SSQQ Philosophy
Home Up Social Dance

SSQQ At a Glance History of SSQQ SSQQ Philosophies

Group Classes

SSQQ At a Glance  gives a quick overview on the many facets of the studio.

History of SSQQ  covers the events that led to the development of Houston's largest dance studio.

SSQQ Philosophies explains why don't we use Contracts, the advantages of Group Lessons, and why Practice Night is so important to our dance program.

Group Classes covers the events that explain how we developed our Group Class Dance program. This section is actually something of a meditation on the nature of the Rights of an Individual Versus the rights of the Group. It covers in great detail the incidents that led to our policies and the reasoning behind the policies.  Why do we insist everyone switch partners?  Why can't people watch classes?  Why are children banned from the studio?

The SSQQ Philosophy
Written by Rick Archer
January 2004


SSQQ is considered a very unusual place by other people in the dance business because our approach to running a dance studio is so unique. 
Some people assume SSQQ was copied from another studio or came into existence pretty much the way it is now.

Nothing could be further from the truth.  We copied no one and we have changed our style several times due to key incidents over the years.  As you will see, these experiences were critical in shaping our approach to the business of teaching social dance

Why SSQQ does not have Contracts.

One of the absolute worst experiences of my life involved lessons at a franchised Ballroom Dance studio here in Houston.  Back in 1975 I was persuaded to try an inexpensive Introductory Offer for Ballroom lessons at a now-defunct Houston studio located at the time on West Gray. 

Maggie, my girlfriend at the time, had noticed an ad in the paper promising 4 half-hour dance lessons for $5.  She begged me to do it with her.  I was strictly "Disco Dance" in those days; Ballroom dancing didn't interest me at all.  But a persuasive beautiful woman is difficult to resist.  Eventually I gave in.

The first half-hour lesson consisted of one move to four different dances such as Foxtrot, Tango, Waltz, and Cha Cha. 

Ballroom_Dancing.jpg (9319 bytes)

We had a male instructor.  Most of the lesson consisted of the instructor telling me to watch how he did it as he took Maggie in his arms and swept her away.  Maggie enjoyed herself thoroughly.   Maggie seemed to glide effortlessly across the floor in his arms while I watched in consternation. 

The few times I was actually allowed to try, I struggled mightily. I didn't understand the rhythm, I had no idea how to lead, and the footwork was a complete mystery.  I did give it a try, but I was kind of hopeless.

When the lesson was over, to my astonishment the instructor handed me a piece of paper with a grade for how well I had done for each dance.  B for Foxtrot, B- for Waltz, B for Cha Cha, C+ for Tango.  I was insulted that he had the nerve to "grade" me on one lesson.  I was also suspicious that I had been given grades as high as a 'B'. In my opinion, I was Four F.

Fortunately I did not know I had been set up or I would have given that jerk dance instructor a piece of my mind.  Since I was clueless about the realities of partner dancing, I did not realize I never had a chance.  No one can expect a Beginner to learn to lead and dance four patterns to four dances in 30 minutes simply by watching some instructor dance with his girlfriend the entire time.

Meanwhile Maggie got straight A's.  Not only was I disgusted with the stupid grading system, I was ready to kill Maggie for rubbing it in how the instructor had said she had danced much better than I had.  I was actually very embarrassed at being exposed as a crummy dancer.  This entire experience was humiliating.

I left in a very bad mood. The advertisement had said dancing was fun.  Not in my opinion.

As you might gather, it wasn't easy for Maggie to get me to show up for the second lesson. I resisted mightily, but finally succumbed to the two magic words, "You Promised."

The second visit was no better than the first.  This week I frowned as the instructor basically gave up on me. Instead he spent most of the half hour flirting with Maggie who was having the time of her life. 
 

TIME FOR THE SHAKEDOWN

As if this wasn't enough humiliation, they saved a little surprise for us.  Shortly before the end of my second visit my dance partner and I were asked to follow our teacher to the back.  I was told the "Dance Director" wanted to see us.

I sensed a trap, but to be honest I had a morbid curiosity just to see what this was all about.

Maggie and I were shown the way into a cramped room.  We were given two wooden chairs which faced a desk. The door was behind the desk. In other words, if we wanted to leave, we would have to walk around the desk. 

Escape was made even more difficult when the "Dance Director" invited our instructor to join the meeting. Now we had a desk and two men blocking our exit. The dance instructor would literally have to move his chair in order for us to leave.

To say I felt cornered would be an understatement.

The Dance Director said there was an important dance competition coming up.  He said he had been walking by and noticed just how well we were picking up the material.  Since we had shown unusual promise (in reality I was terrible and well aware just how bad I was), the studio wanted us to represent them!  This guy was so phony it was ridiculous.  I stared at the instructor when I heard the line about our "unusual promise", but he deliberately avoided eye contact.  I could see he was making a mental note in the future not to give anyone a C+ before the sales meeting no matter how bad they were.

The Dance Director continued. In order for us to do well, however, they would need to give us some polish and more training!!  And because they needed our help with the "Beginner-level" phase of the competition, they would give us a large discount if we would sign up Right This Minute since we had shown to our "unusual promise" and they didn't want to lose us.

In other words, they were counting on Maggie and me to help them win the big dance competition.  Have you ever heard a more ridiculous line of bullshit in your entire life?


At this point my morbid curiosity was satisfied.  I had guessed some sort of sales pitch was awaiting us but I had wanted to see how it was delivered.  These guys were not smooth at all.  In fact, the Dance Director was the first scam artist I had ever met.  Two guys selling me fake watches in an alley couldn't be any clumsier than he was. 

I was getting mad too. 
The two salesmen pressured us for an hour - yes, an hour - to sign an expensive thousand dollar contract for dance lessons. They literally would not take "no" for an answer.  I was furious at being cornered in this small back room by two con men who sat between us and the door.  Subtlety was clearly not their forte.

I was about to say something, but Maggie took control of the interview.  She whispered, "Let me handle this."  So I backed off and said nothing. Little did I know how much I would come to regret this decision.

Maggie chose a negotiating style best described as "cute them to death".  I didn't really know Maggie all that well.  She and I had only been dating for a few weeks.  So I sat back and watched.  Maggie laughed and joked and made one excuse after another why we couldn't do it.  I did not like her style at all.  In my mind Maggie was prolonging the torture.  'We don't have enough money', 'we are kind of busy', 'we don't know much about dancing', blah blah blah.  I stared incredulously at Maggie.  Why don't you just say 'no' and let's get out of here? 

Finally after an hour I had had enough. Maggie kept giving excuses and the salesmen who had nothing else to do hung in there waiting for her to give them an opening.  I was sick in my stomach with resentment at the high pressure techniques of these con artists combined with deep disgust with Maggie's evasive negotiating style.  So I got up and said, "I am ready to go. Would you permit us to leave now?" 

The two men were stunned. They didn't even know Mr. C+ Tango could even speak! 

Staring down at the seated men, I gave them a look that said I meant business. I may have been the worst dancer in the room and I may have only been 25 years old, but I was still 6 feet tall and 200 pounds. If I was determined to go, they would have a serious time stopping me.  

Believe it or not, Maggie tried to calm me and asked me to sit back down. That was my last straw with her.  I was astonished that Maggie was contradicting me for the second time.  I snapped at her, "Sit down?  What for?  I have no intention of signing this contract. I am sick and tired of watching you let these men waste our time!  We have been here over an hour and letting you handle this has gotten us nowhere."

The room fell silent.  My hostility had a chilling effect indeed.  At this point, the two men threw in the towel. 

With obvious resentment written on their faces, they moved out of my way. 

Maggie followed me wordlessly which I might say was a departure for her.  It was very awkward moment for everyone. It was then that I realized these two men had actually had believed they had a chance at a kill.  Sorry to disappoint you, Guys.  Too bad I wasn't the spineless dork you had hoped for. 

It occurred to me that by leading them on, Maggie had actually gotten their hopes up that they were about to make a sale.  I could not understand her reasons.  Why was she teasing them?  I could not imagine for what reason Maggie had been leading them on, but I blamed her for the debacle almost as much as I blamed the salesmen.  Who knows, maybe deep down inside she wanted to sign up for those lessons.  But the pressure from the salesmen turned me cold from the start. No way.

As you might suspect, I did not return for my final two lessons. This was not only the end of my Ballroom dancing for about ten years, it also wrapped things up for Maggie and I.  Watching her tease and banter with these two men when she had no intention of signing a contract angered me.  I didn't appreciate being ignored either.  Why give one excuse after another why we couldn't sign the contract when in my mind a simple "No, thank you" would have been sufficient?  Maybe she was raised to be polite.  Not me, I am too direct by nature to understand her tactics.

As you might gather, t
his experience was so distasteful that I made sure that SSQQ, unlike most of the other Houston dance studios at the time, would never breathe a word about contracts.

Our attitude has always been that people like to take dance lessons and are more than willing to continue if we make the classes fun and our students are allowed to make up their own minds without manipulation.

Recently someone told me that every dance program he had ever been to in Houston operated pretty much the same way we did and asked why I made such a big deal out of 'no contracts'.  I told him that although everyone takes our style for granted these days, back when I started SSQQ, avoiding contracts was considered a radical move.  Since contracts were the accepted way to run a dance studio at the time, SSQQ was clearly going against the grain.

Fortunately our new approach was so effective that over the years my way eventually became The Way that independent dance instructors conducted their business.  Only the franchised dance studios stuck to the contract system.  Our 'no contract
philosophy' may have been ahead of its time, but it seems to have worked since we are going strong after 30 years while many of our high-pressure competitors have quietly exited the scene.

Our way of doing business is now the accepted norm in the City of Houston.  Although I suppose Dance Contracts still exist in Houston, I am pretty sure they are the exception rather than the rule.

I will conclude this article with a fascinating series of emails I received in August 2007.  We were discussing Karate and Retirement when out of the blue came an amazing story.
 

THE FINAL WORD TO THE 'NO CONTRACT' STORY

-----Original Message-----
From: Joe C
Sent: Tuesday, August 07, 2007 9:54 AM
To: Rick Archer
Subject: RE: August 2007 SSQQ Newsletter

The thought of you retiring, Mr. Archer, made me want to register asap for your classes.  It will be a sad day when you do. After 30 years which is hard to imagine, how fast time flies. I recall taking classes in the mid-eighties, and again in 2004 and both times for 4-6 month stretches, were good times for the wife and I.  Heck, we been married 30 years this year!  Anyways, we plan to come back and take several classes. Thanks for your dedication.


-----Original Message-----
From: Rick Archer
Sent: Monday, August 13, 2007 11:40 AM
To: Joe C
Subject: RE: August 2007 SSQQ Newsletter

Thank you very much, Joe. Those are kind words indeed.


-----Original Message-----
From: Joe C
Sent: Monday, August 13, 2007 12:59 PM
To: Rick Archer
Subject: RE: August 2007 SSQQ Newsletter

Don't retire Mr. Archer!  Semi perhaps.

You're a legend.  If it were not for your classes, the wife and I may have thrown in the towel.  When we were at the stretch, we signed for dancing to spice our relationship and believe me, it has.  You even say it in your website.  Women love to dance.  And when we go to different revues, over the last 20 years, I have seen more guys on the sidelines because of not knowing how to dance.  Too many females just dying to be asked.  They always seem to have that sparkle in their eye of a man who knows how to dance.

This past year, the man I have trained under since '84, retired after 39 years teaching martial arts. I bet you know who I am referring to - Grandmaster Kim Soo of Kim Soo Karate, started off in downtown, now home to the Toyota Center. It was a set back when it was announced two years before. Just the idea that we wouldn't have him teach on a fulltime basis. However we are fortunate to have him teaching on a semi-retired format.

Anyways, I hope you stick around for a long time to come - either fulltime or semi -retired.  I cannot imagine the thousands of marriages you saved from your dance instruction.  Take care.

Sincerely, Joe



-----Original Message-----
From: Rick Archer
Sent: Monday, August 27, 2007 2:06 PM
To: Joe C
Subject: Kim Soo

I don't think I told you this, but I actually took karate lessons from Kim Soo myself.

Back in the early Seventies, a movie called Billy Jack did the same thing for karate classes that Saturday Night Fever did for Disco classes.

Seeing an outnumbered Indian half-breed kick the hell out of some redneck bigots on behalf of underdog Indians and Hippies was one of the most joyful experiences of my life!  Justice Prevails!

So in 1974 I signed up for karate lessons at the downtown location you mentioned.  I took class for about six months until one day I came to the realization that the circles I traveled in were unlikely to require street fighting skills. It was about this point I concentrated more on my dance classes.

Nevertheless, I thoroughly enjoyed my karate classes. Kim Soo taught several of my classes himself. He was a real leader; very poised and impressive.

This movie played a big part in his eventual expansion. I have often compared his good fortune to my good fortune in that we both parlayed a surprise hit movie into a career. It never dawned on me that he really is not that much older than I am.



-----Original Message-----
From:  Joe C
Sent: Tuesday, August 28, 2007 6:36 AM
To: Rick Archer
Subject: RE: Kim Soo

Mr Archer,

Billy Jack during the '74 release was one of my favorites besides the Bruce Lee movies. Tom McLaughlin did an earlier movie titled Born Losers in '67 so I was a big fan.  It's coincidental that several years ago, GM Kim Soo had mentioned wanting to learn to dance. I think he felt both arts shared the same - passion, discipline, and grace. That's why I say you as well as GM Kim Soo are what I would refer to as "Living Legends" of Houston.

You both started something in Houston when there was very little to offer in dancing and martial arts.

I recall taking the 5 lessons for $5 dollars from Arthur Murray studio on West Gray. This was in '73 or '74. After the last class, I was escorted into this large office surrounded by the pretty instructor and three big gorillas that resembled bodyguards in the Godfather. I was pressured into signing a one year contract for $1700.

That was like a million bucks for me. After repeated failed pressure tactics, I was allowed to go.

Everyone knows SSQQ and Kim Soo Karate. I hope you never retire.  Stay in excellent health and take care.  Until our next dance lesson....

Joe
 

-----Original Message-----
From: Rick Archer
Sent: Tuesday, August 28, 2007 4:10 PM
To: Joe C
Subject: Kim Soo and Arthur Murray


Are you sure we are not leading parallel lives? I had a near-identical experience at that exact same Arthur Murray studio!!!

In fact, it was just as stressful as your experience. You should read the story.  I am sure it will make you laugh.

No Contracts

Do you mind if I publish your letters?  I would print them under Joe C...  your letters are the perfect conclusion to my own story about this same shakedown experience.  I would be very grateful.
 

 -----Original Message-----
From: Joe C
Sent: Wednesday, August 29, 2007 8:17 AM
To: Rick Archer
Subject: RE: Kim Soo and Arthur Murray

That's funny Mr. Archer.  I read your experience. It's a great story.

The ad I answered to was in the "Zest" magazine, advertisement back section, of Sunday's Chronicle. Mine were 5 lessons for 5 bucks. There was another dance school offering the same. Arthur Murray's happen to be closer for me to travel from.

If I recall the room I was corralled into, seemed 15x15 size dimensions and had a large nice executive desk. The salesman and the three gorillas were nicely dressed, pin striped Mafia attire.

My torture was around 45 minutes of every known sales tactic to get me to sign the contract without breaking every bone in my body. I resisted the intimidation but for a good portion of the time spent in that chamber, I thought I would never be found if I said no. Finally after I mentioned I would have to talk to my Father who I said was a police officer (I lied to desperate measures), they abruptly released me without further containment.

I never looked back and my unfair judgment was that I figured all dance schools were the same and did not pursue any further avenues to enhance my personal values.

It would be 15 years before I tried the approach again and lord and behold did I strike out again.  Up on 45 south at Monroe was a C&W dance school so I gave it a try. The wife was with me and we wanted to learn together. It was a Saturday afternoon and just as soon as we arrived well before the 5:00 pm closing, one of the dance instructors was locking up.  However she agreed to extend the dance instruction at "her house" a few blocks away.

She had converted her living room into a min-dance floor with 360 wall mirrors.  After the cordially introduction, we agreed to the private lessons of $20 per session. That's when the Dance Instructor from hell arrived.  I couldn't get the steps down - two left feet with their own minds, so after trial after trial, the physical and verbal abuse went into high gear.  She pulled, jerked, pushed if I was not in the right pattern, then she said perhaps I was too dumb to learn how to pick up the simple dance steps.  We endured this for another sessions and finally I decided not to return. I think I still have war wounds from that fiasco.

Our next adventure was with Gilbert Huron. He was good but sometimes some of the classes did not meet the number of minimum headcounts and besides, the instruction was fast.  If you got left behind, you were doomed. We took several months of instruction but felt our needs were not being fulfilled.  But we did buy a good number of his tapes.

Then I heard about SSQQ.  The recorded message - the 861 or something number I dialed seemed genuine.  Excited, the wife and I gave it a try. Our first class was 2-step and it was packed to the gill.  It was easy and fun!  We had a great time, met a lot of good people and couldn't get enough.  We wanted to learn all SSQQ had to offer. That's the feeling I think everyone who passes through your doors get. I want more and I want it from here.  So please Mr. Archer, you cannot retire.

The company I work for - Air Liquide - has a portion of summer intern package for French interns to learn as much about Texas during their 3 month stay.  SSQQ is part of the package and every year, they all are registered to take several of their favorites - Salsa, C&W, and Zydeco. No one can ever fulfill the big shoes you leave when you retire.  You said it yourself, dancing keeps you young and vibrant!

I have no problem using my letters.  It would be an honor. Take care sir.

Sincerely, Joe

 

CONCLUSION

Who would have thought I would run across someone who had the identical experience I had over at the former Arthur Murray dance studio on West Gray?

As I stated earlier, if you make the classes fun and treat people with respect, they will continue to take dance lessons automatically. 

And if they graduate, then they will either come back again sometime further down the road or they will send their friends.

Now you see SSQQ refuses to employ pressure tactics. 

You do not have to strong-arm people in order to get them to sign up dance lessons.  Just make the classes fun.  The dancing will do the rest.


 

 

What's Better?
Private Dance Lessons
Or
Group Dance Lessons?


Historically Dance Studios have utilized Private Lessons as the main staple of their business.  Contrary to that trend, SSQQ has made its mark emphasizing Group Lessons over Private Lessons.  Let us start by pointing out the obvious: Our Group Class Dance Program is a phenomenal success.  We average over twelve hundred students a month. There is no other dance studio in America like SSQQ.  We are truly "one of a kind".

Nevertheless we openly admit there are many compelling reasons why there are times when Private Lessons are better than Group Lessons. 

For one thing, Group Lessons move at the pace of the "average dancer". If you are a fast learner or a slow learner, either way you will be dissatisfied with the pace of the class. A private lesson moves at your pace!

Perhaps you want to prepare for special occasions like a high school reunion, Rodeo Kickoff Dance or an important event such as a Wedding Dance.  In certain situations, Private Lessons are often the best way to go. For example, it usually takes only one, maybe two privates lessons to prepare for a Wedding Dance. If you are like most Wedding couples, you put this off till the last minute. Fortunately a Private Lesson will solve your problem nicely. 

Or maybe you are in a hurry!  You just signed up for a cruise that leaves Galveston next week. Okay, in this situation Private Lessons make sense.

Private Lessons are definitely the way to go if you intend to be part of a dance exhibition or a dance competition. Style, technique, subtle leads, the secrets of following, and tricky footwork are always better taught in a Private Lesson.  Literally, if DANCE EXCELLENCE is your goal, then one-on-one training with a good coach will always be superior.   To use a simple analogy, SSQQ Group Classes are good for Elementary through College level dancing, but Masters and PhDs in dance require a gifted coach for success. Indeed, SSQQ is home to many dance champions. All of these people started with Group Lessons, then switched to Privates when it was time to prepare for Dance Contests.

That said, there are advantages to taking Group Lessons over Private Lessons as well.

First and foremost, Group Lessons are economical. 

The price advantages of Group Lessons over Private Lessons are clear. For example, here at SSQQ a man can take 8 hours of Twostep for $46 or a one-hour private lesson for $50. The private lesson may cover more material because it can move at a faster clip, but realistically there is no way the man will ever develop the kind of muscle memory he would have achieved in eight hours of a Group Lesson.

Unless you are very wealthy or you are in a big hurry, Group Lessons have a huge economic advantage over Private Lessons.  If at some point you wish to become a competitive dancer, then Private Lessons are recommended. But this step is usually not taken until you are one or two years into dancing.

Until you reach a point like this, Group Lessons using different "Levels" will do an excellent job of preparing you to become an excellent social dancer at a fraction of the cost you would invest using Private Lessons.

Second, if your object is to become a good Social Dancer, then Group Lessons are the way to go.

In a Group Lesson, you learn how to dance with normal men and women. In a private lesson you learn to dance with a professional who is a Dance God or Dance Goddess. There is a big difference! 

Let me share an embarrassing anecdote. In the early 80s, I took two private lessons a week in a dance known as the Whip.  My training in the Whip lasted for about a year. At that time, Western dancing was big.  I was simply learning the Whip as an afterthought, but never actually danced it in public. My teacher was a man who was a phenomenal dancer.

It didn't matter how fast the music was - he simply instructed me to use more power to help him rotate faster!  He taught me to use whatever force was necessary to accelerate him or decelerate him to hit the beat.

After a year of tossing a 180 pound man around, I was ready to start dancing the Whip with women in the Real World. Immediately I was surprised at how much easier it was to move a 120 pound woman than it had been my male teacher. If the music was fast, it was effortless for me to spin that woman a little faster to keep the beat.

Soon however I noticed that women were turning me down repeatedly for dances. Others came up with excuses like suddenly needing to go to the restroom.  I began to wonder what was going on. This went on for several weeks until a lady named Debbie Oswald told me to sit down. Debbie explained that all these women - herself included - felt manhandled. She said that when I had been dancing Western, I was wonderful to dance with. But ever since I began to dance the Whip, I had become a huge topic among the women in Debbie's circle of friends. She said these women confessed that they were TERRIFIED to dance with me!  Debbie said the women all agreed that my timing was excellent, my leads were excellent, my knowledge of patterns was extensive, but none of this mattered because I was too strong. It simply wasn't fun to dance with me. If I would stop forcing them to turn so fast, then maybe I could lose my bad reputation. 

I had noticed that many of the women would lose their balance when I turned them faster. My teacher was such a great athlete that he could spin faster than any woman or man in the city. Extra speed didn't bother him at all. But the women I danced with who didn't have perfect technique simply lost their balance when I used force. They would lose control and would almost fall except that I would catch them. Nevertheless the near wipe-out had to frighten them. A light bulb went on.

Learning to dance with a professional was nice, but it had backfired when it came to dancing with normal human beings. I was devastated to learn what my problem was, but thank goodness Debbie confided in me. I learned my lesson the hard way and soon adapted my leads to the women I was dancing with, not some pro from Mount Olympus.

Third, Group Lessons are a great deal of fun.  And there are no Birds and Bees when you take Private Lessons.

If you are single, there is no simpler way on earth to develop an extensive circle of friends than by taking Dance Classes.  SSQQ has quietly acquired the reputation of being one of Houston's most effective venues for finding boyfriends and husbands, girlfriends and wives.  Slow Dance and Romance go hand in hand.  Unlike computer dating services, SSQQ group classes allow people to meet and mingle the old-fashioned way. People get to start as friends and build relationships over the course of time.  Quick moves are unnecessary. Unlike Bars, you don't have any of the pressure to ask total strangers to dance or use the best pickup lines.

Here at the studio, practically anyone you ask to dance says "yes" and striking up a conversation is effortless. It is not an accident our studio has averaged 25 weddings and engagements per year over the last five years. You put a woman in a man's arms to romantic music and very powerful things begin to happen.


NOTE: For a further look at some of the themes covered in this section of Group Lessons versus Private Lessons, please visit:
THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF SOCIAL DANCE


Why SSQQ Practice Night is so Important.

Practice Night is the dance equivalent of "homework". Dance classes are valuable for acquiring the patterns and the knowledge, but are simply not long enough to include enough music to master the material. As usual, I had to learn this lesson the hard way.

Back
in 1977 I took 3 ten-week classes to learn how to Whip.  Unfortunately not once did I practice after class. First I signed up for a 10 week Whip class. I was considered one of the best beginners, or so I was told. With that encouragement I signed up for the next two levels as well. 

However, despite taking classes for nearly seven months, in this time I never learned how to dance the Whip outside of class.

During the final class, the instructor was talking about the possibility of another level. I had not done very well in the third level. As I thought about it,  I realized I knew a lot of patterns, but could not actually put two of them back-to-back since I had no "muscle memory". 

Muscle Memory is the process of transferring information from your brain to your body. Moves that feel awkward and mechanical in class have a way of becoming fluid with repetition.  Just as a golfer must practice his swing, a dancer must practice his leads and footwork for them to become second nature. I knew I should have practiced, but I didn't. Why not?

The reason was simple: I did not practice because I lacked the confidence to ask any of the ladies taking the class to go dancing with me. I kept taking these classes so I could get better, but without practice I never actually improved. To me it felt like I would have to ask a woman out for a date in order to practice. Since one of the main reasons I was taking lessons to improve my confidence around women, I was in a quandary.

I needed to practice to gain confidence, but I didn’t practice because I had no confidence.

I was insecure about women and I was insecure about dancing. I didn't want them to see how bad a dancer I was.  Nor did I think they wanted to go dancing with a klutz.  I was so naive it never dawned on me that women like to dance so much that several of the women in my would gladly have been patient with me.  Finally in
disgust at the trap I was in, I quit taking the lessons.

The absurdity was not lost on me. Drawing on this experience, a couple years later when I taught my first dance course in 1977, I made a point to take my entire class out dancing after their final class to a long-gone Disco called the "Rubiyat".  I was amazed at how much they loved this opportunity!  The entire class went and danced the night away. We all had a great time.

Having this built-in opportunity to get out and dance made all the difference in the world to my students. During the evening one lady came up to me and thanked me for organizing the event.  She said she was too afraid to come to a club by herself, but coming here with the group was not intimidating at all. Then she winked and said a man from our class had asked for her phone number!   This lady had been keeping her eye on him for several weeks, but was shocked to find out he had been doing the same thing with her. Imagine that.

I smiled. I knew I had done the right thing and I was proud of myself. I made a vow that I would do this again.

I named these after-class adventures Practice Night. It was the start of something big.  Definitely. Today SSQQ is responsible for an average of 25 marriages a year!  And it all started with Practice Night.

The Success of Practice Night Creates a Subtle Magic...

In the beginning I could have predicted the rapid improvement I saw in my students' dancing as the result of Practice Night. Obviously people who practice get better. You don't need Nostradamus for that.

What I did not anticipate was the unbelievable number of friendships that developed as a function of having these large groups of people dancing together.

Quickly Practice Night came to mean more than a simple chance to improve dance skills; it became an important opportunity to hang out with the gang.

Over the years SSQQ has been given quiet credit for countless romances and marriages too. We have been encouraged to enter the "dating business" many times, but I am convinced such an ill-conceived idea would jeopardize the "Magic".

Instead we remain a nice, safe place where people come to dance, see their friends, and have a good time.  Practice Night immediately follows every class here at studio starting at 9:15 pm. We turn down the lights, pump up the volume, and start the Dance.  With two large dance floors, great dancers and great music, the conditions are perfect for slow dance and romance.

Practice Night is free and so is the "Magic". Come and find out for yourself.


Two Left Feet

Over the years SSQQ has been a source of comfort to people with two left feet, the rhythm-impaired, men who can’t lead, and women who can't follow. We nurture wounded soles and damaged psyches. Most students do indeed make progress.

In addition we deal humanely with the occasional person who freezes up from the pressure of learning to dance. We help all students to a nearby chair when they are suddenly no longer able to walk, much less dance.

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SSQQ Even Tries to Help Smart People Learn to Dance!!

Sometimes we are even able to help people who are intelligent learn to dance although sad to say we do lose a few.  It is embarrassing to reveal, but did you know that highly analytical people require up to 3 times more explanation than normal people?  And yet we charge them the same price out of compassion for their predicament.

We go the extra mile by using visual aids such as little feet on the floor, detailed syllabi, and training on how to count the rhythm (numbers make them very happy!). Unfortunately sometimes nothing can help them overcome the cruelty of their own mind unable to set their body free.

Intelligence is a serious handicap to overcome when learning to dance, but with enormous perseverance, even bright people can learn to dance.  And by a stroke of fortune, it turns out that people with intelligence usually make enough money to afford years and years of dance lessons. 

You might even say intelligent people are our best customers. Someone has to look out for them and keep them off the streets.

And despite our teasing above, the truth is that social dancing really is not that hard to pick up. Anyone can learn to dance if they put their mind to it.  No matter how unsure you are of your ability to dance, the vast majority of people end up doing just fine...especially those who take the time to stay for Practice Night after class. 

And if you stay for Practice, you will not only improve dramatically, you will even discover what fun dancing is!! 

Better yet, you might begin to develop a whole new circle of friends as well. SSQQ is known as one of Houston's best places to meet people. As we are fond of saying, Slow Dance leads to Romance.

No one is safe at our studio.  Cupid is everywhere.

 

SSQQ At a Glance  gives a quick overview on the many facets of the studio.

History of SSQQ  covers the events that led to the development of Houston's largest dance studio.

SSQQ Philosophies explains why don't we use Contracts, the advantages of Group Lessons, and why Practice Night is so important to our dance program.


Group Classes covers the events that explain how we developed our Group Class Dance program. This section is actually something of a meditation on the nature of the Rights of an Individual Versus the rights of the Group. It covers in great detail the incidents that led to our policies and the reasoning behind the policies. 
Why do we insist everyone switch partners?
Why can't people watch classes?
Why are children banned from the studio?

SSQQ At a Glance History of SSQQ SSQQ Philosophies

Group Classes

SSQQ Front Page Parties/Calendar of Events Jokes
SSQQ Information Schedule of Classes Writeups
SSQQ Archive Newsletter History of SSQQ