Becky's Big Bash
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Becky's Big Bash!

Written by Rick Archer
July 2009

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 dance.

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


Betty 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 Competition"

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 dance contest.
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 60.



There were eleven couples at Becky's Party who literally met their spouses here at the studio. 

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 honeymoon. 

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 credit.  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. 

People develop a 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 everyone.  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. 

Get Involved - 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 encouragement?

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, m
en 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. 

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