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
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
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
would never become my dance partner, a role Victoria continued to lobby
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.
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
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
Although I had never heard of him at the time, I
later discovered Glen was one of Houston's leading dance
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...
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
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.
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
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.
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
The Lighthouse Disaster
Looking back, it
really does seem like
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.
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
Victoria's fault she chose the wrong guy to show off with.
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.
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.
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!
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
Now it was time to perform. Our friends
cheered their encouragement.
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
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
not on my side. Victoria straddled my
waist (her legs were on either side of my waist).
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
As Victoria stood
upside down, she had her
face pressed against mine ("cheek to
cheek") and her hands were around the back of my
were on Victoria's waist to balance her. Victoria hit
her position perfectly. She was completely still.
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
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.
behind me, first I had to spin a quick 180 degree turn on one
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
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 temple. Her head glanced
off the floor rather than taking the full
nose missed hitting the
floor by a quarter inch.
It was that
Now we both lay on the floor in a tangled heap. People
ran to our aid. Fortunately neither of us was badly
we were definitely unable to continue. Victoria's
head got a bad bruise, but the major damage was
Victoria was terrified by the experience. She cried and shook
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.
someone went to get our car for us, I studied
the ceiling. My eyes locked on to the
whirring ceiling fans.
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
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
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
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
And that wasn't
all. I didn't mention the
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.
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 tears. I 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
Her arms could never have broken that fall.
had been totally out of control. She had barely missed a trip to the hospital with
We were supposed to
not horrify. Hired as
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
droves. So much for the Grand Opening of the
am sure the owners were appalled at their bad luck to hire us.
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
Something was wrong here. This was about the time
Victoria said that maybe I really did have some sort of dance curse.
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
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.
we trained, the
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.
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).
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
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
Once the woman's legs are captured, man gives the woman another
twist of his body to swing her back in front. That centrifugal force allows
to swing her body from
the man's side
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.
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
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,
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
couldn't take Victoria's anger any more. I had to
figure out what had gone wrong.
knew was that
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.
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
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
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
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
Was Rick a Jinx?
After the Foley's incident,
Victoria had one of those eerie déjà
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
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
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.
Maybe my mother was right.
Maybe bad things do come in threes. One month
after the Foley's Disaster, Victoria and I
plane crash out on the dance floor. Fortunately, this time
didn't get hurt. But someone did.
Victoria and I had been hired by
Plaza Hotel to teach Disco
lessons at their
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
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
And of course
her fan club along to cheer
for her. She was very popular lady.
It was now September 1979. One night after
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
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
(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
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.
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.
were the odds that another dance performance
would be spoiled by a freak accident?
I really was starting to feel jinxed, I admit it.
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
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.
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
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.
time as dance partners had come to an abrupt halt.
Oddly enough, our affair would soon begin.