HISTORY OF WHIP, Page Three :
The Story of Rick's Streak
1986 I was crazy enough to go out Whip Dancing
at different nightclubs for 201 nights in a row.
In other words, I went Whip dancing
somewhere other than the studio every night of the week after class for well over
half a year.
The Streak began as my personal life
hit a rocky note. In April, 1986, I ended a stormy two year relationship.
Feeling quite wounded, I wanted company. On the other hand I was horrified at the
thought of dating. I turned to dancing for shelter.
As many people have discovered, dancing became a
perfect way to get out of the house, socialize, hear great music, see friends, and have
fun. Best of all, I was able to stay busy and stay safe while I healed. Each night
after I finished with my teaching, I would leave the studio to practice my favorite dance
at various clubs around Houston.
On Saturday night, June
14th, 1986, I began The Streak.
Back in 1986 there was no dancing after class at the
studio. SSQQ subleased its space from a Jazz studio called Dance Arts Unlimited so
in order to dance, I had to go someplace else. Two months after my breakup, it
was Saturday night and I had nothing to do. I was too restless to stay home. So I got in
That night I headed off to Twiggs, a club where
Houston Whip dancers met on Saturdays. The next night Sunday I went to the
Four Palms. On Monday I showed up at a place called Spinners. The following
night Tuesday was SSQQ Whip night at Cooters. Wednesday I showed up at the San
Antone Rose and squeezed in a couple Whips between the C&W music. On Thursdays SSQQ
went to Whip at the Safari Bar Club. Friday I headed over to Midnight Rodeo.
Saturday I headed back to Twiggs. Same story every night. I went Whip dancing
every night for a month without giving it a second thought.
On Monday, July 7 (#24) I was (guess)
dancing at the Paradise Beach Club. I casually mentioned to Margie Saibara that I had been
Whip dancing every night for about a month.
Margie laughed and told me about a guy she knew
named Hal Perry who had gone dancing every night for 50 days in a row.
Hal had gotten fired and was broke, so the cheapest
way for him to eat was to hit the Happy Hours and run like crazy to the dance floor
whenever the waitress came for his drink order.
One night he went to his mother's house to eat, then
fell asleep on the couch. However the next night Hal hit another Happy Hour and
began dancing again for yet another month.
As an aside, I was not the only person
who improved at Whip dancing during the Streak.
Margie and her partner Ted Jones went
on to win the Texas State Whip championship in 1994. Margie won again with another partner
Ted and Margie now teach Twilight Zone
Whip here at SSQQ.
Hal's Story has a great
impression on me...
I was greatly amused by this story. Having a
competitive streak, I speculated I was close to duplicating this story already. I thought
about what Margie told me all the way home that night. I got out my pen and wrote down
every place I had been dancing up till now. As I had told Margie, I was already up
to 30 days.
On a whim I decided to break Hal's record.
Three weeks later on Saturday, August 2nd, I tied the record with Night # 50 at
the The Streak nearly ended right there !
The next day Sunday I did 8 hours of yardwork in the
brutal heat of a Texas summer. Tired way past exhaustion, I collapsed on the couch and
passed out. When I awoke several hours later there was no way I wanted to go dancing. It
was dark, it was late, and it was easier just to lay there. I had tied Hal Perrys
record. What difference did it make ?
I wrestled with my conscience forever until finally
I gave in and drove to the Four Palms at 11 pm. That night the Soul Brothers Band played
live Rhythm & Blues music. Although I love the Blues, in those days I had fits dancing
to that kind of music because the tempo was so much slower than my preferred fast Cooters
I make a Discovery !
This night however my energy level fit the music
speed to a T. I was relaxed and let the music just soak in. As the evening progressed I
noticed I was using new footwork plus I had acquired an odd wrist-twisting lead. I
was fascinated with my discovery !
Through the Magic of Practice plus my special state
of relaxation, my Whip Unconscious had found how to adapt my original Whip training to
this slower-paced music. Now I could dance Slow Whip as easily as my Cooters-influenced
Fast Whip. This intense 50 day period of practice helped me to develop a much deeper feel
for this complex dance. Not only did I break Hals record, I even managed to learn
how to Slow Whip. What a day ! Day 51 meant a lot to me personally and
professionally. I might add the pain of my failed relationship was long
forgotten. This dance therapy was good stuff !
point going out dancing
every night of the week was a habit.
My friends knew about The Streak and teased me, but
I had no intention of quitting. The constant practice was paying off to the point where
Whip was an absolute blast and I was having the time of my life. I was steadily improving,
the dancing was fun, it kept me from being lonely, and I was proud that I was becoming a
I decided to aim for 100 nights in a row. On Sunday,
September 21, I reached # 100 at the Cafe De Ville on FM 1960.
The Streak starts to
At this point, I have been out Whip
Dancing every night for over three months ! I was proud of myself, but began to
wonder when it would end. Since I taught dance for a living,The Streak was not that
difficult to continue. However on the other hand, like anything you do too much, it wasn't
as much fun at night 100 as it was when it started. That night when I got home I sat down
and looked at a calendar. New Years Eve would make it 201 nights. That seemed a logical
place to stop, so now I had three months to go.
Things begin to get
As the Streak continued, one of the ladies at SSQQ
organized a camping trip. I wanted to go, but doubted seriously there was a night club
nearby. On Saturday, November 8, #148, about twenty of us drove to a forest north of
Magnolia for the camping trip. I took along a tape deck. That night the whole group of us
danced Whip and C&W around a campfire dodging embers and cow chips. I am not sure how
those cows felt about "Mustang Sally", but they sure moo-ed a lot.
The next day we went to the Renaissance Festival as
was the plan. That evening as the group left I was worried because I hadn't danced Whip,
it was getting dark, and we were a long way from home. Just as we hit the gates we heard a
medieval string band playing a Celtic Waltz. We all looked at each other and smiled.
10 couples spontaneously started to Waltz ! The crowd loved us and so did the band;
they smiled and waved to us as we passed by. We were now part of the show ! Two
songs later we had 100 people watching us as an Irish Jig song came on. Why not? I asked
Margie Saibara to Whip. The Streak continued.
Two weeks later, #163, at a western club called
Johnny B Daltons a Disco-Sucks DJ stubbornly refused to play any Rock music. Without
skipping a beat I Whipped to Willie Nelson's "On the Road Again". As they say,
whatever it takes.
Three weeks later, #184, I was at Judy Price's house
for a Christmas Party. It was 9 pm, we were having fun, and there was no dancing.
Anxiously I watched the clock. Finally I asked Linda Harwell to go dancing with me. The
first three clubs we drove to were closed on a Sunday night ! Uh oh. Was any
place open ? I was getting pretty worried. Finally we drove over to Cooter's, our main
hangout. It was open, thank goodness. We danced all of one song, then headed
straight back to Judy's party. As you can gather, my interest in The Streak was
starting to wind down. As much as I loved dancing the Whip, this Streak felt more and more
like a collar around my neck. I knew it was time to move on and that time was near.
The End of the Streak
Two weeks later over the Christmas Holidays I went
skiing with the Space City Ski Club at Copper Mountain. No one on the plane knew how to
Whip. No problem. Don't forget I can also teach the dance. I asked my roommate's
daughter Tina, a freshman at A&M, if she would like to learn how to Whip. She said
Fortunately even after the plane ride to Denver and
the long bus trip to Copper Mountain, there was still time to go dancing that
night. Tina and I staggered into a bar named the Columbine. It was 11 pm, no one was
dancing, but there was music and there was a dance floor. I taught Tina the Whip
Basic and the Bump. At quarter to twelve we concluded the ceremonial Whip dance for that
Tina and I went dancing two more nights. The fourth
night was New Year's Eve. At the New Years Eve Party, Tina and I danced to
Whip to some honky-tonk tune played by the Ozark Mountain Daredevils. We got a big round
of applause from our ski club friends, most of whom had never seen Whip in their
lives. Tina gave me a big hug. She was well aware this was the final night of the
Streak. Tina had been kind to help me finish out the year with such a graceful
conclusion. I thanked her and together we greeted the New Year.
following night was a lonely New Year's
aftermath for me.
I sat in a chair alone in my room quietly watching
New Year's football. I reflected over the events of the past year. I almost
changed my mind when Tina called to ask if I wanted to go dancing. However after 201
consecutive nights of dancing Whip in the clubs, it was Time. I told her thanks, but
decided to pass. I was healed from the Breakup that had precipitated my flurry of
Whip dancing and looking forward for new challenges.
Nevertheless, as Midnight signaled the end of the
Streak, I was very sad. I felt like a real friend had passed on.
those many nights of practice I learned important lessons about dancing.
For example, I learned if everyone is
balanced properly, Whip leads don't have to be strong. Power is always a coverup for
problems. Either the lady doesn't have her balance points down or the man is
knocking her off balance and using power to help her recover.
I also found that Whip leads require excellent
timing. There are many different types of leads. Often they must occur in a rat-a-tat
sequence that leaves little time to "think about it". My 201 nights of
Whip took these moves out of my head and converted them into what dancers call
"muscle memory". New forms of footwork and a gracefulness of movement
developed. For example, the fast Rock music at Cooters taught me how to control the
woman using arm tension. The slow Rhythm & Blues music at the Four Palms helped me
develop more sophisticated footwork.
As is true in many things, experience turned out to be my best teacher.
Practice allowed my Whip Unconscious to learn many
things that deeply transcended anything I had been taught. I realized a teacher
can point you in the right direction and help you improve more quickly, but true mastery
is only gained through practice.
I had started lessons in 1977, but it wasnt
till now 9 years later that I finally could say I knew how to Whip. During the latter
parts of the Streak I was as proud of myself for learning the Whip as I was when I
graduated from college. In retrospect college may have been easier. I have
never been a fast learner when it comes to dancing. With this in mind, I respected
the dance adventure as a huge accomplishment. I was deeply proud of the progress I had
We are now 13 years and counting since The Streak.
I still love to dance Whip, but my focus has moved
more towards teaching and promoting the dance. I will always keep a close eye on the Whip
since it is still my favorite dance. I love the music, I love the turns, and love the
interplay with my partner. I believe that Whip is an authentic Houston treasure and
I still worry that interest in the dance might fade.
Maybe it would help you to understand the problem if
you knew that Houston probably doesn't have more than 600 active Whip dancers in the whole
city of 2 million people (SSQQ alone has at least 150 of them).
Whip can never be a widely popular dance since it takes so long to learn (and even longer
to learn it well). Whip has always been limited to the small population of people who are
already fairly experienced dancers. Out of that group of dancers, only about half stay
with it long enough for it to become fun. Add in the danger of a down cycle of music
and you sense the uphill struggle.
The music of ZZ Top, Bonnie Raitt, and the late
Stevie Ray Vaughan are good modern examples of the "Texas Blues" sound that
inspired the development of the Whip. Today it is difficult for a Whip dancer to
find places that play this kind of music. This wasn't always the case. For example,
during my Streak in the 80's I had a choice of four or five clubs I could have gone
to. Nowadays, I would have to go to a Western club or a Swing club for the most part
and wait my turn. How much practice can you get that way ?
problem in mind, I have made SSQQ a "Keeper of the Whip Flame".
SSQQ sponsors Whip dancing three nights a week after
class on Mondays, Thursdays, and Fridays. In addition we reserve Room 3 for Whip
dancing during our Saturday parties. We have the perfect conditions for great Whip
dancing. SSQQ has many Whip great dancers and plenty of room to practice.
In addition we make a real effort to play the best
Whip music available. In other words, we supply the ball, we supply the court,
and we call the players. All you have to do is show up...and take your best shot !
Hopefully you will like the music, like how the dance looks, and be interested in
learning to Whip. As they say, the more, the merrier. Then when you stay
at the studio after class to practice, other students can see how much fun the dance is
and possibly be inspired to learn it too.
Simply put, my goal is to
enlist every SSQQ Whip student
in this project to generate interest in Whip.
Each of you is welcome to help promote the dance.
Lately the results have been very promising (thank you very much !) 1998 was
easily the most successful year in history for our Whip program.
However, dont forget it is always an uphill
struggle. There is always plenty of room for more volunteers in the SSQQ "Save
the Whip Project".
I hope you will join us !
Rick Archer, SSQQ, 1998