SSQQ Newsletter 2018


SSQQ Travel Newsletter  
February 2018, Issue 1
Written by Rick Archer


·       Liberty of the Seas Dance Cruise, September 16-23 out of Galveston
Contact Marla Archer; 713 862 4428

Rick Archer's Note:  Please see my story below about Marla's new dance cruise.





4 Mondays, starts February 5.  (Feb 05, 12, 19, 26)  7-8:30 pm, Rick's house

4 Mondays, starts February 5.  (Feb 05, 12, 19, 26)  7-8:30 pm, Chapelwood

4 Tuesdays, starts February 6.  (Feb 06, 13, 20, 27)  7- 9 pm, at Rick's house 

4 Wednesdays, starts February 7.  (Feb 07, 14, 21, 28)  7- 9 pm, at Rick's house

Rick Archer's Note: Please see further below for details on each class.



Rick Archer's Note:  I am pleased to introduce a new friend, Madame Butterfly. 

I will start with an admission... I don't pay very good attention to social events.  I rarely visit Facebook plus I let my wife book all my dance activities.  Consequently, I am admittedly a poor resource at keeping track of upcoming dance activities.

Therefore, I am pleased to announce my new-found alliance with Madame Butterfly.  Madame B is a popular dancer and provacateur who has offered to keep me updated on the various dance activities around town. 

Madame Butterfly does this as a public service, but wishes to make it clear she expects there will be something in it for her.  In the spirit of our beloved Mae West, Madame B tells me to send a few good men her way.  If they can dance, even better. 

"You say there are Ten men waiting for me at the door?  That 's too many!

Send one home, I'm tired."

Whether you know it or not, Madame B will be floating around at all the important dances.  She is the Fly who will Spy.  She watches everyone on the dance floor and misses nothing.  She is the proverbial elf on the shelf who knows whether you have been naughty or nice, preferably naughty.  So you better watch out because if you behave, you will regret it.

Below are some of the events Madame Butterfly recommends.  If by chance you have an event you would like me to publicize, be sure to let me know. 

So let's see which events Madame Butterfly has chosen for the Houston Dance Community's upcoming pleasure. 

1. Friday, February 2, Mardi Gras Masquerade Dance

Memorial Drive UMC Singles Ministry presents

Mardi Gras Masquerade Dinner & Dance

Cajun Dinner at 6 PM at The Gate, 13194 Memorial Dr.

Dance at 7 PM at The Refuge, 13150 Memorial Dr. (music by Ed Madonio)

Dinner & Dance = $ 20 per person

Dinner only = $15 per person

Dance only = $10 per person

To make a reservation, contact

To register online, go to , click on "Register for an Event", click on "Mardi Gras Dinner & Dance."

2.  Friday, February 2, Mo's Place 6 pm on.

The Krewe of Katy and other Katy dance dignitaries are meeting for Western dancing at Mo's Place on.  21940 Kingsland Blvd, Katy, TX 77450.   Many people get there as early as 6 pm while others join in progress.  Riffraff welcome.

3. Friday February 9, Boots and Spurs at Chandelier Ballroom, 8 pm on

8:00 pm to 12:00a. free I believe. 1435 Beall St. at 15th St.  Music by Southern Country Line

4. Saturday, February 10, Hangar Swing Dance

Address:  18000 Groeschke Rd., 77084, Hanger B, Houston, Texas.

Photo ops with planes 5:00 pm, swing dance crash course at 5:30 pm, dinner at 6:00pm, dancing begins at 6:00 pm, dinner and dance $35.00, dance only $20.00., 2018.

Details:  Please join us for our annual Hangar Dance featuring the Third Coast Big Band.  The evening begin with photo ops with our aircraft at 5 pm.  Swing Dancing Crash Course at 5:30.  Dinner provided by Lasagna House III at 6 pm.  Dancing begins shortly after and will be a great way to work off the tasty dinner.  Buy tickets in advance at

Dance only tickets will be available at the door.

Email Jim Placette for more information


5. Thursday, February 15,  Gary Richardson Rodeo Dance at Pavillion, 7:00 pm

Just over three weeks away!  Rodeo Kick-Off Dance at the Pavillion on Gessner is February 15th Thursday night.   7:00 pm to 11:00 pm.   

Cost: $15 if paid in advance by Feb 10th, afterwards $20 and $25 at the door.

Gary's Note:  I will teach a Free Beginning Two Step Class from 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm.   No partner needed.

(We will, also, cover an introduction to Polka as time permits.  If those who already know these dances want to volunteer to come and aid the beginners…that would be great!)

Contact Gary at

6. Friday, February 16, Chapelwood Singles Rodeo Dance. 7:00 pm

Come join singles from across Houston at the Chapelwood UMC Singles Rodeo Dance! Free CW Polka and Two-Step lesson with Michael Stephens from 7:00 - 8:15 p.m. There will be lots of Country Western Music from DJ Ed Madonio and the dance is from 8:15 - 11:00 p.m. As always, they'll have great food and fellowship. Dance cost is $10.00 at the door.

7. Friday, February 23, Fab Five at SPJST Lodge, aka Chandelier Ballroom, 8 pm.

SPJST is the best dance floor in town for Swing Dancing and the Fab Five play the Beatles better than the Beatles themselves.  Plus they branch out and play other tunes later in the night such as Van Morrison and the Rolling Stones.

If you ask nicely and promise to stay late, they might even play Inna Gadda Da Vida for you.  This is a Cosmic band.  Two thumbs up from Madame Butterfly.


Rick Archer's Note:  I have no idea how correct this information is.  Madame Butterfly clearly has gone out of her way to help, but it wouldn't hurt you to do a little on-line investigation yourself before visiting any of these events.



SSQQ September 2018 Dance Cruise

Rick Archer's Note:   To the best of anyone's knowledge, the phrase 'Never Say Never' was first recorded in Charles Dickens's Pickwick Papers (1837). 

It is said that women pride themselves on their prerogative to change their mind from time to time because, hmm, because they're a woman. 

In Marla's case, she was very angry about a situation involving our October 2017 dance cruise that got way too far under her skin.  Once she realized how many people were sorry to see her annual dance cruise fall by the wayside, she began to feel some regret.  Slowly but surely she began to reconsider.   Last week, a kind remark caught her at the right time and... poof!... Marla decided to change her mind. 

Therefore it is with great joy that I report Marla has decided to offer another SSQQ dance cruise here in 2018.   Before I offer the details of the upcoming September trip to Jamaica, Cayman, and Cozumel, I would like to share a newsletter reprint from Marla's 2017 Dance Cruise back in October.


Marla has said that the October 2017 trip was the Final Voyage of the SSQQ Caribbean Dance Cruise.   Several people discretely inquired about her decision.  Telling me how much they loved our trip, why would Marla discontinue something that was this much fun?

Here's is a story I have never told before.  One night on last year's 2016 Caribbean Cruise, two security guards walked up to me during our late night dancing.  I was the DJ.  They said I had been playing my music too loud in the Star Lounge and that there had been a complaint from a guest trying to sleep. 

What these men did not know is that I have been the DJ on twenty or more trips and not once had I ever received a complaint.  Furthermore, there is something I call 'Ambient Music'.  The Star Lounge has ambient music playing whenever there is no event in the room.  My volume was no louder than the ship's own music. 

As I listened to these two men, I got the distinct feeling that they were bluffing.  For one thing, I wasn't playing the music loudly at all.  For another thing, they kept changing the details of their story when I questioned them.  They were so stupid they couldn't agree on which floor the complaint had come from or which direction.  The incident felt like a set-up.  When I asked our ship liaison officer about the incident the next day, she said she didn't know a thing about it. 

The incident left me incensed.  I was very suspicious. 

Although it took a year, sure enough, the other shoe dropped.  When Marla asked permission to use the Star Lounge for dancing on this year's trip, they told her 'based on last year's complaint', she could not use Star Lounge again this year.  However, they said she could rent the ice rink down in the basement for $200 a night.  Marla did not want to disappoint her dancers, so she agreed to the extortion.  At the cost of $800, she rented the ice rink for dancing on three different occasions.  That was money out of her pocket for a venue that was not at all satisfactory.

When I learned of this, I was livid.  This was highway robbery.  First the cruise line steals Marla's customers, then it turns around and extorts my wife to boot. 

So now you understand.  The cruise lines have taken much of the joy out of organizing the annual Caribbean Dance Cruise. 

So was last week's trip the final voyage of the SSQQ Caribbean Dance Cruise?

I think if enough people ask Marla to do it again, she might reconsider.  The thing to remember is that Marla is the best at what she does.  There are several copycats who have tried to match her, but Marla has honed the Caribbean Dance Cruise to an art form.   People are amazed at the quality of her trips and the amount of fun we have.  They like the complimentary specialty-restaurant dinners, the free champagne, the special dance parties, the morning dance lessons, and all the other wonderful things that Marla provides on each trip. 


Marla and I take walks nearly every day together.  On these walks, she explains how she thinks.  For the past six months, every time we walk, Marla has said repeatedly she had no intention of doing a dance cruise in 2018.  

Secretly, I hoped all along she would change her mind.  However, I never said anything.  Since Marla does all the work on these dance cruises, who am I to tell her what to do? 

Besides, I have only changed Marla's mind one time in the 17 years I have known her.  When it comes to Marla, I am remarkably unpersuasive.   Back in 2001, it took three margaritas for me to persuade Marla to ditch her boyfriend and consider me instead. 

Ever since then, she has refused to drink when we are alone.  I have always wondered if I should read anything into that. 

So I decided it was not my place to ask her to reconsider.  For the past six months I have bided my time hoping she would change her mind.  The thing is, I felt considerable regret when Marla decided to discontinue this annual adventure.  Marla is really good at these organizing these dance cruises.  After all, she has done one per year for the past 17 years.  When one combines the 17 Dance Cruises with her overseas Adventure cruises, she has organized 43 trips overall. 

You think Marla has learned a thing or two?  Definitely.  Every trip is such smooth sailing people take it for granted.  But I know better... Marla sees problems ahead of time and handles them before they get out of control.

Here is an example of a behind-the-scene decision.  Since Marla was mad at Royal Caribbean over that ice rink fiasco from our last cruise, I suggested booking Carnival this year.   Marla immediately nixed that.  She explained that Carnival has dropped the ball again, adding that in the past two months four different ships have failed their sanitation inspections.  

I couldn't help myself, so I asked Marla if one of the ships was Triumph.  Who can forget the infamous 2013 Triumph poop cruise?   We knew several people on that trip.   Speaking of 'Never Again', I believe that was the phrase they used.  So far, they haven't changed their mind.  When I saw Marla roll her eyes, I was incredulous.  Believe it or not, the Triumph has failed another sanitation inspection.  

The Triumph is sailing out of New Orleans these days.  In fact, it was in the news just yesterday that a woman went overboard... here is the headline:

"Carnival Triumph passengers say woman seen fighting with husband before going overboard"

Incidentally, the fear of going overboard is my greatest fear on every cruise trip since Marla always insists on booking Balconies. 

I pointed out that while the Triumph is definitely a cursed ship, it doesn't come anywhere near Galveston anymore due to its notorious reputation. 

Marla replied that while yes, the Triumph is finally out of Galveston's hair, all three Carnival ships currently based in Galveston also failed their inspections. 

Oh.   Maybe Carnival isn't such a good idea.

So I looked it up.  One of the failed ships had a crew member with acute norovirus symptoms working his shift.  Have you ever watched how dozens of crew members are sometimes busy scrubbing down everything in sight?  I was on a cruise trip out of Oslo once where 33% of the passengers got Norovirus.  Marla was one of the victims... nasty disease.  For 24 hours, Marla was in serious pain. 

Once there is a Norovirus outbreak, it is almost impossible to get rid of it overnight.  That's how serious norovirus is.   It usually takes a couple months to get rid of it.  So imagine the idiocy of allowing an infected crew member to work among the public.   I quietly agreed that maybe a return to Royal Caribbean wasn't such a bad idea after all. 

Sometimes Marla handles a cruise trip problem right in front of me.   My favorite story took place in Amsterdam a couple years ago.  We were scheduled to a bus trip to Kuchenhof, a stunning tulip garden 50 miles away.  We walked as a group from our hotel over to the departure location.  When one of our friends went to check in, she realized she did not have her ticket.  The woman at the counter was not sympathetic and told our friend to move away and let the next person in line step up. 

In tears, the lady said she would never have enough time to run back to the hotel.  Marla smiled, "You should have a copy of the reservation on your phone.  I know this for a fact; I emailed it to you." 

The lady pulled out her cell phone.  Sure enough, Marla was right.  Marla's quick-thinking allowed our friend to enjoy her trip after all. 

In 2012 our group was in Copenhagen, Denmark, preparing for a cruise to Russia.  One problem... one of the ladies lost her passport.

The group had decided to spend the day using the Hop On/Hop Off bus.  We entered a nearby information office to purchase our tickets.  

Our lady friend... a different one... kept her passport inside her money pouch.  When she pulled out her money pouch to pay for the ticket, she set the passport on the counter to her left so she could fish around and find where she had stored her Danish kronas.   Once she got her bus ticket, she turned to look for Marla on her right.  Bye bye passport.  It was that easy. 

Nine hours passed.  When the lady discovered her mistake at 7 pm, she nearly had a heart attack.  The woman collapsed in a flood of tears, so Marla stepped in to reassure her all was not lost. 

Marla suggested we retrace our steps.  First stop was that same information office.  Six of us from the group followed our friend over for moral support.

Fortunately the information office was still open.  Yes, they had seen her passport, but after keeping it for a while, they turned it over to the police. 

So now the group of us trundled over to the police station. 

Sure enough, the police had the passport.  What a relief. 

Copenhagen and Amsterdam are dramatic examples of Marla keeping her eye on things.  However, most of her saves are done behind the scenes.  Marla catches mistakes all the time, things like people absent-mindedly not matching their ship name to the one on their passport.  In this post 9-11 era, that's the kind of stuff that causes serious headaches.   My point is a simple one:  Marla is really good at this cruise stuff. 

So what stopped Marla from offering a dance cruise to begin with in 2018?

Good question.  For the past 15 years, we have reserved a lounge for late-night dancing strictly for our group.  From midnight till about 1:30 am, we dance into the wee hours of the night.  This was a tradition started by my friend Gary Richardson back in 2002 or thereabouts. 

As I said previously, on our last trip Royal Caribbean refused to offer their dancing lounge at that hour even though we had used that exact same room without a problem 5 trips in a row.  They claimed our music was too loud and it disturbed the guests in nearby cabins who were trying to sleep.  However, Marla could book the ice rink if she wished for a small fee... $200 per night, $800 total.  Marla turned as cold as ice.  That was a lot of money for late-night dancing.

The problem is that Marla has an overly-powerful sense of duty.  She had 'promised' late-night dancing as part of her trip.  So Marla forked up $800 out of her own pocket to rent the ice rink.  Well, sorry to say, the ice rink idea was less than an overwhelming success.  The sound system was awesome, but the temporary dance floor was awful.  It was sticky and full of ruts.   Furthermore, the ambiance of slow dancing in an empty, brightly lit ice rink left something to be desired.  Sorry to say, but our guests by and large avoided the experience.

Marla was so bitter about paying all that money for nothing that she just didn't want to do the dance cruise anymore.   It was very clear to Marla that she was being pushed around as a way to gouge money.  She was tired of fighting with morons.  We all know the feeling, right? 

After the trip was over, I told Marla that if she wanted to do the trip again, it would be easier just to skip Late-Night Dancing.  It was a great tradition, but as our group ages, our energy level hasn't quite supported the event like it used to, especially not to the tune of $200 per night.  However, Marla was too angry to be persuaded, so I decided it was better not to aggravate her further. 

So what changed her mind? 

Gus Donnell. 

Marla was sitting with Gus and his friend Debra at SPJST the other night during a western dance.  Gus said he was sorry that Marla wasn't offering the trip again this year.  As they got to talking about it, Marla realized more clearly than ever before that a lot of people really enjoyed this annual event.  And with that, she abruptly changed her mind.  That is a woman's prerogative, right?

I was very pleased.  What Marla did not know is the number of people who quietly approached me to say how disappointed they were that Marla was not offering a dance cruise in 2018.  

One of the people who expressed disappointment was Mr. Peabody, the gentleman I wrote about in a recent Newsletter who got lost at Lights in the Heights earlier this year.  And guess what?   Mr. Peabody and his loyal wife Sherman signed up for this year's trip the moment Marla made her announcement.   If you can figure out who they are, they will be signing autographs during our September trip unless course Mr. Peabody can't find his way to the Dining Room.  

Mr. Peabody was not alone in his pleasure regarding Marla's turnabout.  In fact, in the first week alone Marla had 15 registrations.  So it looks like we are going to have an SSQQ Dance Cruise in 2018 after all. 

And now for the details on Marla's September Dance Cruise:


A Note from Marla Archer:


Dear Travel Friends,


Over the past 17 years, I have organized 40 cruise vacations for the Houston Dance Community.


For 2018, I assumed the Dance Cruise tradition had run its course.  However, due to an outpouring of requests to offer another dance cruise in 2018, I changed my mind and scheduled a September trip.


Our 2018 Never Say Never Dance Cruise is scheduled for September 16th - 23rd on Royal Caribbean's Liberty of the Seas sailing the beautiful Western Caribbean Sea out of Galveston.


Group Rates:

4V Inside:  $552 per person double occupancy

1T Promenade Inside: $601 per person double occupancy

2D Balcony:  $851 per person

6B Larger Balcony:  $909 per person


In addition to our incredibly low rates, our trip will include our private Welcome Aboard Dance Party, our Complimentary Thank You Cocktail Dance Party, our Champagne Masquerade Dance Party, Group Dance Classes as well as much friendship and much dancing.


Remember if you reserve a balcony, I will provide a complimentary specialty dinner for two, in addition to all of our usual perks.


You can check it all out here at this link: 

SSQQ September 2018 Dance Cruise


( )



Come join in all the fun!  I already have several folks onboard.  Remember, the sooner you reserve, the better stateroom location.


Warm regards,


Marla Archer

"SSQQ Travel"/West University Travel

713 862-4428 (direct line)




At a Glance:

4 Mondays, starts February 5.  (Feb 05, 12, 19, 26)  7-8:30 pm, at Rick's house

4 Mondays, starts February 5.  (Feb 05, 12, 19, 26)  7-8:30 pm, at Chapelwood

4 Tuesdays, starts February 6.  (Feb 06, 13, 20, 27)  7- 9 pm, at Rick's house 

4 Wednesdays, starts February 7.  (Feb 07, 14, 21, 28)  7- 9 pm, at Rick's house


4 Mondays, start February 5  (Feb 05, 12, 19, 26)  7-8:30 pm, $40, at Rick's House

LOCATION:  Rick's Dance Room is in the Heights near Fitzgerald's on White Oak and Studemont (

PARKING:  Rick's house is located in an attractive Heights neighborhood.   There is ample street parking, but you might have to walk a bit if you are the last person to show up.  Please remember to leave nothing of value in plain sight in your car.

Cost of Class:  $40 a person or $40 a couple (Buy One, Get One Free)

Rick Archer's Note One:  Explanation of Buy One, Get One Free: 
Many people in the dance community have someone new in their life and wish their new friend would to learn to dance.  So for this 'Get Started Dancing class, I set it up so that one person pays and the other takes it for free.  Or perhaps two people would like a review.  If they come as a couple, they end up taking it for half price. 

Sorry, but if someone comes alone, they have to pay the full price.  So why not ask a friend to come with you?   Please note I expect each couple to have a lead/follow relationship.  And don't forget we rotate partners.

This Beginner-level class on Monday will cover Country-Western dancing, the most commonly used type of dancing in Houston (especially at Rodeo time). 

Note Two:  Pre-Registration is necessary 
Please understand the dance room we use has a space limit, so please pre-register.  This also allows us to keep  Just hit 'Reply' on this email and tell me you are coming.  That's all there is to it.  Rick Archer,

Note Three:  This class will be taught by MG Anseman and Tracy Akin.
MG is a personal friend of mine who has taught Western extensively.  He was one of the most popular teachers at the original SSQQ and continued to teach at the TJ Jester SSQQ.  In other words, MG is extremely talented and experienced.  I consider myself fortunate that someone of his caliber was willing to take this spot. 

In addition, MG has lined up Tracy Akin, his longtime assistant at SSQQ, to help teach the class.  Tracy is a beloved friend of mine.   Together, MG and Tracy form a special pair.   So if you want a great pair of teachers, you can't do better than these two.

Note Four:  What does MG stand for?
The biggest question is what does 'MG' stand for? 

Over the years, I have gotten at least a half-dozen different answers.   First he said it stood for Mean Guy because he was a rough and tumble ex-Marine.  Then he said it was for the MG sports car he drove as a teenager.   Then he said he played in a band known as Booker T and the MG's.  Then he said it said stood for 'Mardi Gras'.  MG is a New Orleans native.   One of my favorites came when he said it stood for 'Mother Goose'.

I have another theory.  The upcoming Western class is fortunate to have Tracy to demonstrate the lady's part because I saw a vision of horror the other day.  The thing to understand is that MG is big, burly guy... a teddy bear to be sure... but he definitely looks the part of an ex-Marine.  Watching him dance the lady's part was not pretty.  Therefore I suggest a new nickname: "Miss Guided."



4 Mondays, starts February 5.  (Feb 05, 12, 19, 26)  7-8:30 pm, $40 a person

Pre-registration is not necessary.  Class is held in spacious room at Chapelwood Church in the Memorial area. 

Chapelwood is located in the Memorial area at 11140 Green Bay, 77024.  (map) 
Look for us in Room YB 100-101

For more information, contact Rick Archer,


Rick Archer's Note 1:  This is a follow-up class to January

This class was a big hit in January.  We had 40 people... perfectly balanced with 20 men and 20 women... learning the lost art of Formal Dance.  The ability to dance gracefully to Romantic Slow Music is not as easy as it looks.   Using a modified style of the slow dance known as Nightclub, we had a fast-paced class.

Note 2:  $10 deduction

In January, this class was disrupted by the unexpected closure of the church due to the MLK holiday.   Anyone who participated in the January class is invited to deduct $10 off their February tuition.  In other words, $40 becomes $30. 

Note 3:  Special Catch-up Class

If anyone would like to join this class in progress (having missed January), I will conduct a special one-hour make-up class on Monday, February 5, from 6-7 pm.  Just show up, that's all you have to do.   People in the January class who wish to participate are more than welcome to join.

Note 4:  We switch partners and we dance 'apart'

It is a standing tradition to switch partners frequently.  Some ladies were concerned about how close we dance... there is space between the guy and the girl.  Hip to hip dancing is not part of this class.

4 Tuesdays, starts February 6.  (Feb 06, 13, 20, 27)  7- 9 pm

COST AND LOCATION:  $40 per person, at Rick's house in the Heights near Fitzgerald's on White Oak and Studemont ( Map

PARKING:  Rick's house is located in an attractive Heights neighborhood.   There is ample street parking, but you might have to walk a bit if you are the last person to show up.  Please remember to leave nothing of value in plain sight in your car.

Rick Archer's Note 1:  This is a follow-up class to January

We had a class of 20 students in January perfectly balanced for men and women.  The energy was very high.

Note 2:  Pre-Registration is necessary 
Please understand the dance room we use has a space limit, so please pre-register.  Just hit 'Reply' on this email and tell me you are coming.  That's all there is to it.  Rick Archer,

Note 3:  Deduct $10 per person
In January, this class was disrupted by the extremely dangerous ice storm.   Anyone who participated in the January class is invited to deduct $10 off their February tuition.  In other words, $40 becomes $30. 

4 Wednesdays, starts February 7.  (Feb 07, 14, 21, 28)  7- 9 pm
$40 per person, at Rick's house

Rick Archer's Note 1:  Please note my wife Marla will participate in this class.  This is very important.   West Coast Swing is very tricky and we will be introducing sophisticated new 'women's footwork' in the February class.  Marla will demonstrate the lady's footwork to each pattern and will let the ladies copy her footwork in the mirror as I work with the men on the other side of the room.  This will make much better use of our time.

Note 2:  Jitterbug footwork 
The East Coast Swing class will be taught using Jitterbug timing: Triple Step, Triple Step, Back-Step.  There are excellent reasons for me to do this which I will explain in class. 

Note 3:  Pre-Registration is necessary 
Please understand the dance room we use has a space limit, so please pre-register.  Just hit 'Reply' on this email and tell me you are coming.  That's all there is to it.  Rick Archer,

Note 4:  Deduct $10
In January, this class was disrupted by the extremely dangerous ice storm.   Anyone who participated in the January class is invited to deduct $10 off their February tuition.  In other words, $40 becomes $30. 

Rick's Note 5:  Limited number of openings: 
The Wednesday Wanderers class filled the room, so assuming most of these students will continue on, I only have room for 10 new students.

LOCATION:  Rick's Dance Room in the Heights near Fitzgerald's on White Oak and Studemont ( Map

Private Dance Lessons  ($50 an hour, $200 for 5 hours)

Private dance lessons have many advantages.  For one thing, people enjoy the privacy.  But what they like most of all is the chance to learn at their own speed.  Private lessons allow students to learn the subtleties of social dance that are impossible to teach in group settings.  Private lessons are also particularly inviting for people who prefer to have flexible schedules. 

Book the lesson at your convenience and cancel if something comes up.  Believe it or not, if someone needs to cancel at the last minute (yes, they do it all the time), I don't mind.  Since I have a dance room built onto the side of my house, I am not at all inconvenienced if something comes up. 

As for when I am available, I can teach private lessons pretty much any time of the day every day of the week.  9 am?  Fine.  3 pm?  Fine.  Saturdays?  Fine.  I prefer to skip Sundays, but I will teach Sundays in a pinch.  The biggest problem is that I have very limited free time after 7 pm due to my group lessons.

My fee structure is fairly inexpensive compared to other Houston dance teachers.  Choose between three options: $50 for one hour or $200 for five one-hour lessons. 

Although I can teach pretty much anything, my specialty is getting people ready to dance at weddings.  With all those Spring weddings coming up, now is a good time to get started.   If you have any questions, the easiest way to reach me is by email:


Rick Archer's Note:  

I am pleased to announce that once again Hallmark Channel movies pulled me through the recent Christmas Season. 

On a personal note, Christmas was not a happy time for me as a child or young adult.  Marla has done a remarkable job of overcoming much of my negativity, but even with her help, I confess I could not get through Christmas without the Hallmark movies to remind me of the way it ought to be. 

The main reason I watch Hallmark Christmas movies is to get in the mood for Christmas.  I give Hallmark high marks for infusing their Holiday movies with the Christmas spirit.  Typically one of the leads is a Christmas Grouch and the other lead is Christmas Gung-Ho.  It is entertaining to watch them argue and disagree about all the things that are wrong with Christmas only to see the cheerful person break through the Grouch's wall of cynicism.  At this point, the Grouch rediscovers the warmth and true meaning of Christmas. 

When it is done right, a Hallmark Christmas movie can have the same impact as the Dickens classic A Christmas Carol or It's a Wonderful Life has created for years.

Let it Snow was a perfect example of the Grinch script.  In fact, both leads were Christmas Grouches. 

' When Falcon Resorts acquires family-owned Snow Valley Lodge from retiring owners, intense and driven executive Stephanie (Candace Cameron Bure) must spend the week before Christmas in Maine preparing a proposal on the property's renovations. While preparing to rebuild the Snow Valley Lodge from the ground up, Stephanie butts heads with her property guide, Brady, who has decided to leave his family's business over creative differences with his dad.

A self-defined Grinch, Stephanie begins her stay at Snow Valley Lodge immune to Christmas sentiment. But as the lodge's festive traditions provide the Christmas Stephanie never had growing up with her distant father, Stephanie finds herself enjoying every minute.  As her Christmas Eve deadline approaches, she's faced with a decision: should she transform the lodge into a new winter hot spot or embrace tradition and let it snow?'

I knew what was going to happen in Let it Snow, but the story was so well-written and acted, it was magic.  When the movie does have magic, it always amazes me. 

It turns out I am not alone.  Hallmark advertises that they are the most-watched cable channel on TV at Christmas time, so I checked it out.  I think they are right.  I think a lot of people watch Hallmark because it is the best place to find an idealized vision of what Christmas should be.......


Rick Archer's Note:  This is a fairly long article so I placed the main body of this story at Hallmark Movies.



From: anonymous
Sent: Tuesday, January 16, 2018 4:57 PM
To: Rick Archer
Subject: Re: Cold Weather Tonight


Hi Rick,

Due to the cold weather I decided it would be safer if I didn't try to make it to class tonight.

Incidentally, I tried calling you six times today.  Do you ever answer your phone??  And if so, do you ever return messages?



In this woman's case, I was outside most of the day bringing my portable plants inside and trying to adequately cover everything else outside.  Anybody who has

been to my house knows I take my garden seriously.

And to answer the other question, no, I never listen to messages.  My outgoing message is simple: Please email me instead

In the case of the recent freeze, I activated my email auto-responder with the following message:  


On ‎Tuesday, ‎January‎ ‎16‎, ‎2018‎ ‎06‎:‎18‎:‎27‎ ‎AM‎ ‎CST, <> wrote:

This is Rick Archer.  Yes, we will have dance class on Tuesday and Wednesday evening.  I will be there, I promise.

That said, if the conditions are such that you would prefer to skip class, by all means do so.  We will simply run class a little bit longer in the remaining weeks. 

If there is ever a problem affecting everyone, I will activate the email responder again.  It is far easier to do that than record a new voice message for my phone.

For the record, here is my land line phone number.  713 862 2121.  However, I don't answer it very often.  Nor do I own a cell phone.

Here is why I am so grouchy about the phone. 

I am writing a book.  Every time the phone rings, I jump out of my skin because I concentrate so hard.  

Not only does the phone interrupt my train of thought, I now glance at the phone to see who is calling.  95% of all phone calls to me are made by a computer or some pitiful human forced to become a telephone solicitor. 

I am not making this up.  95% of my calls say 'Out of Area', 'Wireless Caller' or 'Unassigned'.  The thing to understand is that I don't just get these calls during weekday working hours, I get these calls on weekends and at night as well.  Furthermore, often these same number will call two or three times in the same day.  As I written this segment, I have received two such calls.  One was from Kirby Title LLC, a taped message selling health insurance (clever touch using an actual business name) and one from 'Unassigned'.  

The 'Unassigned' is a recurring phone number I have seen many times.  So I thought perhaps I could block calls.  Apparently this is a feature one can use on cell phones, so I called my phone company.  They said there is no way I can block phone numbers from unwanted callers on a Land Line.

With that, I threw in the towel.  Please forgive, but I decided the only way to avoid letting the telephone ruin my life is to ignore it and ask people to email me instead.

Email is quiet.  Email doesn't interrupt me.  I can answer email when it is convenient, i.e. whenever I take a break from writing the book.  Yes, I get unwanted emails as well, but it takes a nanosecond to delete them. 

Incidentally, I check email once an hour if you need to get a hold of me.   You will either get an answer quickly or definitely by next morning. 

I understand that most people these days prefer to text, do Facebook, Twitter, etc, but not me.  The only way to write a book is to avoid interruptions as much as possible. 

Please forgive my archaic ways.   If by chance you disagree with my thinking, by all means, feel free to email me.


And that's a wrap for today. 

23 pages in this issue. 

I am the world's biggest tree hugger, so I dearly hope you will read my Newsletter on your computer or tablet.  This way no trees will have to die.    However it is true countless pixels will be rearranged.

Rick Archer


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