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Sleazy Bar Whip Party 201 Nights Garner State Park History of Whip Four Palms


The Story of Rick's Streak


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Back in 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 my car...

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 in 1997. 

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 Twiggs. 

Unfortunately, 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 Perry’s 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 Rock music.

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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 Hal’s 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 !

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At this 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 better dancer.

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 grow Old...

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 pretty odd. 

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 yes.

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 evening.

Tina and I went dancing two more nights. The fourth night was New Year's Eve. At the New Year’s 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.

The 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.


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Looking Back...


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During 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 wasn’t 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 made.


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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 ?


With this 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 !

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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, don’t 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


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