January 2005
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The SSQQ January 2005 Newsletter
Written and edited monthly by Rick Archer


Previous 2004 Newsletters
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Contributed by Crista Reuss, Chris Holmes, Ann Faget,
Leroy Ginzel, Judy Walsh, Judith Williams
ssqq employee of month SUSAN AND DAVID SCHROEDER
joke picture of the month Remember when our parents used to get mad at us about our long hair??


FEATURE ONE   STORY IN THE NEWS: Nude Beach (Austin's Hippie Hollow!) leads to Capsized Boat  (Rick Archer)
FEATURE THREE   STORY IN THE NEWS: Mukhtaran Bibi: The Rape survivor who transformed tragedy into hope (Bett Sundermeyer)
FEATURE FOUR   STORY IN THE NEWS: CHRISTMAS DANCE STORY (This is a marvelous tale! Rick Archer)
FEATURE FIVE   STORY IN THE NEWS: Bomb training exercise leaves police red-faced  (Rick Archer)









2004 was a wildly uneven year here at SSQQ. There were many highs and several lows.

On the bright side, the August Beach Ball Extravaganza was a huge success. We already have people bugging me to do it again sooner than later in 2005.

The September Cruise was also a huge success. The energy created by all the mischief aboard that trip is still buzzing at the studio two months later. Already our two cruises scheduled for 2005 give every indication of being tremendous successes.

The Halloween Party was a good one. The pictures were great, the Haunted House was ever-popular, and the costumes routinely spectacular (is it legal to use the words "routinely spectacular" together?)

SSQQ was a big media favorite this year.

Did you know that the Houston Chronicle named SSQQ as the Best Dance Studio in Houston?? In their August "Best of" issue known as "Ultimate Houston", SSQQ was cited for being the top studio in the city.


Even the name tells you how to two-step: SSQQ stands for "slow, slow, quick, quick." Houston's largest social dance studio also is the most romantic, spawning as many as 25 marriages and engagements each year. Western, salsa, swing, ballroom and whip/Western swing are the big draws, but you also can find classes here with names like Three Left Feet and Martian Xtra. Men pay $46 for eight hours of classes, while women slide by for $38. (The reasoning being that it takes longer to teach men how to lead.) Practice nights and themed dance parties are part of the fun. Owner Rick Archer enforces a few rules: no smoking, no kids, no wallflowers - and switching partners in class is mandatory.

4803 Bissonnet (SW4); 713-861-1906; www.ssqq.com "

SSQQ was also the subject of an in-depth article in the Chronicle back in January. And this summer SSQQ was the subject of a very flattering documentary done by Channel 13.

2004 saw the birth of a Competition Dance program here at the studio. Anita Williams saw her two protégés - Victor Marquez and Joel McClesky - win one major competition after another against very stiff competition. The three of them are shooting for a World UCWDC Championship this coming New Year. I wish them all good luck.

And who can forget the incredible rise to prominence of Bryan Spivey? Bryan and his lovely girlfriend Lisa Palmer are now both Texas State Swing Champions as well as City Swing Champions!! The sky is the limit for these two gifted dancers.

The studio has two other dance champions as well. In September Randy Winfrey won a major western dance championship in Nashville recently out of 8 competitors. Back in July Cher Longoria won her western and swing competition in New Orleans. And I am sure I am leaving someone out!!

Another reason dance competition may be even bigger here at SSQQ is the addition of Scott Ladell to our program. Scott has given the upper level Western classes a huge shot in the arm. Now I have a hunch he is going to create the same kind of success on the UCWDC circuit as a Male Professional in the Pro-Am competitions that Anita has had as the Female Professional. Keep an eye on Scott in 2005!

The Salsa classes continue to be a phenomenal success story. In the two months since Judy left, we have seen no drop off which is a very good sign. I thank Steve Gekas, Danielle Lam, Maureen Brunetti and Darius Johnson, David Schroeder, and Linda Cook for their hard work at plugging the huge hole left by Judy Archer's absence.

This year marked the start of Susan Schroeder's Q-Stop Store. I have a hunch this store is going to play an increasingly large role in SSQQ fortunes in 2005. I will be explaining some of our plans to you later on.

By the way, several of you have commented on how nice the studio has begun to look since Susan and David Schroeder took over Studio Maintenance. The difference has been quite noticeable. As usual, I get the compliments - thank you all so much for giving me so much credit! - but let's give the credit where it is due. Susan and David have done a phenomenal job of getting the vents cleaned, toilets fixed, odors removed, the office fixed up, the TV set dust removed, the Room 4 AC fixed, and many other small but significant improvements as well. Susan has taken it upon herself to directly supervise my cleaning crews and tell them EXACTLY what needs to done. This alone has made a huge difference. Soon Susan and David will even get an electrician to attack the light fixtures and try to get this place brighter again!

However not everything here at the studio was wonderful. The final five months of 2004 was the hardest 5-month stretch of my entire 29-year career in the dance business. August brought the pressure of the huge All-Day Extravaganza, September was filled with the dual pressure of getting married and preparing for the big dance cruise, October was the Halloween Party, and just when I was on the point of exhaustion November brought the abrupt resignation of Judy Archer, SSQQ's second in command.

Judy's departure was less than graceful - "effective immediately". Consequently I have spent the past two months reorganizing my entire program. Now you understand why there was no "December Newsletter". However I am pleased to say that everything is under control again and I am starting to catch my breath. Rest assured that Things will be Hopping in the New Year!!

Of course much of the roller coaster ride started with the amazing studio cruise trip that saw 120 SSQQ dancers take the ship by storm in early October. As most of you know, Marla and I got married aboard the Rhapsody Cruise Trip down in Galveston. This special event set the tone for the most spirited group we have ever seen. I cannot begin to explain all the trouble these characters got into. There was SO MUCH MISCHIEF it took me nearly two months to write about all the crazy things that happened. I completed the write-up on the Rhapsody Cruise just recently. Including stories about the infamous "Elevator Ride", Tales of the Hot Tub, Da Jammer, the Attack of the Zombies, Champagne Night, Wedding Fiascos, the Great Gabino, and of course the Legend of Mr. Handsome, the trip write-up makes for scintillating writing. Read for yourself!

After reading the stories about the Rhapsody Cruise, many people have come up to me to express their amazement at just how much trouble our group got into!! On the one hand they shake their heads in disbelief and deliver their "tsk tsks", but on the other hand I could see in their eyes they couldn't wait to experience the same mischief themselves when we repeat the trip same time next year. Amazingly, we already have 25 people signed up for a trip that is ten months away! I can tell they can't wait to try to get into as much trouble (as if that's possible) as the notorious 2004 group and the Usual Suspects.

My hat goes off the Mr. Handsome/Dorothy/George. Rarely has there been an individual who had such an incredible nose for mischief as George Sargent. First despite incredible competition from the Great Gabino, George won his second consecutive Chief Mischief Maker award (he previously won this award on the Feb 2004 Mardi Gras trip) with his incredible walk on the wild side in the women's clothing. You will simply have to read about it to understand. http://ssqq.com/information/rhapsody2004story08.htm

If George wins this award on the next cruise, I think we will simply have to name the award for him.

George had barely gotten off the ship when he turned around and won the Best Costume Award at the 27th Annual Halloween Party. Despite many beautiful and clever costumes, George was unbelievable as "Dorothy" from the "Wizard of Oz". For a straight guy, George probably has more talent for dressing as a woman than we would care to admit. And anyone who saw him parading about on board the ship half-naked while wearing a bra would notice how gracefully he moves as well.

I had suspected it for a long time, but the moment I "knew" George was a Natural occurred at the recent Halloween Party. That's when I noticed how one woman after another stopped by to compliment George on what a nice job he had done decorating his red "Dorothy" shoes. You see, store-bought Dorothy shoes are not made large enough to fit a man for some reason. George was forced to decorate his own shoes. He did a magnificent job. Now when women start sincerely complimenting a man on what I consider to be "girl skills", you know you have arrived. Such a talent!

Let's hear it for the boy! He achieved a rare Trifecta in SSQQ Legend. Most Mischief Mardi Gras, Most Mischief Rhapsody September, Best Costume Halloween. All in one year!

Can anyone ever top an achievement of this magnitude?? I doubt it. This is an accomplishment that will probably never be equaled. After all, where in the world we will ever find anyone else as weird as Mr. Handsome to even try?

Friday, December 31, 9 pm - 1 am $20

-----Original Message-----*
From: Gary Thomas Richardson
Sent: Friday, January 02, 2004 9:33 AM
To: mickey
Subject: Happy New Year!

Hey, the SSQQ Party really was beautiful and festive. Maybe not enough whip for some people, but there was plenty for me. Rick really did play a lot of whip mixed with western. For me, I don't want to do all whip anyway...though some Friday nights I do. But, what really made it fun for me was the fact the dancing was in the main ballroom and off to the side in the "whip room". There is just something about being able to whip in "Room 1". They had just completed refinishing the floors and the room was gorgeous.

The food (though I wasn't hungry, darn it!), was fabulous, too. Rick had out everything from cakes, cookies to sandwiches and fixings for sandwiches, dips, etc. The newly refinished floors could have used a light dusting of dance wax, but they were gorgeous. Maybe next year all of you can make it SSQQ.

Oh, by the way, how was Melody Club...maybe you all had a fabulous time, too? What was it like?

-------Original Message-------
From: Mickey
Date: Friday, January 02, 2004 09:03:30
To: Gary Thomas Richardson
Subject: Re: Happy New Year!

Gary, Sounds like SSQQ was THE place to be. We got a glass of champagne at midnight.

From: Julie Newton Holeman
Sent: Thursday, December 04, 2003 3:18 PM
To: dance@ssqq.com
Subject: New Year's Eve Dance

"Hi! I am writing from Oxford, MS. My husband and I are going to be in Houston, TX for New Year's Eve and we are looking for a place to go ballroom dancing. I found your website on the Internet. Can anyone come to your dance or do you have to be members? Any info you can give me will be helpful. Thanks so much! Julie Holeman"


"What a nice letter, Julie.

You are more than welcome to join us. The party is very relaxed. Party favors, champagne at midnight, food, and wine/beer are gratis. The cover charge is $15 a person. As you might gather from the price, we are not attempting to "gouge". The studio features dancing on two different floors simultaneously. The room you would enjoy will be playing Sinatra foxtrot, big band swing, a few tangos, a few salsas, and Irish Waltz music.

The main dance floor is over 1000 square feet. Medium age range will be people in their 40s and 50s with all ages represented. Dress is semi-formal; 95% of our guests respect our wishes.

Expect attendance to be around 100-150 or so people.

The studio is smoke free and the drinking has never been a problem. Despite access to unlimited free wine and beer, no one ever drinks to excess at our parties - they are all here to dance! However we all enjoy our glasses of champagne at Midnight as we toot our horns and count down the seconds with "Auld Lang Syne" playing in the background.

In all a very pleasant party that anyone who loves to ballroom dance would enjoy thoroughly.

Rick Archer"

As stated in the reply above, the Annual SSQQ New Year's Eve Party is all about dancing. The party is safe, friendly, relaxed and fun. You have a smoke-free environment, plenty of room to dance, and although there is drinking, it is much less than at other venues. We have never had a problem to date.

The attitude for the evening is 'Upscale'. We expect you to dress up! Coat and Ties for men, dresses for ladies (or anything else formal you can think of). No jeans, please. You can dress as sharp as you want, but please don't come casual. Think of it as a special kind of Halloween Party where you fool people by coming dressed in disguise as a wealthy person.

This is a perfect evening to visit with friends. Many people come together and many people come without dates. Although I won't name names, I remember in particular one excellent three-year romance between two people who came alone to our New Year's Party.

The music in our main room will consist of a great deal of Big Band Swing music. There will be plenty of Glen Miller, Benny Goodman, and the other 30s and 40s Classic to Swing to. In addition we will play all of Frank Sinatra's best Foxtrot songs such as 'Witchcraft' and 'New York New York'. Another special feature are the popular Irish Waltzes with their haunting sweetness. In addition there will be a healthy dose of Ballroom music in Room 1 including Cha Cha, Tango, and Salsa music.

Western Dancing is big too at this party. We open up Room 5 and combine it with Room 4 to make a very large dance floor. In addition to the Western music, there will be a healthy dose of Whip/West Coast Swing music as well. Let us add the floors will be very nice since we will be refinishing them over the Holidays.

Special Note: At last year's party we had more Western and Whip dancers than Swing and Ballroom dancers, so we "flipped" the rooms and put the Swing Dancing in the Room 4. Get to the Party early and cast your ballot!

Room 6 will be reserved for Salsa Dancing. This means there will be three kinds of music playing in three rooms simultaneously.

Rick Archer will be on duty as your DJ. He will take requests for all three rooms.

At 11:40 we put our on crazy hats, grab our noisemakers, pour out the champagne and begin the celebration. After the countdown to Midnight we kiss, we hug, we shake hands, and appreciate the joy of being surrounded by so many people that we care about!


Shortly after Santa Claus finishes his visits, SSQQ will be delighted to boogie the night away to the delicious Swing and Blues music of Houston's homegrown band Ezra Charles and the Works!

Ezra Charles is the closest thing to a local band there is - he lives just a few blocks from SSQQ and is a next-door neighbor of Maureen Brunetti!

Based on the success of the terrific music of Hit 'n Run last August, I have been besieged with requests to have another big dance. I honestly don't have the strength for an "Extravaganza", but I think a big night of dancing sounds like fun to me.

Ezra will be playing on February 19th at our Annual Red and White Valentine's Dance. He and his band "The Works" are best known for their Swing music. However Ezra told me he actually prefers Blues music, i.e. Whip Music! That means that all of you better sign up for Whip Classes in January if you intend to dance every song at the party!

My friend George Grega was the matchmaker this time. He did the lighting for a wedding where Ezra performed in 2004. George liked the music so much that he approached Ezra about playing at SSQQ. Ezra thought it was a great idea. Then George turned around and tapped me on the shoulder with the same suggestion back in October. It took a while for me to get a second wind, but as I was preparing for the New Year, the thought popped back in my head. And that's the story folks!

Since Maureen is a close friend of Ezra's, I am going to put her in charge of telling us all about him in the next Newsletter.

We will keep you posted, but in the meantime start spreading the word!








Gloria Sanchez will offer a course in ADVANCED LINDY HOP on Sundays in January at 4:30. The last time Gloria taught Lindy Hop, the class was so popular it continued for nearly half a year! Come discover the magic of America's 1st Swing dance, the Lindy!

BEGINNING HUSTLE (formerly known as "Latin Hustle" will be taught on Sundays at 4:30 by Scott Ladell. Used to Disco music, Hustle footwork & timing is very similar to West Coast Swing & its patterns are very similar to East Coast Swing.

January features the start of a new BEGINNING WHIP/WEST COAST SWING SUPERCLASS 4-month cycle. SSQQ has the only program in Houston where you can take this difficult class on 2 different nights (Sunday/Thursday) for the price of one. Plus SSQQ is the only program that teaches the legendary Texas Whip side by side w the popular WCS. By the way, when Ezra Charles and the Works play at SSQQ on February 19th, they expect to play a ton of Whip music. If you don't know how to Whip now, you better get yourself into this class in January! Comprendez??

ADVANCED BALLROOM WALTZ will be taught by Rick Archer on Mondays by request. It will cover the famous dance of Cinderella complete with twirls, Twinkles & Promenades!

BEGINNING BALLROOM - TANGO, FOXTROT, WALTZ, RUMBA - will be offered on Mondays with Charlene. This overview class covers all the major Ballroom dances.

SLOW DANCE AND ROMANCE is a special course that covers the lost art of Romantic Slow Dancing. You never know when the ability to dance gracefully to slow music will come in handy. You best be ready when the time comes! Bethany Daniels will get you ready for Weddings, Reunions, or an evening in a dark lounge to sultry jazz music.

Scott Ladell begins a three month course with BEGINNING NIGHT CLUB on Wednesdays. Night Club is an important competition Western dance used to slow Western tunes. Night Club is very graceful and quite popular to western slow tunes.

MARTIAN WHIP is taught by Rick Archer on Thursdays. Houston City WCS champion Bryan Spivey and his partner Lisa Palmer teach the Friday night sequel known as the MARTIAN XTRA class. There is no overlap between the two nights, which means you pay one price and get the second class for free.
By request, on Fridays Scott will be teaching SSQQ's first-ever ADVANCED TRIPLE TWOSTEP class. Don't miss it!

BEGINNING WESTERN CHA CHA comes to Fridays with Rick and Cher. This sexy, ultra cool dance is danced to Polka-rhythm Western music like "Neon Moon" and "Tequila Town".

BACHATA returns on Saturdays w Linda Cook. Bachata is a slow latin dance with 8-beat triple step footwork followed by a hip or a kick. It is used to Salsa, Cumbia, Merengue, or Bachata music.

Rachel Koenig, also known as "the Zephyr" will be teaching a four-week BELLY DANCE class on Saturdays at 4:30 pm in January. This course has a huge "buzz" at the studio. Every woman we talk to says she plans to groove her moves and swerve her curves to the erotic, sensual music. Rumor has it this class increases their allure and makes them irresistible to men!



Effective January 2nd which is the start of our January Dance Semester, SSQQ will no charge for Practice Night Sunday Night through Thursday Night.

Insiders (i.e. people taking classes at the studio each night) will get in for free.
Insider/Outsiders (i.e. ssqq students with January Class Receipts but who were not in class) who arrive after 8:45 pm will be charged $2 to participate.
Outsiders (i.e. people not currently taking ssqq dance classes) will be charged $3 to participate.

Our regular Friday Dance Night will stay the same as it has always been as will the two Saturday Dances each month.

We will be installing a vending machine in the Drink Room so you can purchase soft drinks from it at any time you wish (by the way, this means that soft drinks will no longer be served from the Drink Room cooler during Break).

The popcorn will still be served at no charge and of course the water fountain will always be available. In addition the Q-Stop will be open some of the Practice Nights to serve Refreshments.

So what is the reason for this dramatic change?? How do I put this delicately? Part of our studio is growing older. Many of our students say they have to get up and go to work the next day. They don't see what the point is to spend $2 or $3 on a Practice Night when they only have the time for a couple of dances.

Believe it or not, our students voted for this change. For the past six months of 2004 we established a new tradition called "Graduation Night" where everyone got to stay for free. Attendance at Graduation Night was phenomenal! Four times as many people stayed when it was free versus when it wasn't free. Mind you the regular cover charge was only a nominal $2!!

There was another phenomenon - half the people left after three dances.

It became more and more obvious that lots of people wanted to stay and dance for a couple songs since it was free, but they still had to get up in the morning.

That's when it hit me - the majority of our students wanted to Practice a little, but as long as it cost them money, it was easier just to go home. Hence the change.

From now on Practice Night Sunday through Thursday will start promptly at 9:10 pm - all classes will end simultaneously. We expect the entire studio to come dance at least one song. Each student will be expected to grab the hand of a fellow student and use massive amounts of Peer Pressure to persuade 100% compliance for One Dance.

After you have finished your "Duty Dance" you are free to go.


SSQQ has a long-standing tradition known as "Practice Night". This tradition dates all the way back to my (Rick Archer) first year as a dance teacher in 1977.

Back in 1977 I took 30 weeks of Whip lessons, but not once did I practice afterwards. First I signed up for a 10 week Whip class. I was considered one of the best beginners, or so I was told. With that encouragement I signed up for the next two levels as well. Unfortunately after seven months, one day I realized I knew lots of moves, but could not put two of them back-to-back since I had no "muscle memory".


Muscle Memory is the process of transferring information from your brain to your body. Moves that feel awkward and mechanical in class have a way of becoming fluid with repetition. Just as a golfer must practice his swing, a dancer must practice his lead. I knew I should have practiced, but I didn't. Why not?

The reason was simple: I did not practice because I lacked the confidence to ask any of the ladies taking the class to go dancing with me so I could get better. In other words I needed to practice to gain confidence, but I since I lacked confidence I didn't practice. In disgust I quit.

The absurdity was not lost on me. Later when I became an instructor I made a point to take my entire class out dancing. Having a built-in opportunity to go dancing with the instructor as a guide made all the difference in the world to my students. I named these after-class adventures Practice Night.


In the beginning I could have predicted the rapid improvement I saw in my student's dancing as the result of Practice Night. Obviously people who practice get better. That I could have predicted.

What I did not anticipate was the unbelievable number of friendships that developed as a function of having these large groups of people dancing together. Quickly Practice Night came to mean more than a simple chance to improve dance skills; it became an important opportunity to hang out with the gang.


Over the years SSQQ has been given quiet credit for countless romances and marriages too. We have been encouraged to enter the "dating business" many times, but I am convinced such an ill-conceived idea would jeopardize the "Magic".

Instead we remain a nice, safe place where people come to dance, see their friends, & have a good time. Practice Night immediately follows every class starting at 9:10 pm. We turn down the lights, pump up the volume, and start the Dance. With our large dance floor, no smoking rule, and great music, the conditions are perfect for dance and romance. There will be no cover charge (except on Fridays) and the "Magic" is free as well. Come find out for yourself!!"

-----Original Message-----
From: Patty
Sent: Tuesday, December 14, 2004 1:02 PM
To: dance@ssqq.com
Subject: Practice Night

"Hi Rick, I'm not an instructor so I'm not sure if my opinion counts, but I think free practice night Sunday - Thursday is a great idea.

When I first started coming to SSQQ I would stay after to practice most of the time. But if I only had maybe 15 minutes to spare I would opt to leave rather than pay 2 or 3 dollars for just a couple of dances. And as you said, I'm sure there are lots of other people who feel that way, and this will encourage those people to at least get in a little practice. And then some of those people will end up staying longer than the intended 15 minutes if they are actually getting to dance.

And people have a hesitancy to pay - even only $2.00 - until they see what they are paying for. There's that "let's see who's staying before we pay" thing going on. And if everybody is waiting to see "who's in there" before committing to go in themselves, then there's no one actually in Room 1, so everybody leaves. This takes care of that fear of actually committing to walking into Room 1.

I remember when I first started taking classes there were several people from Woodlands, Katy and Columbus that had to drive an hour to go home. I would encourage them to stay for Practice, but they would tell me it doesn't make a lot of sense to them that they have pay for a 5-minute stay. I think removing the "Fee" will completely remove this excuse. Then if they stay for one song, maybe they'll stay for two. And if they have fun, maybe the next week they'll stay for three! The next thing you know they'll turn into Practice Nights regulars! But this has no chance of happening if you can't get them to stay at all!

And as far as not having alcohol... most of the people I know who dance are there for the dancing, not the alcohol. I remember when I used to go to Gilley's and Cowboy and the Rose etc. Back in the 80's, there was a huge group of regulars, and we were mostly "water drinkers". The bartenders weren't fond of us but as long as we kept tipping they'd keep us in water all night long. And when I started back dancing a few years ago at the Longhorn that seemed to still be the case. Maybe I'm just not aware of how much beer and wine you go through during the week, but I don't see that as being a problem. And if I remember correctly you'll still have it on Fridays...

The whole thing makes sense to me. I made a lot of friends by staying for practice.

And if I can bore you with this story again, I've told you how Jim C, my close friend since 1st grade, got me up to SSQQ in December 1999 so he'd have someone he knew to practice CW with. I had no intention of taking dance lessons - not that I didn't need them! - It just wasn't on my agenda, plus I had 2 small kids. But I went because he asked, and - besides having the immense fun of learning to dance - the friendships I made in class and practice night made me stay and eventually venture into whip.

I think your ideas to improve Practice Night sound great."



"A positive Atmosphere; a feeling or mood associated with a particular place, person, or thing. Good vibes."

Starting Monday, January 3rd, the doors at SSQQ will open at 6 pm Weeknights Monday through Friday. We will have dance music playing in Room 1, the TV on in Room 2, the lights turned down low, and the Q-Stop open for business. SSQQ would like to cordially invite all of you to come early, mingle, dance, schmooze, have some coffee, sit back and relax, watch some TV, read a book, and just generally let it go. We will wake you up when it is time for class to start.












In 2005, Marla and I have two trips planned. In July we take a dream trip on RCCL's Radiance to view the magnificent beauty of Alaska. Then in late September we have our Same Time Next Year Rhapsody Reunion Cruise.


Usually Marla and I wait till about 2 months ahead of time to form our next cruise, but maybe we've learned something. This time we are giving people seven months preparation time! It's a good thing too because we all need to save our money. It is no secret that after you factor in airfare, this is an expensive trip.

Marla and I had assumed the high-end ticket would discourage people, but instead we have been astonished at the preliminary interest in this trip!! The positive Buzz around this trip is phenomenal!

We have come to the conclusion that a lot of people have nursed the dream to make this trip for a long time. Instead of acting on their dream, instead like me they always put an Alaska Trip into the "One of These Days" category. Now with the chance to go with many of their friends from the studio, the time seems to be right for a lot of people.

Some activities like the New Year's Party are fun to experience as part of a group of friends. This trip has that exact feel to it - a bunch of close-knit friends preparing to take a huge once-in-a-lifetime adventure together.

One thing that makes an Alaskan Cruise so amazing is that the ship literally cruises by some of the most spectacular terrain imaginable. You don't even have to get off the ship to sightsee on this trip! We will sail right past some of the most beautiful sights you will ever see!

Just imagine the ridiculous picture of 30 SSQQ semi-naked Cruisers stuffed into a Hot Tub with steam everywhere and the magnificent Alaskan Mountains and Glaciers in the background!

As we traverse the famous Inside Passage, you can see glaciers and mountains everywhere. The Inside Passage is in the southeast region of Alaska. The seat of Alaska's government and timber industry, the Passage is a 500-mile-long vacation paradise of forests, wildlife, rock and water. Our itinerary will include the Hubbard Glacier, the largest tidewater glacier in North America. It is nearly six miles across and ninety miles long. It is roughly the size of Rhode Island. Until you've seen and heard the thunderous roar of ice sheets crashing into the sea, it is safe to say you've never experienced anything like it.

You will be craning your head in every direction to see one fascinating stretch of scenery after another!!

We have a chance to make this the most incredible trip in studio history. One warning - don't expect a lot of Moonlight Dancing! You may get some twilight dancing in, but up in Alaska it stays light practically all day!


A trip as magnificent as the one we just completed has the makings of MANY SEQUELS. The easiest way to get an idea of what's ahead is to read again what just happened.

As most of you know, Marla and I got married aboard the 2004 Rhapsody Trip. This special event set the tone for the most spirited group we have ever seen. I cannot begin to explain all the trouble these characters got into. There was SO MUCH MISCHIEF it took me nearly two months to write about all the crazy things that happened. I completed the write-up on the Rhapsody Cruise just recently.

Including stories about the infamous "Elevator Ride", Da Jammer, the Attack of the Zombies, Champagne Night, Wedding Fiascos, Tales of the Captain, and of course the Legend of Mr. Handsome, the trip write-up makes for scintillating bed-time reading. Just pop that laptop onto your belly with a 20 foot Roadrunner Cable and read deep into the night!

PLUS in addition to all the vicious RUMORS, we have PICTURES of people like Mr. Handsome, Center of Attention, The Great Gabino, Lollobridgida, Grapevine, the Goldmine, and all the Usual Suspects. We have the Beatles Story, the Bloodbath Volleyball Match at Cozumel, Bar Hopping, Zizzling Birds and Bees Gossip, and best of all the Steamy Gatorade Hot Tub Tales. Do you want to hear some juicy scandal?? Do you want to see pictures of Mr. Handsome strutting in girl's? Do you want to see pictures of the Great Gabino sucking the blood right out of… well if I write more this email won't get past any of the spam censors, now will it??

Read for yourself! Then decide if you want to be part of the lunacy on the next trip!

Last year: http://ssqq.com/information/rhapsody2004home.htm
Same Time Next Year. http://ssqq.com/information/rhapsody2005.htm








Best Costume 2004: http://ssqq.com/information/halloweenbest2004.htm
Honorable Mention: http://ssqq.com/information/halloweenbest2004runnerup.htm
The Halloween Costumes were terrific again this year. Unfortunately I didn't know the names of many of the winners, so I am unable to compliment some of the winners as directly as I wish.

As I mentioned previously George Sargent of course won as "Dorothy", but he had plenty of stiff competition in the costume contest.

Bill and Barbara Moore came in a close second with their amazing Red Devil outfits. I remember one year Barbara came as an African Witch Doctor. She said it took her many hours to put the black makeup on and two more hours just to take it off!! She was just amazing to behold. Barbara made our Costume Hall of Fame. Her only complaint was that the men were afraid to dance with her! Would you like to see her Witch Doctor outfit?

Up to now her handsome husband Bill (whom she met at the studio!) has been content to wear his own costume and let Barbara do her thing. However this year it looks like he got on board and made it a team effort. Now even Bill is putting on makeup! Such a pair!

In addition to George, Leslie Barbley, aka "The Grapevine", made top ten as the Tin Man from "Wizard of Oz". Originally Leslie was supposed to be Dorothy and George was supposed to be the Tin Man, but apparently George discovered he couldn't get into the "Tin Man" costume so they traded. Sure, George, we believe you.

Another Oz participant scored as well. Alyx "Apteryx" Zimmerman won Runnerup with her Cowardly Lion outfit. Gosh was she cute! With her smile and laughter, she hardly seemed dangerous, that's for sure!

As for the entire "Wizard of Oz" group which included Jeff Anderson as "Oz", Lisa "Distraction" Ramey as "The Good Witch, Cathy "Stalker" Ruby-Lower as "The Wicked Witch", plus a handsome name-unbeknownst man as the "Scarecrow", I would venture to say they created the Best Group Picture in the history of the SSQQ Halloween Party. They were just terrific! My only disappointment was that no one came as Toto. Doggone it!

Now you all have a goal for next year - who can get a Group Picture to top these characters? Good luck trying!

Other notable costumes included Judy Walsh as the Green Alien. Judy takes her costumes seriously. She won Runnerup the previous year for her "Southern Girl" costume.

There are two people who have every reason to murder me for incompetence! A tall, very handsome man and his lovely lady companion have made my Top Ten list TWO YEARS IN A ROW but I still don't know their names. Making things worse, I saw them in the Salsa Room the other night, complimented them on their great costumes but forgot to ask them their names. Duh.

At any rate, after you check out the magnificent Mickey and Minnie Mouse costumes, go back to last year and look for Frankenstein and the Mummy. Not bad!! This dynamic duo can do gruesome and cute with equal aplomb.

Lisa Miller was devastatingly accurate as the Evil Witch from "Snow White". She gave me the shivers! Magnifique!

Then there was our late great former Samba instructor Cheryl Denise wearing her beloved Samba costume. Some of you may question her inclusion into the Top Ten for wearing something she puts on as often as I put on my basketball costume, but let's face it - Cheryl looks too incredible not to be included! End of debate.

There was one young man who came as a Mummy/Zombie. Sometimes I get these monsters confused, but whichever monster he was, he looked awesome! And his lady friend was incredibly beautiful in her Egyptian dress. Together they looked terrific.

Last but not Lise were our Beautiful Babies! SSQQ Instructors and roommates Lise Gagnon and Kimberly Smith were overwhelmingly cute as matching well-dressed babies. Weren't they adorable!! You just wanted to hug them. Usually this pair does naughty, but this year they did nice. You gotta love their versatility!

This pair is no stranger to the Winners Circle. Previously they made their mark as the naughty Girl Scouts with Bryan Spivey back in 2002. Lise and Kimberly were clearly the hit of the party that year and pretty much the co-hit of the party this year as well. Were it not for Dorothy, I think they took the cake.

I would like to say something about Patty Harrison. Patty is my much-beloved assistant in the Sunday and Thursday Whip classes. Patty has never been to an SSQQ Halloween Party before. She has been around the studio for five years or so and has avoided this studio tradition like the plague. This year each week I bugged her about coming to the Halloween Party. She said no, no, no each time. But I persisted and apparently it paid off.

I was out in the parking lot speaking to Asst Police Chief Holloway who was on hand to supervise the safety of the party again this year. This odd white rectangle appeared out of the darkness. Lo and behold it was none of than Patty as a Giant Milk Carton walking up.

I was so happy to see Patty! I hugged her as best I could given the protective frame. Then I ran ahead of her to get into the Haunted House so I could be sure her first trip through the HH was a memorable one. Sure enough, she screamed. Welcome to the SSQQ Halloween Party! I was so happy!

Everyone gasped when they saw Patty's costume! Patty had doubled in size! She was preposterously cute as a Giant Milk Carton! And she even danced in the thing! Can you believe that??

Amazingly, Patty kept her Carton on all night. I think she said she was naked inside or something, I can't remember, and had no choice. Oops, I wasn't supposed to let that spill… Still that Carton Costume was gigantic; how did she do it? The frame was bigger than she was and it had to be hot and uncomfortable. But somehow she kept it on till late into the night. Good for you, Patty!

Patty won Top Ten with that Milk Carton in her very first party! There were so many people mad at her. I mean, there are people who actually TRY to win this thing. They go out of their way each year to come up with a great costume just so they get in the Top Ten or Runnerup page. And here's Patty, oblivious to everything, doesn't have a costume till the last minute, and boom lands in the Top Ten. And all the Hussies are so mad! Let's hear it for the Girl!

The Runner Up group had some great outfits too. Besides Alyx Apteryx as the Lion, there was an excellent Bloody Mary costume. Sorry I don't know her name! My friends Jill and Mike were great as the Pirates and so were Jim Colby and Marlane Kayfes as "In the Navy".

Perpetual winner Letty Dougherty and her handsome husband Patrick made it back as a Barbarian duo. Like Barbara Moore, Letty is a Hall of Fame member as well. She and her beautiful Hall of Fame counterpart Carol Gafford even managed to team up for a tandem shot at this party! (http://ssqq.com/information/halloween2004pictures11.htm # 102).

By coincidence, Carol and Letty share a page together in our Costume Hall of Fame so it was fun to pair them up at this party! (http://ssqq.com/information/hallocostume07.htm )

John Sartain and Becky Stinson were pretty cute as the "Hippies" although the rest of us needed sunglasses just to look at them. Sandra Mullet somehow managed to dance the night away with Angel Wings so wide I don't know how she made it through the Haunted House intact. Her handsome husband Nick came dressed as a tough guy, so I decided to name them "Good and Evil".

Susan Schroeder, another person who is no stranger to the winner's circle, gets a great deal of credit for dieting and exercising to get those abs in shape so she could come as "Catwoman". Some people simply buy their way into a great costume or get lucky and come in a weird outfit like a "Golf Ball", but you have to be impressed when someone actually SUFFERS to win their award!

And then we have two nameless people who were our final Runnerup winners. Someone came completely disguised as the Grim Reaper while another man came as a homeless person. He was so convincingly disgusting that I imagine he may indeed have been homeless and heard there was free popcorn. Like Cheryl the Samba Lady there was a dispute over giving an award to a "Come As You Are" person, but really she was so fetching and he was so repulsive you gotta give it to 'em. Besides, what were his chances of getting "lucky" so to speak? Slim and None. On this basis alone he wins my vote!

Any other year, the group that came as the "Slows" and "Quicks" would have been hands-down winners in the Group Category, but this year they had the tough luck to run up against the Hall of Fame-bound Wizard of Oz team. Nevertheless I created a "Runnerup" Category for them to give them the credit they were due. There were literally a dozen "S" and "Q" people who came as the "Dance Beats". Praise should be given to Linda Cook. She single-handedly sewed all the ssqq's onto people's shirts. Each day I come to the studio I see her making one quilt after another. Such a talent!! Now I am glad she put her skills to good use to score a victory for her team! Watch out for Linda's group next year!

Best Costume 2004: http://ssqq.com/information/halloweenbest2004.htm
Honorable Mention: http://ssqq.com/information/halloweenbest2004runnerup.htm






In the early days of the SSQQ Email Newsletter, it was fairly easy to reach everyone with our monthly updates. However the proliferation of Spam Email has made those days just a memory. Today the SSQQ Newsletter gets caught in Spam filters on a regular basis. Just the word "SSQQ" in the title triggers the spam protection software and lands our Newsletter in your quarantine bin or gets it labeled "probably Spam". If you do like I do, there are days when I simply hit the "Delete Key" for everything and - poof! - there it goes.

Each month we receive alerts that literally hundreds of our Newsletter have been blocked or bounced by Hotmail, AOL, and blocked corporate e-mails. In addition, not only are the Newsletters blocked, but students have reported even their own On-Line Registration Receipts get filtered out!

We have had numerous failed deliveries to these accounts because of the aggressive spam blocks placed on them. If you are not receiving the SSQQ newsletter or your registration confirmation (if registering online), we suggest you use a different account.
In case you do miss an issue or two of the newsletter, you can access them by checking the archives on the SSQQ web site.
Special Note to AOL Users: Please add SSQQ Dance Studio to your address book so you have no trouble receiving future messages from us.






(Editor's Note: Only I know who Violet is. She exists and she ain't me. She loves SSQQ Practice Night. You might even dance with her some night and never know who she is! Better be careful. She might write a story about you. Just like Santa Claus, you better be nice because she's watching you!)

"Hello Fellow Dancers. It's me, Violet. I love Practice Night. The music is lively, and the students relax enough to have fun with their newest patterns. It is not uncommon to see beaming smiles from the dancers or to hear them roaring with laughter at their own mistakes. The only discouraging thing about the Practice Nights I attend is the ratio of women to men. The women sometimes outnumber the men three to one, so that leaves a lot of very talented ladies sitting on the sidelines. I do not always mind sitting out because it gives me and my girlfriends extra time to socialize, but last week I saw someone exploiting the lack of gender balance.

His name is Mr. Shilly-Shally (def: in an irresolute, undecided, or hesitating manner). Mr. Shilly-Shally is almost perfect . . . ALMOST. He's handsome, smart, funny, friendly, and an incredible dancer, but he never commits to anything. He cannot even be decisive about a dance partner for one song at Practice Night.

Last week's Practice Night starts out pretty well. The numbers are smaller than usual, but there are at least enough men to give the women hope that they would be asked to dance. That hope slowly fades as the number of men dwindles to about five. The women grumble about the lack of partners, but plenty of them stay just the same. A small group of women gather along the row of chairs to watch the few remaining couples take advantage of the spacious dance floor. The song ends, Mr. Shilly-Shally thanks his partner, and he approaches the group of observing women. He stops about four feet from them, and holds out his hands as if gesturing that the first taker will be fortunate enough to dance with him.

Someone very close to me, who we will call Goody Two Shoes, enthusiastically accepts Mr. Shilly-Shally's quasi-offer. Goody is a beautiful young woman who loves to dance, and she is absolutely crazy about Mr. S. He, however, seems to be blissfully clueless to the way she lights up whenever he enters the room. My first thought on this situation is how Mr. S is exposing Goody's crush by making her take the real initiative in the partnership. But then my attention is drawn to the ladies that Mr. S left sitting on the sidelines. Maybe they would have liked to dance with Mr. S, but his indecisiveness, combined with Goody's hyperactive enthusiasm, discourages them from speaking up. And I wonder why Mr. S gets to have that much power?

I admit, Mr. Shilly-Shally seems like a very sweet, yet shy, man. In fact, I would never believe he is purposefully taking advantage of the women's availability. It is highly possible that he either is too shy to ask a woman to dance one-on-one. Or he fears rejection, so he spares his fragile ego by letting the ladies decide who dances with him. He may even be so considerate that he does not want to ask one woman over another and risk hurting someone's feelings. Whatever the reason, the fact still remains that it is much too easy for Mr. Shilly-Shally to get dance partners. At the end of the night, I challenge Goody Two Shoes to play a little hard to get at the next practice night and see how Mr. Shilly-Shally reacts.

For starters, Goody lets Mr. S initiate conversation during class. And after class, she does not inquire if he is staying for practice night, as she usually does (in hopes that he will know she really wants him to stay). To her surprise, he volunteers the information and waits for Goody to gather her things before going to practice. On the way to Room 1, Goody stops to talk to me and lets Mr. S walk ahead. By the time we get into Room 1, he is dancing with another girl from their class, but Goody does not have to wait long before she is led to the dance floor by someone else. The song ends, and Goody heads for a chair. I see Mr. S walk toward the couches, pause for a moment, and then head in Goody's direction. Just as he reaches her, another man has taken her hand and started leading her to the dance floor. This man must have immediately started flirting because Goody sheepishly giggles and turns bright red. Mr. S just sits down looking mildly defeated. As the song ends, Mr. S stands, crosses the dance floor and, without saying a word, takes Goody's hand just as she politely thanks her previous partner. Mr. S held on to Goody for several songs in a row.

This may seem like a victory only for Goody Two Shoes, but my challenge to her was to help Mr. Shilly-Shally as well. If Mr. S is too shy to ask a woman to dance one-on-one, then Goody boosts his courage by playing hard to get, and she rewards his courage by accepting him. If he is so vain that he enjoys having women flock to him, then he gets to learn that a man sometimes has to put in a little effort to get a woman's attention. Either way, my challenge is good for building his character, and that is my true goal . . . honest.

Now, here is my second challenge. I am sure there is at least one Mr. Shilly-Shally at the studio every night of the week. He may not be the exact one I am writing about now, but I know there are more out there. My second challenge is to every lady that attends any event where people are dancing: If you are in a group that gets approached by a Mr. Shilly-Shally, politely encourage him to select a dance partner himself. The best way to do this is to look confused by his gestures and gently ask, "I'm sorry, which one of us are you asking?" Or you can point to yourself and silently ask, "Is it me?" Just remember not to get discouraged if he picks someone else. If you want to dance with a Mr. Shilly-Shally, ask him. Chances are that he is, like Goody Two Shoes, too polite to turn you down. Besides, I have it on good authority that men like to be asked to dance just as much as women do, if not more.

My third challenge is for the men of SSQQ: STAY FOR PRACTICE! Whatever reason Mr. Shilly-Shally has for being noncommittal, I am sure he enjoys having his pick of several available women week after week. Why should you not enjoy the same satisfaction? Women outnumber men in every dance class I have ever taken, so it is reasonable to assume that women will outnumber men at practice night, even if every man reading this attends every week.

Since my first day at SSQQ, I have heard many excuses why men do not want to dance outside of class. Please allow me to offer a female's perspective on some of these issues:

***Disclaimer: Not all men use the following excuses, and not all women would agree with my opinion of these excuses.
These are simply my observations. ***

Excuse #1 - I don't want to dance in front of other people because I can't dance as well as (insert name here)

Response #1- As long as you are polite; you do not hurt us, insult us, or creep us out; and you genuinely try your best, women do not care if you are not the best dancer around. Nine times out of ten, your partner is just as self-conscious as you are. The truth is that women just love to dance. And we are more likely to dance with a sweet novice with two left feet than an expert with his foot in his mouth.

Response #2 - Do you think any of SSQQ's star dancers earned their status by skipping Practice Night? I do not think that is how it works, but I could be wrong.

Response #3 - In class, you have to rotate and dance with every woman in the room. Therefore, every woman in the room knows what you are capable of. When you dance socially, stick to the patterns you know well. Many women would much rather dance with a man who has a few simple, yet flawless, patterns than a man who insists on sticking to super-advanced patterns that he does not know how to lead.

Excuse #2 - I am afraid if I ask a woman to dance, then she will say no.

Response - It is true, rejection is a possibility. So? I have been turned down for a dance many times, and I have survived. I just shrug it off and try again with someone else. I wrote earlier that there is likely to be a Mr. Shilly-Shally at the studio every night of the week. I am equally certain that there is a Goody Two Shoes present all week. Find her if you are afraid of rejection. You will recognize her by the way she smiles warmly at everyone, by the way she laughs out loud when she dances, and by the way you never see her refuse a dance unless she is positively exhausted (or if she knows the guy is a jerk, but she will rarely admit that).

Excuse #3 - I'm too shy!

Response #1 - If you do not ask a woman to dance, someone else will, and you will be stuck watching.

Response #2 - Why are you paying for dance lessons if you will not use what you learn?

Excuse #4 - If the women are all grouped together, and I ask only one of them to dance, then the others might get offended.

Response #1 - This excuse is not one I have actually heard, but it is a possible explanation for Mr. Shilly-Shally's behavior, so I want to address it. If anyone actually has this fear, then spread yourself out. As you take one woman to the dance floor, turn to her friend and ask her to save you a dance for later. Repeat that process until you have danced with the whole group. Then no one is left out, and you get to practice.

Response #2 - In a perfect world, everyone would want to dance with everyone else, and no one would get left out. But in real life, you have the right to dance with whomever you want.
There is no dance law that says you have to dance with your favorite partner's obnoxious friend. Sure, it would be polite, but why make yourself miserable for the sake of dance floor diplomacy?

Here is my warning. I will be watching at Practice Night, and I hope to see that my challenges are being accepted. Full participation in everything SSQQ has to offer will not only improve your dance skills, but it will also help you enhance your skill with the finer points of social dancing . . . confidence, comfort, and, most importantly, social skills. If you do not do it for yourself, think of poor Mr. Shilly-Shally. Not only could it be fun to watch him squirm as he is forced to be decisive, but it will be good for him, I promise.
Happy Dancing!
Violet Steplightly






-----Original Message-----
From: Laurie
Sent: Thursday, December 16, 2004 11:13 PM
To: dance@SSQQ.com
Subject: Help!

Hello, Rick! I just learned of your dance school from a business associate at a party tonight. Ever since my husband and I saw the movie "Shall We Dance" recently, we have talked about taking dance lessons.

I love to dance and have danced all my life, having studied ballet since age 7 and spent summers as a teenager at a well-known ballet school in New York. My husband, on the other hand, has no rhythm and has never learned to dance. Fortunately, he enjoys music and is willing to dance (after a few cocktails) with me at parties. I believe he will find it very challenging to learn and that a teacher will find him challenging to teach.

What is your experience with people who have no sense of rhythm and timing and move in a clumsy fashion in general? Is there hope for my husband? Do you expect it to take longer for him to learn and master the art of dance movement? How do you avoid the frustration that could result with someone who lacks a natural ease in moving and dancing?

We are mostly interested in Latin dancing, at least to begin.

I must also tell you that I thoroughly enjoyed reading your entertaining web site. You are a talented writer and, I'm certain, you are a good dancer and accomplished businessman, as well. I look forward to meeting you.

Please share your experience in working with people who have no innate talent for movement and dance. It will help me mange my husband's (and my) expectations of learning to dance.

I look forward to hearing from you soon. Laurie"


"Thanks for the nice words about the web site, Laurie.

I was a slow learner when I started. I became pretty good through persistence and practice at a time when I was young and single.

Women generally enjoy dancing more than men because when it is done right, dancing is a ride on a magic carpet. The man may be in the driver's seat of course, but having danced both sides of the coin I think the "follow" role is more fun. Think of a dance as a car ride. If the man drives poorly, the passenger is uncomfortable and tense. But if the driver, i.e. the "lead", is in control and watching out, then you can relax and enjoy the ride.

Since Dancing isn't quite as much fun for the guy, then you have to find other motivations for the man to be willing to learn.

It usually boils down to a desire to either meet a woman if he is single or to please a woman if he is in a committed relationship. Since the ability to lead well is a huge advantage in the Dating Game, single guys often pay more attention.

I have many married men who also like to dance, but they only succeed when they "wish to". Unlike the single guys who are lonely and see "dance" as a direct means to an end, the married guys are in a "comfort zone" and less driven so to speak. Men who are not lonely have to work a little harder to find the proper motivation. Some married men pay attention while others just go through the motions. The ones who would really rather be somewhere else don't concentrate hard enough to ever succeed or practice enough to become fluid.

One of my new friends from 2004 is a basketball buddy of mine who just happens to be engaged to a former dance champion. The young lady constantly pines to return to her glory days on the dance floor while he would rather play golf or basketball with his free time. One night she somehow talked him into coming to the studio to visit with some of her friends from the dance world. As I watched, he was tense and uncomfortable. However he got up and walked around to watch the dancing. He saw a lot of people having fun and realized it didn't look that hard. So he decided to be a nice guy and learn to dance enough to get his fiancée out on the floor.

Fortunately we do a good job of making our classes fun for men and move things at a clip they are comfortable with. Pretty soon my friend realized he was enjoying the classes and meeting new friends in addition to making his lady happy. It was a Win-Win for all concerned.

The truth of the matter is that men and women always complain how hard it is to find social activities to do in common and that dancing is a unique skill that can nicely fill this void.

However for each success story, there are also men who simply couldn't care less and aren't interested. Dancing is a team sport that just happens to be more fun for the women. I also know that women have many ways of rewarding their men for making the effort, but I will leave that subject to the imagination.

Now that I am married, I admit I don't dance as much as when I was single. But when I do dance with my wife, I notice that I thoroughly enjoy making her happy. When I am in the mood to dance (and not just out there because it's my job) I also enjoy dancing with the other ladies as well. Social dancing has a way of bringing smiles to a lot of faces, not just the ones you love.

Based on your description, the fact that your husband doesn't sound like a natural dancer is not really a problem. Most guys fit that description when they start!!

His success will be based on how much he wishes to make you happy and whether he likes his first couple classes or not.

Rick Archer"


-----Original Message-----
From: Laurie
Sent: Friday, December 17, 2004 9:19 AM
To: Rick Archer
Subject: Re: Help!

"Your insight makes perfect sense.

We'll see you in January. Laurie."








Oct. 25, 2004, 8:53PM
Copyright 2004 Houston Chronicle

Candy Houston's feet don't get much rest. Three nights a week she works 12-hour late-night shifts as a nurse on the labor and delivery floor of Memorial Hermann Hospital. Other nights, she's on a dance floor somewhere in the metro area.

When 28 years of marriage ended, Houston was "scared to death to go out and have fun," but then a cousin took her to a Christmas party at the Bay Area Whip Dance Club in League City. "I fell in love with the people there and stayed to take lessons," she says.

Now she follows the music. If Tuesday or Thursday is free, she's at the Bay Area club. On Wednesday nights she goes to Strictly Whip in Pasadena. Friday is swing night at the Melody Club in west Houston, and two Saturdays a month are whip nights at BB Wolf's in Stafford, where the local talent show their moves.

Sunday is a day of rest, but that usually means unwinding with friends at the Houston Whip Club, which actually is in Pasadena and like other area "whip" clubs, features mostly West Coast swing - with just a dash of whip for Texas flavor.

Houston is a stay-at-home compared to Trent Telenko of Sealy, who endures the 100-mile round trip to Houston six nights a week for dancing and lessons. Eat your heart out, Richard Gere!

Telenko, 41, admits he's a bit obsessive. "I've got the bug," he says. "It's fun and social and it gets me out of the apartment."

Two nights each week he goes country-Western, two nights he swivels to salsa and two are devoted to "West Coast" - his favorite. Telenko is candid about the appeal of the dance to his mind and body.

"It's very mathematical," he says. "I've heard women refer to it as the engineers' dance because a lot of engineers get into it." But he adds, "It does wonders for the woman's hip movement. A really good West Coast swing lady can draw eyes and keep 'em."

A brochure from Marilyn's Dance Club describes whip as "sensual and technical." Damon D'Amico told his West Coast class. "There is nothing cute about this dance. This is a very sexy dance."

West Coast swing evolved out of the Lindy Hop during World War II in California, where GIs picked it up in crowded ballrooms and USO clubs. Those returning to Texas slowed it down from swing tempo to a slow blues beat and whip was born.

Unlike forms of swing with bounce, West Coast and whip are smooth. Both are done in a "slot" where the woman struts, slinks and spins up and down as the man steps in and out to lead.

They also have contrasting personalities. Whip is done close, with the man putting his partner through a series of tight spins, wraps and bumps, staying in the background while showing her off. West Coast is playful and flirtatious, with the dancers farther apart and their roles more equal.

Although many locals do both, whip has almost been crowded out in its own hometown as newcomers brought the parent dance with them.

"The whip has come full circle. It was born from the West Coast swing, and over time it has returned to the West Coast swing," wrote Gilbert Huron, who teaches both. But whip, which Huron says was called "cat dancing" when he learned it in the 1950s, may have a few lives left.

Several local studios teach traditional whip, as does the nonprofit club Strictly Whip.

West Coast swing dancers Damon D'Amico and his wife, Lisa, moved here from New Orleans in 1998 to teach with two-time national swing champion Mario Robau Jr. at the Southwest Whip Club. They won the Texas State Dance Association contest their first year, and now Damon is organizing this year's competition, which runs Friday through Sunday at the Hobby Marriott.

(EDITOR'S NOTE: I wonder how they managed to omit SSQQ from the article. Or maybe the question should be "Why?" After all, the oversight is similar to missing an elephant to spot a hippo.

Our West Coast Swing and Whip classes have been extremely popular this past year.

For example, in September we had 140 students registered. In October we had 96. In November we had 122. And in December, traditionally our slowest month of the year, we had 94 students. By the way, we always have more registrations in Odd Months than Even. Isn't that Odd? Go figure.

This coming January is an ODD MONTH! Historically our largest Whip classes ever have been in January. I expect to see a bunch of you in Beginning Whip and West Coast with Charlene Tees and me on Sundays and Charlene and MG Anseman on Thursdays.)







-----Original Message-----
From: bryan spivey
Sent: Sunday, October 31, 2004 9:39 PM
To: rick archer
Subject: state championship!

hey rick,

i got home about an hour ago from the competition. i am beat. i apologize for not showing up for class, but it was late and i am physically exhausted, BUT lisa and i did bring home some prizes for you.

they are:

· 1st place INT progressive (bryan spivey and lisa palmer). this was our routine division. we had 3 1st place votes out of 5. lisa and i are STATE CHAMPIONS....a step above city champs. make sure to put that in the new schedule! ;O)

· 2nd place strictly swing INT (bryan Spivey and lisa palmer). this was an important event, but no choreography, which makes the progressive division (above) harder. this was a fun one. we had a slow blues song and tore it up.

· 1st place female pro am (bryan spivey and lisa damico) this is the 3rd time i have won the pro-am with lisa damico. she even helped us on some problems with our routine and gave us a big hug when as we walked up to receive our trophies. :O)

· 2nd place jack n jill NOV (lisa palmer and ben johnson from louisiana) the jack n jill was at 9pm on friday which is why lisa was not at work. but she made the finals and then got second place. i rushed out so i could get at least a glipmse of her dancing and luckily i got to see her last 2 dances in the final round.

they had two other categories "no hold$ barred" and "slow whip" both of these i danced with becky burgess. the no holds barred category had only pro/adv dancers except for me and rishma. becky and i placed fairly low, but we did manage to get a 2nd place vote from a judge. mario competed in the event too. ill have to make sure to look at the score card when it gets downloaded to the internet, but i think the judge who gave us a 2nd gave us a better score than mario. basically, i had nothing to lose so we picked a fast song and tore it up. there were some mistakes, but we did entertain the crowd...which was the theme of the no hold barred. we were spinning and going crazy and we do have some evidence of her smacking my behind!

it was a great weekend and it really sets the mark on my advanced/open/professinal career as a dance instructor. there was still some doubt whether i should do it or not. but with winning (not just placing) these events there is little doubt if any.

lisa and i racked up the trophies! i came home with 3 she came home with 2 and some money too!

again, i apologize for not showing up for class, but hopefully it is an excused absence, bryan

(EDITOR'S NOTE: I suppose I can afford to overlook an absence in return for a State Championship. Nice work, Bryan and Lisa!)





In 2005, SSQQ has 3 coaches prepared to help you prepare for and enter dance contests.

Anita Williams has trained two men who have won First Place in one Western contest after another in 2004, Victor Marquez and Joel McClesky.  Both men are shooting for Pro-Am World Championships at the UCWDC Worlds over the New Year. If you are a guy or a couple and you want to take a shot at excellence, Anita can be contacted at AWilliams@kanaly.com

Scott Ladell is currently in training with several ladies including Kimberly Schweinle and Cher Longoria for Western contests in 2005. If you are a lady or a couple and you want to prepare for a Western contest, contact Scott at scottladell@houston.rr.com

Having won the State Championship, Bryan Spivey is now a professional and can dance in Pro Ams. He currently has several students he is preparing for the Novice Invitational in March. If you are a lady or a couple and you are interested in Whip/WCS, contact Bryan at bubbamotion@yahoo.com

I have a hunch we are going to be reading about lots of Champions in 2005 that were trained right here at SSQQ.



As you know, SSQQ  is the most complicated studio in history. We have a maze of rules and traditions that take time to get used to. Like a three-ring circus, we put on quite a production. Each night we have six, sometimes seven classes running concurrently involving two dozen staff and volunteers and up to 200 students. Some nights there is so much energy the place is a veritable zoo.

In the past, I have had only minimal success hiring outside dance instructors, i.e. people who were trained to teach by other dance studios. Unfortunately there is no set criterion. I evaluate each request to teach by outsiders on a case-by-case basis.

Sometimes we have had great success. Willie Bushnell has been an incredibly popular Zydeco teacher here at the studio for many years. Debbie Reynolds was the most phenomenal private lesson instructor the studio has ever seen for many years until she and Judy had a falling out several years ago which caused Debbie to leave. Charlene Tees has been a blessing since the moment she joined us a couple years ago. One advantage that Debbie and Charlene had was that they were close to people within the studio and had a good idea how the place worked ahead of time.

However the flip side of the coin is the many outside people who were a problem from the moment GO.

None of you even remotely know the story of the cocaine addict who stole VCRs from the studio to pay for his drug habit. Nor do you know of the man who was so desperate for money he recommended to every girl he danced with that they take a private lesson from him due to their "poor technique". Nor do you know about the man who used the studio computer to get the phone numbers of certain female students. Nor do you know the story of yet a fourth man whose womanizing was once a studio legend. Each of these four instructors received their dance training elsewhere before they came to teach here at the studio.

Largely based on these dark experiences with outside instructors, I have learned it makes much more sense to grow our own instructors from within. The assistant program and the volunteer program have stocked our studio not only with dozens of terrific instructors, we have a sub-system of talent in our volunteers that makes this studio great.

Never was the depth of our program was put to a tougher test than when Judy quit. We took a big hit, but like any good college football program we "reloaded". Several people stepped up to fill her various roles. What these instructors lacked in experience they made up for with enthusiasm.

As the result of their strong efforts, I am convinced we are ready to fire on all cylinders in 2005.

Recently my reluctance to hire outside instructors was further strengthened by the odd story of the Samba Lady.

In late August, a woman named Cheryl contacted me about teaching Samba here at the studio. Having moved from San Francisco, she wanted to continue her dancing here in Houston but was frustrated to discover there was no Samba community in existence. She immediately decided to create one of her very own. Cheryl contacted me about teaching here.

From the moment she started, I sensed that Cheryl possessed a terrific talent. She was highly intelligent, full of energy and concern for each student. However I also quickly realized that Cheryl was also the dance equivalent of a "Diva". There was Cheryl's way and there was Cheryl's way.

In Cheryl's brief three month stay here at the studio, she broke more rules than the entire rest of the staff combined for the entire year. One of her most famous stunts was changing the time her class met on two different occasions to fit her own schedule better.

Cheryl drove me crazy. For starters she sent me more emails in three months (66) than any other instructor has sent me for the entire year.

In order to better understand the problems, maybe you should take a look at these three email examples.


-----Original Message-----
From: UCSomeoneSpecial
Sent: Friday, October 15, 2004 12:10 AM
To: dance@ssqq.com
Subject: Samba


Looking at the November schedule, I see that samba is still listing at 4:30-6:30. Again I would like to try to move that class to earlier in the day, even 2:30-4:30 would be better. The students all agreed that it is such a high energy class that they would like to get a chance to go home, relax, SHOWER, before taking it to the streets....or the studio again in the evening to strut their newly acquired skills. Their preferred times were 10:30-12:30 and 12:30-2:30 or 11-1.

Also, we are coming into peak performance season and most Friday and Saturday nights will be booked with band gigs, some of which are in the Woodlands or downtown. Many start as early as 6pm, which means a 5pm set time and usually no later than a 6pm set time.

The other thing is that I want to bring in live drummers for my 3rd and/or 4th class to give the students a feel of what real Bahia/Rio style samba feels like. Even playing softly, those drummers will overpower the concurrent classes. If we are in the studio before the other classes start, we won't disturb anybody. Besides, we laugh A LOT in that class! If you haven't heard about the Mr. Hiney, I'm sure you will soon enough!

Anyway, let me know about the time. Cheryl


"OK, Cheryl,

Well, all your points are legitimate concerns. Now hear my side of the story.

1. I would have to pay my registration people extra to come in two hours earlier at 2:30 for the first and second week of class. That would have to come out of your salary.
2. I would have to redesign my web site to accommodate the only class that doesn't start at 4:30.
3. I would have to redesign my web site to delete your class when it isn't offered.
4. we would have to redesign the On Line registration page to accommodate a class offered at a different time or simply not allow pre-registration for your class.
5. I would have to redesign my printed schedule to accommodate the one class that doesn't start at 4:30.
6. I would have to redesign my printed schedule to delete your class when it isn't offered.

This is an awful lot of work and added expense, Cheryl. Is it really that important?"



-----Original Message-----
From: Rick Archer
Sent: Sunday, November 14, 2004 10:11 AM
To: UCSomeoneSpecial
Subject: Problems at SSQQ


This will be a very long letter for one simple reason - I want you to leave the studio and I want you to stay.

This ambivalence forces me to go into detail to explain my frustration and the spot you have put me in.

Here is part of your latest email to me:

"I am available the entire month of December to teach an advanced samba class on Saturdays from 2:30 to 4:30p if that is o.k. My current students are demanding more samba!

Also, I have had numerous requests to move club dance back to Saturdays. Many students are telling me they would like to do club dance, but just can't make Monday evening that early. I am available to do 10:30 to 12:30 and 12:30 to 2:30 time slots if you wish to make Saturdays a full day thing. If not, I'll just keep my 2:30-4:30 Samba classes.

No stress....just trying to accommodate my own schedule as well as the popular demand of the students."

Cheryl, I have to be direct with you. Your latest email indicates your dance ambitions may be more complicated than I have the patience to handle. Your "Program" probably consists of a dozen people. My "Program" consists of 1,200 people, but you keep insisting I bend my program to fit your schedule. This is a classic situation of "The Tail Trying to Wag the Dog".

In three short months I have discovered that "just trying to accommodate your own schedule" has meant one problem after another for me. I have already told you ONCE I don't have much spare time to deal with "your schedule." I have too much on my plate as it is.

As you might guess, I am in a crisis mode with the departure of Judy Archer who quit a week ago. Every spare minute goes to handling problems caused by her leaving. This is a very bad time to be asking me to make exceptions for you.

Simultaneously, you never bothered to respond to a very serious email I sent you last week. ("samba problems", Tue 11/09/2004 2:23 PM). That was a bad mistake. As a result of your failure to address my concerns in that email, I am now even more deeply worried than before that you only dance to the tune of your own drummer.

Unfortunately I don't have the time to handle our misunderstandings. I still haven't finished my story from the October cruise. I still have 15 pages of Halloween pictures to post. Furthermore this coming week is "Newsletter Week". Once a month I go into hibernation and work my butt off for several days writing a promotional email to advertise the upcoming semester. Furthermore I am having a new computer system installed this week to deal with the problem that we don't have any way to handle payroll due to the way Judy handled her departure. I am up to my neck in problems.

And since I don't have the time to solve our inability to get on the same page, I am afraid the safest solution is to simply shut down your classes for December.

For one thing, I am sick and tired of getting emails from your students and now you demanding they get "Club Dance" on Saturdays. I wrote one woman a nice, patient letter explaining why our contractual obligations with Leisure Learning forced us to offer the class on Mondays for one final month in December. Then I added that I would be offering it on Saturdays next year, but damn if she didn't ignore me completely and sent a second email demanding Saturday Club Dance again. Now here you are pestering me about the same thing! There seems to be a pattern emerging here of not hearing me the first time.

Consequently I have canceled your Monday Club Dance class in December. That solves this problem.

Nor do I think the studio needs an "advanced samba class" in December. This week I received a verbal complaint from another instructor. It seems one Saturday they were trying to conduct a private lesson in another room while the entire time someone with your Samba group was pounding on a drum or maybe the music was too loud. They said it drove them nuts no matter what room they moved to. Now when you add this to the complaint about how you shift the time of your class back and forth on Saturdays, that makes two different instructors who have complained about your samba class.

I do not have a building manager to supervise during the off-hours. Most studios - Barbara King for example - have someone available at all times because they make a living by renting out space. We don't rent out space to any outsiders.

Unfortunately, you operate like an outsider. Since we don't have anyone around to keep an eye on your class, you come and go as you please/do as you please. Don't you think the other instructors have a right to not worry about drums and weekly rotating samba schedules?

The moment my other instructors think I give you preferential treatment, I have an even bigger problem on my hands.

I don't want ONE MORE TEACHER fussing at me about "The Samba Lady". I have too many headaches as it is; therefore I am EXTREMELY reluctant to give you permission to do anything until I trust you more. Therefore I prefer that you not teach at the studio in December.

That said, I have received nothing but high praise for your work. As I have said repeatedly, you are charming, caring, intelligent, and charismatic. You are unbelievably talented. I think you would be very successful if you turned your mind to a career in dance.

I like you very much personally and I respect your immense talent. On the other level, you seem to ignore everything I tell you unless it is something you want to hear. Plus your timing is unfortunate - after all the problems caused by Judy, my patience and tolerance for potential headaches is at an all-time low.

Using a sports metaphor, can you fit your talents into a team framework? That is the question I have. I don't have the energy to deal with the constant complications you bring to my studio much longer. At some point you either have to fit in or go.

As for the future, we both need to decide whether it is worth the effort to start over. You need to decide whether you wish to make the effort to adapt to the framework of this very busy place. I need to decide whether I have the guts to take a chance on you.

After I finish the December Newsletter, we can see if there is a way to pick up the pieces for January. Or maybe you are a little fed up too.

Wherever the dust falls, I hope you will know that I agree beyond a doubt you are definitely someone special.


After some back and forth regarding the above letter, two weeks later on December 1, I decided to give it one more try to get Cheryl back on board for January 2007. Here is the result of my peace-making efforts.

Rick's Words: "If you think you can work within the restraints of a set time format, I am willing to try again in January."

Cheryl's Response: "Rick I'll have to get back to you on this to see what my scheduling constraints will be. I know we have a lot of band stuff coming up. I also just took a job at Ladies Workout Express, who incidentally may contact you as a reference to see if I really was a dance instructor there. Anyway, I don't know what the schedule there is yet. Then, if we stick to the schedule as it is set now, the music problem isn't going to go away- we have drums, even in our CD music. The sound of those drums carries and will continue to disturb other teachers with mellower music. I don't know. We can talk about it and see if we can make something work out. I just don't want it to be major stress for either one of us.

By the way, Rick, you said the following things to me in your emails:

"You are a blessing and a talent. .......and you have oodles of charm."

"Cheryl recently moved here from San Francisco and has more teaching charisma than any other instructor in memory. Currently she is teaching Samba and Club Dancing for us, but she can do it all. Cheryl is intelligent, personable,
and boy can she dance!

Rick, may I use these quotes on my website or would you please be so kind as to send another if you prefer? Thanks!  Also do you mind if I use your name and the Studio name on the quote?"

If you notice some bruises and footprints on my face in the next few days, these marks were left by Cheryl as she used my head and shoulders in her mad scramble to get to the next rung in her career ladder.

Nevertheless, despite all the headaches she caused, I liked her very much personally. Cheryl is warm, funny, and very outgoing. She just didn't fit in or rather made no effort to fit in. She said it best herself with this parting statement:

"I like SSQQ. I think it is a neat place; however, I don't deal well with politics. It seems that I am causing too much consternation amongst your other instructors. I am not used to the tattletaling that is going on. I am a performer first and an instructor second. That seems to be in conflict with the Saturday scheduling. I respect that we have different agendas, so it is probably going to be better if I move the samba class to a different venue, so as to not create any further problems."

One final detail: Among the rules that Cheryl broke, the one that raised my eyebrow the most was her habit of obtaining emails from every person she came into contact with here at SSQQ.

This problem has reared its ugly head here at the studio on several previous occasions. Four years ago a competing dance organization known as HSDS frequently collected emails here on our premises so they could promote their own classes via backdoor email solicitations. As a result I was forced to make a rule prohibiting the practice of collecting large email lists here at the studio.

Two years ago one of our Salsa instructors named Andrew was fired for collecting emails in class. We found a list a student/friend had been making for him. He was also passing out his email address. He did not protest; he knew exactly what he had been doing. He was preparing to quit and take some of our students with him.

Indeed just a couple days after Cheryl quit, she sent out an email to 25 of her Samba students she had met here explaining her resignation and promising to resurface elsewhere. I have little doubt several emails have gone out since with the next location. I would not be surprised if there will be other locations as well. Cheryl has a nomadic gypsy-esque quality to her.

Like I said, SSQQ was just a rung on the ladder to her.

If nothing else, Cheryl's odd story made me realize the high degree of teamwork and professionalism exhibited by all the rest of my Staff. My hat goes off to a great team. Each instructor, Hall Monitor, and Registration person is a blessing to this place.




Donna Ruth worked here at SSQQ for many years during the 1990s. She was a close friend to Judy Archer and Maureen Brunetti. She was also a best friend to Margaret Easley, the lovely wife of my best friend Tom Easley. Margaret and Donna worked together at an elementary school in Sugarland for many years.

----- Original Message -----
From: Margaret Easley
To: Rick Archer
Sent: Friday, November 12, 2004 4:49 PM
Subject: Donna Ruth

"Hi Rick,

Didn't know if you knew about Donna Ruth. I just found out myself since our computer has been out of commission for about two weeks.

Donna died Oct. 29. She had had a heart attack last summer and was on medication, but I went to lunch with her last September and she seemed good.

I am assuming she had another heart attack but don't know for sure. I am really shocked and saddened.

Margaret Easley"

(EDITOR'S NOTE: As I told Tom Easley, Donna Ruth is the first of our generation to pass to the other side. After the death of her husband Paul several years ago, Donna lost a lot of her enthusiasm for hangin' around Earth. She smoked, ate whatever she wanted, and didn't exercise. Donna was in her late 50s when she passed away. A graduate of Lamar High School and the University of Houston, Donna was very intelligent and possessed a kind heart. She loved to Jitterbug - she and Maureen spent many a night over at Studebaker's dancing till they dropped back in the late 80s. Farewell, my friend, and rest in peace.)


(Editor's Note: Longtime readers of the SSQQ will quickly remember the name of Ann Faget. She is co-winner of this year's Logic Puzzle Club, a frequent contributor of jokes and puns, and basically a good friend to me. I was unaware that Ann's father was one of the founding father of NASA. I know Ann would be happy if I shared the story of her highly gifted father with the rest of you.)

From the Houston Chronicle
Date: MON 10/11/04


Maxime "Max " Faget , an intuitive engineer who became the chief architect of NASA's Mercury capsule and a key contributor to the design of three other manned spacecraft, has died. He was 83.

Faget died Saturday at his Clear Lake-area home after a lengthy struggle with bladder cancer.

Faget is best known for engineering the design of the Mercury capsule, which carried Alan Shepard into space.

"There is no one in space flight history in this or any other country who has had a larger impact on man's quest in space exploration," said Christopher Kraft, the former director of the Johnson Space Center. "History will remember him as one of the really great scientists of the 20th century."

The son of a Public Health Service physician, Faget was born Aug. 26, 1921, in Stann Creek, British Honduras, and studied engineering at Louisiana State University.

After serving in the U.S. Navy as a submarine officer, he rose to legendary status in the earliest days of America's space program.

Though slight of build, Faget exhibited a blunt self-confidence in his aeronautic engineering skills that won him membership in the exclusive Space Task Group, the team of 35 engineers selected by the Eisenhower administration in 1958 to kick off America's answer to the Cold War space challenge posed by the former Soviet Union.

The task group migrated from NASA's forerunner, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics based in Langley, Va., to Houston, where they formed the nucleus of the Johnson Space Center.

As a research scientist in the pilotless aircraft research division of NACA, Faget developed an expertise in the flying qualities of the blunt nose cones fitted to America's earliest ballistic missiles.

With the Soviets' successful launching of Sputnik, the world's first satellite, on Oct. 4, 1957, the nation scrambled to respond and most importantly prepare for the launching of astronauts.

According to historians, Faget 's investigations at NACA proved pivotal. While other experts advocated the development of a "lifting body" with small wings, Faget made a convincing argument that the blunt shape of the ballistic missile nose cone could be adapted quickly into a capsule that could launch a pilot into space and return him.

Though the Soviets achieved manned space flight first with the launch of Yuri Gagarin on April 12, 1961, NASA followed within weeks with the flight of Shepard in the Faget -inspired Mercury capsule.

The design relied on the use of a tapered capsule with a protective heat shield fastened to the blunt end. The concept created just enough aerodynamic lift to make the primitive spacecraft maneuverable as it re-entered the Earth's atmosphere. The shielding protected the astronaut from the searing temperatures generated by the high-velocity descent.

Faget 's design was adapted for use in the progressively more capable Gemini and Apollo spacecraft. All three of the single-use spacecraft of his design "splashed down" in the ocean, slowed by parachute.

A two-person orbital capsule, Gemini enabled the space agency to prepare for risky missions to the moon.

With Apollo, America finally leapt ahead of the Soviets, eventually landing six missions on the moon with a dozen explorers.

As the Apollo explorations were drawing to a close, Faget turned his focus to another challenge, the development of the space shuttle, the world's first reusable spacecraft.

He retired from NASA in 1981, after the second shuttle mission.

"Without Max Faget 's innovative designs and thoughtful approach to problem solving, America's space program wold have had trouble getting off the ground," said NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe.

Even in retirement, Faget did not lose interest in his field, though at times he was at odds with his former employer.

In the aftermath of last year's fatal shuttle Columbia accident, Faget grew critical of NASA and a space program that lacked the purpose of the Apollo era.

He joined critics who believe the remaining shuttle orbiters Discovery, Atlantis and Endeavour should be permanently retired.

"It's old and needs to be replaced," Faget said in a 2003 interview with the Chronicle. "Congress should provide enough money for us to build a new shuttle. We should seriously get to work and do that. It's that simple."

He grew interested in the work of Burt Rutan, the maverick California aircraft designer who produced SpaceShipOne, the first privately financed human spacecraft.

Early last week, SpaceShipOne captured the $10 million Ansari X Prize, a purse created to encourage commercial space passenger travel.

At Rutan's invitation, an enthusiastic Faget attended the official unveiling of SpaceShipOne in April 2003 in Mojave, Calif.

"There was a mutual admiration and respect for each other. He was thrilled at Burt's innovative design and very excited that Rutan was going to make it into space," said Nanette Cerna, a daughter of Faget who works as a shuttle engineer at the Johnson Space Center. "He was cheering him on."

Faget 's survivors include daughters Ann Faget of Houston and Carol Faget of Austin, and a son, Guy Faget of Baton Rouge, La.

His wife, Nancy, died in 1994.




I am sad to say four valuable SSQQ instructors are leaving us over the Holidays.

AMANDA KAISER has recently started Law School. She hung on to her one night of teaching as long as she could, then threw in the towel. Amanda is brilliant, but apparently she feels she needs every last brain cell and every extra moment to cope with the difficult curriculum. I wish this talented woman every success in her quest!

MICHELLE YEITER has been a Salsa Assistant on Thursdays for a couple years. She is engaged to Scott Keyes and needs to take some time off to prepare for the event, which is coming up soon next year.

CAROL MADRID wrote a goodbye which she asked me to share with you:


As you know, my last night to teach is rapidly approaching. Before I leave, I want to thank you for the time that you have allowed me to work at SSQQ. It has been a very rewarding experience.
I also want to let you know how much I appreciate the teachers, assistants and volunteers who have helped me. Although several people have volunteered in my class, I want to make sure that you are aware of a few standouts.
Gina Garza has been helping me this year while learning the leads. She has been a tremendous volunteer and the other instructors should be thrilled that she will available on Friday nights after this month.
Tom Huddleston has been helping me since Leo was promoted. He has been able to communicate the finer details of the leads whenever needed, while helping to keep the mood light. I like to tell him that he is a much better man than I could ever hope to be.
Arthur Madrid (yes, he's my husband, I'm prejudiced here) has been wonderful. Although he never learned to follow well, he has been indispensable. I'm sure that the students will miss his home baked cookies.
Aisha Curry and Janice Quackenbush have been on break from my class for the past few months, but they have both provided their wonderful skills when needed.
Both Dianes (Murrell and DeHart) and Susan and David Schroeder have also helped numerous times when I was in desperate need of either men or women.
Leo Skiba was a wonderful assistant and fully deserved his promotion to instructor.
There are others who helped occasionally, but the list would be too long to include here. I thank them all.
I have not even mentioned you, Ben and the others from whom I learned to teach. I learned so much from each of you. All of the jokes I tell in class are stolen from other instructors.
I cannot say enough about MG Anseman, who I assisted for almost two years. He will always hold a special place in my heart.
I want to make sure that these people get the recognition that they deserve and I will miss seeing them each week.
I wish Susan Waring the best of luck as she moves into my teaching position.
Thanks again, Carol Madrid"

(EDITOR'S NOTE: Carol and Arthur will always be special to me because they spent the infamous Allison Flood Night with me here at the studio. These kind and generous people will be missed.)

DARIUS JOHNSON is leaving because he has a new job waiting for him in Los Angeles.

-----Original Message-----
From: Darius Johnson
Sent: Monday, December 06, 2004 10:22 AM
To: dance@ssqq.com
Subject: Darius Johnson resignation


I know that this is a very inopportune time for you to be losing staff. I'm very sorry to inform you that I will not be able to continue at SSQQ after the December classes. I have accepted a new job in California and will be moving over Christmas.

I understand that this is a crucial time for the salsa program being restructured. I have not been included in the planning thus far, but I want you to know that I'm willing to help out in any way that I can before I have to leave.

SSQQ will be one of my fondest memories of Houston. I have enjoyed learning and teaching there equally. I want to thank you for the opportunities you've given me and for the trust you've placed in me. Again, please let me know if there is anything that I can do to help out with the salsa program or facilitate its continuance in my absence.

Darius Johnson


The Story of Mara’s Christmas Party

Recently Mara Rivas created a delightful Christmas Party for many of the Usual Suspects, their better-behaved friends plus several friends of her “Martian Whip” buddies over the Holidays.

Mara cooked everything – and everything was consumed quickly. It was a sumptuous feast without a question.  Susan Arevalo contributed some wicked Margaritas that were enthusiastically consumed as well.

Mara is such a lovely hostess. I soon discovered she makes her living as the Manager of a large apartment project.  I was stunned to find she actually invited some friends from the apartments to mingle with the ssqq crowd.  Based on my experience with living in apartments, I could not fathom the thought of a kind, friendly apartment manager.  Recalling past adversarial relationships with Building Managers who dragged their feet on repairing my air conditioners, etc, my imagination had always placed whips and prods in their hands to beat off savage renters like a lion tamer would his beasts in the cage.

Indeed the warmth I saw exchanged between Mara the Manager and her friendly tenants was nothing short of Christmas miracle in my opinion. The thought of treating my own students this humanely was almost unfathomable.

Lots of people were at Mara’s Party. In fact the place was so crowded there was no room for more guests. Several people were turned away at the door. Tough. ‘Next year, get here on time’ is what I told them as I slammed the door.

Mara kept looking nervously at the door. I asked her what was the matter. She replied, “Gosh, I invited a bunch of people who said they were coming. I wonder where they got to?” 

I smiled and said, “Don’t worry! This just means there’s plenty of food for the rest of us” as I picked up a scrumptious Deviled Egg and plucked it in my mouth. I love Deviled Eggs for some reason.

I would name all the people who came except the “aftermath” of Susan’s Margaritas kicked in and erased almost all my memory the next day.


I do remember a few people though.  My buddy George Sargent was there, basking in the adulation that comes from being named “SSQQ’s Man of the Year” for all his bad behavior. You have to love a school that actually rewards its naughtiest participants.  Upon learning of his major award, George became maudlin and started to weep a little. “You know, Rick, I never thought all those hours I spent in detention when I was growing up would ever pay off!  This is such a happy moment for me!”

I was feeling kind of happy too. No one had actually invited me to a party in several years. I was feeling pretty good about myself until Marla said it was only her that had been invited and that she had to beg Mara to get me included. I didn’t need to know that.

Then I saw a montage on the wall that included pictures of Mara and her friends from the 3 ssqq cruises she has been on.  I was struck by all the different people in the pictures and by her warm smile. She must have had a great time on these trips! Then I noticed Marla was in one of the pictures with Mara, but that I wasn’t in any of the pictures. I asked Mara what the purpose of that picture collection was. She smiled sweetly with obvious pride. “Oh that?  Those are pictures of all my wonderful friends from the studio.”

Somehow in the back of my brain I felt an inkling there was a hidden message in Mara’s words, but I haven’t had time to figure it out yet. 

Mara asked me if I had brought my Christmas Carol Puzzle. I smiled and said ‘of course!’   The idea of the game is to match 56 Christmas Carols presented in coded picture form with their correct titles.  Believe it or not, this game has become a national hit at Christmas Parties. This year alone I received over 300 inquiries from people asking for the answer sheet so they could use the game at their own party. (http://ssqq.com/archive/christmaspuzzlemore.htm )

With Mara’s encouragement I took charge and picked two Captains – Mara and Phyllis Porter, the notorious Center of Attention. For her team Mara picked people who were smiling while her counterpart Phyllis picked people who looked serious about winning.

Since I had created the game myself and knew all the answers, I thought it would be unsporting to play for either team. Instead I assumed the role of referee. With nothing else to do for a while, I adopted the stance of a bemused spectator. The first thing I noticed was that Mara took her team in the bedroom and closed the door. Soon I could hear the sounds of laughter and gaiety. 

The glee from Mara’s room stood in stark contrast to the determined look of the team in the living room.  That is when I noticed that Center’s team meant business!  They quickly divided into two groups, one to solve Page 1 and the other to solve Page 2. There was no laughter, banter, or frolic.  Instead they were pure logic in action. They decided to attack the puzzle in two ways. First they went over the puzzle one picture at a time to let everyone take a guess at its title. When they finished this approach, Marla began to read the list of clues out loud while everyone studied the unanswered pictures to look for a match.

As Center’s team knuckled down in the living room, peels of laughter from the bedroom snuck through the walls like an open taunt. One person muttered, “I wish they would shut up. It’s really hard to concentrate with all that stupid laughter distracting me!”

This comment made me recall that my freshman dorm in college had divided along similar lines. There were those of us who studied in their rooms at night and preferred total silence. Then there were those who partied every night with non-stop Bridge matches accompanied by raucous laughter and the music of the Beatles and Led Zeppelin. Akin to the fable of the Grasshopper and the Ants, their laughter was a knife in the hearts of the hard workers who were afraid to let down their guard and enjoy life a little.

7 minutes before the end of the twenty-minute time limit I was snapped out of my reflections when a member of Mara’s team opened the door to announce they were finished and feeling kind of bored.  I ordered the miscreant to go back to his room.  As I discovered later, this move was a total bluff.  Even worse, the ploy backfired.  Center’s team redoubled their efforts and began to concentrate even harder.  I was amazed this was even possible considering they were already approaching the game as if their lives depended on it! 

Phyllis had clearly identified every nerd in the room and cornered the market on genius while all the bon vivants had landed on Mara’s team. It was Freshman Year all over again!  Where was the Beatles music or “Stairway to Heaven”?

Once time was up I collected the answer sheets from both teams. I put them on my lap and had each Captain sit on either side of me as we tallied the results. I was baffled when we got to the end – Mara’s team had not even answered the final four questions of 56 while Center’s team answered all four.  After all, didn’t they announce they were already done?  I never did figure out who was behind the bluff nor did I understand what they were trying to accomplish, but those four points changed a close game into a rout. 

Sure enough given the strongly diverse work ethic, it was no surprise for me to find that Center’s team won by a landslide. It was annihilation, a sort of Christmas Revenge of the Nerds.

Then Center of Attention made a strange announcement that struck me as being almost as absurd as the “We’re finished” remark (in retrospect maybe they meant they were “finished” not as “job completed”, but rather as in “doomed”). 

Phyllis told all of us how amazing it was that her team, which was half-Jewish, had beaten a team of Christians at a Christmas Carol Puzzle. In her mind this was like the Celtics winning on the Lakers home court in basketball.  Upon hearing this nonsense I raised an eyebrow. Not that I cared one bit, but it was such a dumb thing to say I had to protest just to be a pain in the butt (which as my wife will agree comes naturally).

I pointed out that Susan Arevalo, one of the few token Christians on her team, had single-handedly answered over half the clues. Center of Attention harrumphed that this was a small technicality.

Outwardly I argued that Center was full of beans, but inside I grinned at the thought at how wonderful it was that we could have an argument about something as ridiculous as this and no one would even get remotely offended. This is when I realized what a pretty neat group of people Mara had assembled for her party. 


Then the lovely Nancy Schweinle knocked on the door.  Since it was Nancy, who I think is very special, and not some bozo looking for free food, but mostly because everyone was watching me, I decided not to turn her away like I had the dozen people before.  Like the Magi, Nancy had arrived bearing gifts. She brought a Movie Trivia Game that was played using the TV.

Always ready for competition, Center of Attention immediately popped the DVD into the disk player and a new game began. Something of a competition-enthusiast myself, I was ready to come off the Ineligible List.  Feeling sorry for Mara’s team which by the way had barely even noticed their defeat, I decided to throw my lot with the Underdogs. 

To my shock, I discovered there were two Nerds on Mara’s that Phyllis had overlooked – Leslie Grapevine and Stephani Callihan. Previously in hiding among all the Happy Mara People, these two ladies found the courage to show their true Nerd colors once they realized that I was an Uber-Nerd who had come to their rescue.  While all the other Mara Party Animals hung out near the kitchen continuing to laugh and play, Grapevine, Stephani, and I concentrated as hard as we could on each clue.

But as hard as we tried, we couldn’t win!   With Phyllis aggravating the dandruff out of us by arguing her teammate had clearly answered each clue far ahead of us, half the time when we got the right answer it was thrown out as a “Tie”.  Plus we quickly discovered they had several people who were pretty good at this. Judy Walsh was especially good and Don Schmidt, Very Unique, Mack the Knife, Amy the Blonde Bombshell, Center of Attention, Marla, and some quiet girl in the background kept hammering away at us. It was 8 against 3!  Plus that quiet girl was good.  Each time we came close, she would guess the answer to some obscure clue that left the rest of us scratching our heads.  “How did she get that one?”  We just couldn’t get over the top.  We lost the first game 10-5. Then we lost the second game 7-3. 

During our early losses I noticed several things. I realized that I was stupid. It didn’t help that Susan Arevalo’s dynamite Margaritas had rotted my mind.  I was in that horrible place where I realized I KNEW I KNEW the answer; I just didn’t KNOW what the answer was.  Does this make any sense?   I bet all the Boomers know what I am talking about.  We all have just enough smarts left to realize how far we have slipped, but not enough smarts to have the answers quickly roll off our tongues.  Instead we stutter and bluster hoping the words will come, but they never do. Darn it!

This is a horrible state to be in. You see an actor in a movie, you recognize the actor, you know you know the name, but for some reason it gets stuck on the edge of your mind and refuses to pop in. What a maddening feeling!   Or you manage to remember the answer only to find a sober person can say it faster. I was so frustrated!! 

Fortunately we finally caught a break.  It really helped that all the Fun Lovers who were congregating around Mara across the room had distracted Phyllis. Plus she was tired of me needling her each time she messed up using the DVD remote control.

In a pique, the Center of Attention handed the Remote to me. “If you’re so smart, then you do it!”  This symbolic transfer of the Control seemed to augur a change in our fortunes. The Force is with us!   Three positive things immediately happened in favor of our team. First, Center’s concentration wavered as she watched the Mara Merriment Group.  Phyllis had been an uncanny lawyer defending the rights of her team, but now we began to win some of the arguments on the close calls.  Another development was that I was allowed to keep score. This enabled us to keep things “close” if you know what I mean.  Third I willed myself to get my brain back.  It was an effort, believe me.  Finally by the third game I had sobered up enough to actually contribute.  We won a breakthrough victory. I am happy to say I got the winning point on the movie “Dr. Strangelove”.  The three of us were so proud of ourselves! 

Alas, our joy was just temporary.

I’m not sure exactly what happened, but in the fourth game that Quiet Girl in the Background suddenly became King Kong of the Movie Trivia Game. 

Yes, Stephanie Barrow had been holding back on us. Who knows?  Perhaps she had been keeping her game in check to allow her other teammates to play.

once she lost a game, Stephanie turned into a veritable Movie Trivia Michael Jordan.  Stephanie began to Wheel and Deal.  In rat-a-tat succession she got Whoopi Goldberg, Michael Myers, and Johnny Depp.  Boom boom boom.  Stepho was racking up the points! 

In truth Stephanie began to single-handedly kick our ass while her teammates watched in awe. I apologize for the use of such foul language, but this phrase is only one that TRULY describes the kind of punishment Stephanie began to dish out for the rest of the night

Grapevine, our own Stephani, and I began to look at each other in consternation. I remember actually becoming intimidated at this point by her brilliance.

This girl was Wonder Woman!  Finally the truth began to emerge – Ms. S. Barrow had been a Film Major in college. She was a Man playing with Boys. She was Hercules against our pathetic three-headed Monster. 

I tried to insist she drink a Margarita, but even this didn’t help. Stephanie had only one weakness – any movie from the 60s or earlier was a problem for her. It turned out we had the advantage known as “Being Alive” while she was sitting around on some cloud waiting to be born.  Yes, we had a few positive Boomer moments. We got “Marlon Brando” and knew some of the faces of older actors like Leonard Nimoy and Martin Landau, but unfortunately the majority of the questions dealt with contemporary movies, not our beloved “Black and White” movies. When it came to color, she was Red and we were Blue.

Stephanie had one especially uncanny ability. The clues were presented in many different ways.  My favorite was the “Wheel of Fortune” where they spell out the title one letter at a time.

But there was one style I hated.  This clue style began with millions of pixels swirling around on the screen slowly forming an image like a ghost slowing transmogrifying.  (No, I don’t what it means either, but I thought it sounded good.) 

While I would stare at the blurry confusion of distorted images and see nothing, Stephanie would casually identify the picture well before any other person in the room had even the slightest clue.  I have no idea what her secret powers were, but it sent chills up my body.  I wondered if she was a witch!

The transcendent moment came on a key clue. There were the pixels floating everywhere. Nothing of us could see a thing. Out of nowhere Stephanie casually whispered, “Rocky Horror Picture Show”.  It was a full five more seconds before the Image on the screen gelled enough so the rest of us could see the Giant Red Lips of Dr. Frankenfurter.  We were Amazed!

The rest of us challenged Stephanie. Even her own teammates were flustered. “How did you know the answer so far ahead of the rest of us?” Marla asked.  Stephanie just smiled. She was clearly enjoying her moment in the spotlight. Little did she know others were plotting to murder her.

Don’t tell Stephanie, but I was one of the conspirators. I was secretly looking around the room to see if Mara had a fireplace in case we needed to burn the witch. That was starting to look like our only chance of ever winning another game.

Stephanie accepted our disbelief with great poise. She simply stood up, turned her back and pulled up her shirt slightly. This got the attention of everyone, even Mara’s Admirers.  There in the small of her back was a tattoo of the exact same image we had just seen on the TV.  “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” was simply her favorite movie in the whole wide world.

Stepho may have been a Freak, but I begrudgingly decided someone this precious didn’t deserve to be burned at the stake. Instead I got down on my knees and bowed to her. I had met an Intelligence far superior to mine.  I was not worthy.

While Stephanie kept us spellbound with her Movie Magic, mysteriously George Sargent behaved all night. Considering he is the Greatest Mischief Maker of all time, he didn’t get anyone drunk, he didn’t wear any women’s clothing, and he didn’t say anything outrageous. And rather than take a lead in all the conversation like he usually does, George seemed content to take a back seat. He even washed dishes!  What has happened to our Dorothy?  Where has his thirst for the Limelight disappeared to?  Has our Legendary Mr. Handsome grown weary of being so darn popular?  Or could it be that he is love and under orders to clean up his act?   I asked a couple questions, but George was on guard.  No secrets would be revealed tonight. Hmm.  I have my suspicions, but will exercise rare restraint and save my comments until I actually have a shred of evidence. Nah. To heck with restraint!!  I think George is trying to fly under the radar. 


And what about Mara Rivas, our beautiful and gracious hostess? 

Observers of the SSQQ Social Scene will report that Mara unfailingly goes out of her way to organize one event after another for her friends at the studio such as this evening’s activities. Indeed the moment Mara learned of Marla’s wedding plans, she insisted on organizing a Bachelorette Party for Marla. Another example of her formidable social skills was the fun trip over to the Riverwalk in San Antonio that Mara recently organized. Throughout the year Mara has made it her duty to promote dance activities on nights when the studio was closed or not busy.  Do you see where I am taking this?

Yes, Mara has shown me that you don’t have to misbehave to be popular. You can be a leader without being talkative and you can be warm without being flashy. Mara is a modest, gracious lady with a big heart and oodles of social charm.

Mara Rivas is the 2004 SSQQ Woman of the Year.  She deserves it!  Be sure to give the girl a big hug when you see her! 

And now
it's time to wrap things up.  I would like to say “Thank you” to each and every one of you for making 2004 a very special year here at the studio. I have a hunch that 2005 will be even better!   Speaking of 2005, Let’s Get it started the right way. I look forward to seeing all of you Troublemakers at our upcoming New Year’s Party! 

Watch out. In 2005, The Empire Strikes Back.

Rick Archer







-----Original Message-----
From: Pam Cornell
Sent: Thursday, February 19, 2004 9:35 AM
To: dance@ssqq.com
Subject: Hot and Cold

Dear Rick,

I attended the crash course on Slow Dancing with Jill on Valentine's weekend.

I'd like to know if your instructors could at least turn on the fan to move some air. We were in Room 1. Of course we didn't work up a sweat, but Jill was in a jacket so she was obviously cold. However, with that many bodies, it got very warm and humid. For the entire 2 hours, there was no air moving.

I've had this happen in room 6 when the Hall Monitor is cold as well. Doesn't she remember that we're moving around, working up a sweat, especially in polka? I can't really peel down to bra and underpants to get cool, though I am wearing a short sleeve shirt and shoes, not boots, to try to dress cooler.

I know electricity is expensive, but I think that your pupils deserve some consideration from the staff. Please ask your staff to take into consideration the fact that we are moving around a lot more than some of them.

Thanks for your attention. Pam Cornell"


Throughout the history of this studio there have been many nasty problems with the air-conditioners caused by people who fool with the thermostats without permission. I realize that the majority of the culprits are students who could care less. If anyone ever sees anyone besides the Staff even "looking" at a thermostat, go tell a Staff member!

Last Tuesday December 7th Linda Cook reported to me that someone had pushed the temperature control in the DJ Booth to the very bottom. This is the same setting that nearly ruined our dance floor three years ago. What happens is the AC continues to run at this cold temperature and soon freezes up. When it starts to thaw, it melts all over the Room 1 floor. If the melting occurs when no one is around like it did three years ago, we could be in serious trouble with water damage to the floor.

Believe it or not, the system was ON when Linda found the control was set to the dangerous level.

Fortunately she turned the AC system was turned off before the freezing could occur. We barely averted the SSQQ equivalent of the "China Syndrome".

We coined this term four years ago when we made a gruesome discovery. One day in 2000 just after we first put the Room One Air-Conditioner into the studio, we arrived at the studio to find the beautiful wood floor in Room One badly damaged by a constant water drip from the ceiling.

Someone had turned the thermometer down to the very lowest setting. The AC Unit stayed on all night until it had frozen up into a huge ball of ice without anyone knowing what had happened. Then when the ice began to thaw the next day, it filled up the drip pan underneath it to the max then began to drip drip drip all day long onto our dance floor.

It took a lot of sanding to repair the job.  Even today four years later you can see signs of the damage if you ask me where it happened.

There is no reason for any student or staff to fool with the air conditioners. You should simply ask a supervisor - Susan Schroeder, Linda Cook, or Rick Archer - to come take a look at a suspicious AC Unit. By trying to handle the problem on your own, you take a great chance of causing a problem or even preventing us from discovering when we have a problem. For example, the air conditioner in Room 4 did not work recently for two entire months. I don't teach in there and was unaware that it wasn't working. When I finally did discover the problem, we had it fixed immediately.

Over the course of this year I have found many of our AC units were set to dangerous temperature settings (generally anything in the 50s is dangerous). You have to help me protect these systems!!! If they freeze up we are in a lot of trouble.

Here is a lengthy letter I wrote to a student earlier this year in response to a serious complaint about the SSQQ temperature. It should explain some of the mysteries of our AC units.

"Pam, what you are asking for is certainly reasonable, but not as easy to accomplish as you might imagine.

First of all, at some point or another everyone complains about the temperature. We take it for granted that at any given time at least half the studio is uncomfortable due to a series of factors.

The majority of people complain that the studio is too cold. Then after they dance, many of these same people say it is too hot. You might notice the abundance of jackets and sweaters that come off and on/off and on throughout the evening. An inside joke is that ssqq is the only place most Houstonians get to wear their winter sweaters on a consistent basis.

The next problem is that we have one main air conditioner, one huge subunit in Room One and four local units. These six units are not synchronized with one another.

Students think it is their right to turn the thermostat temperature of all these systems around at will, sometimes actually damaging our systems in the process. In a short-sighted attempt to discourage the sneaky fingers, I put most of the thermostats high up on the wall. The only result is that most of our female instructors are unable to reach them. Now wasn't that smart? Instead, men - the least careful creatures on earth - pound away at the AC settings at will.

No one seems to understand that if you push the setting to the maximum, you take a huge chance of freezing up the system. For example, if the thermometer in Room 4 says it is 72 degrees in there and the automatic turn-on setting is 70, the AC will automatically come on. But I am convinced that tall men don't have a lot of brains because I frequently see the automatic turn-on number set in the 50s! This is what damages the system. To my dismay I see this happen several times a week, especially in the summer when people need AC more.

The biggest problem of all is involves the main thermostat which controls the temperature of the most important AC system in the building. This thermostat is located in Room 3 where the least heat is generated by the students. We put our smallest classes in there, but frequently they don't get the room hot enough to make the system come on even when it is set to 60 degrees in the winter. Simultaneously the room next to Room 3 - Room 2- becomes a sauna because it relies completely on the large system to cool it. So it is common for the temperature on either side of the door to be about 15 degrees different at certain points of the evening.

We put our largest classes in Room 1 and these people generate the most heat. While all this heat is sitting down in Room 1, very little of it gets to the thermostat in Room 3 when the doors to Room 2 are closed. The doors to Room 2 are closed because the people in Room 1 and Room 3 don't like the noise that accompanies open doors.

This leads to a situation I like to call "the tail wagging the dog". The heat situation in the least important room dictates the AC settings for the entire studio. As a result, sometimes I am forced to freeze students in Room 3 in order to accommodate students in the rest of the building.

Room 1 has its own air conditioner. But the thermostat is set so high the female instructors have trouble reaching it.
Furthermore if some makes a mistake and sets the temperature too low, it can result in freezing up the system. This has happened a half dozen times and has led to water damage on our floors. Therefore most of the instructors are paranoid about the AC systems because they know there is danger, but they aren't quite sure how to avoid it.

Most of our instructors work at the studio one night a week. They change rooms monthly as their classes change in size. To expect each and every one of them to be an expert on the SSQQ AC system is asking too much.

We have enough air-conditioning to freeze meat if that is the goal. We also take the chance of doing serious and costly damage to our units if we set the systems too low, a problem that has occurred too many times as far as I am concerned.

The person who understands the problems of the AC system the best is me and I am not at the studio seven nights a week. Nor am I in all six rooms at once when I am here. That said, based on your email I probably should get my two supervisors and run them through the problems and the solutions so they have a better idea what to do in case I am gone.

Then if you have a problem, you can either tell your instructor directly or you can go to me or to Susan and Linda and tell them your concern. Sincerely, Rick Archer"

(Editor's Note: On Wednesday, December 15th, 2004 - just one day after I put this note on my web site - I walked into Room 3 to check the main thermostat because my students complained they were freezing. The outside temperature was in the 40s. I discovered someone had turned the AC Unit for the studio down to 55 degrees behind my back - probably a student who was hot from dancing the night before.

I wish all of you would leave the AC Units alone and simply go get Susan, Linda, or Rick to adjust it for you. Thanks!)













Over the years, we have been sent countless numbers of jokes by our Newsletter Readers.  We have kept what we thought were the best.  At this point we have now have a Hall of Fame collection of over 600 jokes.  Many of them are real gems. We rotate these jokes on a monthly basis so over the year you get to read them all.

In addition to our "Classics", we also get many new jokes each month sent in by our students.  This section contains our favorites.  At the end of each year we add these jokes to the "Immortal Collection".

By the way, getting a joke selected isn't very easy since we have been collecting jokes for so long. It's tough to find a new one.  So if you send in a great joke and nothing ever happens, trust us - it is already on the Web Site.  If you don't believe us, email and ask about your joke!!  I am serious. I will show you where the joke is.

We greatly appreciate any jokes you would like to submit. Send them to Rick Archer at dance@ssqq.com


Jokes January 2005

The Fairy and the Three Wishes - Judy Walsh

A married couple in their early 60s was out celebrating their 35th wedding anniversary in a quiet, romantic little restaurant. Suddenly, a tiny, yet beautiful fairy appeared on their table and said, "For being such an exemplary married couple and for being faithful to each other for all this time, I will grant you each a wish."

"Ooh, I want to travel around the world with my darling husband" said the wife. The fairy moved her magic stick and - abracadabra -- two tickets for a new luxury liner appeared in her hands. Now it was the husband's turn. He thought for a moment and said: "Well this is all very romantic, but an opportunity like this only occurs once in a lifetime, so, I'm sorry my love, but my wish is to have a wife 30 years younger than I".

Well the wife, and the fairy, were deeply disappointed, but a wish is a wish... So the fairy made a circle with her magic stick and abracadabra, the husband became 92 years old.

The moral of this story... Men might be ungrateful idiots.... But fairies are female!

Why Drinking Beer Improves the Mind - Chris Holmes

One snowy night in Boston down at "Cheers", Cliff Clavin explained the "Buffalo Theory" to his buddy, Norm.

"Well ya see, Norm, it's like this. A herd of buffalo can only move as fast as the slowest buffalo. And when the herd is hunted, it is the slowest and weakest ones at the back that are killed first. This natural selection is good for the herd as a whole, because the general speed and health of the whole group keeps improving by the regular killing of the weakest members.

In much the same way, the human brain can only operate as fast as the slowest brain cells. Excessive intake of alcohol, as we know, kills brain cells. But naturally, it attacks the slowest and weakest brain cells first. In this way, regular consumption of beer eliminates the weaker brain cells, making the brain a faster and more efficient machine!! That's why you always feel smarter after a few beers...."

This Blonde is a Pane! - Paul Eustace

Dear Diary,

Last year I replaced all the windows in my house with those expensive double-pane energy efficient kind....

But this week I got a call from the contractor complaining that his work had been completed a whole year ago and I had yet to pay for them....

Boy oh boy, did we go around!! Just because I'm blonde doesn't mean that I am automatically stupid...

So, I proceeded to tell him just what his fast talking sales guy had told me last year...that in one year the windows would pay for themselves....

There was silence on the other end of the line, so I just hung up and I have not heard back...

How to Keep Track of Illegal Aliens - Judith Williams

This Mad Cow Disease Scare really woke me up. Is it just me or does anyone else find it absolutely amazing that the U.S. government can track a cow born in Canada almost three years ago, right to the stall where she sleeps in the state of Washington, and determine exactly what that cow ate. They can also track her calves right to their stalls, and tell you what kind of feed they ate.

But they are unable to locate 11 million illegal aliens wandering around in their country, including people that are trying to blow up important structures in the U.S!

My solution is simple: Give every illegal alien a cow as soon as they enter the country.

Italian Bread - Leroy Ginzel

Two old guys, one 80 and one 87, were sitting on their usual park bench one morning.

The 87 year old had just finished his morning jog and wasn't even short of breath.

The 80 year old was amazed at his friend's stamina and asked him what he did to have so much energy.

The 87 year old said; "Well, I eat Italian bread every day. It keeps your energy level high and you'll have great stamina with the ladies."

So, on the way home, the 80 year old stops at the bakery.

As he was looking around, the lady asked if he needed any help.

He said, "Do you have any Italian bread?"

She said, "Yes, there's a whole shelf of it. Would you like some?"

He said, "I want 5 loaves."

She said, "My goodness, 5 loaves...don't you think by the time you get to the 5th loaf it'll be hard?"

He replied, "Holy S#%*...! Everybody in the world knows about this Italian bread thing but ME....?!

The Two Bees - Ann Faget

Two bees met in a field. One said to the other, "How are things going?"

"Really bad," said the second bee. "The weather has been cold, wet, and cloudy, and there aren't any flowers, so I can't collect pollen."

"No problem," wiggled the first bee. "Just fly down five blocks and turn left. Keep going until you see all the cars. There's a Bar Mitzvah going on and there are all kinds of fresh flowers and fresh fruit."

"Thanks for the tip," said the second bee, and flew away.

A few hours later the two bees ran into each other again. The first bee asked, "How'd it go?"

"Great!" said the second bee. "It was everything you said it would be. There was plenty of fruit and, oh, such huge floral arrangements on every table."

"Uh, what's that thing on your head?" asked the first bee.

"That's my yarmulke," said the second bee. "I didn't want them to think I was a wasp."

The Nun - Crista Reuss

A nun who works for a local home health care agency was out making her rounds when she ran out of gas. As luck would have it there was a station just down the street. She walked to the station to borrow a can with enough gas to start the car and drive to the station for a fill up.

The attendant regretfully told her that the only can he owned had just been loaned out, but if she would care to wait he was sure it would be back shortly.

Since the nun was on the way to see a patient she decided not to wait and walked back to her car. After looking through her car for something to carry to the station to fill with gas, she spotted a bedpan she was taking to the patient. Always resourceful, she carried it to the station, filled it with gasoline, and carried it back to her car.

As she was pouring the gas into the tank of her car two men walked by. One of them turned to the other and said: "If that car starts, I'll be a churchgoer the rest of my life."

Don't Piss Off a Texas Woman - Leroy Ginzel

A West Texas Cowboy's wife forgot her cookies she had baked for work, so she came home just in time to find her husband in bed with another woman. Before he could see her coming, she picked up his boot and smashed it into his head knocking him out.

With the screams of the other woman making a deafening roar, the wife took one look at her and said, "Shut Up. Get Out. Or Die."

Now that they were alone, with super-human strength borne of fury and a lifetime of cutting calves, the wife dragged her unfaithful husband down the stairs, out the back door and into the tool shed out back of the barn. She put his tally-whacker in a vice, and then secured it tightly and removed the handle.

The pain of the vice brought the husband out of his stupor. The moment he figured out what had happened, his eyes bulged.
The banged up Cowboy was terrified!

Noticing her husband had awakened, the Texas She Devil spotted an old carpenter's saw.

The husband saw the look in her eye and blanched. He hollered, "Stop! Stop! You're not gonna cut it off with that rusty damn saw, are you?"

"Hell, no. I could get in trouble for that." The wife, with a gleam of revenge in her eye she kicked it over to her husband and said, "Nope. I'm gonna have me a cigarette and maybe forget to put it out and maybe flick it over into that sawdust. Then I'm going into town for a cold beer. You can do whatever you want!!!"

Feeding the World - Ann Faget

Last month, the United Nations sponsored a worldwide survey. The question was: "Could you please give your honest opinion about possible solutions to the food shortage in the rest of the world?"

The survey was a total failure.

· In Africa, nobody knew what "food" meant.
· In Eastern Europe, nobody understood what "honest" meant.
· In Western Europe, nobody knew what "shortage" meant.
· In China, nobody knew what "solution" meant.
· In the US, nobody knew what "the rest of the world " meant.



his award goes to an SSQQ Staff member who does something beyond the call of duty.  In any given month, there are always at least 100 quiet acts of simple kindness performed by someone who works at SSQQ for which the person gets no credit, but our organization benefits from the gratitude.  The problem for me is that these many moments usually occur way under my radar. So if you have an instructor to nominate, please let me know and why!!   dance@ssqq.com

On the other hand, sometimes the move is dramatic enough to catch my eye so I can say something about it.



Many people have commented on how nice the studio has begun to look since Susan and David Schroeder took over Studio Maintenance.  The difference has been quite noticeable. 

As usual, I get the compliments – thank you all so much for giving me so much credit! – but let’s give the credit where it is due. 

Susan and David have done a phenomenal job of getting the vents cleaned, toilets fixed, odors removed, the office fixed up, the TV set dust removed, the Room 4 AC fixed, and many other small but significant improvements as well. 

Susan has taken it upon herself to directly supervise my cleaning crews and tell them EXACTLY what needs to done. This alone has made a huge difference.

Soon Susan and David will even get an electrician to attack the light fixtures and try to get this place brighter again!

And the best is yet to come - say a small prayer - over the Christmas Break Susan and David will be heading up a crew that will be refinishing our floors.

We will see the results at the New Year's Party. Wish them luck!




2005 December – we skipped it!)


  1. Mark Baird                    (First Time Winner!)

  2. Paul Foltyn                    (Second Time Winner, back after skipping October)
  3. Karen Babb                   (Four Months in a row; a Rising Star!
  4. Ritesh Laud                   (Nine Victories in a Row!)
  5. Holly Soehnge               (Second Victory in a Row)
  6. Wendy Wilkinson           (Second Time Winner, back after skipping October)
  7. Ann Faget                     (Sixteen Months in a Row, 2004 Co-Champ with Jeff and Connie)
  8. Susan Arevalo               (Fifteen Months in a Row, completed a perfect 2004!)
  9. Connie & Jeff Woodman (Sixteen Months in a Row including a perfect 2004 showing)

It would have been nice to have had a December Logic Puzzle, but my problems at the studio after Judy quit prevented me from putting out a December Newsletter. Oh well.

I would like to congratulate Jeff and Connie Woodman, Ann Faget, and Susan Arevalo for their perfect 10 for 10 this year. They solved every one of the SSQQ Logic Puzzles.  Close behind was Ritesh Laud who started in February and got 9 puzzles in a row.

We also a new generation of talent. For the new year, Karen Babb, Steve Upchurch, Holly Soehnge, Wendy Wilkinson, and Paul Foltyn appear to up to the challenge of matching this year's Perfect Scores. Will any of these names still be in the game at the end of 2005?  Are they a match for this year's winners?  Stay tuned!

We can always use some new players in the SSQQ Logic Club. Check out this month's new puzzle and send me an answer!!  You can be a Contender!!   And as an added bonus you never know whom you might end up living with!  




Anyone who has ever played Chess knows the Knight is by far the trickiest piece on the board. The Knight may not be the most powerful piece, but it is one of the deadliest. Due to the baffling complexity of the Knight's unusual movements, it is often very difficult to predict exactly what this sneaky piece is up to next!! The Knight is sometimes known as the Assassin for its unique ability to sneak up on you!

In this month's puzzle, the Knight starts on Square 1 of a special 36 square playing board.  

Your job is to track the 37 consecutive moves that takes the Knight from A1 all the way around the board and back to A1 on the 37th move. Don't forget the Knight cannot move to the same space twice!!

As you will see in the diagram, some of the Knight's moves have been revealed. Can you logically determine the missing numbers for the other squares and can up with the order of all 37 moves?



Joke Picture


Remember when our parents used to get mad at us about our long hair??



(There is no such thing as a good pun...)

Contributed by Ann Faget

When Beethoven passed away, he was buried in a churchyard. A couple days later, the town drunk was walking through the cemetery and heard some strange noise coming from the area where Beethoven was buried. Terrified, the drunk ran and got the priest to come and listen to it. The priest bent close to the grave and heard some faint, unrecognizable music coming from the grave. Frightened, the priest ran and got the town magistrate.

When the magistrate arrived, he bent his ear to the grave, listened for a moment, and said, "Ah, yes, that's Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, being played backwards."

He listened a while longer, and said, "There's the Eighth Symphony, and it's backwards, too. Most puzzling." So the magistrate kept listening; "There's the Seventh... the Sixth... the Fifth..."

Suddenly the realization of what was happening dawned on the magistrate; he stood up and announced to the crowd that had gathered in the cemetery, "My fellow citizens, there's nothing to worry about. It's just Beethoven decomposing!!"







“A positive Atmosphere; a feeling or mood associated with a particular place, person, or thing. Good vibes.”

By the way, everyone gets to play this game. If you have a good vocabulary word, send it in!! Best word each month gets a free practice night. Be sure to add a sentence! dance@ssqq.com )





Joel McClesky, the amazing student of Anita Williams who has won every dance contest he has entered, recently told me that he and his long-time beautiful girlfriend Ruth are tying the knot in January 2005. I am so happy for them! This is one Wedding Waltz I intend to watch! They will be a very beautiful couple, this I guarantee.


-----Original Message-----
From: Jim Harper
Sent: Monday, September 27, 2004 7:33 AM
To: dance@ssqq.com
Subject: Wedding Bells for Bad Jim and Christy

"Hi Rick, Since I understand you keep track of these kind of stats -- Chalk up another Nuptial to SSQQ!

Just thot I'd let you know that Jim Harper and Christy Avera are tying the knot on October 30. We met at the
Monday night swing dance practice in August 2003 and have been pretty regular SSQQ customers ever since."

(Editor's Note: "Bad Jim" is actually a great big Teddy Bear of a guy. I should know since I have danced in his arms. So much for "Bad Jim"! In fact Jim was the cover boy in a picture taken for dance story in the Chronicle back in January. Several times Jim and I almost ended up in each other's arms - he said he learned to lead better by dancing with me! - only to pull back at the last second lest the Chronicle Photographer put a picture of us in the article!)


On Saturday, November 20, SSQQ Dance Instructor Michelle Wann married SW Whip Dance Instructor Trent Haynes.

Michelle originally came to SSQQ as one of the Swing Kids back around 2000. Michelle, Lise, Krista, Kimberly, Patty O, Gloria, Steve, and Bryan all teamed up to form quite a Brat Pack back when Swing was ultra cool.

Michelle is quite a dancer. Did you when Bryan Spivey first began his dance competition career in 2002, Michelle and Bryan became City Dance Champions together? Now how cool is that?

Michelle met Trent Haynes back in 2003 through (what else?) their mutual love of Whip Dancing. I am sure they found it amusing that they taught for dance programs that have been rivals for 25 years. However despite all the danger of their Montague and Capulet Romance, they were able to avoid having to kill themselves due to the fact that no one cared. Yes, in this era of Warm Feelings, we no longer shoot or disfigure SSQQ women seen dancing or romancing with men from other dance studios. There was a time when… but we won't talk about that. That's all water and body parts under the bridge as far as I am concerned.

Actually the only real debate is which program gets more credit for Michelle and Trent's Romance. The key figure here is none other than Trent's Mom, the lovely Jeannie Haynes (although these days I have a hunch she goes by "Jeannie Jenny" since her marriage several years ago to fellow Whip dancer Warren Jenny. However on the other hand I'm not sure how comfortable she is going thru life as Jeannie Jenny, gosh only knows what her middle name is, but I think out of respect for everyone concerned I will drop this line of blather and switch to another line of blather.)

Jeannie was once upon a time one of my very favorite dance partners. Back in the days of 1987 when I went dancing 201 nights in a row, Jeannie was a frequent friend to me out on the dance floor. As a result of our friendship, Jeannie and I had a long candid chat about Trent and Michelle during their reception dance.

First of all, Jeannie thinks Michelle is wonderful. So do I. So that was one area where we agreed right off the bat. I asked Jeannie how her son and Michelle met. Apparently Trent was forlorn after a previous relationship of his went south. He really was down in the dumps. Jeannie said he needed to get moving again. She suggested going over to SSQQ (aka the Enemy) and take a couple Western dance classes. This is known in the Biz as a change in venue.

Trent decided to take his mother's advice. Once here at the studio he noticed Michelle and was interested in meeting her. However he didn't have the nerve to make his move right off the bat. Things were much easier the night he saw Michelle on his own turf at the Southwest Whip Club. Much more at ease in his own building, he asked Michelle to dance and got to know her. One thing led to another and… they started to date, they got engaged, and then they got married!

Trent seems to fit in here at SSQQ just fine. He has substituted for Bryan Spivey in the Friday Martian Class on several occasions to great reviews. He also was one of the winners of the September SSQQ Monthly Logic Puzzle. I knew he had good judgment (he asked Michelle to marry him, right?), but I didn't know he was so smart in addition. Best of all, he and Michelle made the coveted SSQQ Halloween Costume Contest Top 10 in his very first try in 2003! Michelle came as a Pimp and Trent came as a Lady of the Night. I can't honestly lie enough to say they were a "handsome couple", but I can stretch things enough to say they were a "Striking Couple".

You are welcome to view their splendor for yourself:

Michelle and Trent invited many ssqq students and staff to come to their reception over at Melody Lane on September 20th. There were at least 100 people at the Reception dancing the night away. I probably knew about 75% of the guests. I felt a little uncomfortable, especially after they frisked me and removed my weapon, but relaxed after I discovered my Whip and their Whip are remarkably similar. Indeed I danced successfully with several Capulet Women and was embarrassed to notice I was secretly enjoying myself. But don't tell anyone!

Best Wishes to Michelle and Trent! By the way, our wedding couple was much more attractive in their Wedding Costumes than their Halloween Costumes, especially the lovely Michelle with her warmth and radiance shining for all to see!


I am disappointed to say our numbers were down from last year's impressive showing of 29 engagements and marriages. I keep track of these statistics on my Grapevine Page. You can review the names and dates at this address:

I have known that the studio has been responsible for countless marriages over the years. For example, it is a well-known fact that if you want to get married, just join the SSQQ Staff. where do you think Ben Liles met Diana? Or Daryl Armstrong met Joanne? Or Karen Clawsen met Dennis? Or former instructors Ann Bush and Brian White met? Or where Tracy King met Jeff Perry? Or Randy Winfrey met Melissa Gauthier? Or Jim Coulter met Ulrike Lange? Or Sharon Crawford met Bill Shaw? Or Rick met Marla?

I started keeping a closer track of SSQQ-related Romances when we developed our web site back in 1998. For the past six years we have averaged 23 Weddings and Engagements per year.

Here are the statistics:
1999: 23 Weddings and Engagements
2000: 30 Weddings and Engagements
2001: 21 Weddings and Engagements
2002: 18 Weddings and Engagements
2003: 29 Weddings and Engagements
2004: 17 Weddings and Engagements

However these statistics are underreported. Read the next two emails. Note that I received them in 2004 to report weddings that occurred two years earlier!

-----Original Message-----
From: Helen Croskell
Sent: Wednesday, August 25, 2004 10:27 PM
To: Rick Archer
Subject: secret ssqq wedding!

"Rick, It never made the grapevine so I guess we're 2 of the "little people" at SSQQ, but Steve Kooper and I were married last year and SSQQ is to "blame". We met there in just my second week of my two-step career. So you can chalk another one up to the SSQQ match-making-magic! We are blissfully happy and still dancing our hearts out. Helen Croskell"

-----Original Message-----
From: Elsa Aldrich
Sent: Monday, October 25, 2004 1:47 PM
To: dance@ssqq.com
Subject: slow dance and romance permission to re-take class

"Hello, Rick, My husband (Jay Schmieder) and I took beginning swing/jitterbug in 1998. I don't think you had computer registration then. May we take it again for half price? Jay and I met each other that year at SSQQ and married in 2002! We haven't been to SSQQ in a while and look forward to seeing it again. Elsa M. Aldrich"

My point is a simple one. Many people meet at SSQQ, then kind of drift away without telling "management" about their romance. Then the Romance heats up and boom!, next thing you know they get engaged.

Here is another example:

-----Original Message-----
From: TFW Computers
Sent: Tuesday, October 05, 2004 3:12 PM
To: Rick Archer
Subject: Another Wedding engagement

"Jane Putnam met her fiancé at SSQQ maybe a year and a half ago and are now engaged to be married next Summer. You may already know this (I don't know), but I just got advised of such by her friend (neighbor) here at the store.

My customer's name is Mary Ann Sandland. I have known her and her late husband for many years. Unfortunately her husband passed away two years ago. She and I were talking in the store about how tough it has been (depressing, etc) and I have been telling her for some time to go to SSQQ and have fun...and she wants to do such and was planning on starting this month. However, scheduling became a problem this month with her plans so not yet.

Then she told me that she found out her neighbor Jane Putnam met her husband at SSQQ and they are now engaged to be married next Summer, probably in June. I asked her what night she goes to the studio and she said she thinks Friday nights. I said that I might know her by face, but the name didn't "ring a bell". She didn't know the man's name. Gary Richardson"

There are so many Romances that fly beneath the SSQQ Radar it is ridiculous! Here is another example:

December 2003


Guess what these people all have in common? They told us in 2003 that they were engaged, but then never checked back in to report they got married. Tsk Tsk!! Maybe they aren't married yet. I thought of that, but I bet some them are.

So Sports Fans, I have a favor to ask. First go check out the Grapevine.

After carefully checking out all the names, if you know of any SSQQ-related weddings and engagements out there that haven't been reported, I want you to turn them in!! That's right, expose those shy smoochers for what they are - "kiss but don't tellers!" Flings don't count but don't you agree all serious romances need to be reported? Of course you do! Send your names and anecdotes to the SSQQ Romance Hotline: dance@ssqq.com immediately!!




Contributed by Bett Sundermeyer

A man said to his wife one day, "I don't know how you can be so stupid and so beautiful all at the same time. The wife responded, "Allow me to explain. God made me beautiful so you would be attracted to me; God made me stupid so I would be attracted to you!"

A couple drove down a country road for several miles, not saying a word.  An earlier discussion had led to an argument and neither of them wanted to concede their position. As they passed a barnyard of mules, goats, and pigs, the wife asked sarcastically, "Relatives of yours?" "Yep," the husband replied, "in-laws."

A husband read an article to his wife about how many words women use a day... 30,000 to a man's 15,000. The wife replied, "The reason has to be because we have to repeat everything to men. The husband then turned to his wife and asked, "What?" 

A man walks into a pharmacy and wanders up and down the aisles. The sales girl notices him and asks him if she can  help him. He answers that he is looking for a box of tampons for his wife. She directs him down the correct aisle. A few  minutes later, he deposits a huge bag of cotton balls and a ball of string on the counter. She says, confused, "Sir, I thought you were looking for some tampons for your wife? He answers, "You see, it's like this, yesterday, I sent my wife to the store to get me a carton of cigarettes, and she came back with a tin of tobacco and some rolling papers; cause it's sooooooooooo much cheaper. So, I figure if I have to roll my own. so does she.

"Cash, cheque or credit card?" I asked, after folding items the woman wished to purchase. As she fumbled for her wallet I noticed a remote control for a television set in her purse.

"So, do you always carry your TV remote?" I asked.

"No," she replied, "but my husband refused to come shopping with me, so I figured this was the most legal evil thing I could do to him."

(Editor's Note: Do you have something interesting to contribute on this subject?  Send it
in!!  dance@ssqq.com )


Clean Side Jokes


Over the years, SSQQ has been fortunate to receive many jokes sent to us by our Newsletter readers. We have compiled them into our Monthly Joke Page. At the end of the year, I will add the jokes that appear in our "Best New Jokes" column into this monthly "Hall of Fame" section. This way your jokes will become immortal!!

Please welcome the following jokes into our Hall of Fame:

January CS 28:  The Christmas Cop - Marlies Whitmoyer
January CS 29:  The Dangerous Looking Biker - Chris Holmes
January CS 30:  The Undernourished Alligator - Chris Holmes
January CS 31:  The Godfather and his Bookkeeper - Leroy Ginzel
January CS 32:  The Old lady and the Cop - Marlies Whitmoyer
January CS 33:  The Recovering Mental Patient - Judy Walsh
January CS 34:  The 4 Jewish Sons & the Chanukah Present - Judy Walsh
January CS 35:  The Two Doctors - Donna Ruth
January CS 36:  The Cowboy with the Big Feet - Judy Walsh
January CS 37:  The Christmas Traditions - Chris Holmes
January CS 38:  The Anniversary - Judy Walsh
January CS 39:  Anger Management - Leroy Ginzel
January CS 40:  Advice for Men - Randy Mellard

Each joke was sent to me a year ago and was part of our Best New Jokes Section!  Now they are part of our immortal collection.

January Clean Side Jokes

January CS 01:  Suspicious Wives - Bill Mayo
January CS 02:  Blind Man Jumping - Bill Mayo
January CS 03:  The Drunk - Gary Richardson
January CS 04:  The Poker Game - Gary Richardson
January CS 05:  Golf on the Island - Gary Richardson 
January CS 06:  The Ballerina - Mike Gerstenberger  
January CS 07:  The Bridge - countless unnamed women 
January CS 08:  The Super Bowl - Richard Bevis and Susan Schroeder
January CS 09:  The Genius Monkey Store - Pat Roberts
January CS 10:  The Art Collector - Lynn Bevis
January CS 11:  Incognito - Debbie Awad
January CS 12:  Smart Comments from Smart Women - Pat Roberts
January CS 13:  The Genie - Susan Schroeder
January CS 14:  Law Enforcement - Sylvia Tucker
January CS 15:  Engineer Joke Number 2000 - Sylvia Tucker
January CS 16:  The Blonde and the Airplane I - Mike Guillory
January CS 17:  The Blonde and the Airplane II - Sharon Crawford
January CS 18:  Hot Shot Lawyer & the Texas Hick - Sylvia Tucker
January CS 19:  The Trans Canadian Railroad Trip - Patty Jones
January CS 20:  The Woman Who Had No Enemies - Pat Roberts
January CS 21:  The Understanding Husband - Mike Guillory
January CS 22:  The Aging Couple Loses Their Mind - Mike Guillory
January CS 23:  Having a Bad Day - Leroy Ginzel
January CS 24:  The Meaning of Life - Leroy Ginzel
January CS 25:  A Woman's Four Favorite Animals - Gary Richardson
January CS 26:  Sarah Finkel - Leroy Ginzel

January CS 27:  The Basketball Player - Rick Archer

January CS 28:  The Christmas Cop - Marlies Whitmoyer
January CS 29:  The Dangerous Looking Biker - Chris Holmes
January CS 30:  The Undernourished Alligator - Chris Holmes
January CS 31:  The Godfather and his Bookkeeper - Leroy Ginzel
January CS 32:  The Old lady and the Cop - Marlies Whitmoyer
January CS 33:  The Recovering Mental Patient - Judy Walsh
January CS 34:  The 4 Jewish Sons & the Chanukah Present - Judy Walsh
January CS 35:  The Two Doctors - Donna Ruth
January CS 36:  The Cowboy with the Big Feet - Judy Walsh
January CS 37:  The Christmas Traditions - Chris Holmes
January CS 38:  The Anniversary - Judy Walsh
January CS 39:  Anger Management - Leroy Ginzel
January CS 40:  Advice for Men - Randy Mellard

Each month I reprint one of my favorite jokes of all time in the Newsletter. This month I shine the SSQQ Hall of Fame Spotlight on:


January CS 18:  The Hot Shot Lawyer and the Texas Hick - Sylvia Key

A big-city California lawyer went duck hunting in rural Texas. He shot and dropped a bird, but it fell into a farmer’s field on the other side of a fence. As the lawyer climbed over the fence, an elderly farmer drove up on his tractor and asked him what he was doing.

The litigator responded, “I shot a duck and it fell in this field, and now I’m going to retrieve it.”

The old farmer replied. “This is my property, and you are not comin over here.”

The indignant lawyer said, “I am one of the best trial attorneys in the U.S. and, if you don’t let me get that duck, I’ll sue you and take everything you own.”

The old farmer smiled and said, “Apparently, you don’t  know how we do things in Texas.  We settle small disagreements like this with the Texas Three-Kick Rule.”

The lawyer asked, “What is the Texas three-Kick Rule?”

The Farmer replied. “Well, first I kick you three times and then you kick me three times, and so on, back and forth, until someone gives up.”

The attorney quickly thought about the proposed contest and decided that he could easily take the old codger. He agreed to abide by local custom.

The old farmer slowly climbed down from the tractor and walked  up to the city feller. His first kick planted the toe of his heavy work boot into the lawyer’s groin and dropped him to his knees. His second kick nearly wiped the man’s nose off his face. The barrister was flat on his belly when the farmer’s third kick to a kidney nearly caused him to give up.

The lawyer summoned every bit of his will, managed to get to his feet and said, “Okay, you old coot now it’s my turn.”

The old farmer grinned and said, “Naww, I give up; you can have the duck”. 




The Blue Side Jokes are one of the great secrets of the SSQQ web site.  It is your reward for taking dance classes at SSQQ.  Anyone who is on the SSQQ Registration List is welcome to have access.

All you need to do to get the address is to email me from the email address you use to register for classes and request it. dance@ssqq.com  

Although the Blue Side is off-limits to the outer world and only SSQQ Students are invited into the inner sanctum of “Dirty Jokes”, each month we manage to find one that is printable. Please see below!!

(Editor's Note: The Blue Side of Town Joke Page is one of the great secrets of the SSQQ web site. Anyone who is on the SSQQ Registration List is welcome to have access. This means if you get the Newsletter, you are invited to visit the naughty jokes page.

All you need to do to get the new address is to email me from the email address you use to register for classes and request it. dance@ssqq.com

January Blueside

January BS 01:  Freudian Slip - Gillian Tilbury
January BS 02:  Venus and Mars, Chapter 2001 - Leo Skiba
January BS 03:  Eugenics - Sylvia Tucker
January BS 04:  Redneck Logic - Bill Mayo
January BS 05:  How to Drive Your Woman Wild - Lynn Bevis
January BS 06:  The Birds and the Bees - Susan Schroeder

January BS 07:  The Face Lift - Pat Roberts

January BS 08:  The Indian Researcher - Patty Jones
January BS 09:  Drunk as a Skunk - Ted Jones 
January BS 10:  The Best Weight Loss Plan Ever - Susan Schroeder
January BS 11:  Begging Their Wives to Play Golf - Susan Schroeder
January BS 12:  Skinny Dipping - Susan Schroeder
January BS 13:  The Woodpecker Challenge - Gary Richardson
January BS 14:  Nationalities - Carol Nelson
January BS 15:  The Four Fractured Fairy Tales - Pat Roberts
January BS 16:  The Three Nuns - Lynne Tadlock
January BS 17:  Irish Boasting - Anita Williams
January BS 18:  The Huge Mortgage - Leroy Ginzel
January BS 19:  Bubba has a Complaint - Chris Holmes
January BS 20:  Lonely in Alaska - Chris Holmes
January BS 21:  Fractured Valentine's Cards - Leroy Ginzel 

Although the Blue Side is off-limits to the outer world and only SSQQ Students are invited into the inner sanctum of "Dirty Jokes", each month we manage to find one that is on the edge of printable. This one barely made it past the censors.


January BS 10:  The Best Weight Loss Plan Ever - Susan Schroeder

A fellow was ordered by his doctor to lose 75lbs. due to very serious health risks. As he wondered how in the heck he would ever do it, he ran across an ad in the newspaper for a GUARANTEED WEIGHT LOSS PROGRAM. 

"Guaranteed like hell," he thought to himself. Desperate, he calls them up and subscribes to the 3-day/10 pound weight loss program. 

The next day there is a knock at his door, and when he answers, there stands before him a voluptuous, athletic, beautiful, 19 year old babe dressed in nothing but a pair of Nike running shoes, and a sign around her neck. She introduces herself as a representative of the weight loss company. 

The sign reads, "If you can catch me, you can have me!" Without a second thought, he takes off after her. A few miles later, huffing and puffing, he finally catches her and has his way with her. 

After they are through and she leaves, he thinks to himself, "I like the way this company does business." 

The same girl shows up for the next two days, and the same thing happens. On the fourth day he weighs himself and is delighted to find he has lost 10 lbs. as promised. 

So, he calls the company, and orders from them their 5-day/20 lb. program.  As expected, the next day there's a knock at the door, and there stands the most stunning, beautiful, sexy woman he has ever seen in his life, wearing nothing but Reebok running shoes and a sign around her that reads, "If you catch me, you can have me." He's out the door after her like a shot. This girl is in excellent shape, and it takes him a while to catch her, but when he does, it is worth every cramp and wheeze. She is by far the best he's ever had. For the next 4 days, the same routine happens, and much to his delight, on the 5th day he weighs himself and finds he has lost another 20 lbs. as promised!!! 

He decides to go for broke, and calls the company to order the 7-day/50 lb. program!!! 

"Are you sure?" asks the representative on the phone. "This is our most rigorous program..." 

"Absolutely," he replies. "I haven't felt this good in years." 

The next day, there's a knock at the door, and when he opens it, he finds Richard Simmons standing there wearing nothing but pink racing spikes, and a sign around his neck that reads.......... 

"If I catch you, I can have you!"





Nude Beach leads to Capsized Boat


Houston Chronicle

Austin –

A double-decker party barge capsized in Lake Travis when dozens of passengers moved to one side of the boat as it approached Texas’ only nude beach.

About 60 people feel into almost 40 feet of water Sunday in tyh4e lake’s Hippie Hollow area, said Travis County sheriff’s spokesman Roger Wade. Two female passengers were injured.

Civilian and rescuers from various emergency response units pulled people to safety as the boat sank. Officials said everyone was accounted for; 57 of those on board refused treatment.

The women were released from area hospitals after being treated for minor injuries.

The barge, which had left Emerald Point Marina, was tied up at Hippie Hollow just before 4 pm Sunday when a large number of people moved to one side of the boat.

“As the captain was running upstairs to tell them to move away from the railing, the boat capsized,” dumping its passengers into the water, Wade told the Austin American Statesman.

The outing was part of Splash Day, a semiannual event sponsored by gay and lesbian groups.  



(contributed by Pat Roberts)

On gift wrapping (by Dave Barry)

This is the time of year when we think back to the very first Christmas, when the Three Wise Men -- Gaspar, Balthasar and Herb -- went to see the baby Jesus, and, according to the Book of Matthew, "presented unto Him gifts; gold, frankincense, and myrrh.'' These are simple words, but if we analyze them carefully, we discover an important, yet often overlooked, theological fact.

There is no mention of wrapping paper. If there had been wrapping paper, Matthew would have said so: "And lo, the gifts WERE inside 600 square cubits of paper. And the paper WAS festooned with pictures of Frosty the Snowman.
And Joseph WAS going to throweth it away, but Mary saideth unto him, 'Holdeth it! That is nice paper! Saveth it for next year!' " "And Joseph DID rolleth his eyeballs. And the baby Jesus WAS more interested in the paper than, for example, the frankincense.'' But these words do not appear in the Bible, which means that the very first Christmas gifts were NOT wrapped. This is because the people giving those gifts had two important characteristics:

1. They were wise.
2. They were men.

Men are not big gift wrappers. Men do not understand the point of putting paper on a gift just so somebody else can tear it off. This is not just my opinion: This is a scientific fact based on a statistical survey of two guys I know. One is my son, Rob, who said the only time he ever wraps a gift is, quote, "if it's such a poor gift that I don't want to be there when the person opens it.'' The other is my friend Gene Weingarten, who told me he does wrap gifts, but as a matter of principle never takes more than 15 seconds per gift. "No one ever had to wonder which presents daddy wrapped at Christmas,'' Gene said. "They were the ones that looked like enormous spitballs.'' I also wrap gifts, but because of some defect in my motor skills, I can never COMPLETELY wrap them. I can take a gift the size of a deck of cards and put it the exact center of a piece of wrapping paper the size of a regulation volleyball court, but when I am done folding and taping, you can still see a sector of the gift peeking out.
(Sometimes I camouflage this sector with a marking pen.) If I had been an ancient Egyptian in the field of mummies, the lower half of the Pharaoh's body would be covered only by Scotch tape.

On the other hand, if you give my wife a 12-inch square of wrapping paper, she can wrap a C-130 cargo plane. My wife, like many women, actually LIKES wrapping things. If she gives you a gift that requires batteries, she wraps the batteries separately, which to me is very close to being a symptom of mental illness. If it were possible, my wife would wrap each individual volt.

My point is that gift-wrapping is one of those skills (like having babies)
that come more naturally to women than to men. That is why today I am presenting:

GIFT-WRAPPING TIPS FOR MEN Whenever possible, buy gifts that are already wrapped. If, when the recipient opens the gift, neither one of you recognizes it, you can claim that it's myrrh.

The editors of Woman's Day magazine recently ran an item on how to make your own wrapping paper by printing a design on it with an apple sliced in half horizontally and dipped in a mixture of food coloring and liquid starch.
They must be smoking crack.

If you're giving a hard-to-wrap gift, skip the wrapping paper! Just put it inside a bag and stick one of those little adhesive bows on it. This creates a festive visual effect that is sure to delight the lucky recipient on Christmas morning:

YOUR WIFE: Why is there a Hefty trash bag under the tree?
YOU: It's a gift! See? It has a bow!
YOUR WIFE (peering into the trash bag): It's a leaf blower.
YOU: Gas-powered! Five horsepower!
YOUR WIFE: I want a divorce.
YOU: I also got you some myrrh.

In conclusion, remember that the important thing is NOT what you give, or how you wrap it. The important thing, during this very special time of year, is that you save the receipt.



(contributed by my friend Bett Sundermeyer)

Mukhtaran Bibi: The Rape survivor who transformed tragedy into hope

In the small village of Meerwala in Pakistan, Mukhtaran Bibi survived a horror few can imagine. Two years ago, the 28-year-old woman was gang-raped as "punishment" meted out by a local tribal council (jirga) in retaliation for her teenage brother's alleged affair with a woman from another tribe. The story has its roots in the centuries-old conflict between Mukhtaran's tribe, the Gujjar, and the higher-caste Mastoi tribe.

Although Mukhtaran's family's offered to settle the matter peacefully, the Mastoi called for revenge-the violation of a Gujjar woman. The jury, dominated by Mastoi elders, selected Mukhtaran. She was dragged to a hut and raped at gunpoint by four Mastoi men. Armed guards prevented her family from saving her.

Hours later, the girl was forced to walk home covered only by a torn shirt, jeered at by villagers. Her brother was released from jail; the accusation against him had been withdrawn.

The charge against the boy was later found to be false, and Mukhtaran said that in fact her brother had been sodomized by Mastoi tribesmen who then fabricated the story of the boy's crime.

Instead of killing herself as tradition demanded, Mukhtaran reported the rape to the police. An imam, outraged by the rape, asked a local reporter to talk to her, and her story was soon picked up by the national and international media.

Today, several of the rapists are on death row, and others on the tribal council face prison sentences.

President Pervez Musharraf presented Mukhtaran with about $8,300 as compensation. Rather than take the money and leave her village, Mukhtaran used the funds to build two schools, one for girls and one for boys. (Although a lack of the funds promised by the Pakistani government threatened to close the schools, an article in the New York Times by columnist Nicholas Kristof reportedly garnered $90,000 in donations.)

According to the Pakistan Human Rights Commission, Mukhtaran was one of hundreds of women raped or gang-raped in Pakistan each year. Most of those crimes go unreported and unpunished. Mukhtaran's rare courage in speaking out and her determination to stay and help others have shed light on a critical human rights issue.




-----Original Message-----
From: Kelly Bennett
Sent: Thursday, September 09, 2004 11:20 AM
To: dance@ssqq.com
Subject: Letter to Rick in archived newsletter

"Dear Rick -

There was a very touching letter written to you some time ago from a man ( a golfer) who took dance lessons at the studio to appease his wife. However, he related in his letter that the tremendous benefits of bonding and reconnecting with his wife were a wonderful gift he received from relenting and taking classes.

By any chance, would you happen to remember the issue of the newsletter that contained this letter? (or could you forward a copy of that letter to me?)

Thanks so much. Kelly Bennett"

(EDITOR'S NOTE: This is a great story. Since you asked, I will be happy to add it to this month's Newsletter.)

(Editor’s Note: This letter was sent to me in 2001. I have reprinted it from the January 2002 Newsletter.

Mon 12/17/2001 2:41 PM
“Hi Rick,
My name is Frank Jefferson. I doubt you will remember me and my wife Jackie, but we remember your studio very well. We took lessons at SSQQ back in 1991 for about five months until my company transferred me to Denver that summer.
The reason I am writing is to tell you how your studio and dancing changed my life and my marriage eleven years ago. I ran across your web site the other day while I was visiting my oldest son here in Houston. He mentioned an interest in taking dance classes so I looked you up on the Internet. As I read some of your anecdotes, I started to reminisce about learning to dance Western at SSQQ. Then it occurred to me my Christmas story might be interesting to some of the people who visit your studio.
As 1990 neared its conclusion, things were going pretty well for me. My career as an accountant was going well, one boy was finishing his doctorate work at UT, my other son was in college and my daughter was a senior in high school. I thought my marriage was doing pretty well, but as I look back I realize increasingly my wife and I were spending less and less time together. Part of the problem was I had become a golf addict.
Back then I played golf Friday, Saturday, and Sunday without question and usually managed to play a round during the week plus at least go practice my driving or my putting after work one or two other days. It was an obsession with me. I love the game with a passion (still do for that matter!). What other sport allows you to visit with friends, take a leisurely stroll through the woods and beautiful scenery, gives you some good exercise, and challenges you mentally as well as physically?
Even when I wasn’t playing, I was reading golf magazines or watching a golf tournament on TV or on videotape. I may have physically been in the house, but mentally I was usually on the golf course. As I said, I was a golf addict.
Then came Christmas 1990. Christmas was always an agony for me since as usual I had no clue what to buy my wife for a present. What do you give the woman who has every possession she would ever need? I wracked my brains for what to get her. Finally in desperation I gave up and simply asked, “Jackie, what do you want for Christmas this year?”
It was almost like she had been waiting for this moment! Without hesitation her reply was to grab her purse and pull out a schedule listing your studio’s dance classes. I think a girl friend had given it to her. She laid it out on the table, pointed to it, and simply said, “Frank, I want you to take a dance class with me in January.” No anger. No pleading. No guilt trip or anything like that. This was just like my Jackie. I asked her a question and she answered me matter-of-fact. She wanted me to take a dance class with her.
For some reason, I was stunned. I had not expected this. Money I had to give. Going out and buying something was no big deal. Even building something like a porch would have been no problem. But committing some valuable free time to do something stupid like take dance lessons? You gotta be kidding!
But Jackie knew me too well. Deep down she knew I enjoy pleasing her. She held eye contact and said nothing. In fact she smiled the whole time. I think she knew exactly what was going through my mind. For a while I sort of felt set up, but eventually I realized it wasn’t the worst thing in the world that she had asked me to do. I can still remember while she just sat there at the kitchen table watching me make up my mind! I think she enjoyed watching me squirm, something she has never denied for a moment.
It took me a long time to answer. Finally I realized I wasn’t going to figure a way out of this. Despite my best efforts I could not come up with one good excuse so I gave up and said, “Okay. If that’s what you want, you got it!” I wrapped up a letter and put it in a box. When she opened it Christmas Day, it said, “I promise to take a dance class with you in January! Love, Frank” Jackie gave me a big hug and grinned as my kids teased me unmercifully. What had I gotten myself into?
Two weeks later we started taking a Twostep class at your studio. I think the teacher was a lady named Sharon. Fortunately the class was on a Wednesday which was practically the only day I didn’t play golf.
I was so nervous the first night. I did not know what to expect. At first I didn’t even know if your studio really existed. We couldn’t see anything from the street that looked like a dance studio. We had to walk down this long hallway till we found the place to register. Then we sat on some chairs in a big room with about 60 other people with a bunch of guys who looked just as worried as I was.
Once we got going, to my surprise the moves weren’t very difficult. Within fifteen minutes Jackie and I were already dancing to music. Then came a shock. Sharon asked us to switch partners. Jackie hadn’t told me about this! She grinned at me as suddenly I was expected to move to dance with a woman I had never seen before in my life. What had I gotten myself into? My heart sank with worry. Fortunately I soon discovered the moves worked with the other women in the class too. This was good!
In fact I began to enjoy dancing with everyone in class. Everyone was so nice! Once I got on the wrong foot and accidentally stepped on a lady’s foot. I didn’t put all my weight on her foot, thank goodness, but it still had to hurt. Her name was Carol. She laughed and said don’t worry about it. I just melted with gratitude at her forgiveness. From then on Carol and I became good friends. At each class she would point at her foot and say it had almost healed, but could I aim at the other one instead just in case? By an odd coincidence another time I ran Carol into the pole in the middle of the room. This time as I stared in shock at my stupidity, Carol almost died laughing. “What are you trying to do, Frank, kill me? Did someone pay you to do this?”
At the end of the evening, Sharon told us about Practice Night. Jackie asked if I would mind staying. I looked at my watch and thought about work the next day. I was tired and ready to go, but then I saw that look on her face. Sure, why not? I said we could stay for a little while and see what it was like.
It turned out to be more of a challenge than I had expected. Without the teacher calling out the timing, I had a hard time figuring out how the steps fit the beat. And I couldn’t tell a Polka from a Waltz from a Twostep to save my life if I had to. However Jackie came through like a charm. She told me to just dance and she would try to follow. Although I doubt I was anywhere near the beat, once this pressure was off, I started to enjoy plowing around the floor. I had an absolute ball! This was better than dodge ‘em cars! The highlight of the night came towards the end. I had been so absorbed in counting “slow slow quick quick” to myself I was oblivious to everything around me. But after a particularly good run around the floor, I realized I had danced an entire song without making a mistake. I looked at Jackie and saw her beaming with pride and happiness. She was so grateful to be here with me that her smile brought actual tears to my eyes. I had not seen her smile at me in this way in a long, long time. I will never forget that moment.
To make a long story short, dancing became a hobby I looked forward to just like I did with golf. On days I knew I was going to dance class, I would hitch a ride to work. Then later Jackie would pick me up at work and we would go somewhere for dinner before class. We began to chat again just like we did earlier in our marriage. Then we would go to class and have fun learning the Western Swing. We would visit with some of the people we had grown to like before class and during breaks. Practice Night became pretty much a ritual with us as well.
Then in March 1991 I got the news – my company wanted me to transfer to Denver. God, how I hated agreeing to do it! As I talked the move over with Jackie, I was surprised that golf never really entered my mind. However one thing that kept going through my mind was where was I going to dance in Denver? But the money was too good to resist plus with my daughter leaving soon for college, it was less of a problem for the two of us to relocate than the other families in the firm.
Up in Denver we found no studio like yours was in existence. And Western dancing like you have in Houston was practically non-existent. But dancing was in my system now, so we decided to try Ballroom Dancing. To my surprise, I liked it just as much as Western. I even discovered I was able to tell a Waltz from a Tango and be able to keep the beat as well!
We discovered a ‘dance underground’ in Denver. Practically every night of the week a different studio would offer social Ballroom dancing, and on the weekends there were special events sponsored through a dance organization I am sure you have heard of called USABDA. The big moment for me was when I realized I was looking forward to a Saturday evening dance with my lovely wife just as much as I was looking forward to playing golf that afternoon!
I still play a lot of golf, but have cut back a little to make more time for my dancing as well. Recently I even let myself get talked into dance competitions. Can you believe that? We haven’t won anything yet, but the point is I enjoy improving at dance just like I once obsessed over my putting. I realize my story borders on being sappy, but the truth is that dance has become the favorite activity for my wife and I to share.
Thanks again for helping us get started!
Regards, Frank Jefferson
(Editor’s Note: I would imagine stories like this one are more common than we might realize, but very few people take the time to write them down and send them to me. I am particularly grateful to Mr. Jefferson, whom I did indeed do not know, for sending me this timely and poignant letter.)



  Dec. 7, 2004, 11:55PM

Bomb training exercise leaves police red-faced
French security lost suitcase with planted explosives
Associated Press

PARIS - Somewhere in the world, there's a navy blue suitcase with a small pack of explosives tucked in its side pocket.

Four days after police at Charles de Gaulle Airport slipped plastic explosives into a random passenger's bag as part of an exercise for sniffer dogs, it is still missing - and authorities are stumped and embarrassed.

Police have sought to minimize public concern by insisting that there's nothing to worry about: The explosives had no detonator and are unlikely to pose a danger.

But that does little to diminish the fact that the French airport security has been planting explosives in the suitcases of unsuspecting passengers - all in the name of safety.

"That's pretty scary," said Chadi Kawkabani, an American tourist wheeling his suitcase along the Champs-Élysées on Tuesday before heading to the airport. "I picture myself opening my bag at home," said Kawkabani of Boston. "You might think terrorists planted the explosive - and they could come to your house to get it back!"

Authorities believe the suitcase left Paris between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Friday and could have wound up on any of about 100 flights.

"There were flights that went to the United States, to Japan, South America," said police spokesman Pierre Bouquin. "Basically, it could have gone anywhere."

The training exercise was aimed at providing sniffer dogs a real-life airport scenario - a technique that has been used for years.

Blame, in this case, cannot be placed on the dogs. Two police officers involved in the exercise stashed a pack of plastic explosives into the side pocket of the suitcase as it rolled along a conveyer belt. One dog successfully identified the bag, but police then lost track of it when they went to fetch a second dog.

For France's Le Monde newspaper, the mishap rings of Inspector Clouseau, the bungling, fictional French detective of Pink Panther fame. "Inspector Clouseau works the weekend at (Charles de Gaulle)," was the headline Tuesday.




Just Leave Christmas Alone!

By Charles Krauthammer
Friday, December 17, 2004; Page A33

"Holiday celebrations where Christmas music is being sung make people feel different, and because it is such a majority, it makes the minority feel uncomfortable."

-- Mark Brownstein, parent, Maplewood, N.J., supporting the school board's ban on religious music in holiday concerts

"You want my advice? Go back to Bulgaria."

-- Humphrey Bogart, "Casablanca"

It is Christmastime, and what would Christmas be without the usual platoon of annoying pettifoggers rising annually to strip Christmas of any Christian content? With some success:

School districts in New Jersey and Florida ban Christmas carols. The mayor of Somerville, Mass., apologizes for "mistakenly" referring to the town's "holiday party" as a "Christmas party." The Broward and Fashion malls in South Florida put up a Hanukah menorah but no nativity scene. The manager of one of the malls explains: Hanukah commemorates a battle and not a religious event, though he hastens to add, "I really don't know a lot about it." He does not. Hanukah commemorates a miracle, and there is no event more "religious" than a miracle.

The attempts to de-Christianize Christmas are as absurd as they are relentless. The United States today is the most tolerant and diverse society in history. It celebrates all faiths with an open heart and open-mindedness that, compared to even the most advanced countries in Europe, are unique.

Yet more than 80 percent of Americans are Christian, and probably 95 percent of Americans celebrate Christmas. Christmas Day is an official federal holiday, the only day of the entire year when, for example, the Smithsonian museums are closed. Are we to pretend that Christmas is nothing but an orgy of commerce in celebration of . . . what? The winter solstice?

I personally like Christmas because, since it is a day that for me is otherwise ordinary, I get to do nice things, such as covering for as many gentile colleagues as I could when I was a doctor at Massachusetts General Hospital. I will admit that my generosity had its rewards: I collected enough chits on Christmas Day to get reciprocal coverage not just for Yom Kippur but for both days of Rosh Hashana and my other major holiday, Opening Day at Fenway.

Mind you, I've got nothing against Hanukah, although I am constantly amused -- and gratified -- by how American culture has gone out of its way to inflate the importance of Hanukah, easily the least important of Judaism's seven holidays, into a giant event replete with cards, presents and public commemorations as a creative way to give Jews their Christmas equivalent.

Some Americans get angry at parents who want to ban carols because they tremble that their kids might feel "different" and "uncomfortable" should they, God forbid, hear Christian music sung at their school. I feel pity. What kind of fragile religious identity have they bequeathed their children that it should be threatened by exposure to carols?

I'm struck by the fact that you almost never find Orthodox Jews complaining about a Christmas creche in the public square. That is because their children, steeped in the richness of their own religious tradition, know who they are and are not threatened by Christians celebrating their religion in public. They are enlarged by it.

It is the more deracinated members of religious minorities, brought up largely ignorant of their own traditions, whose religious identity is so tenuous that they feel the need to be constantly on guard against displays of other religions -- and who think the solution to their predicament is to prevent the other guy from displaying his religion, rather than learning a bit about their own.

To insist that the overwhelming majority of this country stifle its religious impulses in public so that minorities can feel "comfortable" not only understandably enrages the majority but commits two sins. The first is profound ungenerosity toward a majority of fellow citizens who have shown such generosity of spirit toward minority religions.

The second is the sin of incomprehension -- a failure to appreciate the uniqueness of the communal American religious experience. Unlike, for example, the famously tolerant Ottoman Empire or the generally tolerant Europe of today, the United States does not merely allow minority religions to exist at its sufferance. It celebrates and welcomes and honors them.

America transcended the idea of mere toleration in 1790 in Washington's letter to the Newport synagogue, one of the lesser known glories of the Founding: "It is now no more that toleration is spoken of, as if it was by the indulgence of one class of people, that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights."

More than two centuries later, it is time that members of religious (and anti-religious) minorities, as full citizens of this miraculous republic, transcend something too: petty defensiveness.

Merry Christmas. To all.


© 2004 The Washington Post Company



The Most Beautiful Hotel in the World!!
contributed by Gary Richardson

This is actually not a story, but rather some fun pictures.

Gary sent me pictures of the unbelievable
Burj Al Arab Hotel. This hotel is in Dubai which is in the United Arab Emirates. The Emirates are neighbors of Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.  I believe that is the Persian Gulf in the picture.

This hotel is obviously one of those places where if you have to ask how much it costs, then you probably shouldn't bother.  But since you are curious,
Rates start at $2000 USD per night and go up to $7000+ per night!!

In August 2004 SSQQ Instructor Mona Nashed visited this hotel and brought back some pictures. She also has a riddle for you to solve! 

Click here to enjoy the awesome pictures: The Most Beautiful Hotel in the World!!





a Special Note from Rick Archer about Email, the SSQQ Newsletter, and Spam.

I now receive an average of 150 spam emails a day. Because I run a business where people email me at random from all over the world on a variety of subjects, I am reluctant to install filters.

The problem with this kind of volume is the potential I can accidentally delete valuable emails from ssqq students, especially when I don’t recognize the name. To minimize this possibility, please be sure to put a title with some thought behind it in the “Subject” box when you are trying to contact us.

As for the SSQQ Email Newsletter, more and more people report that it is being blocked at their jobs as “Spam”. This leaves me no choice but to make the Email I send out as innocuous as possible.

For that matter you may stop receiving the SSQQ Email Newsletter at any time for reasons that are out of my hands. A month ago, I had over 600 Newsletter Emails sent to students with Yahoo accounts bounced back to me. I contacted Yahoo and was given no explanation why the emails bounced.  It is tough to correct a problem when you don’t even know what is causing it.

In the future, I suggest you automatically go to the Newsletter on the SSQQ Web Site a couple days before classes start and read the latest news whether you get an email reminder or not.



As you can see, the SSQQ Newsletter is written to a large extent by its readers. Many people contribute jokes, pictures, and interesting items each month. Anyone is welcome to join the fun!

If you have any comments, suggestions, requests, complaints, jokes, pictures or poetry to share, please send it to me, Rick Archer, at dance@ssqq.com

And thanks for reading all the way to the bottom! …. I might add I do have reason to believe some of you simply scroll to the bottom to look for any little surprises I hide down here. ;-)   Anyhow, thanks to all for making it this far!

Rick Archer
SSQQ Dance Studio
4803 Bissonnet
Email:   dance@ssqq.com
Phone:  713-861-1906


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