A Note from Rick
It is my privilege to announce the
2nd Meeting of the Indika Dinner Dance Club on Sunday
evening, October 9 (530-930 pm)
I invite you to participate with 40 other people
in recreating the Lost Era of the Dinner Dance Club.
The Indika Dinner Dance Club
is a marvelous event that intertwines fine cuisine,
romantic music, and Ballroom dance throughout the
evening with your loved one and your friends.
As part of its renovation
early in 2011,
Indika, a much-praised four-star restaurant in the
Montrose area, created an 800 square foot dance floor in
the very center of its dining room.
Throughout the week this dance floor
is covered with tables as Indika goes about
its business of serving its regular patrons.
during our special night of dance, these tables will
disappear from sight to reveal a vast dance floor in the
center of the restaurant. Dinner tables will surround
the dance floor. Some will be elevated, others will be at floor level.
The floor will be reserved for dancing at all times. Couples
are invited to get up and dance any time they wish throughout the
You would be
hard-pressed to find a more enticing chance to use your
dance skills for an entire evening than this.
Background of this Event
So where did the idea of the
Dance Club originate?
the owner of Indika, was a dance
student of mine back when SSQQ was located on Bissonnet.
night in 2009 Ravi stayed after class. He mentioned an article I had
written about the Shall We Dance Lounge after
one of our Rhapsody Cruise trips. In an article
Bon Voyage, I mourned the loss of the fabulous Big Band
Era. Those were the days when dinner and dance was a
way for American couples to enjoy an evening together. This
was a time when the glamour and sophistication of social
dancing was a regular
part of American nightlife.
'Shall We Dance' is a
reference to one of the most popular Astaire-Rogers
collaborations dating back to 1937.
Featuring fabulous dancing and the
wonderful music of George and Ira Gershwin, this movie was
filmed at the very height of the Big Band Era. The
music of Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, and Artie Shaw
and the dancing of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers helped to
inspire the entire country to spend at least one evening a
month dancing in a dinner dance club.
Unfortunately, this concept
disappeared when World War II began. After the war,
people's nerves were too rattled to continue the Swing Dance
Era. Slowly but surely, the 1930's tradition of
dancing at the dinner club vanished.
On the first
night of my 2004 Rhapsody Cruise, this statue and the
accompanying background mural stopped me in my tracks.
The statue and mural marked the
entrance to the 'Shall We Dance' Lounge on our
Rhapsody cruise ship. I was captivated. I
stared at the statue of Fred and Ginger for a moment and
then at the dancing images in the mural. I wondered,
"Whatever happened to this kind of evening?"
instilled a desire to
recapture this Lost Era. When Marla and I returned
home, I realized I wished there was some way to restore this
wonderful time of yesteryear. As part of my cruise recap, I wrote:
"You absolutely cannot enter the
'Shall We Dance' room on the Rhapsody without feeling nostalgic for this lost era. You
don't need me to describe it. Just take a look at the
panorama depicted in the mural and imagine.
Take a moment to savor these images of a time when you
could dance the night away in the arms of your
sweetheart or perhaps capture the attention of a new
love with the simple invitation to dance. It was a
time when you could mix dinner, conversation, romance,
friendship, and dancing into one complete evening.
It is my observation that I am not alone. I
believe other people miss
the elegance of this earlier era just like I do.
Why can't we do this here at home? Why should we
have to wait for New Year's Eve or a cruise trip to
recreate this kind of experience?"
impression on the Rhapsody would be repeated many
times on subsequent cruise adventures. The spirit of
Fred and Ginger may have died on land, but it lives on out
at sea. Every cruise ship makes a real effort to
provide the proper elements - formal dress evenings, elegant
settings and beautiful live music.
Thanks to our
cruise trips, Marla and I had fun recapturing the exquisite
joy of dancing a stylish Foxtrot or Waltz to romantic music.
Sometimes we danced cheek to cheek, other times it was an
energetic Cha Cha or Swing song. Pure enchantment.
Marla and I were
not alone. On Formal
Nights, our group would dress up and enjoy sharing dinner
together in the Dining Room.
After dinner, we would all go down to the Ballroom Dance Floor in
the Atrium. That is when we channeled the spirit of
Fred and Ginger and began our wonderful evening of dancing.
The visual effect of all those talented, attractive couples
dancing the night away in the ship's Atrium is truly a sight to behold.
As you see, the days of Fred and Ginger still exist... out
Regrettably, that same
cosmic experience I
find at sea does not exist back here in Houston. Every
time I returned to Houston at the end of a trip, I would
complain. Isn't it a shame it was we couldn't have
this same experience here at home?
I secretly hoped
that someone would read my laments and take heed. Lo
and behold, I got my wish. Ravi Jaisinghani
read my story and took an unusual interest. He decided to
talk to me about it at more length. Stopping me after
class one night, Ravi told me how much he had enjoyed
By the way, did I know that he owned a restaurant?
I smiled and asked him if
the restaurant had a dance
floor. Ravi said no, but he wished it did.
I replied that I was unaware of a single restaurant in
Houston that combined a dining experience with dancing.
I added that my students were continually asking me where they
could do to combine dinner and dance.
Wouldn't it be nice if someone would
open a Dinner and Dance Restaurant? Ravi nodded. Yes, it would.
And that's where we left it.
About a year
passed. Then one day in November 2010, I got
an email from Ravi. He said he was preparing to
renovate his restaurant. Would I consider dropping by?
When I entered Indika,
the first thing I noticed were giant partitions in the
middle of the floor. I quickly discovered these
partitions were great favorites of the restaurant's loyal
patrons who particularly appreciated the privacy.
Ravi asked me if I thought a dance
floor could be formed like a race track with the partitioned
area remaining in the center of the floor. I replied
that the dance floor would be far superior if the partitions
were completely removed. Open the entire area.
Ravi visibly paled. These
partitions were an iconic part of his restaurant. His
customers would complain no end if he got rid of them.
I had a suggestion. Why not put
the partitions on wheels? Leave the partitions where
they normally stand during the week and move them out of the
way for special events.
Ravi smiled whimsically. Did I
have any idea how difficult it would be to find a way to
make those partitions both mobile and safe? And, by
the way, did I
have any idea how expensive it would be?
On the other hand, Ravi admitted he liked my suggestion.
At that moment, Ravi got a little smile on his face.
Ravi said he had a favor to ask. Ravi said, "If I clear the entire floor as you
suggest, will you help me promote the first event?"
Talk about being
put on the spot! It is the easiest
thing in the world to make suggestions at someone else's
expense. It is another thing to be asked to back up my ideas with
I nodded yes. If Ravi was
willing to go to all this trouble and expense to test my
idea that Houston would support a dinner dance event, it was
the least I could to round up my friends and ask
them to help make Ravi's big gamble a success.
So Ravi made his move. Now it
to uphold my part of the bargain. Back in March 2011, I
persuade 40 friends and former dance students to participate in the reincarnation of
the Dinner-Dance experience.
The evening was
a complete success. Every couple absolutely adored the
large dance floor. One nice aspect of the evening was
watching couples take turns getting out on the floor.
This wasn't planned. It just worked out that every
song I played inspired a few couples to dance. Then
they would sit down and other couples took their place for
the next song. As a result, we entertained each other
all night long!
Star is Born
The big surprise
of the evening was the singing of Holly Vitemb.
introduced to me in 2008 by Phyllis Porter, one of the early
leaders of our dance cruises. Holly was the younger
sister of Phyllis' best friend from high school.
Phyllis soon convinced Holly to join us on the next dance
One night during
the cruise, I walked past the Piano Bar. There was
Holly singing karaoke. Mesmerized, I hid
in the shadows and listened. Holly was phenomenal!
Holly had mentioned she once sang professionally, but I had
no idea she was this good.
never left. The moment Ravi put me in charge of
organizing the music, I asked Holly if she would sing for
our group. Holly said of course.
Holly blew me away again with her singing. I knew she
was good, but listening to her throughout the evening made
it clear that Holly was a lot more than good... she was
I wasn't the only one who appreciated Holly's singing. Holly
was a big hit at Indika. It is such a treat to
dance to the voice of a talented singer. Holly made
the music come alive for all of us.
I later learned
that Holly had sung professionally in New York before
returning to Houston. Upon her return, Holly sang at
Ritz Carlton for several years. I could believe it.
Holly has a beautiful voice.
I am pleased to
report that Holly will be back for our October 9th event. You can't have a glamorous evening
without a glamorous singer.
Holly will be singing torch songs and lounge
favorites throughout the night.
Operator, The Way You Look Tonight, and Besame
Mucho plus a long list of other classic dance songs
Expect Holly to
sing about a third of the time. The remainder of the
time I will DJ the music - Swing, Foxtrot, Waltz, Rumba,
ChaCha, Nightclub and Tango music. In addition I will
be playing West Coast Swing and Western songs as well. Yes,
I will gladly take requests.
The cost of the
meal is $50.
Click here for more information about the price. While some might think this
price is steep, I
disagree. We pay $11 at the Chandelier just for the
chance to dance with 400 other people. So part of the
cost is the chance for you and 40 of your friends to have a
private dance floor all to yourselves with a singer. The restaurant
is reserved strictly for our group. Since I am doing
the promotion and reservations, it is likely you will likely
know practically everyone who attends.
The 800 foot
dance floor is perfect for our needs. It is very large for a
group of 40 people, yet it isn't so big that you feel lost
out there. One nice feature is the floor is large
enough that you will have no trouble moving around. I
remember whenever I danced there was practically no traffic
to dodge. Of course the skill level of all the other
dancers had a lot to do with that as well.
elegant setting, wonderful singing, large dance floor,
classic Ballroom dance music, and friends who love to
dance... this is the recipe for a perfect dance experience.
I should know. I
was one of the brave pioneers who dared to attend the first
will show you the pictures in a bit.