watch the two dancers show off.  When the man went to sit down, I had to find out who he was. His name was
Glen Hunsucker. Although I had never heard of him at the time, I later discovered Glen was one of Houston's leading dance teachers.  I didn't need to know his reputation. His dancing had me sold.  I got his card and called the next day. 

That is how
I met the man who would become my mentor and dance teacher. Two weeks later my new dance partner Victoria and I began taking private dance lessons from Glen.  Under his guidance, she and I became phenomenal dancers.

The first thing I learned from Glen was the Latin Hustle, the dance I had been longing to figure out for months.  Finally! 
Back in 1978 Glen's dance studio was located at Westbury Square. Dodging heavily padded poles throughout Glen's upstairs studio, Victoria and I would practice the Latin Hustle to our heart's content. 

The Latin Hustle was my first love in dance. With footwork similar to Swing, the Hustle was a fluid, graceful partner dance that worked perfectly to Disco music.  Those were the days, my friend, we thought they'd never end...

I loved everything about Disco Dancing.  I loved the dancing, I loved the music, I loved the lifestyle, and I loved teaching.  Not surprisingly, I longed to be included among the city's best dancers.  Unfortunately, I wasn't a natural dancer.  It was hard work or not at all for me.  Fortunately, I was motivated to improve.  Consequently I practiced constantly.  Thanks to Glen's training and my work ethic, I began to make steady progress.

Although I openly admit I am not a born performer, Victoria definitely was.  A former cheerleader and beauty pageant contestant, Victoria loved the limelight.  She dreamed of performing in front of live audiences. She was incredibly ambitious and I became caught up in her enthusiasm.  Consequently we trained very hard.  

Victoria was excited to be working with Glen.  In addition to the Hustle, Glen also taught us dance acrobatics. I have to hand it to Victoria - she had a lot of guts!!  There were moves in practice where I threw her in the air and sometimes didn't catch her very well on the way down.  Victoria got her fair share of bumps and bruises. 

Give Victoria a lot of credit.  The girl had talent, beauty, brains, and courage.  We learned some very dangerous moves.  I guess we were too young and foolish to realize the kind of chances we were taking.

In addition to all the eye-catching patterns and flashy footwork, Glen taught me how to lead.  The days of the Ritz Disaster were behind me.  No more Rookie Mistakes for me.  My dancing began to acquire the professional polish I had lacked before.  I was proud of Victoria, proud of myself, and deeply grateful to Glen for his help.

Victoria and I began to develop confidence in our ability.  Our friends gushed at how wonderful we looked out on the floor.  Thanks to hard work and Glen's careful eye, Victoria and I were becoming terrific dancers, full of polish and great moves as well as presence out on the floor. 

That said, I avoided dance contests like the plague.  The scars from the Ritz were still raw.  However, one day I got a request to perform at the opening of a major Disco down in Clear Lake.  Unlike the Ritz, this time I was ready.  Victoria and I were certainly good enough to handle this with aplomb.

Bring on the challenge

The Lighthouse Disaster

Looking back, it really does seem like Victoria and I were star-crossed.  When it came to performing in public, whatever could go wrong, did go wrong.  It really didn't make any sense because we had everything going for us.  Our problems had nothing to do with ego, trust, lack of ability, lack of training, or lack of concentration And don't say we didn't 'click' because that wasn't true either.  Victoria and I danced very well together when it didn't count.  Plus we were well prepared.  Before each performance, we made sure that we had our routines down perfectly in practice.  

Nor did we 'freeze up' like Suzie had done at the Ritz when things went wrong.  Victoria was born to perform.  She was incredibly outgoing.  She was very popular due to her natural warmth.  A former beauty contestant, Victoria lived for the Night Life and the opportunities to show off.  She had natural dance ability and a wonderful smile. Best of all, she loved attention.  She was fearless on center stage.

It wasn't Victoria's fault she chose the wrong guy to show off with.  Even though I always did the best I could to prepare, we had one horrible freak mishap after another.  For the most part I have led an incredibly blessed life, but I must say that over the years when it has come to dance performances, I really do feel like there has always been a dark cloud over my head. 

Our first and most serious accident occurred at a Disco club down in Clear Lake called the Lighthouse.  This club had hired Victoria and me to perform for the opening of their club.  That's right... we were the opening act, a major honor. 
Curiously, this opportunity arose in late July 1979, just 5 weeks after the awful stiff arm problem at Spats.  I had been getting requests to perform all along, but Susie had vetoed any participation on Victoria's part so I turned them down.

Now that Susie was gone, I was free to accept the next offer to come along. Victoria jumped at the opportunity.  She was so excited!  Interestingly, my group of seven couples accepted Victoria on the spot.  They had liked Susie, but they liked Victoria even more.  That didn't surprise me a bit.  Her warmth and enthusiasm made her an instant hit wherever she went.

Victoria and I arrived at the Lighthouse an hour and a half prior to opening the doors.  We wanted to practice our routine and warm up for the show.  We went through our impressive acrobatics-filled routine two times without the slightest problem.  We were full of smiles and feeling very confident.

As our friends started to arrive to see us perform at the Lighthouse debut, Victoria and I were in a great mood.  We could not wait to show off!  Victoria had told everyone about our routine.  She said we were so good we were going to knock their socks off.  It isn't bragging if you can deliver; that's what we intended to do. 

Now it was time to perform.  Our
friends cheered their encouragement.  Victoria and I were excited.  It was time to show the world what we were capable of.  The music started, we danced and the crowd immediately started clapping with genuine enthusiasm.  They liked us from the get-go.

Midway through our performance Victoria began an acrobatic aerial known as Cheek to Cheek.  At Stage One, Victoria would start by jumping onto my waist.  At Stage Two, I would use both hands to swing her hips up above my shoulders where she hit the same jackknife pose as the gymnast in the second picture.

The first picture is similar to Stage One, except that Victoria was not on my side.  Victoria straddled my waist (her legs were on either side of my waist).  After I swung her hips in the air, Victoria would then swing her legs straight up in the air.  At the highest point, Victoria's
feet and toes hit the exact same pose as the second picture.

As Victoria stood
upside down, she had her face pressed against mine ("cheek to cheek") and her hands were around the back of my neck. My hands were on Victoria's waist to balance her.  Victoria hit her position perfectly. She was completely still.

Suddenly, without any warning, from her upside down position, Victoria began to lose her balance!

I felt Victoria begin to topple backwards.  I had no idea what was wrong.  We had done this move dozens of times and nothing like this had ever happened before. If she fell forward, we would have been okay, but she was falling backwards and I was starting to fall backwards too.  This was incredibly dangerous because I no control in that direction.  If Victoria had held onto my neck, I never could have saved her.  She would have pulled me down with her.  We probably would have both broken our necks.  Fortunately she let go or maybe I jerked my neck free as I spun around... everything happened pretty fast.   

Victoria was behind my head, so I couldn't see. But I sensed that Victoria was plummeting towards the floor face first!  People screamed in genuine horror!  I only had a split second to do something. 
It took an extraordinary spin, lunge and catch on my part to save Victoria as she tumbled downward.  It was easily the most athletic thing I have ever done in my life.
 Since Victoria was behind me, first I had to spin a quick 180 degree turn on one foot.  As I spun, I opened my arms.  The moment I completed my spin, with my free foot, I lunged one step towards her to close the distance. Then I grabbed whatever I could with both arms. 

I caught Victoria by clumsily wrapping both arms around her hips.  I deliberately used the momentum from my lunge to fall sideways.  If we were going to fall, let's land on our sides.  This maneuver barely prevented Victoria's face from hitting the floor nose-first.  Instead she landed on the side of her forehead near her templeHer head glanced off the floor rather than taking the full weight.  Her nose missed hitting the floor by a quarter inch.  It was that close. 

Now we both lay on the floor in a tangled heap.  People ran to our aid.  Fortunately neither of us was badly hurt, but
we were definitely unable to continue. Victoria's head got a bad bruise, but the major damage was psychological.   Victoria was terrified by the experience.  She cried and shook uncontrollably.   She had a lump on the side of her forehead for a couple weeks after that, but she didn't care.  She knew full well it could have been much much worse. 

So what the hell went wrong?  

We had practiced this same move many times before without problem.  In fact, we had done it right two times that same afternoon in rehearsal in this exact same spot without any problem.

As someone went to get our car for us, I studied the ceiling.  My eyes locked on to the whirring ceiling fans.  That was the only thing that made any sense.  One of the whirring blades had barely clipped her pointed toe in her incredibly precarious upside down position.  It was enough to knock her off balance.  Victoria started to fall over backwards and toppled helplessly to the floor. 

However I wasn't satisfied with that explanation.  Those ceiling fans had not presented any problem in the afternoon.  We were well aware that the fans were there, but they didn't seem like a threat.  In fact, while we rehearsed I remembered Victoria wiggling her toes to see if she could touch a blade.  She didn't succeed.

You have no idea how high those fans were!   They had to be twelve feet in the air.  The math didn't add up.  I was 6 feet and Victoria was 5 1/2 feet.  With her face against mine, our combined height was probably 11 feet or so. Could her pointed toes have made up the extra distance? 

That's when it dawned on me.  Those blades had been still earlier.  Someone must have turned the fans on between rehearsal and the performance, but nobody had noticed the danger this presented.  The curve in the blades made up the missing distance.  The curved blades were no problem when the fan was still, but were able to clip her toe when the fan was moving.  

And that wasn't all.  I didn't mention the embarrassment.

When we finally landed on the floor, 
my face ended up somewhere under her dress stuck between her legs with my nose right where it shouldn't be.  I was stuck in that ridiculous position for nearly a minute while people rushed to Victoria's aid.  I didn't dare move until I was told it was safe to do so.  What if Victoria was badly hurt?  What if there was a danger of paralysis?  Furthermore I was a little scared myself.  I couldn't see.  I didn't know if it was the dress or I had hurt myself.  Better to be still.

So there I lay on the floor with my face caught between her legs
I must have looked ridiculous.  Thank goodness no pictures have ever surfaced.  Finally someone came over and said it was safe to move now.  How do you politely remove your face from a place it doesn't belong with hundreds of people watching?

I was so relieved to find that Victoria wasn't hurt.  However she was a complete mess.  Victoria had begun to cry. Now our fear turned to shame. We were both deeply embarrassed.  After my friends untangled us, we stumbled away looking for a place to hide.  Victoria was still shaking and deep in tearsI was crestfallen.

The crowd was in a deep hush.  They knew they had witnessed an incredibly close call.  Victoria was lucky she didn't land head first.  Victoria could easily have broken her neck or smashed her face to pieces.  Her arms could never have broken that fall.  Victoria had been totally out of control.  She had barely missed a trip to the hospital with serious injuries.

We were supposed to
entertain, not horrify.  Hired as dance professionals, we had given the audience a shocking near miss at a serious injury.  I am not kidding.  It was a very bad accident and a very close call.

The crowd didn't stick around.  Shaken by the incident, people immediately began to leave the club in droves. 
So much for the Grand Opening of the Lighthouse.  I am sure the owners were appalled at their bad luck to hire us.

Rick's Dance Curse had struck again. 

Was Rick a Jinx?

This was getting old fast.  Although Victoria had not witnessed either the Ritz Disaster or the Clear Lake disaster, she knew the full story of both events.  She had listened carefully to my explanation of both events and had judged me innocent of any wrong doing.  However, that was before this brush with death and paralysis.  The Lighthouse screw-up made three performances and three total disasters.  Furthermore, there was not one successful performance in between to improve my batting average.  I was zero for three. 

Victoria accepted that the ceiling fans were at fault.  However, at a deeper level of her psyche, before this happened, I already had two strikes against me.  The Lighthouse made three.  In baseball, three strikes and you're out. 

Fear does funny things to people's brains.  Before the accident, I was innocent of any mistakes.  However, now that Victoria was on the receiving end of danger, the Lighthouse incident turned her against me.  In every conversation after this, Victoria would bring up my three accidents.  I had gone from a clean slate to three strikes overnight.  Lucky me.

Victoria couldn't seem to shake her increasing sense of fear.  It wasn't that she didn't trust me, but it was hard to overlook that she had this scary near miss. Maybe she wouldn't be quite as lucky when the next accident happened.   Something was wrong here.  This was about the time Victoria said that maybe I really did have some sort of dance curse. 

Foleys Disaster

It took a few weeks, but Victoria eventually shook off her brush with paralysis.  She wrote it off as a freak accident.  She didn't blame me because we had both studied those fans during rehearsal.  Our mistake was not noticing someone had turned on the fans behind our back.  From now on we would be on the lookout for ceiling fans. 

One month
after the Lighthouse incident, in
August 1979 Victoria and I were hired to do a dance exhibition at a Foleys store.  They were introducing a new disco dancewear line and wanted a dance performance to lure some customers in. 

As we trained, t
he Lighthouse incident was always in the back of our minds.  Victoria wasn't the same.  I could tell Victoria was starting to get gun shy about these acrobatics. I didn't blame her a bit. Like a baseball player who has been hit in the head with a pitch, once you know fear, it is a lot harder to get back in the batter's box.  Fortunately we never had accidents when we were training.  I was as careful as I could be.  Slowly Victoria got her confidence back.  We chalked the accident up to bad luck, not to any mistake in our dancing.  Her old enthusiasm returned and we were ready to try again.

In the middle of our dance, we began a spectacular cheerleader move called the Wraparound.  This is a hard move to describe.  Think 360 degrees. There are two stages to the Wraparound.  In Stage One, the woman starts by jumping up into the man's arms where he cradles her.  Then he swings her onto his back (see picture). 

In Stage Two, the man tries to return the lady to her original cradle position.   In order to transfer the woman from his back to the front again, he has to keep the momentum alive from first swinging the lady onto his back. 

Note in the picture above that the man's left arm is free.  The woman snaps both legs STRAIGHT against his left side, then he catches them. 

The instant the woman swings her legs against his left side, the man wraps his left arm around her legs, usually somewhere around the knees.  His hands are not involved at all.  For a split second, the woman's legs are STRAIGHT, but they immediately bend at the knee to give his arm something to hold onto.  At this point the man lets go with his right arm and tries to swing the lady back in front with his left arm using the "captured legs".  This is all done in a continuous motion to keep the momentum from dying.

Once the woman's legs are captured, man gives the woman another twist of his body to swing her back in front.  T
hat centrifugal force allows the woman to swing her body from the man's side back up into his arms in front to complete the move.

If you don't understand this, don't feel bad.  Acrobatics are difficult to describe.  However, you get the point - there is split second timing involved as well as danger.  The move was difficult.  It was hard enough for me to learn how to do it.  I can't help but admire the anonymous daredevil woman who had the guts to be the guinea pig while some guy made this move up!

The truly dangerous element of the move is catching the woman's legs with the man's left arm.  It has to be done just right.  The man is transferring the woman from one arm to the other.  If he lets go with his right arm too early, she will literally fall to the ground.  If he is too cautious and lets go with his right arm too late, the lady loses momentum and doesn't complete the 360.  This can be dangerous because when there is a loss of momentum, the woman's face comes very close to the floor at the tail end of the move.  Acrobatics are exciting because they are not only flashy, everyone knows they are risky.  There is no room for error. 

Our Foley's performance started well.  The crowd was starting to clap and our routine proceeded flawlessly.  Then it happened.  During the tough part of the Wraparound move, just as I tried to snag her legs, I was horrified to feel Victoria's legs slip right through my left arm.  My arm did NOTHING to break her momentum.  Victoria literally went airborne!

As Victoria sailed off into space, I watched in horror.  I was in shock.  Nothing like this had never happened before!   Victoria was flying through the air waving her arms wildly!  Eventually gravity took over.  Victoria landed in a far corner of the stage in a heap crumpled up against a couch.

I raced over to see if she was all right.  Victoria didn't move for a moment, so I was pretty worried.  Did she break her neck? 
Finally she moved an arm.  Thank goodness!  I was so relieved.  Once she realized her arm worked and so did her other body parts, she sat up.  However, Victoria didn't say a word.  She just sat there in a daze.  She was in shock from her newest accident. 

Victoria had taken quite a jolt.  She traveled a good ten feet beyond me.  After all, for this move to work, I had to swing her hard!  So Victoria had a lot of momentum behind her as she did her Supergirl impression across the dance floor.

Then Victoria roared back to life.  In a very awkward moment, Victoria lashed out at me for letting her get hurt like that.  What the hell did I do wrong THIS TIME?  Her words stung me to the core.  I shook my head in shame.  I didn't have an answer. 

Victoria was too shaken up to continue.  The accident brought yet another abrupt end to yet another performance.   Victoria wasn't crying, but she was very upset.  We left the Foley's stage with our tails between our legs in shame.  As we walked through the building, Victoria chewed me out for failing to do my part correctly.  I pointed out that I had performed this stunt flawlessly many times.  Victoria replied maybe so, but not this time!

Finally I couldn't take Victoria's anger any more.  I had to figure out what had gone wrong.
 All I knew was that Victoria's legs had slipped through my left arm like they had grease on them.  I had a suspicion.  I asked Victoria to stop.  Victoria was wearing some brand new skin-tight shimmery stretch pants.  She had bought them especially for the performance.  I don't know what fabric those pants were made of, but as I ran my hand across them, the pants were incredibly slick. That had to be it.  There could be no other explanation. 

Neither Victoria nor I had any way of knowing ahead of time that her tight pants were as slick as snake oil.  If there was any lesson to be learned, it would be to have a 'dress rehearsal' to look out for wardrobe malfunctions like this.  If we had practiced beforehand in that outfit, maybe we would have caught the problem ahead of time. 

Once Victoria realized she had contributed to her own demise, she eased up on me.  I wasn't off the hook, but maybe it wasn't ALL my fault.  That didn't stop me from feeling guilty.  I tried to tell myself
I had no way of knowing in advance just how slippery her legs were.  I had NEVER had a problem with this move before.  But the nature of guilt is that it does not always respond to reason.  This now made two occasions where Victoria had gotten hurt on my watch.

he Foley's incident took a major toll on Victoria's mind.  She had barely survived two close calls.  Would she be this lucky when the third accident struck?  Victoria was losing confidence in me fast.  She was convinced there would be another accident. I didn't have to read her mind.  I knew it because she told me so.  I pleaded my case. Was I to blame or not?  After all, I had a great track record on this move. At Foley's, I told her I had executed the Wraparound move the same way as the thirty previous times when I was successful.  I didn't do a single thing differently.  Those slippery pants had to be the problem.  Unfortunately, Victoria wasn't so sure.  She continued to suspect I had made a mistake, but wasn't confessing.

Victoria's words stung, especially because it seemed like everything that went wrong was always something out of my control.  Who could anticipate the lights going out at the Ritz?  How did I know some woman would stiff arm me in the back?  Who would have noticed the ceiling fans had just been turned on?  How could I have guessed that her new pair of pants were made of greased lightning?  

Was Rick a Jinx?

After the Foley's incident, Victoria had one of those eerie déjà vu experiences.  In her mind, the feelings of fear and doubt that she had just barely managed to suppress now came rushing back with twice the intensity.

On one level, Victoria understood that her pants were the likely culprit.  Victoria said she accepted my claim that I had AGAIN done nothing wrong.  However, at a deeper level of her consciousness, now I was guilty with four strikes against me! 

Look at it this way.  You have a friend who keeps having car wrecks.  Your friend has a perfectly reasonable explanation for the first accident, so you extend sympathy to your friend... only to see the car wrecks continue.  Now you begin to wonder if your friend is changing the facts or leaving out details or fibbing.  No one can have this many accidents without doing something to contribute to the problem.  Now you see the fix I was in. 

I was claiming for the fourth time in a row that the latest accident wasn't my fault.  Victoria wasn't buying it.  Victoria just couldn't look at me the same way any more.  Hadn't she just gotten through saying that maybe she wouldn't be quite as lucky when the next accident happened?  And damn if lightning didn't strike twice!   Every time I had performed, something terrible had happened.  Was Victoria going to get her face bashed in like Susie had down in Clear Lake?

The other problem was that I had crossed a dangerous threshold in Victoria's mind.

Victoria and I now had TWO FAILED PERFORMANCES under our belt.  In the world of superstition, people will tell you that evil things come in Threes. 

My mother, for example, was convinced if one airplane fell, two more were sure to crash in short order.  If only two planes crashed, Mom would say we just didn't know about the third one or it just hadn't happened yet.  Victoria felt exactly the same way.  One is an incident, Two is a coincidence, and Three is a Pattern.  Victoria took my three incidents to indicate that I had a PATTERN of failure.  She was convinced we were due for a third accident.

I tried to refute her words, but it was no use. Victoria's twisted logic got under my skin.  The thought that I had a dance curse stuck in my mind like acid to gnaw at my confidence.  Maybe she was right; maybe she was wrong.  But there was no denying the seed of doubt that had started with the Ritz was growing like a tumor in my psyche.  No matter which way Victoria looked at it... two accidents in a row, four accidents in a row... I was having a hard time believing in my own ability as a performer.

On the one level, my rational mind said that I was blameless in all four accidents.  On another level, Rick's Dance Curse seemed real.  Victoria's fear was contagious.  I was starting to believe her.  This was getting spooky. 

Annabelles Disaster

Maybe my mother was right.  Maybe bad things do come in threes.  One month after the Foley's Disaster, Victoria and I had another plane crash out on the dance floor.  Fortunately, this time Victoria didn't get hurt.  But someone did.

Victoria and I had been hired by the Galleria Plaza Hotel to teach Disco lessons at their dance club known as Annabelles.  Every Sunday night, Victoria and I would get on the elevator and travel high to the top floor of the Galleria Plaza.  We would teach a lesson and have some fun. 

This was an evening we looked forward to.  I liked Annabellles.  It was a pretty place and I loved the view.  Too bad it was so hard to get to... that was a problem for them.  However, on the nights when Victoria and I were there, the place did good business.  The manager liked that a lot.  He was pleased to discover we brought our own entourage. 
I would estimate at least 30 of the guests each night were our dance students coming out to party.  Sunday night was party night for the whole group.  We would order our 'Macho Man Margaritas' and our 'Bad Girl Pina Coladas'.  No, I am not making those names up.  They were on the drink menu.  Such clever marketing.

After the lessons were over, it was customary for Victoria and I to get out on the dance floor and give an impromptu dance performance.  It was good entertainment for the customers and we enjoyed it too.  This was Victoria's dream come true.  It was fun being the center of attention in such a glamorous setting as this top of the world Dance Club.  And of course Victoria had her fan club along to cheer for her.  She was very popular lady.

It was now September 1979.  One night after Victoria and I finished our regular Sunday evening dance lesson, we got out on the floor to do our customary solo dance as the conclusion to our lesson.  Although it was not technically an exhibition with a choreographed routine, it was still definitely a three minute performance. 

Victoria and I had one new rule - acrobatics were okay, but nothing difficult.  Victoria was still pretty skittish about getting hurt.  It is a shame we were always looking over our shoulder for the next shoe to fall.

Fortunately, we were good enough at this point that we didn't depend on the acrobatics to entertain anymore.  Thanks to Glen's training, we were sleek, graceful, and fast dancers.  We had excellent timing, precise footwork, and stage presence.  I possessed a countless array of complicated Hustle patterns that were pleasing to watch.  Victoria and I had completed our dream of becoming top-flight dancers. 

We may have sworn off the dangerous acrobatics, but at the same time Annabelles wanted us to strut our stuff.  The manager knew our weekly performance really stirred up the crowd.  So Victoria and I made sure to always throw in a few dips and flips to make him happy

However, there was a problem tonight.  Word of our weekly performances had spread.  There were so many people that the edge of the floor was lined with people pressing to see us dance.  We had less floor space to work with.  I was worried that someone might accidentally trip Victoria so I made sure to stay as close to the center of the floor as possible.  I was literally trying to anticipate "The Curse".

Victoria was totally into her dancing.  We meant to dazzle our audience.  And tonight we were on Fire!

the very end of our performance, I led Victoria into the Cuddles Position (see first picture).  I was preparing to send Victoria out to the Explosion Position (see second picture).  We were preparing to hit Victoria's favorite acrobatic stunt known as the Flying Flip (see picture below).  This was to be our grand finale. 

From Cuddles I rolled Victoria out to the very ends of our arms to hit the lines of the Explosion.  As Victoria rolled to the end of her left arm, she spotted completely on me. 

The dance position above is Cuddles.  From Cuddles, the man is preparing to roll the lady to the end of his arm to hit an Explosion position.  Below is an example of the Explosion position.  Victoria's feet were on the floor and her free hand was outstretched like the other picture below.

Focusing her eyes on me over her left shoulder, Victoria snapped her right arm in the other direction to hit the dramatic Explosion dance pose

Always the performer, Victoria had been so intent on her move she never noticed a spectator was standing much too close to the floor directly behind her.  Unfortunately Victoria's arm took a bad angle. Victoria's arm went straight sideways from her shoulder (see yellow arrow). 

Flinging out her arm to hit the dance pose,
Victoria's right hand struck this woman full force in the jugular karate-chop style. The lady instantly collapsed in agony.  She dropped so fast that my first instinct was Victoria had killed the woman!  It was a brutal hit.  Victoria's blow appeared to be a direct shot to the woman's throat. 

The entire audience screamed in horror as the woman dropped to the floor.  Well, she wasn't dead, but she was badly hurt. I winced as the woman rolled around on the floor gasping for air.  Clutching her throat, the woman coughed and wheezed.  She writhed and moaned.  I couldn't help myself. I morbidly watched the whole scene. It was really upsetting to witness how much pain she was in.  Victoria watched too.

Fortunately after several tense minutes, the woman began to recover her ability to breathe normally.  The pain eventually subsided and she was able to sit up.  She was okay.  Thank goodness!  Victoria went over to her and began to apologize profusely. 

Although I had not caused the accident, I still felt very guilty.  I thought I was keeping Victoria in the center of the floor, but then again that Explosion position takes up a lot of room. I couldn't believe this had happened.

Hearing that woman cough and choke for air made me sick.  I will never forget that awful gurgling, gasping sound in her throat.  As I saw the woman writhe on the floor in agony, I could not help but wonder why crazy stuff like this kept happening over and over and over again. 
What were the odds that another dance performance would be spoiled by a freak accident?  I really was starting to feel jinxed, I admit it.

I wasn't the only one who was feeling superstitious.  Victoria was even worse.  This one was on her.  Victoria was mortified at hurting that poor woman.  She was beside herself with guilt over her inadvertent mistake.  Victoria had already been spooked before, but now she was convinced that we were jinxed.

Victoria said she couldn't explain it and she couldn't make sense of it, but her feelings were real - we were not meant to perform on the dance floor.  Something evil was hanging over our heads.

I suppose I should add that Victoria was in the throes of a horrible confusion about this time.  She and her husband were having serious marital problems.  Our affair had not begun yet, but it was about to.

Victoria had a small girl, age 6, who was being affected by their problems.  Victoria loved that girl more than anything else in the world.  The dancing was taking her away from her daughter more than she was comfortable with.  Plus her guilt over her feelings for me were very intense.  She felt like she had made a horrible mistake pursuing her interest in dance. Plus she couldn't get the memory of that woman's pain-wracked face out of her mind.  Now she was just miserable over the whole thing. 

The karate chop incident put the nail in the coffin.  It was the last straw.  It marked the end of Victoria's enthusiasm for performing.  She was convinced that she was being punished for allowing her love of dance to interfere with her obligations to her daughter.  Or maybe she was just being punished by God for committing her sin.  Victoria had all she could take.  Victoria's superstitious side said enough was enough.  Performing wasn't fun any more.  The Universe was telling her to stop now or suffer more consequences.

Our time as dance partners had come to an abrupt halt.  Oddly enough, our affair would soon begin.  


SSQQ Front Page Parties/Calendar Jokes
SSQQ Information Schedule of Classes Writeups
SSQQ Archive Newsletter History of SSQQ