Indika Dinner Dance
Home Up Indika March 2011


Welcome to the Indika Dinner Dance Event

An Evening of Dinner, Dance, and Romance

Sunday, October 9
5:30 - 9:30 pm

Shall We Dance? - The Indika Dinner Dance Event is your chance to recapture the era when you could mix conversation, dinner, romance, friendship, and dancing into one magic evening.

A private dinner dance experience for 20 couples.  By reservation only, please

For information, contact Rick Archer
713 862 2121 or email to  












A Note from Rick Archer

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. 

However, 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 evening. 

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 Indika Dinner Dance Club originate? 

Ravi Jaisinghani, the owner of Indika, was a dance student of mine back when SSQQ was located on Bissonnet. 

One 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 titled Bon Voyage, I mourned the loss of the fabulous Big Band Era.  Those were the days when dinner and dance was a customary 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?"

The Rhapsody Dance Murals 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?"

My initial 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. 

Wishful Thinking

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 at sea.

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 my article. 

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 actions. 

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 was time to uphold my part of the bargain.  Back in March 2011, I was able 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!

A Star is Born

The big surprise of the evening was the singing of Holly Vitemb. 

Holly was 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 cruise.

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. 

That memory 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. 

At Indika, 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 great! 

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. 

Holly's songs include Smooth Operator, The Way You Look Tonight, and Besame Mucho plus a long list of other classic dance songs as well.

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.

Great food, 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 event.  I will show you the pictures in a bit.













About Our October 9 Event

Our first event was so successful, I couldn't help but wonder again why this tradition ever disappeared in the first place.

Once upon a time here in America, it was customary to dress up, have dinner at a fancy nightclub, and dance with your partner throughout the evening.  The Big Band Swing Era had glamour, sophistication and style all wrapped around music and dance. 

But today we have to go a movie if we want to imagine what it is was like back in the Lost Era.  Who wants to watch a movie?  I would rather participate!

Now it is true that Ballroom Dancing thrives out at sea.  However, what good does that do us here in Houston?  Regrettably, that same experience I find at sea is completely lacking back here in Houston. 

Finally we have a chance to experience first-hand what we have been missing.  The Indika Dinner Dance Club presents us with a wonderful chance to not only recreate the cruise experience, but to take it even further... better music, more room to dance, and no klutzy dancers to get in our way. 

The floor belongs to our group alone.  This will be our very own private dance party.

This unique event promises a very intimate setting. We will limit the evening to 20 couples.  You will likely know or at least recognize most of the people in the room since the first invitations have been extended to my Ballroom classes and no one else.

I hope you understand why I wish for everyone to come in pairs.  It is really hard to have a night of "partner dancing" without partners. As I expected, everyone took turns dancing with the other members of the group at our previous event. 

The nice thing was that no one felt left out because there was always someone available to dance with if they wished. 

I expect you to look your best. Men are expected to wear coat and tie, women are asked to wear dresses or pant suits.  At our first event the women were stunning.  Our ladies took to this event with great enthusiasm.  A night of dancing, dining, and formal dress was right up their alley.  Our guys cooperated very well.  Although most of the men did eventually shed their coats as the evening progressed, for a while there our guys looked pretty sharp themselves! 

The first half-hour will feature music and cocktails.  Dinner won't begin to be served until after 6 pm.  Since this will be a three-course meal, in addition to dancing before the meal, we will invite everyone to dance a song or two between each course.   

The overhead lights will be kept low; the dinner hour music will be soft and romantic.  Each table will have candlelight.  Every person will have the opportunity to dine with friends of their choosing or alone together.  Tables sizes are 2, 4, and 6. 

The cost for the dinner event will be $50 per person.  This package price will cover the price of a 3 course dinner and a floor charge.  Please note the $50 per person does not include tax, drinks or tip. Complimentary valet parking will be provided, but a tip will be appreciated. 

About Indika's Menu

When I promoted the initial event back in March 2011, the single biggest reluctance concerned the food.  Marla ran into the same objection.

When Marla ran the idea of the March Dinner Dance past her girlfriends at a Girl's Night Out, they were immediately excited.  However once she mentioned that Indika is famous for its Indian cuisine, their ardor dampened somewhat.  What is Indian food?  Is it dangerous?  Will it kill me? 

After I mentioned this problem to Ravi, he rolled his eyes.  He said that is what the famous food editors also initially thought as well.  Apparently they were pleasantly surprised by what some of the routine American food items like chicken, fish or even mushrooms can be made to taste.
see reviews by Zagat, Wall Street Journal, Gourmet etc )

I tried to explain to my friends what Ravi had said, but they were still skeptical.  I learned that many people worry about "foreign" food.  Very few people had any experience with Indian cuisine.

I told people not to worry about the food. The whole argument was silly because over half the menu would be "American food".  If someone didn't wish to be adventurous, all they had to do was order something they were familiar with. 

Indika is a highly praised restaurant.  With a 4-star rating, there was no possible way the food would not be delicious be it Indian, American, or Venusian.  After all, a restaurant doesn't get this kind of recognition unless it delivers satisfaction. 

I might add once I tasted the food, I realized Ravi was correct.  There was nothing but praise for the food throughout the night.  I admit that I am not very adventurous, so I had the sea bass. Delicious. Marla is much braver than I am.  She had a spicy Indian lamb dish that she raved about. Awesome. 

Everyone else had a similar experience.  For our brave pioneers, the food turned out to be no issue at all.  I heard nothing but compliments.  You have my word on that.

Ravi said that everyone will have a choice between 3 appetizers, 3 entrees and 3 desserts ranging from seafood, lamb, chicken to vegetarian. If you are curious, by all means go check out the Menu. The Dinner Dance menu will be a shortened version of this full menu, but it will still offer the same taste, quality and variety.

I hope you will support this unique evening.  To my mind, it is the best of all possible worlds. The Indika experience will allow you to combine fine dining with elegant dress, four solid hours of dancing among the best dancers in the city, a chance to be with your loved one and a chance to see many of your friends from SSQQ and the cruise trips.

If this event comes even close to its potential, I believe the Indika Dinner Dance will be your chance to journey back in time to the Era when dancing and sophistication walked hand in hand.

Why wait for New Year's Eve or the next cruise to have your Formal Night?  We are going to bring our cruise dancing experience right here on land.  I invite you to join us for our land-based voyage here at Indika.   RA

To Participate in the October 9th Event

We need to take reservations because the room cannot seat more than 20 couples.  I can't advertise the event as open to all; what would we do if 35 couples showed up?

If you would like to participate, email me to reserve your October 9th spot.  Don't forget - I need TWO NAMES.  We are doing this in pairs.  

Thank you for your interest,
Rick Archer


Memories of a Lost Era


Rick's Note: This is one of the three 'Dinner Dance' murals that decorated the walls in the Rhapsody's 'Shall We Dance' Lounge.  

It was 20 feet long and 6 feet tall. 
The mural was so large I had to take four separate photographs to get every image.  Then I turned around and did my best to use my Paint Shop program to blend the four different sections into the picture seen above.

This mural should help you see where I got my idea of mixing dinner and dance.  It depicts a vision from the Thirties when a "Night on the Town" was everyone's idea of style.  I understand that was 80 years ago, but the idea still makes perfect sense to me.

When our SSQQ group took our initial cruise aboard the Rhapsody in 2004, we had no idea of the treat that was in store for us.  This wonderful statue of Astaire and Rogers greeted us at the entrance of the Rhapsody's 'Shall We Dance' Lounge.

Lorraine Cull, a member of our 2004 Rhapsody Cruise, said that each night before she entered the dance lounge, she would stop to gaze at the statue and the wonderful mural behind it.  Lorraine said she felt transported back in time. 

After the trip, Lorraine wrote me this letter.

“Dancing with our group aboard the Rhapsody made the pictures along the wall become a reality again.

What a tremendous opportunity to be able to dance in an environment that was so luxurious as the
Shall We Dance Lounge!

Dancing invites people to mingle unlike any other activity. Dancing offers an expression for the young and the old that were aboard the ship.  Your dance lessons were fun and offered the participants the opportunity try dances later in the trip that they may have never tried to dance before.  For me, I had never danced the Foxtrot before.  What fun!

The lounge was perfect for lessons and dancing in the evening.  I have never been in a dance room more perfectly named.  

"Shall we dance?" became my motto for the entire trip.

Yes, a most enjoyable evening. When you dance you can only be happy.

Thank you, Rick and Marla

Lorraine Cull



Then came the Lounge itself.  When we saw the beauty of the stunning room complete with tasteful murals and a huge circular dance floor, our group fell absolutely in love.

I felt the same way Lorraine did.  The "Shall We Dance" Lounge
featured the prettiest dance floor I had ever seen in my life.

Anytime I was swirling around on the floor, the images of the dance murals would flash before my eyes. Like the movie Midnight in Paris where Owen Wilson is transported back to Golden Age of writers in Paris - F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, TS Eliot, Gertrude Stein - I was similarly transported to magical times of the Big Band Era. Thanks to the murals, Fred and Ginger watched approvingly as I traveled the night fantastic.

Did you know that Marla and I were married aboard the Rhapsody?  This was back in September 2004.  I considered it a personal honor to perform my wedding dance on this floor.

As you can see, I have a lot of wonderful memories of this room. After our final voyage aboard the Rhapsody in 2006, I was so inspired by the beauty of the room and its significance that I decided to write an article about the Shall We Dance Lounge

Shall We Dance?
Rick Archer; SSQQ Newsletter 2006

As we say goodbye to our friend Rhapsody, I have an overwhelming feeling of sadness.  The Shall We Dance Lounge was the most beautiful dance venue I have ever been in.  I fear that I will never going to find another dance floor that makes dancing as wonderful as this special place.

I have heard beautiful dance music before.  I have seen first-class dancing many times.  But something has always been missing. On our most recent dance cruise, I finally figured it out. 
The final piece to the puzzle is Glamour.  Dancing needs beauty almost as much as it needs music.

For women to look their best in their gorgeous dance dresses, you must have a glamorous setting. 'Glamour' demands a backdrop, an atmosphere, plus an appreciative audience as well.  

When it comes to Dance and Glamour, the Rhapsody, our home away from home, delivered this setting perfectly.  It had beauty in abundance.  

The Lounge on the ship got its name from the movie "Shall We Dance". "Shall We Dance" was a popular 1937 Astaire-Rogers dance movie. The plot of the movie has Fred meeting his future wife Ginger on the dance floor of a cruise liner known as the Queen Anne.

Hmm.  That plot sounds familiar.  Isn't that exactly how I met my wife Marla back in 2001?  Yes, now that I think of it, I did meet my future wife on a cruise ship dance floor.  What a coincidence!  Too bad my dancing doesn't remind anyone of Fred Astaire.  But at least my dancing was good enough to impress Marla.  Our time on the dance floor was the start of a truly magical evening.  Funny how dance and romance always seem to go hand in hand.  I might add that Dancing at sea is even more romantic than you can imagine.

During my first cruise in 2004 aboard the Rhapsody, I could not enter this room and not stand there admiring the beautiful dance murals. I was in awe. They say a picture is worth a thousand words.  Truly words could not describe what I was missing better than these stunning murals.  Before my eyes, the splendor of the Big Band Era back in the Thirties was recreated.

Each night I would go out on the Rhapsody dance floor and see the dance murals in every direction.  I was able to gaze at the panorama and savor the images of a time when a man could dance the night away in the arms of his sweetheart.  And yet here in Houston a place like this doesn't even exist.

Music historians like to say that the Big Band Era was a truly great event.  I would like to add it was a truly great cultural event as well. 

The Big Band Era marked the birth of Swing Dancing.  Austria has the Waltz, Argentina has the Tango, and Cuba has the Rumba.  America is the birthplace of Swing.  Swing dancing and its counterpart the Foxtrot was a big part of these iconic dance settings.

I began to feel terribly nostalgic for the Lost Era of the Dinner Dance clubs.  This was a time when you could mix dinner, conversation, romance, friendship, and dancing into one complete evening.

When people talk about the potent combination of Orchestras, velvet singers, beautiful dance floors, tuxes and gowns, elegant surroundings, sophisticated people, and best of all, graceful Ballroom dancing, they certainly don't think of our modern times.  Not hardly.

Invariably our minds wander to the movies of the past when scenes of Ballroom Dancing were a constant backdrop to every plot.  Where on earth did those days go?  I am not sure why they disappeared, but I miss them.  These dance murals awakened my desire.

Why can't we do it again?   What's stopping us?  It is my hunch that I am not alone.  I bet lots of people of today are beginning to miss the elegance of this bygone era.  I say it is high time for us to discover the modern-day equivalent of Fred and Ginger

Wouldn't it be nice if our Icons of Sophistication - Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Frank Sinatra, Cary Grant, Glenn Miller, Ava Gardner, Rita Hayworth, Kathryn Hepburn - could
send us a message from the past and encourage us to try again?   Let's recapture the beauty of the Big Band Era.

You know, if I could just have one of the nights from the Lost Era back again, I might just be willing to put on a tux.  Cary Grant would be so proud of me.  


Ravi Jaisinghani read the article I wrote about the Rhapsody.  He said my story intrigued him very much.  This was where he got the idea to recreate the dinner-dance experience at Indika.

It wasn't an easy decision.  Ravi invested several thousands of dollars to make this dream come true.  He also risked the wrath of his long-time customers when he removed the beloved partitions.  Ravi was taking a definite gamble.

Fortunately, judging from the first Indika event back in March 2011, Ravi did a fine job.  The Indika Experience very closely resembled the dancing experience in my beloved Shall We Dance Lounge

As you can see, the dance room is very lovely.  Of course I missed the Rhapsody murals.  But on the other hand, the floor was every bit as beautiful.  Marla and I had a truly wonderful time dancing during our first Indika dinner dance.  I expect the second event will be just as special.

If you would like to see pictures from the first Indika party, click March 2011 Inaugural Indika Event


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