Becky's Big Bash!
Written by Rick Archer
Becky Bratton, SSQQ Western
instructor, turned 60 this year. Seeing as how she
looks pretty good, Becky made no attempt to hide her age.
Therefore I assume it is kosher to tell it like it is.
Becky decided she wanted to go all out. So on July 3rd
Becky threw herself one heck of a Birthday Party!
Becky hired SSQQ's favorite band, Two Tons of Steel, and all
her friends from the studio... including lots of men who can
Becky's Party was a wonderful family affair in more ways
than one. We will get to that in a moment.
By a nice coincidence, we just had the floors
refinished in time for the party. Plus Becky and her
friends decorated beautifully.
George - Mr. Handsome - Sargent got the honor
of the first dance.
What he did to deserve the honor no one knows.
Becky and Will
Becky blows out the candles
Two Tons of Steel
Patty and Marla
Jamie, Laura and Steve
Anita and Tim
Cindy and George
Richard and Annie
Ana and Jeff
Amanda, Sam, Anita, Carol
Eric, Tracy, Gary, Cheryl, Jeanie, Fran, Gus
Bruce, Harold, Albertin
Myra, Rowena, Charley
Philip, Maureen, Lyn
Ray, Patty, Phyllis, Marla
Linda and Javier
Jess and Pat
Okay, here's the
question. Study the pictures in the pink section and
see if you can figure out what these people have in common.
I will put the answer at the bottom of the page.
Gareld and Virginia
Cheryl and Gary
Dennis and Karen
Jamie and Dave
Debra and Bob
Fran and Gus
Bruce and Mara
Gerry and Amy
Jo Anne and Daryl
Jo and Jack
Ana and Bob
Karen and Wil
and Keith, Betty and Tom
So, did you figure it out?
If not, I will have
the answer for you shortly.
Becky organized two Swing dance contests to
take place during the Band Break. These were the
contestants in the "Novice Category"
I usually have serious reservations about
dance competitions. But Becky did a very job. She
had everybody dance together at once. That took a lot of
the pressure off everyone. I could tell by the faces of
the participants that they were having fun out there.
That's a good thing.
Here are the contestants from the "Advanced
Becky had many of her family members join
us for the celebration. She asked them to be the judges.
Becky's family did a pretty good job; I agreed with their
choices in both competitions.
Tracy and Eric were the winners of the first
Joel and Lori edged out Steve and Vivian in the second contest.
Joel positioned himself right in front of judges. Very clever.
It was a marvelous party indeed. We all
owe Becky a great deal of thanks for the time and effort she put
into organizing this event.
I hope her next 60 years will be just as much fun as her first
There were eleven
couples at Becky's Party who literally met their spouses here at the
Two more couples met through online dating services, but give SSQQ
the lion's share of the credit for helping to create their marriage.
A major part of their courtship involved getting to know each other
during dance class.
Two of the couples
pictured above are engaged. Yes, they met here.
As I write this story,
another SSQQ couple - Jack Benard and Jackie Chang - are on their
In addition, last week yet another SSQQ couple - Guy Hoover and
Patricia Pennington - just got married.
Furthermore, there were
at least another dozen couples at Becky's Party who met their
Significant Others here at the studio. As you can see, SSQQ
Slow Dance and Romance Magic is always in the air.
But these romances are only the tip of the iceberg. Just as
important are the friendships.
Besides the couples who met at SSQQ, I counted ten more married
couples at the party who are just as loyal to the studio as any
person who met their husband or wife, boyfriend or girlfriend here
at the studio. Why do they stay a part of SSQQ? Because
they like to dance and because this is where their friends are.
Furthermore, there were
thirty other people in attendance who aren't dating anyone in
particular at the moment. Did they feel lonely at this party?
No, of course not. Here at the studio, it doesn't seem to
matter whether you are single or in a relationship. Everyone
talks to everyone; everyone dances with everyone.
In the old days, many people would meet at the studio, find a
boyfriend or girlfriend, then move on. These days, most of the
newly-formed couples prefer to stick around.
Why? Because they
wish to remain part of their Circle of Friends. SSQQ has grown
into a Family.
I give Marla a lot of the
The SSQQ Cruises are popular events that help make the SSQQ
friendship network deeper than I have ever seen it. The cruises that Marla organizes are marvelous because
they are a true 'group experience'. When you take a trip with
our group, it doesn't matter whether you are single or in a
relationship - while we are out at sea, everyone on board has the
time and the desire to strengthen relationships with existing
friends and make new friends as well. For an entire week,
people have the chance to spend quality time with other members of
the group and really get to know them.
feeling of belonging to a large group where everyone helps everyone
during the adventure. We are one big family during the trips. People
come back to land and make sure to continue their friendships on a
year-round basis. And what do they talk about? Next
year's trip, of course.
Becky's Party was a perfect example of the SSQQ Circle of Friends.
The elaborate studio decorations were wonderful, but Becky could not have done
all of this alone. She asked for help and got it. Her friends came early, did the decorations
and set up the tables and chairs.
Many people brought food to share. Becky's guests had a ball
mingling with friends as they ate. The food at the sit-down
Potluck Dinner was so good I went back for seconds. People
were very generous with bringing food. When midnight came, there was
plenty left to munch on.
Everyone danced with
There were the Swing Dancers who worship Two Tons
like star-struck groupies, plus Whip Dancers and Western Dancers.
There were Salsa Dancers as well in attendance (they must have liked
what they saw - the next week, they all signed up for Western
lessons.) The SSQQ Gang of
Dancers was in full swing. This was quite a party.
- Stay for Practice Night!
The nice thing about
SSQQ is that it has stayed remarkably free of 'cliques' over the
years. You have to be a pretty rotten person not to be
accepted into the various groups. That said, you do have
to try a little. SSQQ is a do-it-yourself organization.
People who contribute energy receive
energy in kind.
Obviously the place to start is to learn to
dance. After all, that is tie that binds us together.
Don't just take classes - stay for Practice Night afterwards!
Come to the Saturday Night Parties. Go to Wild West on Sundays and
Tuesdays. This is how you improve as a
dancer and begin to make friends at the same time. You will
meet people who will help you and encourage you.
Once you hit the Intermediate level, don't forget to return the
favor. Just as people helped you get started, once you
have cleared the initial Beginner-barrier,
it becomes your duty to turn around and ask some
of the new students to dance. This is especially helpful to
the new people since obviously newcomers find it very difficult to
find the nerve to ask people to dance. Let
me add your own dancing will improve in the process.
In particular please remember to ask the men or women who are
sitting down or standing in the shadows if they
would like to give it try. Don't
just ask the cute ones. Ask them to dance too, but please
make a special effort to ask
some of the shy ones to dance
as well. Those shy ones may just
turn out to be a gem in disguise.
Some of the studio's
best dancers were petrified when they first got here. For example,
Joel Konkel, winner of Becky's Swing Dance Contest, was painfully shy when
he first started here. Joel was coming off a painful breakup
and had his head hanging down from the moment I met him.
Making matters even tougher, Joel couldn't dance a lick
when he started. I mean what I say - Joel had no
rhythm, he took giant steps, and he dislocated women's
arms on a regular basis. However, Joel had
something important going for him - he has a big heart.
Yes, Joel is a very nice guy. People sensed that
and wanted to help him get better. Thanks to a lot of encouragement, Joel
came out of his shell and made a huge number of friends.
Today Joel is a card-carrying Two Tons groupie and one
of the most popular men at the studio. Wherever
Joel goes, he is surrounded by friends. But what
would his story have been without that initial
Joel's story should be a
major hint for you
ladies. Women complain there aren't
enough men to dance with. Well, in that
case, why not ask a Beginner guy to dance? Try
developing some new dance partners at Practice Night.
Talk to men in your class at Break time,
ask them to stick around and practice later on. Believe me
when I say this is a very effective tactic.
Let me share a secret with you ladies. The vast
majority of men take dance lessons to meet women. Yes,
it is true they often learn to enjoy dancing in the process,
but what got them here in the first place was a sense of
loneliness. Taking a dance class, however, is
only the first step. To get any good, men have to stay
after class and PRACTICE!
However, this turns out to be an even bigger hurdle than
showing up for the first dance class. Men blanch at
the thought of getting out there as bad as they are!
The reason that these beginners are reluctant to get
out on the floor is they aren't stupid. They know full well
how bad they are. They are secretly worried they might
actually kill someone.
Men know they are supposed to be confident and assertive
around women, but the dance floor makes them feel like gawky
teenagers again. Since back when I was younger I used
to be a guy, I know for a fact that it takes
men longer to get the
hang of partner dancing.
One reason is that it is too much to think about learning to
lead and do footwork at the same
time. Men can do one or the
other, but doing BOTH at the same time is too much.
Plus men don't seem to have a lot of natural aptitude
towards dancing in the first place. For example, it is
hard for them to hear the music very well (they are too busy
watching their feet). They know they don't have any
rhythm and this makes them even more self-conscious.
They feel embarrassed at being such a klutz.
As a result, men
who are beginners don't feel very comfortable asking women to
dance with them for fear of looking bad. Most men
with any sense of pride do not enjoy appearing clumsy around
women in any situation, but dancing in particular makes them
feel very unattractive. They are convinced the woman
is going to laugh at them for their ineptitude and conclude
they are just as clumsy in other ways as well. They
become very self-conscious.
Consequently, a lot of men would rather watch and feel sorry
for themselves than get out there and take a chance.
Therefore, any woman who asks a Beginning man to dance is a godsend
to these guys. Any woman who is patient with a guy while he is learning is doing a good deed.
It may be an odd twist on the 'kiss a lot of toads to find a
prince' adage, but if you girls are willing to risk getting
your toes stepped on a lot, one day you may just find you have
developed an army of men to dance with.
It might come as a surprise to many of you ladies, but Becky
Bratton, tonight's Belle of the Ball, has used this strategy for
years. She asks Beginning guys to dance all the time!
Becky spends the entire night helping men at different stages
practice their steps. Her kindness has paid off - Becky never
leaves the dance floor. In the process, her own dancing has
become phenomenal as well. Let me add that while Becky is
laughing and twirling the night away, other women sit on the couch
fussing to me that Becky is stealing all the men. Well, to the
naked eye that may seem true, but I know better - Becky earned this
privilege through hard work.
Not just Joel, not just Becky, but Everyone needs to contribute at Practice Night. The
success of Practice Night is indeed a Community Effort. You
build a Community when everyone does their part.
If our newcomers make an effort to join us at Practice Night and our
veterans simultaneously make the effort to welcome the beginners and
encourage them to continue to participate, you will all be pleased
with the results. The more, the merrier.
Periodically you should take a step back and look at the big
picture. You will take pride as you notice the energy at every dance
remains high. People like Becky and Joel may be the
leaders, but everyone can do their part. If you invite people
to stay for Practice and if you ask people to dance, you are making
a significant contribution. If lots
of people work together, pretty soon the dance floor will stay
crowded. All you have to do to join the Family is get out on
the floor and start practicing. Pretty soon, you will be part
of the Circle of Friends too.