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Rick's Gabfest with Gertrude
Written by Rick Archer, March 2006

Chapter Seven:
THE LOVE BOAT ERA

First Generation

1977 -1979

Saturday Night Fever Disco Era

Second Generation

1980 - 1984

Urban Cowboy Western Era, Winchester Club

Third Generation

1985 - 1987

201 Nights of Dancing, Tom Easley Look-a-Likes

Fourth Generation

1988 - 1997

Studebaker Group, Sharon Crawford, SSQQ Staff

Fifth Generation

1998 - 2000

Millennium - The Daryl Armstrong Experience,  Heartbeat, Swing Kids!

Sixth Generation

2001 -2007

Love Boat


"At the end of the Millennium Comeback story, you mentioned you had discovered that you could use your love for writing to promote your studio. Would you expand on that?"

"The advent of my writing career coincided with two people who came into my life that would change the course of the studio forever.

The first person I met was Gary Richardson (pictured with wife Betty).

Back in early 1997, Gary and Betty Richardson started taking Western dance classes here at the studio. Gary wasn't a natural and he wasn't even sure he liked dancing. Drawing on some natural tenacity he stuck with it. Pretty soon he started to get the hang of Twostep and Western Swing and began to enjoy his classes more.

Due to our similarity in age, Gary and I struck up a friendship. Once I found out he owned a computer store, I wound up asking him questions about computers each time I saw him in class.  As I got to know Gary, our conversations lengthened.  He told me of the many things a computer could do to help me in my business.

I said I had the money to afford a computer but was clueless at figuring out how to operate one.  I had heard this Windows stuff was very tricky to learn on your own.  What was the point of buying a modern computer if I didn't know how to use it??

Gary said he would help me get started.  Whatever I needed to learn, he would show me how to do it.  That's all the encouragement I needed. I took the plunge!!  I went ahead and bought my first computer from Gary in October 1997.

However the computer just sat at his store. Rather than pick up and bring it home, instead I decided I wasn't bringing it home till I knew how to operate it.  So for the entire month of November 1997, each day I would drive over to the Floppy Wizard (later renamed TFW Computers) and hang out for a couple of hours. 

Whenever Gary had a free moment he would help me himself. If he was busy, he would assign one of his assistants to help me.  And if everyone was busy, Gary would give me a homework assignment on the computer. 

I knew Gary didn't have the time to help everyone like this, but I think he took pity on me. Plus after all the needling he took from me learning to whip dance, I think he enjoyed the paybacks.  I wasn't a quick learner, but I was highly motivated.  How to use email, how to use my Paint program, how to use Word, Excel, and Publisher, learning to make music CDs and burn them,  Windows... every day I learned something new.  Slowly but surely I developed enough skills to be able to take full advantage of my new computer. 

Finally I figured I was ready.  I bravely decided to take my computer home.

First I got out some name tag labels and put one on every cord and then on every port in the back of the computer. Plus I took a photograph of the back of the computer to guide me. I was very worried I would get the keyboard and the mouse and the modem and the scanner and the printer and the monitor all plugged into the wrong spot, turn it on, and fry the computer. That is how bad it was.  I had a serious case of computer-phobia.

It didn't do any good. I still screwed up.  I hooked everything up just the way the labels and the picture suggested I do.  Then I turned on the computer. It didn't do a thing.

Carefully I checked the power cord. Yes, it was plugged into the wall and into the computer correctly. I put an extension cord into the outlet to make sure I had electricity.  Yes, there was juice.  So I unplugged the computer and plugged it back in to see if the cord was loose. The computer still did not turn in.

Somehow I had broken my computer on the way home, probably when I went over that pothole.  Crimson with frustration, I called Gary at the store.

I told him the damn thing wouldn't turn on!!  Yes, it was plugged in!  Yes, it had just worked at the store.  Yes, I had hit the switch in the front.  Why wouldn't it turn on?

That is when Gary explained that there was another on-off switch in the back that they turn 'off' for safety when transporting the computer.  Try hitting that button.  It worked.  I am a moron.  Why hadn't I seen that switch before?  

A couple weeks later Gary confessed.  He had indeed turned off that switch in back for safety like they always do, but decided to have to a little fun with by not telling me.  Gary KNEW I would panic and he still did it!   I would have killed him if I didn't need him so much.   

Why I like Gary is something I still haven't figured out. Actually I know exactly why I like Gary... although he is not above the occasional joke at my expense or an innocent prank, Gary is one of most generous human beings I have ever met. And his patience with morons like me is the stuff of legends.

During that first year, I must have called the poor man once every two days with one problem after the other.  I was the world's biggest titty baby, but not did he ever lose his patience with me.

After I took my computer home, what I remember best was that Gary would give me help over the phone whenever I would get stuck at home.  Many times Gary rescued me from the depths of despair with a helpful hint that went way past the call of duty. 

And he saved my butt with the big stuff too like the Happy 99 virus attack, the time my entire computer died and many other crises as well.  No other human being on earth would have put up with me, but Gary did.  My goodness did I ask some stupid questions!

Since those first days, Gary has helped SSQQ take full advantage of every technological development that has come along.

We were the first dance studio in Houston to have a web site.
We were the first dance studio in Houston to put our schedule on the Internet and stop using bulk mail.
We were the first dance studio in Houston to have an email Newsletter.
We were the first dance studio to have On-Line Registration.
We were the first dance studio to use computers to play music.

After Gary helped me overcome my fear of computers, I discovered I took to computers like a duck to water.  I recognize how indispensable computers are to modern communication and to modern business.   I have ordered 20 computers since I met Gary. 

Gary revolutionized my business.
 

"I have noticed the SSQQ website is a bit on the vast side.  What is up with that?"

"Thanks to my new computer, I made an interesting discovery.  I found out I had a knack for writing. I also realized that I enjoyed writing.

One year after I bought my first computer, a woman named Sylvia Key and a man named David Schroeder ganged up on me to insist I create a studio web site.  I was set in my ways.  Business is good.  Why do I need one?  .

'Trust us, you need one', they said. Kicking and screaming, I finally gave in.  The dawn of the SSQQ web site meant I had to fill my pages with something interesting enough to give people a reason for people to come visit it.   So I began to fill up the SSQQ web site with Newsletters, Halloween pictures, articles and stories. 

I was 48 years old and had not written anything of note longer than the occasional one-page promotional flyer since graduating from college.  But now I couldn't stop. I worked all the time!!   Day and night I wrote articles... just like this Matchmaker story for example!

My creative frenzy paid big dividends.  People here at the studio loved to visit my new studio website. 

And the web site proved to be very helpful to my business as well.  It was no coincidence that the SSQQ Millennium Comeback coincided with the
dawn of the SSQQ Web Site and the Newsletter. 

While it was true that I had lost much of my enthusiasm for my days as 'Leader of the Pack', I was very pleased to find this new way to contribute. I had been good at writing papers in college, but that was twenty years ago.  Now I saw that my dormant writing skills could be put to good use in ways that the studio had never seen before. 

Armed with a computer and a website, I was armed and dangerous.   The computer is mightier than the sword!  Give me a mouse and a keyboard and I will conquer the world! 

It was a marvelous stroke of good fortune that I acquired my computer skills and my web site just as the Internet Era was breaking.  www.ssqq.com was ready to rumble!

It wasn't just that The Daryl Armstrong Experience was making the studio fun again with his antics or that Heartbeat was winning major dance competitions. 

Thanks to the Internet, I was able to use my writing skills to publicize these events. 

Once I published Halloween pictures on my web site with Daryl as Austin Powers or Joanne and Gillian as Monica Lewinsky, people could see first-hand just how much fun we were having here at SSQQ.  They could read and see just how nuts we were.

Not surprisingly, people came out of the woodwork to join the fun.  Attendance went over the top.  The SSQQ Millennium Turnaround saw the studio fill absolutely to the max.  The place became a zoo, a total madhouse.  A whole new Millennium Generation formed.

Daryl supplied the antics, I supplied the publicity.  People loved to visit the web site.  Soon SSQQ had the most popular dance studio web site on the Internet.  We were on our way to becoming the biggest dance studio in the country.  SSQQ was now a monster.

"Don't I remember that the SSQQ website had something to do with your second discovery of the studio's Romantic effectiveness?"

"Absolutely.  Practically from the moment I started writing for the Newsletter in October 1998,  I started receiving one wedding announcement or engagement after another. For example, here is one of my earliest stories.  It was
written in January 1999. 

SSQQ WEDDING BELLS ARE RINGING THROUGHOUT THE LAND !

SSQQ has been blessed with three recent weddings.  Back in September 1998, Daryl and JoAnne Armstrong got married (out in California, I believe). We had a big party for them here at the studio on October 3.

The next month SSQQ instructor Heidi Collier and John Moynihan were married on Sunday, October 25 out in Tahoe, Nevada.

SSQQ's Mary Collins officially tied the knot to Mike Moore in late November. There is no truth to the rumor she is changing her middle name to "Tyler".  Mary Tyler Moore, get it? 

There are three engagements to report from last year including SSQQ staff member Renee Risinger and BJ Downs,  Maureen Murawski & Kirk Swinford, and Wil Coulbourn and Leanne Blankenship.  In January 1999 Ron Moore and Kathleen Wood announced their engagement.

Depending on your point of view, SSQQ is either a very friendly place to be or extremely dangerous.  Best wishes to everyone!

After the website went on line, many people began to respond to articles and stories I wrote. I began a steady exchange of email correspondence with a number of students I had not known previously who also enjoyed this new  invention known as 'email'.  This  correspondence provided a unique new way to improve my relationship with my students.  I had always hated the phone - still do - but I liked email.

Although I still remained somewhat distant at the studio, I was more than happy to chat with anyone who cared via email. As a result of my daily email exchanges, people began to share the most interesting stories, pictures, and jokes.  Their contributions helped both the Newsletter and the Website spring to life.

That led to a very interesting development.  One day I got this email:

'Oklahoma Ray and Sandy got married last week.  Be sure to put it in your Newsletter.' 

That's all it said.  Sorry to say, I don't remember who sent it.  All I remember is another person confirmed the wedding.  He or she said that Oklahoma Ray was a fixture at the new Tuesday Longhorn event that Ben Liles and Rachel Seff had helped to create the previous year. 

What was important about this email was that it was sent by someone I didn't know to report the SSQQ wedding of someone else I didn't know.  The sender didn't even know their last names!!  

But it was the first example of someone using email to turn in two SSQQ Wedding fugitives who were trying to fly under the radar!  The ease with which Oklahoma Ray and Sandy had been brought to justice did not escape me.

So I made a joke about it: GUILTY OF SSQQ WEDDING NOTICE EVASION! 

That made people laugh.  It also got results.
 All sorts of reports of weddings and engagements started flooding in!!  No more flying under the radar at SSQQ if these people could help it!

Then disaster hit.  In May 1999, I made a serious mistake when I opened an infected email.  I lost the first four months of Newsletter stories when my hard drive became infected with the 'Happy 99' virus.  That's when I learned the hard way various lessons in backing up files and keeping anti-virus programs up to date (these were the days before Norton updates were automatic).

As I tried to recover from the virus damage to my web site data, I decided I better reconstruct the weddings and engagements from memory while I still could.  I didn't have the stories any more, so I simply made a list of weddings with names and dates.  But I didn't have any dates!   Now you know why there are four weddings listed for 1999 that simply say "early 1999" which was my euphemism meaning 'before the Happy 99 Virus'. 

After I created the Wedding List, for the fun of it, I printed this little blurb,

'Got a wedding rumor?   Do you suspect someone of being married?    Send your idle lies, dirt, and slander to dance@ssqq.com.   No gossip is too insignificant to print!'  

That was the birth of the SSQQ Grapevine Wedding List.  It was a good move because all sorts of people I didn't know would send in more names of people I didn't know.  Email made it so easy to keep me informed.  Now people fought to get credit for being the first person to tell me.  Sometimes I would two, three, even four different people telling me about so and so.  So much for my wedding fugitives!   There was no place to hide anymore.

After I received the notice, I would dutifully add each name plus whatever comment the sender had added in the monthly Newsletter, then add any other information I could think of. 

However I didn't do any updates to the Wedding List.  In fact, I don't think I even touched the List for the rest of the year because I forgot about it.  The List just sat there at the bottom of the May 1999 Newsletter with the names of four wedding couples on it.  Out of sight, out of mind.

Over the 1999 holidays, I started to combine all the individual months of Newsletters into one file to put on a disk in case of another virus emergency.  In other words, I was just doing routine 'backup' work.

That was when I rediscovered the original list hiding at the bottom of May 1999.  Then I began to review the May 1999 Newsletter.  Take a look for yourself:

Excerpts from the May 1999 SSQQ Newsletter

Ray Jahn and Kelly Bennett get married

An email sent to me:

Thanks to SSQQ for playing the role of matchmaker for us. We met during Sharon Crawford’s wonderful western waltz classes in the fall. One thing led to another and we were married May 28, 1999.

Ray and Kelly (Bennett) Jahn

I might add, guys, that this Western Waltz stuff is serious business. Women love to Twostep, but they go nuts when you Waltz with them. That special rhythm has a hypnotic effect. They are rendered nearly helpless. I might add, however, that if you can't keep the tempo, they regain their composure. Either Waltz well or don't bother.

Engagement Announcement - Sylvia and Jeff are gettin' Hitched

On Saturday, June 26, Sylvia Kay and Jeffrey Tuckar are getting  married. They intend to dress western, but they specifically said no clothes were necessary. Such an informal twosome!

Renee and BJ get Married!

SSQQ's Renee Risinger married BJ Downs on April 23. When SSQQ took its Caribbean Cruise last summer, BJ and Renee had recently become engaged. They were just a joy to be around the entire time. So now they have made it official ! In an email to me late last week, Renee writes :

Ron and Kathleen get married!

Ron Moore married Kathleen Wood on April 9 in Paris, France. Yes, that Paris as in Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, the Louvre, the Seine, the Bastille, Quasimodo, Esmerelda, gypsies, artists, intellectuals, Left Bank, and lots of other people and places I have only read about. I am getting sick of the entire studio popping over to Europe lately. Maybe we don't charge enough. Anyway I guess I am drifting. What was I writing about ? Raising prices ? Paris ? Oh, Ron and Kathleen !

Engagement Announcement!

Mario Ballesteros and Linda Chalk are planning to be married in May. Best wishes!

Engagement Announcement!

Letitia Taitte and Jordan Kossack recently announced their engagement. I believe the wedding is sometime this summer. However at the moment Letitia is concerned about graduating from her Masters program in Business over at Rice. She will worry about the other kind of Rice later. I might add both couples met here at the studio. Congratulations !

As you can see for yourself, there were 3 wedding announcements and 3 engagement announcements in just one month.  That got my attention. 

Then I looked at June.... July.... August.   I noticed there were quite a few marriages and engagements I had forgotten to add to the list after May 1999.   So I went back and began to add the names to the May 1999 Grapevine Wedding List.  One by one, the list started to grow... and grow... and grow.

SSQQ 1999 Important Moments - 24

Who When

Weddings

14. Frank Abueg and Rita Brown early 1999
13. Felipe Mendoza and Linda Bonnet early 1999
12. Oklahoma Ray and Sandy early 1999
11. Mario Ballesteros and Linda Chalk May, 1999
10. Ron Moore and Kathleen Wood April 9, 1999
09. Renee Risinger and BJ Downs early 1999
08. Ray Jahn and Kelly Bennett May 28, 1999
07. Sylvia Kay and Jeff Tuckar June 26, 1999
06. Bram Weisman and Katsumi Matsumoto July 24, 1999
05. Judy Alexander and Clark Blanco September, 1999
04. Ben Liles and Diana Beasley October 23, 1999
03. Kimberly Meadows and Bryon Thome November 20, 1999
02. Christina Galletti and Michale O'Briain December 18, 1999
01. Letitia Clark and Jordan Kossack December 19, 1999

Engagements

10. David Meinert and Eileen MacPherson September, 1999
09. Brad Arbaugh and Verladyne Williams October, 1999
08. Jeff Hieber and Cyndi Hensarling October, 1999
07. Karen Murray and Dave Bowman October, 1999
06. Julie Adamis and Troy Thornton October, 1999
05. Letty Molina and Patrick Dougherty November, 1999
04. George Wallace and Suzy Kish December, 1999
03. Michael Gabrysch and Shannon Barton December, 1999
02. Donnie Jacobs and Kimberly Bryson January, 1999
01. Ron Moore and Kathleen Wood January, 1999

I stared at the List in amazement.  I had just discovered that SSQQ had helped create 24 marriages and engagements in one single year.  It was a can't see the forest from the trees sort of thing.  I had never before seen the big picture.  It was a marvelous moment for me.  I couldn't take my eyes off of the computer screen.  Then it hit me.

'Rick, this is why you are here.' 

My eyes were wide open.  As I stared at the 1999 list of 24 marriages and engagements, it was my equivalent to a Yogi's moment of Enlightenment. 

I had just added a new listing to my job title -

Rick Archer, Dance Teacher, Newsletter Writer and Matchmaker."

"What happened after your 'Realization'?"

"The very next day was New Year's Eve, 1999.  The New Millennium was about to begin.  I didn't have much time to think much more about the Wedding Phenomenon because everyone worried sick about Y2K.

In fact, Y2K was the main reason I had been doing my backup work just in case all my computers failed. 

As we all know, the entire Y2K nonsense turned out to be much ado about nothing, but it was worrisome at the time.  In a sense I am in debt to Y2K because it was the reason I started looking at the Wedding numbers in the first place.  My brush with computer virus earlier in the year had made me very nervous about losing data.

Once we realized that the world was not going to come to end, I got to work in 2000.  This was one heck of a wild year for me. Although it was a good year for the studio financially, it was one of the worst years of my life. 

For starters, 2000 was without a doubt the busiest year in the history of the studio.  The 'Jump, Jive, and Wail' 90s Swing Era kept rolling right into Year 2000. 

Then early in 2000, Ricky Martin came out with 'Livin' La Vida Loca'.  Suddenly the studio exploded with Salsa energy. 

This was good and this was bad.  Two of the biggest dance crazes in American History had overlapped.  It seemed like the entire city was either taking Swing lessons, Salsa lessons,  or both. 

The good news/bad news was that the studio was swamped beyond comprehension. 

I got a lot of bitter emails demanding I do something.  Here is a good example.

"There needs to be a limit to these classes.  You can not enroll as many people as you can to make the most profit and let your customers fend for themselves.  Please join the rest of the civilized business world and set aside some rules to SERVE your customers, and then maybe you'll make some money at it.  I know a hell of a lot of angry customers who are furious about how they are being treated.

So what about the 4 of us?  We will continue to take dance classes, but not at SSQQ.  Enjoy your profits of greed, Rick, while they last."

Those emails stung me like a snake bite.  As you can see, I was being accused of deliberately stuffing classes.  That was not true.  Our classes were stuffed because we were taken by surprise.  We had no controls in place because we had never had this problem before.  For over twenty years our studio had more than enough space to accommodate anyone who walked in to sign up for a class.  But 2000 was no ordinary year. Our studio was overwhelmed because of the unprecedented demand.

I reacted by hiring Hall Monitors and developing our Online Registration system in case I had to enforce class limits.  But the criticism had taken a rough toll on my spirit.  I have always done my best to please my students.  This non-stop anger hurt me deeply

Maybe you will understand this constant tension was the main reason I lost my temper on several occasions that year.  Running the studio was no picnic, believe me.  Failure is never any fun, but I had to learn the hard way that too much success is pretty stressful too.  I dealt with a never-ending stream of headaches and problems all year long.

An entire year of dealing with complaining and bitterness wore me down.  For some reason, the Bush-Gore Insanity over Florida threw me into a huge depression late in the year.  I morbidly obsessed over all the wrangling.  My mood grew darker and darker.

Plus I had this constant battle with the Swing organization known as HSDS that never seemed to go away.  Every week there seemed to be another dirty tricks incident involving HSDS.  HSDS was in an expansion mode.  They saw all our throngs of Swing students and figured they were ripe for the picking.   HSDS members would come to the studio and recruit our students during our SSQQ Swing Practice Night.  HSDS operatives would ask our students to dance, strike up a conversation, then tell them about outside Swing events as a ploy to get email addresses. 

I wanted to write about these tactics in our Newsletter, but Judy refused to sanction a counter-attack.  Then in April 2000 she finally relented.  I wrote an angry story in the Newsletter that certain HSDS members didn't appreciate.  Soon the controversy got even worse and Judy was furious at me for reopening old wounds.  My constant arguments with Judy over the problems caused by HSDS put a huge spike in our relationship. 

I realized that my marriage to Judy was failing.  Believe it or not, the animosity that arose from the 2000 SSQQ-HSDS Feud proved to be an insurmountable spike in the coffin for our marriage.  We called it quits at the very end of the year. 

As you can see, the most successful year in studio history had actually contributed to create one of the worst years in my personal life.  Fortunately from the ashes of my ruined marriage arose one of the most important developments in the studio's history."
 

THE LOVE BOAT ERA BEGINS

"What happened after you separated?"

"Judy and I had always been friends.  We were able to part the marriage on very good terms. Despite our obvious disappointment,  we got along pretty well after the breakup. Judy continued to work at the studio for three years after the split-up.

But the damage was done.  I was lonely, angry, and bitter.  I was miserable that I would only see my daughter half the time.

Shortly after my Holiday Breakup, in January 2001 my friend Tom Easley gave me a call. He invited me to go skiing with the Look-a-Like Group later that month.  Apparently their annual get-together was coming up and his wife Margaret didn't want to go, so now he needed a roommate at the last minute.

I needed to get out of town and nurse my wounds.  How funny that Tom should come to my rescue again.  He had been there after my first marriage fell apart as well. 

I spent an entire week being part of a group of 40 people.  We had a blast skiing together and hanging out together.   Every day I skied with six different couples who had met through SSQQ twenty years ago.  I noted with the quiet satisfaction that my time as 'Leader of the Pack' back in the Eighties had been largely responsible for helping this wonderful group of people connect.  (Where the Creatures Meet)

As I watched the chemistry of this dynamic group in action, I wondered what I could do to bring back this kind of magic to the modern day SSQQ. 

The studio was doing well, but I was stayed pretty much in the shadows when it came to getting close to my students.  For one thing, I was still pretty beat up from all the complaining in 2000.  I kept a wall between me and the students, preferring to  function in my behind-the-scenes role as studio publicist chronicling the antics created by my wild and crazy Staff.

Let me add that my wild and crazy Staff members were getting married right and left at the same time as I was getting unmarried.  Daryl got married, Susie got married, Ben got married, Rachel got married as well as Karen Davidson, Janet Wukman, Paula Henderson, Mike Fagan, Larry Carlton, Tracy King and Kathleen Alexander over a two year period.

That's the way life is sometimes, a revolving door."


"Now that you were single again, what did you do?

"During that ski trip, I decided the studio needed an adventure.  It was February 2001 now, so it was obviously too late in the year to plan a ski trip.  What else could we do?  I thought back to the Jamaica Cruise of 1998.  I nodded to myself.   It was time to try another cruise.  I called Alan Fox and arranged the second SSQQ Cruise Trip for August 2001.

The 1998 Trip had drawn 30 people, but I had barely lifted a finger.   What would happen if I tried a little?  I didn't have a very good time on that trip, but maybe now that I was single things would go better.  I certainly had extra time on my hands.  So I started to seriously promote the Trip.  I came out of my shell and started to talk to people on a personal basis.  I looked people in the eye and them how much fun it was going to be.  Even though there was no money in it for me, I realized I was having fun persuading people to join the party.

Something clicked.  One person after another signed on.  Each time someone joined, I would add their name to a list I kept on the studio's Internet web site.  My Newsletter became a powerful tool in promoting this trip.  Some people told me they used to check the Internet List on almost a daily basis to see who else was going.  The 'Buzz' about this trip was overwhelming.  I had really connected with this idea.  The studio sizzled with excitement. 

Sure enough, just like the good old days, the moment I was single again, the studio started to snap crackle and pop.  Despite my own personal darkness, I took pride in the energy I was creating.  If anything, it was good therapy to be connected to my studio again.  I used the success of the cruise trip as a way to get my own spirits back up again.  To my surprise, I was recovering from my second divorce a lot faster than I had my first divorce to Pat fifteen years earlier.  It helped that Judy and I had parted friends.

As the months went by, the total climbed and climbed.  2 joined one day.  3 joined the next.  40 people signed on by April.  Then we were up to 70 in May.  I shook my head in amazement as the number kept climbing.  80, 90.  In the final week before the trip, we finally crossed the magic One Hundred threshold.  101 people signed on for the trip.  Amazing.

I smiled.  It was fun to be the Leader of the Pack again.  'Welcome back', I said to myself.  

But I frowned too.  As always, I was far more effective at raising the energy level at the studio when I was single.  But did I always have to be lonely for the studio to thrive?   There had to be a middle ground somewhere.  But where?"

"I heard you met someone special on the 2001 Cruise?"

"Yes, I met my wife Marla on the 2001 Cruise. Actually I knew Marla before the Trip.  She was a dance student.  She always took my breath away.  I  would watch her carefully every time she walked by because she was so pretty. 

But whenever I tried to learn more about what her story was, Marla would always mention her boyfriend of 6 years.  She wasn't giving me an opening.  This frustrated me because I didn't sense any real commitment to the guy.  One time right in the middle of a conversation I got up and walked away with Marla staring at me in confusion.  She mentioned something about him and I didn't want to hear it.

I had just gotten my divorce from Judy Archer in May 2001.  I was still in my "Never Fall in Love Again" mode.  I was pretty cynical about life in general and positive I wasn't ready for another relationship.   Nevertheless, each week when it was time for Marla's class, I would keep an eye on the door till she arrived."

"If she had a boyfriend, how did you connect on the Cruise?"

"One day Marla phoned to say she was going to Miami.  She wanted some salsa lessons for her boyfriend and herself.  She said she hoped I would teach the lesson.  I thought to myself, 'Are you nuts?'

There was no way I was going to do teach that lesson.  I referred Marla to another instructor.  I wasn't about to sit there for an hour being jealous.  I knew I had a crush on her.  Why beat my head against the wall? 

You see, one month earlier Marla had signed up for our cruise without the boyfriend. I had noted this move with great interest.  Like I said, she talked 'double', but acted 'single'.  I figured my instincts were right and she was using the cruise trip as a way to hit the Exit Door.

But now this Miami phone call changed everything.  I had been hoping Marla was hanging on by a thread to this guy, yet her trip with him to Florida put a real damper on my dreams. I realized that Marla's plan to take her honey Salsa dancing on the Miami trip with was coming just one week before the cruise.  That trip had a distinct romantic sound to it.

My instincts kept telling me that Marla was not as committed as she said she was, but now it seemed like that boyfriend was a lot more in the picture than my gut feeling indicated.   I was so confused!!

Was it all just wishful thinking on my part?  I was confused, but I wasn't giving up.  I was still pretty sure my hunch was right.  Marla said she was committed, but she didn't act committed. 

Besides, what kind of boyfriend in his right mind would let a woman who looked like Marla take a singles cruise by herself?  I wasn't the only guy watching her!!  Marla turned heads.  What was this guy thinking?

So I underlined Marla's name on the guest list.  During the cruise, I definitely intended to corner Marla and probe the strength of that relationship.  If ever there was a Big Bad Wolf ready to pounce on an unsuspecting Little Red Riding Hood, that would be me.  All's fair in love and war, right?

When the cruise started, I didn't have long to wait.  At midnight on the first night on the cruise I saw Marla standing in the door of the Disco.  Her body language suggested she was getting ready to exit.  No way I was going to let her leave!  This was my chance.  I moved swiftly across the room to ask Marla to dance. 

I was encouraged that Marla seemed pleased to see me.  She smiled and agreed to dance.  First she handed me her cabin key and asked if I would keep it for her since she didn't have any pockets.  It was a simple request, but for some reason I took it as a good sign.  I took it to mean that she trusted me.

We danced freestyle for starters.  At one time I was a good freestyle dancer, but for some reason the rap music they played didn't seem to mesh with my moves.  I was surprised to feel a bit self-conscious on the dance floor.

Then we decided to take a rest.  We went over to sit at the bar and I ordered two margaritas. That's when I began the Interview, although cautiously of course.  Didn't want to seem too nosy, right?

We danced some more, then we came to the bar for a second round of margaritas.  We began to talk some more.  I was definitely enjoying myself.  In fact, I didn't want it to end.  That's when I suggested we take the conversation up on the deck. 

Marla didn't blink.  She smiled her approval, so up the stairs we went.

Oh my goodness, it was a indeed a dark and stormy night out there!

Hurricane Chantal was in Caribbean at the same time as our cruise.  We were obviously feeling some of its power.   There was no rain, but there were huge, dark ominous rain clouds in the sky.  The eerie moon kept appearing and disappearing as the clouds sped by in the strong wind. The temperature was cool and there were large waves crashing against the ship. 

We were alone on deck talking the night away.  It was exciting to have a hurricane in the distance!  The night was perfect for romance.  As I watched the moon play hide and seek in the dark skies above, I could feel myself falling in love right there on the spot.

I was stunned at this turn of events. I had just gotten divorced three months ago.  I never wanted to risk getting hurt again in my life and I was scared out of my wits.  But Marla was irresistible.  I really liked her!

I don't know what I was scared about.  As it turned out, trusting my feelings with Marla was the smartest thing I ever did in my life. 

Marla and I have never been apart since."

"What happened to the boyfriend?"

"Hmm.  It turned out my instincts were correct all along.  Marla was unhappy in that relationship; she just didn't want to admit that her six-year relationship had hit a dead-end.  They had been going through the motions for a long time. The relationship was going nowhere.  She felt like he was taking her for granted and they were spending less and less time together.  Suffice it to say he was no longer on the trip after the first night.  She threw him overboard.

However our new relationship got off to a rough start. 

First Marla had to break the news as gently as she could when we returned home.  That was very tough for her since no one ever wants to hurt a friend.  He wasn't very happy about this turn of events, but I have to hand it to him because the man was a complete gentleman to Marla during this painful period of his life."
 

"How did 9/11 affect the studio?"

"Sad to say, immediately after our August 2001 Cruise ended, there was a tragedy lurking around the corner.  9/11 hit just two weeks after our group came back to Houston.

The nation was devastated.  I was devastated.  We were all devastated.  Every American was suddenly aware our lives might never be the same again.  We were at war.

This horrible moment marked the end of the SSQQ Millennium Generation.  9/11 stopped this amazing period in the studio's history dead in its tracks. The studio came to a grinding halt.  The whole place resembled a ghost town for several months as we numbly tried to make sense of it all.

Nor did I care that my business was off.  I was far more worried about the human race than I was about selling dance lessons."
 

"How did you get the studio going again?"

"
Once we figured out that this horrible attack was an isolated incident, the attitude was life must go on.  Sure, a lot of our enthusiasm was gone, but we couldn't let the terrorists ruin our lives. It was time to pick up pieces and get on with things.

At the start of 2002, things were starting to get back to normal although dance classes were at best half the size of the previous year.  Marla suggested we schedule another cruise and try to cheer up.  I nodded in agreement.

However Carnival Cruise Line wasn't very cooperative.  They had short-changed us on the previous trip due to Hurricane Chantal.  We had paid for two ports, but only visited one.  And we certainly didn't enjoy the port they stuck us with either.

But Carnival didn't feel any need to compensate us with even a token discount.  Our cruise members were so angry at Carnival that Marla suggested perhaps we should try Royal Caribbean, Carnival's main competitor, instead.

After I talked to the local representative and told him I had a group of 100 people, Royal Caribbean was more than happy to give us a discount to lure our business away from Carnival. 

I was worried though.  9/11 still had all of us rattled, this new trip was 7 days instead of 5 days, and it was a lot more expensive.  Would people respond to this next cruise?

Thank goodness my fears turned out to be unfounded. The response was excellent.  Despite all the problems with 9/11 and a much steeper price, we got 87 people for our 2002 trip.  I didn't know it at the time, but this trip was Chapter Two in the SSQQ Love Boat Era.

We were entering the most exciting phase of the dance studio's history yet."


"How did the 2002 Rhapsody Cruise turn out?"

"Gee whiz, this was a wonderful trip.  I learned so many important lessons on this trip.

This was the first trip Gary Richardson and his wife Betty came on. Gary's incredible gift for photography resulted in many great pictures from the trip. He took picture after picture and I used those pictures to document our trip.  This was also my chance to pay him back for his On-Off Switch trick a few years back.  I got him pretty good for wearing blacks socks on the trip.  It was the start of a beautiful friendship.  Gary and I became good teammates.

I learned first-hand how much people miss 'glamor' in their lives.  Seeing how much fun our group had thrilling the audiences at the Captain's Reception with their marvelous dancing was definitely one of the highlights of the trip for me.

In addition, I was astounded at the number of serious romances that developed out of this trip.  Six couples from our group eventually married, including two romances that developed right in front of my eyes in the same way that Marla and I had connected the previous year.

"Are you saying other people connect on your cruises?"

"Absolutely.  All the legends are true.  Women lose their inhibitions at sea and throw caution to the wind like Marla did.  Men fool around and fall in love.  It happened to me and it has happened to many other couples... all of whom would MURDER ME if I gave up names. 

My unofficial count now has 24 SSQQ couples directly related to our cruises.  They aren't all married, but they are together and moving in that direction slowly but surely.

One of the precious features of an SSQQ Cruise is that love can follow a couple to shore.

Back on the first cruise we took in 1998, we had a very small group of 30 that included two single men and ten single women.  With that ratio, the only way for the birds and the bees to take place was for the women to look outside the group.  Three ladies indeed hooked up with men outside the group.

One of those ladies fell deeply in love with a guy from a different city.  When we got back to shore, the guy went one way, she went the other.  This lady was a friend of mine so I watched her carefully.  She wasn't the same for a long time.  She seemed to brood over her lost love for a long time.  She had let down her guard and now she ached badly. 



Unlike that trip, future SSQQ ocean flings did not have to end when the trip ended. 

A cruise romance gives two people an enormous amount of time to get to know one another.  Depending on their need for sleep, they can go 24/7 learning everything there is to know about the other person.  Seven days is a long time to explore.

I am not simply talking about cabin gymnastics. They can talk, they can dance, they can swim, they can sight see on shore, they can see how their new friend interacts with others, how he or she treats the cruise staff, how they are with money, how they behave in the hot tub with other hot bodies around, are they a potential womanizer, you name it. 

You can acquire a wealth of information on a cruise that would take two months to learn onshore.  Based my own experience with Marla, by the time they step off the ship, a new couple might feel like they have known each other forever.  Try using email or a dating service to equal that.  It isn't going to happen.  People need direct contact! 

And it definitely is important to see what their friend REALLY looks like in a bathing suit!"

"How did the 2003 Jubilee Cruise turn out?"

"Different than 2002 for sure.  Mixed results.  Marla discovered that the Carnival Jubilee was ridiculously under-priced for a prime July 4th weekend sailing.

The combination of a date when everyone could get off from work plus the low rate was too much to resist.  We smashed the previous attendance with 144 people. That was awesome.

The ocean's affect on SSQQ Slow Dance and Romance was also incredible.  There were 3  married couples on the trip that had previously met at SSQQ.  There were 4 couples aboard that already knew each other and later got married.  Then there were 3 engagements that resulted from this trip.  (One couple soon married, one couple broke up, one couple I don't know the result of).  And I counted three more couples that are still together three years later... maybe someday they too will tie the knot.  That makes a dozen couples that connected through SSQQ related to this trip.  That is an impressive total.

The 2003 trip was significant for another reason. Marla was an experienced traveler before I even met her.  Now that it was obvious that Marla and I were headed to the marriage altar, I thought she might enjoy a job as a part-time travel agent.  The studio had not made a dime from our 3 previous trips.  Why not take advantage of her talent?  Marla liked my idea.  She had been thinking the exact same thing.  2003 became Marla's 'training wheels' trip.  Under the watchful eye of another travel agent, Marla organized the trip and handled the bookings."

"How did the 2004 Mardi Gras Cruise turn out?"

"This is still my all-time favorite cruise.  What a pity we haven't been able to repeat it. 

The Mardi Gras Cruise was the first cruise organized entirely by Marla. By our usual standards, we did not have a large group.  I think our total was 39.  But that number turned out to be perfect for this particular trip.  As we entered the jungle of Mardi Gras, our group stuck together just like a safari venturing into the wild jungle.

We had such an adventure together that we became close friends!  Usually I am the Leader of the Pack, but this time I was completely off my Turf.  I let a native Louisiana boy, MG Anseman, take the lead and he was terrific.

Our group stopped at St. Charles Street to watch the amazing floats, collect beads, and sample the local Margaritas.  After two hours, we were heavily beaded and quite drunk.

Then our trip took us to Bourbon Street for the most crowd I have ever scene. There were naked breasts everywhere. Some were painted, others were volunteered periodically.

There were throngs, there were wild-looking people, there was trash and litter, there were drunks singing at the top of their lungs, there were people passed out the sidewalk, and there was a constant hail of beads and confetti thrown from the balconies.

Our group discovered a blues bar.  We went inside partly for sanctuary and partly to hear the music. We finished a great afternoon with two hours of the best whip dancing I have ever experienced!  The music was sensational and the Mardi Gras atmosphere was electric!

This trip had several 'Firsts' including the first hot-tub stuffing marathons, the first bloody sand volleyball match at Chankanaab Beach in Cozumel, and the first Jigsaw Puzzle party.

No marriages to date, but several couples are looking pretty tight these days.




"What was the story on the 2004 Rhapsody Wedding Cruise?

"Since Marla and I had met on an SSQQ Cruise, we decided that getting married on an SSQQ Cruise would bring our relationship full circle. 125 people joined us for the fun.

Despite the fact that everything that could go wrong did go wrong for Marla and me, this eventually turned into a marvelous trip for both of us. The Rhapsody Staff took a shine to us and made Marla feel like visiting royalty.  We were even invited to dinner with the Captain! 

As far as Slow Dance and Romance goes, Marla and I obviously were the focus, but we were not alone.  Three couples on this trip got married within the next year plus one new romance developed.  It was a great trip for everyone.

"I heard there were serious sparks on the 2005 Alaska Cruise?

"This trip to Alaska had tremendous magic to it.  We took over 70 people to view the stunning Alaska vistas. Every day we gazed in awe at the huge skyscraper mountains, pristine untouched forests everywhere the eye could gaze, magnificent glaciers just 800 yards away from the bow of our ship, and at rivers, waterfalls, and islands so beautiful they looked like they belonged in a travel magazine!

This was the trip where I first began to realize there really was something to this 'Love Boat' stuff.  We had an engagement announced on the first day of trip, but that turned out to trigger a veritable romantic avalanche.  Immediately after the trip ended, four couples in four months made trips down the wedding aisle.  Not one of these weddings was even hinted at during the trip.  In other words, our Love Boat trip moved people quickly in the right direction.

Including 4 other couples on the trip that had met previously at SSQQ and 2 couples that "connected" on this trip, we had 11 Slow Dance and Romance couples on one trip.

Do you think there something to this SSQQ "Love Boat" stuff or am I just making it up?

"So the Love Boat slogan is not necessarily a 'Myth'?"

"It doesn't matter whether you are Single or Double.  It doesn't matter if you are young or old.  Cruise Trips are valuable for romance on all levels. 

Sure, the singles are the ones who are out there making total fools of themselves and having a blast in the process.  Their antics are the stuff of good stories back home.  But important things are happening with the well-behaved people on the trip as well.

Many singles who are 'couples' take cruises as a part of their courtship.  I see a large number of people who take cruises together to see what it's like to be alone for seven days with another person. 

In situations like this, there is always powerful movement.  Two couples on the Alaska trip had barely begun to date before this trip only to head straight for the altar when they got back to Houston.  Two other couples could not wait to hit the Exit Door on their return.  Whatever direction you are headed, the cruise will accelerate it for you.

Think about it.  The summer we went to Alaska, one couple got engaged on the trip. Four more couples got married within four months after the cruise.  In other words, five couples made huge decisions during that cruise!   You can't tell me this was coincidence.  I think the cruise experience was so powerful it accelerated their progress towards commitment. 

Another group that doesn't get much publicity are the couples who take the cruises to fall even more deeply in love.  I cannot tell you how much Marla and I appreciate the quiet SSQQ couples who have made a half dozen trips with us.

Our quiet couples never misbehave. They get very little publicity.  However on each trip, you will always see them holding hands.  You will see them making new friends at dinner time. They smile a lot.  They are always on the dance floor. They Foxtrot. They Waltz. They Cha Cha.  They are elegant in their dress and they carry themselves with grace and dignity.

I may only hear two words from them the whole trip - they always say 'thank you' when the trip is over.  And of course they pay us the highest compliment of all - they take another trip with us.  Marla and I have eight words for them - 'You are welcome. And thank you very much!'

The term 'Love Boat' is just as important to my silent couples as it is to the couples who are busy falling in love."


 

"I heard 2005 Rita Rhapsody was a rough trip.  What went wrong?"

"Of course everyone remembers that Hurricane Rita barely missed hitting Houston and caused the biggest traffic jam in the history of our planet.  In terms of sheer terror, it shook us all to our core even though our area was eventually spared.  It was a close call.

By coincidence, our trip was scheduled to leave Galveston the day after the storm actually touched land about 100 miles to east on the Texas-Louisiana border.  For safety purposes, our ship stayed out at sea for four more days to let Galveston get its port going again.

Unfortunately our trip was cut in half down to a three-day trip.  This trip was shaping up to be the most exciting cruise in the studio's history, but now it was little better than a quick float out to sea and back.  After such a buildup, every single one of us felt deeply disappointed.  Many of us were too weary from the stress of Rita to even care any more. 

The majority of us would rather have postponed the trip. But Marla knew how unrealistic this sentiment was. She had seen how hard people had worked to get this time free from their jobs.  If we postponed the cruise, this would cost many of these people their trip entirely. 

Despite these obstacles and others, Marla held our trip together. Out of the original hundred people scheduled to sail, 85 people went with us.  That was quite an accomplishment!  By comparison, another group of 300 'Beaders' from Dallas threw in the towel and canceled even though Dallas wasn't even affected.  Marla put this trip on her back and carried us out to sea herself.  She rescued this trip single-handedly and paid a heavy price in the process.  

SSQQ Slow Dance and Romance suffered from the abbreviated trip.  Just about the time people began to shake their post-Rita blues, we were back in Houston again.  The sense of what could have been lingered in the back of everyone's mind.  We felt cheated."

"Three days. That didn't leave much time for romance, did it?

"No kidding!   But sometimes even just a 'taste' has a benefit. In some ways, this trip gave the members to our cruise group a Preview!  Judging from the fever at which many of our guests have been attacking their dance lessons ever since their return, they intend to make our next Rhapsody trip their coming out party   (Side Note: we bounced back to make the Rhapsody Reloaded 2006 trip our most successful cruise to date.) 

One positive effect of the yearly SSQQ cruises is the dedication people put into their dancing before the cruise takes place for several reasons.  First they fully intend to be able to enjoy their hobby to the fullest.  Second, if a cute guy or cute girl within the group (or outside the group for that matter) asks them to dance, they definitely don't want to sit the song out or feel clumsy.

Beyond the obvious birds and bees stuff, the people in our group genuinely enjoy seeing how much the other passengers appreciate their dancing.  Here in Houston, some of our newer students take a back seat to the hundreds of advanced dancers that populate the studio or the Wild West dance floors.  But aboard the Rhapsody or whatever ship we sail on, every member of our trip become Dance Gods and Goddesses. 

The first-timers are stunned to discover they are better dancers than practically anyone on board the ship when it comes to partner dancing.  They give themselves a secret pat on the back for a job well done. 

People are surprised to find that cruises are one place where Ballroom dancing still lives!  I remember a number of our guests were forced to sit during the Captain's Reception.  Their Western dancing and Salsa dancing didn't help them much when a Swing like 'In the Mood' or a Foxtrot like 'I Get a Kick out of You' was played. They were definitely taking notes.  I was amused to spot a bunch of them in a Ballroom class after the Rita Rhapsody trip. 

Once they learned how important Ballroom Dancing is on cruises, back on shore men who typically wear boots and blue jeans or shorts and Hawaiian shirts quietly show up for Foxtrot, Swing, and Cha Cha classes to prepare for their trip. Around the studio, they are total bums, but they know deep down inside they can clean up when they have to.

All they need is a reason.  Secretly I think our guys enjoy looking good once in a while. I know I do. I treat the Rhapsody Crown and Anchor dances like I do the Halloween Party - wear a costume and come in disguise!  It definitely takes a while to recognize me.
Speaking for myself, I had to get used to it, but lately I have begun to look forward to these opportunities to dress up and dance.  It is fun to be sophisticated once in a while!  I can't see being Cary Grant every night of the week, but two or three times a trip I think it is terrific to a transform into a sharp-dressed man. Nor do I think I am alone.

Believe it or not, I think a lot of people from our group enjoy the glamour of the cruise.

Certainly the women don't need any encouragement in the glamour department.  When it comes to glamour, the women are on board before the ship even leaves the dock!! 

Every cruise becomes a fashion opportunity that cannot be passed up.  Unlike airplane trips, our ladies can take as many clothes as they want.  And their reward comes when Gary is right there to take their picture dressed in their beautiful gowns.  All they have to do is stand still and smile!   Women love to be elegant. They are definitely beautiful on these occasions.

Fortunately our guys have begun to figure this out.  Lo and behold, one night aboard the cruise, these barbarians are magically transformed into studs as they trot out in their ties and tuxes.  The women scream with delight as the men go through their 'aw shucks' routines. They won't admit it, but like the women, they too cannot WAIT for Gary Richardson to take the picture to show the world back home just how damn good looking they really are."
 

"Do you have any advice for someone who is looking to meet someone at SSQQ?"

There are many lessons that can be drawn from our stories, but the overriding theme above all others is that the SSQQ Playground will work for anyone as long as you PARTICIPATE.   

SSQQ Slow Dance and Romance Magic is available to everyone.   But don't sit around and wait for it to happen.  Focus on the Journey, not just the Goal.  Some people waited years to find the right person.  Make it fun every step of the way.  

If you are interested in dancing, then make it one of your hobbies and put some energy into getting good at it.  Organize your free time around dance activities. 

Get out there and dance at every opportunity.  Not only is dancing healthy for you, some of the brightest, most active people in the world absolutely love to dance.

There are several direct ways to make it happen.

1)  Take a dance class.  Become a good dancer.  Some people meet the love of their life in the first class they take, but the vast majority of our marriages started as friendships and developed over time.   Most of these friendships developed in dance class.

2)  Practice Night.  Since the 'Turf' is built around social dancing, the better the dancer you are, the more confident you will be in every social situation involving the studio or dancing as your dance skills improve.  Therefore, when your class is over, don't head to the Exit Door... head to the dance floor.  Practice Night at SSQQ is FREE to anyone taking a dance class that month.  Get out there and dance. Ask someone to dance.  Accept all offers.  Learn names.  Smile.  Get to know people. 

3)  Friday and Saturday Night Parties.  A great number of the single people come to our weekly Friday Night dance and our Saturday night parties.  This is 'Where the Creatures Meet'.  Because people don't have to get up and go to work the next day, they dance hard and are looking for adventure.  Do NOT miss the Halloween Party.

4)  Become a Volunteer.  Our instructors are hired directly from the ranks of our Volunteers.  Anyone in a leadership role at the studio sees their profile improve immediately.

5)  Read the SSQQ Newsletter.   Figure out what's going on, read about the celebrities, look for ways to contribute.

6)  Take the Cruise.  Modern-Era SSQQ celebrities are either Staff, great dancers, or participants in one of the yearly cruises.  You get your name and your picture published for all the world to see.  And if you misbehave enough, maybe you will make it to the fabled 'Usual Suspect' team of all-star troublemakers and be lucky enough to have me write terrible things about you.

7)  Become a phenomenal dancer.  In a program organized around dancing, the best dancers attract every eye in the room.  Men like the Waltz Kings became the boys in demand for a reason - women love to dance and these men made it fun for them.

If you are good at Western or West Coast Swing, consider dance competition.  Currently the dance studio has several men involved in training people to compete.  Consider asking them to form a dance team.  Some of the best times the studio has ever seen revolved around the Swing Kids and Heartbeat in the late Nineties. 

8)  Contribute.  Join a Group.  Plan an Adventure.  Not everyone can become a great dancer, but everyone can organize activities and plan adventures.

The history of the studio romances shows time and again that every person who has ever become a mischief leader or a great dancer has been rewarded many times over. 

Some people organize Hill Country Tours with stops at famous Honky Tonks like Gruene Hall.  Others throw parties in their home.  Others organize Margarita Trips.  Others rent a couple beach houses down at Surfside for the weekend.  Others organize visits to Dickens on the Strand.  Others organize weekend trips to San Antonio.  Others organize Rodeo activities.   Others organize ski trips.

Don't look to other people to get the party started.  Get it started yourself.  The leaders always get the biggest rewards."

"Any other advice to offer?" 

"Yes, as a matter of fact I do.  Find ways to CONTRIBUTE.

Time and again throughout the history of SSQQ, people started here as individuals and stayed with it.  As they began to make friends, they realized they were starting to become a member of a 'Group'.

There are always many small groups operating at SSQQ.  These groups usually form as a bunch of people in a particular class who realize they like each other. They start to do things as a 'group'

Their activities might be small scale at first.  Catch a movie or play cards or meet for dinner and head to a studio party.

As groups form, they create energy that draw other people to them.  Other groups bounce into them and sometimes the groups merge.  When enough people join the group, they become a 'Generation'. 

A Generation often takes years to form and sometimes we don't even have a 'Generation'.  The first half of the Nineties passed without any particular group identity.  I had burned out from fifteen years of Leadership, but there was no one at the time to step in.

History has shown that the groups can only go as far as the leadership will take them.  Now that you have read our story, you see that the SSQQ history book has listed the famous leaders like myself, Tom Easley, Daryl Armstrong, Bob Job, Jim Smith, Diane Head, Sharon Crawford and Susie Merrill. 

Every one of these leaders (except Susie) married someone they met through the studio.


Unfortunately the history book has also shown that each one of these people 'burned out' along the way.  No one can be 'Leader of the Pack' forever.  Inevitably the Leader must be a person who is Single.  We all know that once a Leader becomes a Double, their days in the sun become numbered.

And since SSQQ leaders get 'Doubled' at an amazing rate, new leaders must always be found.  And those leaders must find key people who will contribute and help them create an activity list. 

You may be the squirrel that finds the acorn or the raccoon that finds the walnut or the bird that gathers twigs for the nest.  It doesn't matter what you do.

It always starts by creating fun.  Find opportunities to dance and organize activities to have fun.

If you find a way to contribute, the energy will come back to you many times over."


In our final Chapter, we discuss the possible directions that the Cruise Trips and SSQQ will head in the future.

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Bon Voyage

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5 Comeback Kids 6 Millennium Madness 7 Love Boat 8 Bon Voyage
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