PICTURE TELLS A STORY
and Stacy's Wedding Dance
Written by Rick Archer
Take My Eyes Off of You" by Frankie Valli is a
wedding song favorite. A quick glance at the lyrics
explains the song's popularity with wedding couples.
just too good to be true, Can't take my eyes off of you
You'd be like heaven to touch, I wanna hold you so much
At long last love has arrived, And I thank God I'm alive
You're just too good to be true, Can't take my eyes off
Last year at this
time, a lovely couple named
Mark and Jill
chose this song for their wedding dance.
this year a new couple named Brandon and Stacy
chose the song as well. And so did Michael and Erica,
another one of my wedding couples. Obviously this song
strikes a strong chord with a lot of people.
When I first met Brandon,
wasn't so sure of himself, but he was game. Stacy was a bit more
tense than usual. Since neither person had ever spent
much time learning to partner dance, they weren't sure what
they were getting into.
As always, I made
sure to put them at ease as quickly as possible. While
we worked on the basics steps of Foxtrot, I asked them
like what they do for a living.
It turns out
that Brandon is the assistant principal at a Katy middle
school. Stacy works for an engineering firm that
provides mooring systems for floating oil and gas production
facilities and marine terminals.
habit of being nosy, I learned that Brandon and Stacy met in
a very unusual way. When Brandon explained how he met
Stacy, he immediately
earned my undying respect.
Brandon went up to Stacy, a complete stranger, not just
once, but twice in the same evening to make her
To me, one of
the most difficult things for a man to do is approach a
beautiful woman who is a complete stranger. The
very thought of it has made me weak in my knees for my
Oddly enough, my
entire dance career grew out of my complete inability to
even conceive of such a thing. As a young man I took
years of dance lessons simply as a way to build my lack of
confidence in this area.
I figured if I
couldn't work up the nerve to talk to a pretty girl who was
a complete stranger, I could at least ask her dance.
Fortunately I had no idea how difficult it would be for me
to learn to dance. Over a period of three years, I
took one lesson after another to overcome both my shyness
and dance ineptitude.
By the time I
completed my training, something unusual had happened.
I had inadvertently learned so much about dancing that one
of my instructors asked me to substitute teach for her one
summer. The next thing I knew I had a new career.
The series of
coincidences that followed were so unusual that I ended up
writing a book about it... Destiny. I am currently on
the last chapter.
Oh, one more
thing... my strategy did eventually pay off. Indeed, I met my wife Marla by asking her to dance.
Thank goodness she said yes. (Stroke
The only problem
with my approach is that it took me three years to learn how
to make my move. Brandon didn't have that luxury.
Fortunately Brandon had a
better idea... when he saw Stacy, he decided it would be
easiest to just go over and say hello.
Stacy met on a hot summer night in 2014. Stacy was at
Straits, a restaurant that is part of Hotel
Sorella in downtown's City Center.
waiting for her friend Giny, a co-worker, and Giny's
boyfriend Joe to join her for dinner. Stacy's
version was that Giny and Joe were late, Giny and Joe's
version was that Stacy was early.
To pass the
time, Stacy went over to the bar to pass the time. To
her surprise, a handsome gentleman materialized.
Brandon had come over to say hi.
Brandon could get the conversation going, Giny and Joe
showed up. Stacy decided to disengage and go have
A lesser man
probably would have gotten discouraged. In fact,
Brandon probably did feel a bit shot down. Maybe so,
maybe not, but what is certain is that once Brandon observed
Stacy's single-minded focus on dinner, he disappeared.
surprise, two hours later Brandon reappeared. After he
left the restaurant, Brandon had gone upstairs to the
Monnalisa Bar to hang out with friends of his
own. However, he could not get Stacy out of his mind.
So two hours later Brandon decided to loop back to the
restaurant to see if
Stacy was still there. To his delight, Stacy, Giny, and Joe
had just finished dinner and were just sitting at the table chatting.
the threesome to go upstairs to the
Monnalisa in the same hotel for drinks and dancing,
an offer they threesome decided to accept.
Rick's Note: I
asked Stacy what was going through her mind that night.
Stacy gave me permission to share her side of the story.
Brandon first stopped at the bar to say hi to me, it
coincided exactly with Giny and Joe finally arriving.
Brandon was taken aback by their sudden arrival.
He recovered as best he could, like "Oh, gee,
you're leaving?" Well, yes, because the hostess
was waiting to escort us to a table. My response was
something like: "I'm hungry". And that was that. I
didn't even give it another thought. All my friends who
know me and who have heard this story are like "Yep,
that sounds about right. Stacy is so clueless when it
comes to guys showing an interest in her".
So we were
seated and we had a very nice dinner. The three of us
had already agreed previously that we would go up to the
Monnalisa after dinner. However, we
were in no hurry. After dinner we were just
chatting for a bit before we went upstairs to the
Monnalisa. It was kind of funny because it was
getting kind of late (9:30-10:00) and the hostess had
seated us in a side room by ourselves. I'm not sure how
Brandon knew to go to that side room, but I suppose he
looked around till he found us. He walked right up
to the table and said "Hi again, I'm Brandon, I came
back down here to find you and to invite you and your
friends to come upstairs to the Monnalisa.
I am up there with a group of people and we've got
tables. Please join us. I would like to buy you
and your friends a drink."
to say, I was stunned! Where did he come from?
Now it was my turn to be taken aback. I think I
stammered out, "Well, we were planning on going up there
anyway, so we'll see you up there." When he left,
I turned to Joe and asked, "Was I nice to him?"
I had to
ask because at that point in my life I had the
reputation of being less than friendly to men who were
strangers to me. I was always suspicious of the
men folk. Ha ha ha.
confirmed that I was indeed nice. Then he added, "Stacy,
you have NO idea the nerve it takes for a guy to
approach a woman like that. Especially when she's with
I was stunned; Joe was impressed; and Giny was just smug
about it. Because she had been telling me that I needed
to "get out more, not to stay home and read my books, go
out with her and Joe." So Giny was, of
course, in her semi-cute, semi-obnoxious "I told you so"
of us walked upstairs to the Monnalisa,
which was packed. Brandon must've been watching the
entrance like a hawk. The moment we went to the
bar, he was immediately there. Brandon made good
on his offer to buy us drinks. Then he led us to a table
that one of his friends was holding for us.
made some small talk (of course the place was kind of
loud because there was a live band playing, they were
quite good). We exchanged basic information…you know…
like what you do for a living, do you have any children,
etc etc. During the course of the conversation, he
mentioned that he used to do some MMA-type training that
included wrestling, martial arts, and boxing. The boxing
part got my attention because I had been training with a
boxing coach very seriously until he died unexpectedly.
And honestly, it had only been a few short months since
my boxing coach's death and I was still grieving over
the loss. And I started boxing to help me handle the
grief over my father's death. Life is so ironic, isn't
asked to exchange phone numbers with me and I agreed. We
enjoyed talking some more and listening to the band. But
I needed to leave around midnight-ish because I was
scheduled to teach a Spin class the next morning.
So Brandon walked me to my car and then I drove him to
his and that was that. This was a Friday.
on the phone the following night, then went out to
dinner on Sunday. Over the course of the next
year, I realized just how special Brandon was.
The rest, as the saying goes, was history.
on February 13, 2015. It came as a total surprise. Apparently
Brandon had kept Stacy guessing. He had been torturing
her for weeks with hints that were more like riddles.
So on that
Friday (Friday the 13th!!) all he told her was to dress up. He drove to the
Hotel ZaZa taking the most nonsensical route possible
to further confuse and mystify her.
At the hotel
they were escorted to a private cabana in the pool area.
The cabana was set up with rose petals, wine, and music.
Brandon had already taken care of all the details.
In addition there were promises of dinner... always a direct way to
Brandon he had promised her dancing as well. Indeed,
Brandon played three songs to which they danced. Stacy
told me she couldn't remember the first two.
definitely remembered the third song was "Marry Me"
by Train. Blushing a bit, Stacy admitted she was still
CLUELESS. As she listened to the song while they
danced, her only thought was this would be a good
song for a wedding.
Brandon interrupted her thoughts to magically produce a ring
out of thin air. Stacy stopped breathing.
Giny and Joe with
Brandon and Stacy
The boys clearly need to take smiling lessons
from the girls
Rick, I never saw it coming!"
despite her utter astonishment, Stacy recovered her wits
quickly enough to happily accept Brandon's proposal.
beautifully everything turned out, one can only wonder what
went through Brandon's mind on the first night he met her in
the summer of 2014. My instincts suggest he spent the
two hour gap between
first meeting and the second meeting making sure he tried
one more time.
Look at it this
way... as I wrote this story, I heard a song about a guy who has
been camping out on a corner hoping a certain girl
might walk by again because he didn't have the courage to
act when he saw her the first time.
I am one of
those guys. Had it been me, I imagine I would have
taken Stacy's decision to go eat as a polite brush-off and
thrown in the towel.
So for Brandon to return two hours later speaks to the
heart of a man far braver than most men.
They always say
'Faint heart never won fair maiden'. I
think that phrase sums up this story perfectly.
I can attest
that more times than not my courage has failed me in similar
situations. As a guy who has seen more than a few pretty girls
in my time that I did not have the nerve to approach, from
one guy to another, I applaud Brandon.
As one can see,
Stacy is a very beautiful woman... well worth taking such a
dramatic risk. What a fascinating story.
Given how good
these two look in their wedding dance pictures, it might
come a surprise that their dance lessons did not go smoothly
at first. They both struggled, but Stacy struggled a
I soon realized
that Stacy is more analytical than the average
lady. Not that there is anything wrong with being
analytical, but it does make learning to dance more of a
As I have said
in past stories, highly analytical people are typically very
successful in their careers. Unfortunately, the
tendency to think first in dancing is a problem, especially
for the ladies. Women who are instinctual do better.
it is a woman's role to 'react', when the leads get
ambiguous, a girl might trip over her own feet because that
moment of doubt wondering what to do next carries a price.
I once wrote an article on this phenomenon. (Secrets
of Following) I have long been intrigued by this subject since I too am overly-analytical. It
is this curse that has kept me from being a top-flight dancer.
On the other hand, it helped me understand people who
struggle for the same reason.
In Stacy's case,
there were times when she seemed very frustrated. If
forced to guess, Stacy had never done much partner dancing
before. I think it upset her that this style of
dancing was trickier than she expected.
had to explain some of the fundamentals of 'following' to
Stacy. Her tendency to use her brain to memorize the
patterns often meant that she took a step ahead of the lead. Fortunately it
didn't take Stacy too long to get the hang of it. By
the fourth lesson, Stacy was definitely in her groove.
Then I noticed
that Brandon looked sharper as well. The metamorphosis was both apparent and curious.
I wondered how Stacy and Brandon had made such a dramatic step forward,
so I immediately asked for an explanation.
grinned and refused to answer. Finally under my
relentless questioning, they admitted they had done
undergone a marathon practice session during the previous
week's break while I was out of town on my April Danube
I have to tell
you, the proof was right there before my eyes. There
really is something to this 'Practice' stuff. Brandon
and Stacy looked wonderful. They were locked and
infamous Diva Walk
I think Brandon
was new to partner dancing as well. He was a bit stiff
at first and took larger strides than necessary. One
thing that made Brandon special was that he took my
suggestions to heart and never seemed to mind being
Since I have
been overly sensitive to criticism my whole life, this was
yet another characteristic in Brandon that I admired.
material did not come easily to him, Brandon made steady
progress. Unlike Stacy who can be moody at times,
Brandon seemed unflappable. I was impressed at just
how steady this man was. For example, I said his
'back step' was too large and it made him lean forward.
He took my suggestion to heart and it worked; in every
picture, his posture is perfect. I suggested he make
his stride smaller by sliding his feet. Again the
pictures show a perfect stride that makes it easier for
Stacy to match her husband's height.
Brandon even let
me make him 'the girl'. I led Brandon through the girl's part
several times because there
is no more effective way to teach a man how to lead. The
easiest way to learn how to lead is to feel how I do it. Many men
object to dancing the girl's part, but if they will trust
me, I can use this technique to improve their leads
dramatically. Brandon was a good sport and it paid off
I attribute much
of Stacy's improvement to Brandon's excellent leading
skills. As his lead improved, so did her follow
skills. A real trust developed between these two.
I have often
said a woman can learn a lot about a man by how he dances
and his approach to learning. I have never seen a man
concentrate harder on learning to dance correctly than Brandon did.
Once Brandon developed his leads, I could see Stacy visibly
begin to relax. She was able to put her analytical
mind at ease and just dance.
lesson was the turning point. I will admit to being
genuinely surprised when from the moment Brandon and Stacy
arrived for their lesson, they were beyond smooth.
Gone was the tentativeness, gone was the lack of confidence.
I asked them
what accounted for this dramatic leap forward. Brandon smiled.
"We practiced a lot this week."
There are several special qualities about this couple, but
in particular I noted they had the strongest work ethic I
have ever seen. The awkwardness was gone and replaced
by a gracefulness that far transcended their starting point.
impressed me. Now her attitude was so much more positive. I remember there was a double turn that
absolutely bedeviled the lady. She got so frustrated
she went and sat down. Not any longer.
She did that turn in her sleep.
There was a
styling technique that I tried to show her where she crossed
her arm over her body... exactly as Stacy is doing in the
picture. It did not click.
Then one night
Stacy watched as I danced the 'follow' part with Brandon to
work on his leads and muscle memory. First she rolled
her eyes at me for hamming it up. Then I noticed her
a double-take when she saw me add the flourish with the arm.
Suddenly Stacy wanted that move too... so she filmed it and mastered it on
her own. I was very impressed. That is the
work ethic in action.
There was one area
where Brandon and Stacy excelled. They didn't have the slightest bit of
trouble mastering the Dip at the end. I call this
the Sinatra Dip based on a famous picture of
Frank Sinatra dipping his tempestuous wife Ava Gardner.
Both Brandon and
Stacy have some serious athletic ability. Stacy was
totally unafraid of getting hurt. From the start she
launched herself into that Dip with reckless abandon.
perfect timing and posture from the start. The only
thing I needed to correct was to show him how to lock his back
leg. Judging from the picture, he did perfectly. Indeed,
he dipped his lovely wife with
Stacy are the epitome of two people who understand the value
of hard work. Many people
assume that beautiful dancers are natural dancers. Not
While it is true
that the finest dancers are natural dancers, people would be
surprised that partner dancing is an art form that is
attainable by practically anyone who puts their mind to it.
If ever there was a testament to the value of two people
rolling up their sleeves and doing it again and again until
they got it right, it would be Brandon and Stacy.
Frank Sinatra and Ava Gardner
If you study the
dance pictures of Brandon and Stacy, one might assume they
have been dancing their entire life. Unless they had
me badly fooled, Brandon had never partner danced in his
life and Stacy had learned what little she knew by trial and
error. The pictures you
see are the result of seven hours of private lessons and
probably another seven hours of good old-fashioned practice
on the kitchen floor.
Here is another
point. Do you see how trim they are? Each week
Brandon and Stacy came to class straight from working out.
I have never seen a more perfectly toned woman than Stacy.
Furthermore, judging by Brandon's strong and slender body, he matched his
shapely wife stride for stride in the fitness department.
They are not beautiful by accident...
they work at it.
Stacy were married on Saturday, April 30, 2016.
Judging by the pictures, Brandon and
Stacy came as close to the perfect wedding dance as possible.
They smiled throughout and their dancing showed a wonderful polish born
of hard work. Best of all,
they charmed their guests with a marvelous show of grace
and considerable warmth. A cursory glance at the
smiles on the faces of their guests speaks volumes to how
charming their dance was.
I applaud these two dancers
who looked so wonderfully relaxed and happy together.
I credit their hard work for creating such poise.
One last note.
I have seen many dance pictures in my lifetime. I have
never seen a finer set of wedding dance photos. I tip
my hat to their very skilled photographer. Of
course, Brandon and Stacy made his job easier by being
Stacy are two very talented, gifted people. It is very
easy for me to see why they are both such successful in
They set a goal and they go for it. I am impressed.
It was a real honor to work with them.