201 Nights of Whip Dancing
The Story of Rick Archer's
1986 Whip Adventure
1986 was the year I
began a life-long love affair with a dance known as the "Whip".
a seven month stretch I was crazy enough to go out Whip
Dancing for 201 nights in a row.
night after I finished with my teaching, I would leave the studio to
practice the Whip at various clubs around
never missed a night of dancing the Whip the entire time. You have
my word on that.
The Streak began as a solution to a very
deep depression. In April 1986, I ended a stormy two
with my first wife Pat. My personal life had
hit a rock. Like the Titanic, I was sinking to the
had always believed that "communication" and "good will" could solve
any problem between a man and a woman, but now I knew differently.
I had discovered the hard way that no matter how hard you try,
sometimes a relationship cannot be saved. I was crushed. I
had no idea how to start over.
The Day I Got
in the Face.
It was Spring of 1986. One Saturday morning soon after Pat and I
had separated, Pat confronted me in the hallway as I entered
the SSQQ building. I could see she was angry about something. What
was it this time?
Hanging along the Hallway at the dance studio were two dozen
posters full of 30 pictures each.
Pat ordered me to take down every picture that had the two of us
"Take them down! I don't ever want to see
another picture of the two of us together. Our marriage was
a sham and a disgrace. Do you hear me? I said take
them down! You have no right to keep those pictures up.
I do not give you permission."
I still hear her words ringing as if it was yesterday.
I refused to do so, pointing out that events such as the Sock Hop
and the Halloween Party contained pictures of a lot more people
than just her and I. They represented a photographic history of
the studio. Just because Pat didn't like the pictures of us didn't
mean she had the right to order me to take them down. They
were property of the studio.
Furious, Pat stomped off. This would not be the end of it. I knew
Pat too well. We were both there that Saturday to attend a meeting
of the SSQQ Whip Society, a group of dancers who met every two
weeks to improve their dancing by inviting different instructors
to come teach them. These people were not only my students, most
of them were personal friends of both Pat and myself.
At Break Time, I went next door and got some coffee. I
didn't bother with a lid since I was going to finish it quickly.
Then I went back to the classroom. Finding a stool in the
corner, I sat quietly by myself and watched my friends practice
their Whip dancing. Spotting me, Pat came over to me and
resumed the argument.
Again she demanded again I take down
the pictures. When Pat got in a mood like this, she could be
relentless. After five more minutes of intense arguing, I was disgusted
with Pat's constant badgering. Finally Pat said something that
got under me skin. I saw red and reflexively began to throw my cup of coffee
at her. Fortunately I caught my temper in time and jerked the cup back.
However the aborted motion jostled the coffee and some of it
Only a few drops of coffee hit the floor and none of it hit Pat, but I
could see the sparks fly in her eyes. She was furious now.
"You threw that coffee at me, didn't you? You wanted to
hit me with that coffee, didn't you?"
"Yes, I did want to hit you with that coffee, but I changed my
mind." I put down the coffee, stood up and
glared back at her.
I could see her hand balling into a fist. I said, "Just
like you want to hit me now, don't you?"
Her angry face told the story. Yes, she definitely wanted
to hit me!
So I told her, "Then go ahead, hit me."
So she did. Pat
pulled her arm back, then slapped me silly with her open palm. I was
stunned but more or less intact. The girl could hit! Must
have been her country upbringing.
The anger flared in her eyes. I wasn't going to back down though.
I was defiant. I said, "You want to hit me again, don't
you? Well, go right ahead!"
So Pat slapped me again. Our group of friends had stopped
dancing. As they saw Pat strike me as hard as she could,
they saw my face snap with this blow. It was something
right out of the movies. Certainly violence of this magnitude was never seen in the polite
company we kept. One woman in the background began to cry.
Everyone else was in shock. They didn't know what was going on
and they were slow to react.
I was in considerable pain, but not willing to back down. Pat
glared at me defiantly. She certainly wasn't backing down. I
told her to hit me again. I wanted the entire world to see this
woman in action. So Pat threw a third punch. Sure
enough, the third blow was witnessed by everybody. This
time Pat used her fist. Her ring raked across my face and
cut my face open. The scratch was so deep that blood
crossed the side of my face instantly.
was ready to hit me as many times as I was going to let her, but
by now the men realized she had no intention of stopping. Two men
grabbed her. As calmly as possible, they walked her out the
room and sat her down on a couch in the hall.
No one said a word to me. The twenty or so people were in too much
shock to know what to do.
I looked at their faces. No one had a clue what was going on. They
had been dancing and laughing only to look up and see Pat smack
the crud out of me.
I could see they were worried for me, but too confused to act. Obviously I was still standing, so I couldn't be hurt that bad.
I was too stupid to realize it at the time, but another reason
they didn't come to me was they weren't even sure who to blame!
Surely I must have done something to cause this.
Now I felt pretty humiliated by the experience. Cut,
badly bruised, and bleeding, I couldn't see any point in sticking
around. I left through another door and disappeared.
I didn't feel very good about what had happened. The same day I
sent a letter resigning from Whip Society.
I didn't see these people again for some time. They had
passed the point where they were regular students during the
week, so our paths didn't cross.
As the days went by, I would discover the consequences of this ugly scene were
troubling, yet eye-opening. "Eye-opening" that is once the swelling
went down. I had expected the incident would show every
person in that room what kind of person Pat really was. That
was where I was coming from the whole time. I had never met an
angrier woman in my entire life, but to the Real World she was
just a soft-spoken sweet country girl.
However I deeply underestimated Pat. She taught me a serious
lesson in spin control. Pat got on the phone to explain her side
of the story to every man and woman who would listen. She
started a word of mouth campaign that successfully
influenced everyone's opinion of what had happened. The
prevailing sentiment was that the incident was my fault
because I had provoked her and forced her to do it.
Meanwhile I didn't say
a word to anyone. I thought what had happened was self-evident
enough that it didn't require my testimony. Nor did a single
person call me to get my version of what had happened.
Pat's version of the story was left to spread unchecked.
Have you ever
heard of learning things the hard way? By the time I
discovered how the story had been twisted, it was much too late to
do anything to change people's minds. I was
guilty in the court of public opinion.
on that fateful day I never raised a hand, cursed at Pat or even threatened her. I simply refused to take the pictures down.
What kind of provocation is that?
But these minor
points were all lost in translation. There were even ugly rumors
this was payback for all the times I had hit her.
Unbelievable. I have never hit a woman in my life, but how
do you fight a rumor like that?
The whole point of letting her hit me was to show my friends
what a demon this woman could be. But now that I realized
the entire incident had backfired, I was sick with
embarrassment! I could not believe the damage to my
reputation. It seemed completely unfair, but the
realization that I had contributed to the problem by not
speaking up made my pain even worse.
The humiliation of being
beaten by my wife in front of my friends and then licked in the
court of public opinion sent me spiraling into a deep, dark
For many years I had taught "Dating Classes" for
Leisure Learning where I explained the Rules of the Dating Game to anxious
singles eager for every pearl of wisdom I had to offer. Now I decided
I had no business giving advice on relationships to anyone. I was so
disgusted by my failure to save this relationship, I threw in the
towel. I canceled my Dating Classes and Workshops. My "Guru
Days" were over. I didn't know a damn thing about human
beings except that I was too stupid to be giving any more advice.
After the fight, I played the part of the wounded bear. I kept
completely to myself other than teaching my classes. Each night I would leave
dance class immediately and come home to my empty house.
Not only was I angry that the truth behind the beating episode had
been flipped, I was angry at a lot of my friends for siding with Pat
or not coming to my defense with the story of what really happened.
Sometimes I'd cry, sometimes I would stare at the TV, sometimes I
would just sit there in the dark and brood. I was in the grips of a
powerful depression. Divorce has a way of doing that to you.
Feeling quite wounded and very lonely, for
two months I stayed a virtual recluse in my home. I didn't enjoy
coming home to my empty house, but I couldn't think of an alternative.
I was horrified at the
thought of dating. And I had cut myself off
from my friends. I wanted company, but the phone wasn't exactly
I wasn't doing very well, was I?
One Saturday night in June I came pretty close to
losing it. It had been two months
since the fight. I had been doing private dance lessons all day
and I drove
home to get a bite to eat. It was evening when I started
eating, but now it was dark outside. It was dark
inside as well, but I didn't have the strength to get up and
turn on a light. The darkness in the kitchen was a
perfect match for the dark thoughts in my mind.
kept staring at my four walls. Thoughts of shame, bitterness and
regret crept to the edge of my brain like a pack of wolves slowly
surrounding their prey before the attack. I wasn't in the mood to
fight these demons tonight, but it didn't seem like I had much of a
choice. The madness kept coming closer.
I knew sooner or later the dark
thoughts would finally take over. Was I going crazy?
I just couldn't take the empty
house any more.
I had to get out of this place!!
Rick Archer's Note: As you
might gather, these events changed my life. This story is also
covered in two other places:
night, June 14th, 1986,
for a way to escape my demons, I got in my car
and headed off to Twiggs, a club where
Whip dancers from all parts of the city met on Saturdays. I
was surprised that my friends from the Whip
Society seemed happy to see me. And thank goodness none of the women
refused to dance with me, a particular worry that had almost kept me
I had such a good time dancing that night! I definitely came
home in a much better mood than when I had left. The dancing had been
good for me. I cheered up a little. In fact, my depression had
taken the night off. Tired, I went straight to sleep.
The following day Sunday was my day off from teaching.
As evening approached, the fear crept in that my depression
might return. It didn't take a lot of thought to
remember my solution from the previous night. So Sunday night
I got in my car and drove over to the Four Palms
for a second night of Whip Dancing that weekend. Sure
enough, I had fun again. Even better, I had danced
myself into exhaustion. Tired, I went straight to
Two nights in a row of dancing. Two nights in a row of
sleep. Two nights in a row of avoiding my nighttime
demons. It didn't take a lot of deep thought to run
that play again, now did it?
The moment my class ended the next night, I
realized I didn't want to go home. Maybe "The Thoughts" would be there
waiting for me. I really did not want to be alone. A night
of dancing seemed to keep my demons at bay. So I asked
a couple students from my class to join me after class at a
place called Spinners. Sure, why
not? Sounds like fun!
And that is
how it started. Without actually making a conscious decision, I
had turned to Dancing as my answer
every night that first week. I enjoyed the
dancing, but best
of all it sure beat going home to that lonely empty house with all the
bad memories and the demons waiting for me.
did have a problem. If I wanted to dance after class, it could
not be at
the studio. Back in 1986 SSQQ subleased its space from a Jazz studio called
Dance Arts Unlimited.
The jazz dancers used every corner of the studio after 9 pm for
rehearsal. In order
to dance, I had to go someplace else.
Therefore as a way to escape loneliness and depression,
just like I had on Monday, each night
that week I invited students to go dancing with me after my classes ended.
Here was my first week of Whip Dancing:
01: Saturday was
02: Sunday was Four Palms.
03: Monday I went to a place called
04: The following
night Tuesday was SSQQ Whip night at Cooters.
05: Wednesday I showed up at the San Antone Rose
where I squeezed in a couple Whips between the C&W music.
06: Each Thursday
would go Whip Dancing
at the Safari Bar Club.
Friday I headed over to Midnight Rodeo.
By the time
to Twiggs the following
Saturday for Day 8, I had my routine down.
safe. The dancing kept me active and kept me from brooding too much.
Soon my depression became manageable.
The relief from depression was reason enough, but I noticed
there were other benefits too. I began to make new friends.
Even better, I grew much closer to the friends I already had.
All of us were single, everyone knew about my divorce, and best of
all they took care of me. No one said a word about the Beating
Incident. No one seemed to care. I was their friend.
Besides, they were enjoying the ride! It was fun going
out dancing every night!
As many people have discovered,
perfect way to get out of the house, get some
exercise, hear great music, see friends, and have
fun. It gives the walking wounded like me a chance to be near the opposite sex but not
get too close. I was able to stay busy and stay safe while
I healed. The women helped a lot.
They knew what I was going through. They also knew I was still
very troubled, so they deliberately stayed outside of striking
distance. I didn't mind a bit.
After the first week set the pace, it was pretty much the same story every night!
Each night was another Groundhog Day (referring to the
Bill Murray movie) - teach dance, go dancing
afterwards. I whipped off 30 nights of
Whip dancing in a row without giving it
even a second thought.
Margie tells me a story
night, July 7 (#24) I was dancing with
the group at the Paradise Beacheach Club.
a break in the action I mentioned to Margie Saibara that I had been
Whip dancing every night for about a month.
She said I still had a ways to go to catch Hal Perry.
"What are you talking about?" I asked.
Margie proceeded to tell me story about a guy
from SSQQ named Hal Perry who
claimed he had gone dancing every night for 50 days in a row.
Hal had gotten fired and was broke.
He found the cheapest
way for him to eat was to hit the Happy Hours and run like crazy to the dance floor
whenever the waitress came for his drink order. Fortunately
the waitresses never followed him out there.
One night he went to his mother's house to eat, then
fell asleep on the couch. However the next night Hal hit another Happy Hour and
began dancing again for yet another month.
Hal narrowly missed a Streak of 80 days right
Hal's Story made a great
impression on me...
I was greatly amused by this story.
I thought about what Margie told me all the way home that night.
competitive streak, I speculated I was already close to duplicating
Hal's unusual accomplishment. I got out my pen and wrote down
every place I had been dancing up till now. As I had told Margie, I was
to 30 days. On a whim I decided to break Hal's record.
Why not? It wasn't like I had anything better to do.
record was not difficult at all. I was starting to enjoy
myself again. This was clearly the best thing that had happened
to me since Pat and I broke up. Three weeks later on Saturday, August 2nd, I tied the record with Night # 50 at Twiggs.
A List of where
I went dancing 201 Nights in a row in 1986
6-15 4 Palms
6-20 Midnight R
6-22 4 Palms
6-23 Paradise Beach
6-25 Midnite Rodeo
6-29 4 Palms
6-30 Paradise Beach
7-06 4 Palms
7-07 Paradise Beach
7-09 Midnite Rodeo
7-11 Midnite Rodeo
7-13 4 Palms
7-16 Midnite Rodeo
7-18 Midnite Rodeo
7-20 4 Palms
7-21 Paradise Beach
7-26 Midnite Rodeo
7-27 4 Palms
7-28 Paradise Beach
7-30 Midnite Rodeo
8-01 Midnite Rodeo
8-03 4 Palms
8-10 4 Palms
8-11 Paradise Beach
8-13 Midnite Rodeo
8-17 4 Palms
8-18 Paradise Beach
8-23 SSQQ Party
8-25 Paradise Beach
8-27 Midnite Rodeo
8-29 Melody Ln
8-31 Midnite R
9-05 Midnite Rodeo
9-07 4 Palms
9-10 Midnite Rodeo
9-12 Midnite Rodeo
9-14 4 Palms
9-19 Midnite Rodeo
9-24 Midnite Rodeo
9-26 Melody Ln
9-28 4 Palms
10-08 Paradise Beach
10-10 Midnite Rodeo
10-15 Midnite Rodeo
10-17 Midnite Rodeo
10-19 4 Palms
10-22 SW Whip
10-24 Midnite Rodeo
10-25 St Johns
10-26 4 Palms
10-31 White Hall
11-01 SSQQ H.P.
11-02 4 Palms
11-09 Ren Fest
11-12 Midnite Rodeo
11-26 Midnite Rodeo
11-28 Midnite Rodeo
12-03 Midnite Rodeo
12-12 SSQQ C.P.
12-17 Midnite Rodeo
201 12-31 Copper Mtn Rec
After 50, The Streak nearly ended right there!!
after 50 was a Sunday, my day off from teaching. I did 8 hours of yard
work in the
brutal heat of a Texas summer. Tired way past exhaustion, I collapsed on the couch and
passed out. When I awoke several hours later,
in the house too. As I lay there in the darkness, there was no way I wanted to go dancing.
It was late and I
didn't want to move.
I didn't feel good. I was sore. I was weak.
I had tied Hal Perrys
record. What difference did it make? Who cares?
For an hour I just laid there trying to find the strength to make
For an entire hour I lay there
wrestling with my conscience.
I gave in and drove to the Four Palms.
It was a long drive. The entire way,
I could not believe that I was actually doing this! I
decided to lead a few Whip steps, say thank you, leave and head
right back home.
there at 11 pm.
No one I knew was still there, but I asked one of the
regulars to dance. She was almost twice my age! To
my surprise - and hers too - I enjoyed the dance. So I
asked her to dance again. I decided to stick around a
I make a Discovery!
The Soul Brothers
was the House Band at the Four Palms. They
live "get-down-and-dirty" Rhythm & Blues music.
This was belt-buckle rubbin', bump and grind
music at its best!
Although I love the Blues, when I first
visited the Four Palms I had
great difficulty dancing
to this kind of music.
The tempo was so much slower than my preferred
120 beats per minute Rock music
that I heard at Cooters.
The Soul Brothers music was in the the
90s and I always felt awkward trying to dance to it.
However after my long day of yard work, tonight my energy level fit the
speed to a T. I was relaxed and let the music soak in. As the evening progressed I
noticed I was using new footwork plus I had acquired an odd wrist-twisting lead.
I was actually dancing to the rhythm of this slow
was fascinated with my discovery!
Where had this footwork come from? No one had
taught me how to dance this way. Subconsciously my feet had
found a way to adapt. This was the night I learned
that the music has the power to teach footwork. If you practice
enough, your body learns ways to fit its motion to the sound.
Through the Magic of Practice plus my special state
of relaxation, my Whip Unconscious had found a way to adapt my original Whip training to
this slower-paced music. Now I could dance Slow Whip as easily as my Cooters-influenced
Fast Whip. I was so proud of myself on the drive
home that night!
I was aware this intense 50 day period of practice
was paying some unexpected dividends. By accident I
had developed a much deeper feel
for this complex dance than I ever imagined
possible. Not only did I break Hals record, I even managed to learn
how to Slow Whip. I was actually starting to fall
in love again - with a dance no less!!
Legendary Four Palms
What a day!
And what a night! That night
at the Four Palms - #51 if you're counting - meant a lot to me.
It was a huge turning point. The pain of my failed relationship
was now long
forgotten. Two solid months of dancing had
worked wonders for my spirits. Now I realized I was even
becoming a better dancer! This dance therapy was
Once I learned how to dance to the slower R&B
music, the Four Palms became my favorite visit of all my dance
clubs each week. Did I mention this place was a dive? As
you entered, the Four Palms had a sign on the wall that said "Check
your guns and knives at the door!" Needless to say, that got my
attention rapidly. The Four Palms was the Sunday Night hangout of the
Houston Whip Club. It was located on Telephone Road in a rough
Once inside, there
were drunks, there were loose women, there was smoke everywhere,
there were guys hitting on the girls, the tattoos were real and so
were the scars. Best of all there was this great band singing
their raw Stripper Music blues about people being bad to the bone.
The first time I visited this place I couldn't decide who was
naughtier - the patrons, the band, or the dancers. Out on the
dance floor the women were soaking up every note of this Sin Music
and expressing it with their hip gyrations. I stared in open
astonishment. The men were lechers and the women were teases.
teases. Everyone was having a great time dancing down and dirty.
Here I was this innocent little preppie boy taking a walk on the
blue side of town. I decided to let the place corrupt me a little.
Not only did I love every minute of it, but I talked all these
clean-cut nice girls from my dance studio into going slumming with
me. The women all went "yuck" the moment they got there and feared
for their virtue, but once the band started playing, they gave it
up just like I did. Soon the good girls were learning to dance like bad
girls. The poor place was never the quite the same after the SSQQ
In 1988 SSQQ initiated a new dance party in honor of my Four Palms
experience. The SSQQ Sleazy Bar Whip Party was born.
If you ever want understand the nature of the Whip experience, you
should definitely read this story!
Going dancing every night of the week had become a habit
not just for me, but others as well!
My next 50 days were a blur.
I was a high-ranking member of a close knit
group of friends who had met through dancing and my studio.
Everyone in the group knew about The Streak and teased me
about how silly it was, but
I had no intention of quitting.
I was steadily improving,
the dancing was fun, it kept me from being lonely, and I was proud that I was becoming a
better dancer. The constant practice was paying off to the point where
Whip was an absolute blast and I was having the time of my life.
It turns out
I wasn't the only person positively affected by
the Streak. My friends may have teased me, but a lot of people
decided to Hitch a Ride on my Streak. While I was dancing 7
nights a week, everyone else was dancing at least 5 nights as
well. I noticed my friends were becoming excellent dancers in
their own right!!
Mike Fagan and Debbie Anglin would go on to become Texas State
Whip Champions. Margie Saibara and Ted Jones went on to become
City and State Champions. Tom Easley and Carol Gafford competed at
very high levels. Jeannie Haynes became a City Champion.
Other members of the group such as Judy Price, Jim Ponder, Diane
Head, Steve Racey, Michelle Collins, Rose Brown, Michelle Keating, and John
Cowen weren't necessarily interested in competing, but they were
developing into terrific social Whip Dancers. And these were
just the leaders of the Pack. There were twenty more dancers
behind them who were also quietly improving as well.
During my Streak we were all becoming a phenomenal group of
dancers! A couple years further down the road many of the
people listed above joined first Mario Robau's dance team and then
later Gary Henson's dance team. Their performances were a
joy to behold. This group was special in so many ways.
However, Dancing wasn't the only thing we shared. Led by Head
Lunatic Tom Easley, we were all starting to go a little nuts as
well. Wait till you read the next story!
The Infamous Tom Easley Look-a-Like Night!
Without a doubt, the single most inspired night of lunacy during
the Streak occurred on Friday, August 15, at a club known as the
Safari Bar. It was Night #63 for me, but for the Group it was
without a doubt the craziest event in studio history.
Tom Easley was an unbelievably funny guy who was a vital member of
our Wild and Crazy group. For most part we all loved Tom
dearly except for one thing. Recently Tom had developed the
curious habit of wearing absolutely the most garish clothes
imaginable whenever and wherever the group went out dancing!
taste in clothes offended Margie Saibara, the beautiful lady
who had never worn a mismatched outfit in her life.
Margie wasn't teasing when she complained about Tom's clothes
to me one night. Margie was completely serious. She told
me how embarrassed she was to be seen sitting next to him at a
nice restaurant when our group would go out to eat! She
could see other patrons actually pointing and laughing at him!
And for some reason, to Margie's dismay, Tom always wanted to
sit next to her! Obviously opposites attract!
I couldn't have cared less about Tom's taste in clothing, but then
I am a guy. What do you expect? Tom was, well, Tom. That
explained everything! He was a bit weirder than any of us
cared to admit, but we all loved him so much we "overlooked"
certain things about him.
As I laughed at how serious Margie was ("Can't you do
something, Rick!?"), a wonderful idea for a prank popped
into my head. Why not have a Surprise Night where everyone
in the group came dressed as Tom Easley??
Labeling it the "Tom Easley Look-a-Like" Night, we all did our
best/worst to find the ugliest, most garish and unmatching clothes
imaginable and wear them to the party.
Quite a few of us took the opportunity to poke fun at Tom very
seriously. For example, from the picture you can see that Mike
Fagan found a way to make himself a near-clone of the infamous Mr.
Easley. When some of us saw the two of them together, we wondered
if maybe this party had been a serious mistake.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. I'm sure you will
quickly agree that without actually SEEING how hideous their
clothes were, this particular story would not have made any sense
Yes, I know the event was wacky and off-the-wall, but it also
describes just how close our group had become during my wonderful
Streak year. We had more fun together than anyone even
realized at the time.
Those were the days, my friend, we thought they'd never end...
A story this good has to be told in more depth. For a further look
at the Legend of Tom Easley and his Infamous Night,
Warning - this web page contains many pictures that sensitive
readers may find deeply troubling. -;)
Where am I going with this Thing??
September 21, I reached #100 to the 50s music
at a place called "Cafe De Ville" on FM 1960.
Nights 50-100 had been an easy ride. I
was in a terrific groove. Now for the first time since it all
started, I took a step back on my drive home from Cafe de Ville
and asked myself how much longer the Streak should go.
I was in no mood to quit, but
now that I crossed the 100 threshold, maybe it was time to think about
returning to shall we say a more "diversified lifestyle"?
I noticed I didn't fear being alone at night in my home any more
which was another good sign. I didn't have
that loneliness feeling any more.
still wasn't dating anyone because I still wasn't ready.
But I had at least started to think about dating.
I considered that was a
good sign that I was on the mend. Some people jump right back
into a rebound relationship that causes even more pain. Fortunately
this dancing was keeping me out of that kind of trouble.
After all I was around women all the
I got a chance to laugh, to flirt, and feel attractive without risking
Plus I was starting to look good again. All this dancing had taken
off 20 pounds. I was in shape too - I could dance all night!
I could feel the energy and the confidence radiating through my
soul. It occurred to me I was having perhaps the best year of my
life. It certainly hadn't started that way, but look at me
But at the same time this couldn't go on for ever or could it?
At this point I had been out Whip
Dancing every night for over three months. I began to
wonder when it would end or to put it another way,
when should I end it?
Since I taught dance for a living, The Streak was not
at all difficult
to continue. However on the other hand like anything you do too much, it wasn't
quite as much fun on Night 100 as
Night 50 had been.
When I got home I sat down
and looked at a calendar.
I discovered that if I danced each night for the
remainder of 1986, New Years Eve would make 201 nights. That seemed a logical
place to stop. I was half the way there. Now
I had three months to go.
I begin to lose interest.
I was starting to get bored. By the end of September it was
beginning to feel like "Same Old Same Old" each night. So I started
to look for diversions. On October 25 I was invited to perform at
Saint Johns School for an alumni function. Margie Saibara was kind
enough to dance with me that night. SJS certainly wasn't a dance club,
but it was Whip dancing outside of class. Close enough.
A week later the Southwest Whip Club had a Halloween Bash at a
hotel known as "The Grand". I put on the mask of a Mime and
went to the dance without saying a word. I had a great time!
I didn't talk to anyone the whole evening! My only
disappointment was how little time it took the ladies to realize it was me
hidden behind my mask. I had planned on being the Phantom of
the Opera all
night, but had not considered the fact that my Streak had made my
dance style effortless to recognize. I guess I shouldn't have been so
In November, one of the ladies at SSQQ
named Aimee Atkinson organized a camping trip
at her parent's property north of the Renaissance Festival. I wanted to go, but
I doubted seriously there was a night club
nearby in the middle of the forest.
I decided I wasn't going to let that stop
me from going!
On Saturday, November 8, #148, about twenty of us drove to a forest north of
Magnolia for the camping trip. I took along a tape deck
powered by batteries. That night the whole group of us
danced Whip and C&W around a campfire dodging embers and cow
patties. Did I
forget to mention our exciting wilderness campsite turned out to be in the middle of a cow pasture? I am not sure how
those cows felt about "Mustang Sally", but they sure moo-ed a lot.
I had brought a tent along, but I was so uninspired
by the location I rolled down the Hatchback seat and just slept in the
car. Why bother? Despite the odd setting, we had a lot of fun
getting drunk and telling ghost stories and dirty jokes. How many
times have I said I had more fun with this group than I ever had with
a group of people in my life.
The core members were all there back when I had been married, but
without a doubt the Streak had a lot to do with pulling the group much
The next day we went to
the Renaissance Festival for
the second part of our
weekend adventure. That day at the
Renaissance had to be one of the best times I ever had in my life as
we laughed and played.
I may have been a little drunk from the day's activities, but mind was
still focused on my commitment. It was getting dark.
As the group prepared to leave late in the
day, I was worried because I hadn't danced Whip and we were a long way from home.
As we neared the exit gates, from a distance we heard
the sound of a Celtic Waltz.
We all looked at each other and smiled
in agreement. The music lured us
through the throng until finally we discovered its source. There
surrounded by hundreds of people was a medieval string band
playing the beautiful tune. Shall we Waltz?
Immediately we dropped our goods and 10 couples spontaneously
began to Waltz! The crowd loved us and so did the band!
They smiled and waved to us as we passed by
on our circle.
Soon we had the huge
crowd watching and clapping for us
too! Our group of dancers were now part of the show!
I was so glad I had worn my Robin Hood
outfit. Anybody named "Archer" has got to have at least one
Robin Hood costume hanging in his closet. Back to Merrye Olde England was I!
For its next song the band began to play an
Irish Jig. An idea popped into my
brain. Why not? I asked
Margie Saibara to Whip. The music may have been a
little odd, but the speed of the music was the same as Whip music. Always the good
sport, Margie rolled her eyes, but finally agreed to help. The Streak continued.
Two weeks later, #163, at a western club called
Johnny B Daltons we ran into a
who stubbornly refused to play any Rock music. Without
skipping a beat I danced the Whip to Willie Nelson's "On the Road Again". As they say,
whatever it takes.
The Streak starts to
Three weeks later, #184, I was at Judy Price's house
attending her Christmas Party. It was 9 pm, we were having fun, and there was no dancing.
Instead the girls were watching Tom Cruise in "Top
Gun". They were going nuts and I was feeling neglected. I asked the
group what time they were going dancing. The women looked at me like I
was crazy and the men said they were staying where the women were. I
was on my own.
Anxiously I watched the clock. Finally I asked Linda Harwell to go dancing with me. The
first three clubs we drove to were closed on a Sunday night! Uh oh. Was any
place open ? I was getting pretty worried. Next we drove over to Cooters, our main
hangout. It was open, thank goodness. We danced all of one song, then headed
straight back to Judy's party. As you can gather, my interest in The Streak was
seriously beginning to wane.
It was the middle of December.
As much as I loved dancing the Whip, by now The Streak felt more and more
like a collar around my neck. My dancing had
improved about as much as it was going to. I had stopped learning new
moves and increasingly found myself just going through the motions.
I knew it was time to move on.
The time was drawing near.
Year's Eve: The End of the Streak
Two weeks later over the Christmas Holidays I went
skiing with the Space City Ski Club. We
headed to Colorado for a week at Copper Mountain. No one on the plane knew how to
Whip. No problem. Don't forget I can also teach the dance.
I asked my roommate's
daughter Tina, a freshman at A&M, if she would like to learn how to Whip. She said
yes. There was nothing romantic between us. After all Tina was
half my age. I explained the situation so she was well aware what I
was up to. Tina realized she was doing me a big
favor, but it was easy for her because she liked to dance.
night was a close call. After the plane ride to Denver and
the long bus trip to Copper Mountain, it was
getting close to Midnight. I knocked on Tina's door and told
her there was still time to go dancing that
night. We walked around for a while until
Tina and I discovered a small bar near
our condo. It was called "The Columbine"
after the state flower.
It was 11 pm
and no one was
dancing, but there was taped dance music
being played and there was a dance floor. Girl
Dance Floor + Music. What
more did I need?
I taught Tina the Whip
Basic and the Bump. At quarter to twelve we concluded
with the evening's ceremonial Whip dance. The
Streak still lived, but not for long.
There were 3 days to go till the end of the year. For
the next two nights Tina and I returned to
the Columbine to practice.
night of our Colorado ski trip was New Year's Eve.
There was a big NYE party at the Copper Mountain
Recreation Center so a bunch of people from the ski club decided to
pay a visit.
At the New Years Eve Party, Tina and I danced the
Whip to a honky-tonk tune called "If You Wanna Get To Heaven"
played by the Ozark Mountain
Daredevils, the band hired for the evening.
I was proud of my young protégé. In just three
nights, Tina had become a pretty fair Whip dancer. Together we put on
a show! We got a big round of applause from our ski club
friends, most of whom had never seen Whip in their lives.
Tina's Dad looked at me suspiciously, but I caught
his worried eye and grinned to let him know it was okay. I don't think
he had ever seen his little daughter move like that before.
Tina gave me a big hug. We had become
friends. She was well aware this was my final night of the
Streak. Tina had been kind to help me finish out the year with
such a graceful conclusion. I thanked her.
Together we greeted the
following night was a lonely time for me.
The next day I skipped skiing. Other than going out for meals,
I spent most of the day in my room quietly watching
the New Year's Day bowl
games by myself. I spent the day reflecting over the events of the past year.
As it grew dark, I was feeling pretty sad
about ending my Streak. 1986 had started miserably, but had
become a very happy year indeed thanks to the dancing.
At 9 pm there was a knock on my door. It was Tina asking me if I
wanted to go dancing just in case I had
changed my mind. For just a
moment, I was sorely tempted to accept her offer. I didn't want it
to end. The Streak had been so good for me!
However after 201
consecutive nights of dancing Whip in the clubs, it was Time. I told her thanks, but
decided to pass.
I was healed from the Breakup that had precipitated my flurry of
Whip dancing. Now I was looking forward
to new challenges
like dating again and going to dinner and movies like normal
Nevertheless, as Midnight signaled the end of the
Streak, I was very sad. I felt like a real friend had passed on.
I learned important lessons about dancing.
My 201 Nights of Whip Practice allowed my Unconscious to learn
things about dancing that deeply transcended anything I had been taught. I realized a teacher
can point you in the right direction and help you improve more quickly, but true mastery
is only gained through practice.
I had started lessons in 1977, but it wasnt
till now 9 years later that I finally could say I knew how to Whip.
The Practice made all the difference.
As the Streak reached
its conclusion I was as proud of myself for learning the Whip as I
had been when I
graduated from college.
retrospect college may have been easier.
Book learning has always been a strength, but as an
over-analytical left-brainer I have never been a
fast learner when it comes to dancing. I think
too much, a real handicap for a dancer! With this in mind, I
respected the dance adventure as a huge accomplishment. I was deeply proud of the progress I had
I became a better
dance teacher too. One of the things
is that if a woman
balanced properly, Whip leads don't have to be strong. Power is always a
problems. "Power" means the lady
dances off-balance or the man is
knocking her off balance and forced to use power to help her recover.
I had learned this secret during the Streak.
I also found that Whip leads require excellent
timing that can only be acquired through
Practice. There are many different types of leads. Often they must occur in a rat-a-tat
sequence that leaves little time to "think about it".
My 201 nights of Whip
these moves out of my head and converted them into what dancers
call "muscle memory". Now my
motions had become instinct.
New forms of footwork and a
gracefulness of movement developed. For example, the fast Rock
music at Cooters taught me how to control the
woman using arm tension. The slow Rhythm & Blues music at the Four Palms helped me
develop more sophisticated footwork and a
different style of dancing.
These lessons taught me that no matter how good
a teacher is, Nothing beats Practice.
The Studio Grows.
1986 was a phenomenal year for the studio too. After 25 years in
the business I have discovered the studio always is the busiest
when I am involved in the dancing. When I am in a
relationship, I am nowhere near as active in studio events as I am
when I am free. The energy I created in 1986 carried over
into 1987 which was without a doubt one of the best years of my
When I am happy, business drops. When I am miserable, the business
improves. The irony of this arrangement was never more true than
1986 and 1987. During this time when I had absolutely no girl
friend, the studio grew by leaps and bounds.
The following year in 1987 I never did quite find that girlfriend I was looking for,
but it didn't matter. During my 201 Nights in 1986 I formed the
deepest friendships of my adult life. I was an active member of
the best group of people I have ever known. Many of my
best friends today were the people I hung out with in My Favorite
Year of 1987. (for the full story,
The Streak Healed Me.
The fun I had and the lessons I learned were important.
However the most important gift of all - far more
important than the dramatic improvement in my dancing - was that I regained my confidence and my
self-esteem. I came out of my depression and had two of the
happiest years of my life thanks to dancing.
I made more friends in this time than you can
imagine, friendships that have last long after the Streak ended.
And I owe it all to my own dance studio which served as a safe
haven while I healed. My own studio cured me just like
it has cured so many of my students over the years.
This was the year I learned beyond a doubt that Dancing is an
incredibly very healthy activity for the body, the heart, and