March 2008
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March 2008 SSQQ Newsletter
The Newsletter is written by Rick Archer


As always, if you miss classes the first week, you can start in the second week as well.



Our Advanced dance classes for March include:


Experienced Western dancers know that Polka-rhythm music will tire you out.  This explains the popularity of alternatives to Polka such as Triple Two and Western Cha Cha.  Synchronized Polka has been around for several years, but in 2007 this pretty dance system really began to catch on.

Unlike Western Cha Cha and Triple Two, Synchronized Polka is used right along with your regular Polka.   In other words, Synchronized Polka enhances what you normally dance to Polka songs.  Danced mostly from the Sweetheart Position, Synchronized Polka has many advantages.  It is easy to learn, easy to lead, it gives the lady a much-needed break from her double turns and it allows everyone to dance forward.  People don’t get tired out quite as much.  Best of all, the patterns are graceful and flowing. 

This class started on March 2.  We had nearly 40 students and lots of fun.  If you would like to join in the second week, by all means please do so.



Saturday, March 15, 9 - 11:30 pm




IRISH WALTZ PTNS! - Rick (Intermediate level patterns)


SWING ACROBATICS - Paul (cpls only)




Wear White and Green or Don’t be Seen!

Erin Go Braugh!  (Ireland Forever)

Our Saint Patrick’s Swing Dance Party is one of my favorite parties of the year.  I would say half the music will be Swing, but there will be some Ballroom music.

You can expect lots and lots of beautiful Irish Waltzes so consider taking the Irish Waltz crash course! 

In addition, a fun part of the night is an Irish Jig John-Paul-Jones.  A lot of Irish music is the same speed as our Western Polkas.  If you feel like putting a hop in your Polka, go right ahead.  Even the grumpiest human usually is grinning head to toe after ten minutes of Irish Jigs!

This is a fun party so we hope you will join us!     



My guess is that every once in a while you just want to say to heck with it all, get in your car and head out into the wild blue yonder to see the world.  I know I sure do!

In February, my buddy Leroy Ginzel sent me an email complete with photographs of a super duper luxury Recreational Vehicle.  Quite an eye-opener!

I had no idea that RVs could look so comfortable!   The more I stared at those at those pictures, the more curious I became. So I did a little research and came up with a very entertaining story.

Up till now I have been satisfying my own wanderlust with Marla’s excellent cruises.  But once that RV fantasy came into my head, I have been thinking about it every day.  It seems almost within my reach!  But do I have the guts to go for it? 

I know a lot of people here at the studio who have already reached retirement age or are knocking on the door like I am.  If you are a Boomer, I GUARANTEE you will find this story fascinating.  And if you are a youngster, I have no doubt you will be amused as well.  

Go read it right now: The RV Lifestyle





We had a Western Party on the last Saturday in February.  Our Sweethearts of the Rodeo Party featured visits by two favorite SSQQ instructors who have retired - Rachel Koenig and Susie Merrill. 

Rachel retired at the end of January.  Rachel and her husband Dave are going to be having another child.  Between marriage, a demanding new job, raising one 2 year old son, and being pregnant, Rachel was feeling pretty worn out.  Her decision to retire from Western teaching made a lot of sense. 

That said, Rachel will definitely be missed.  She has spent the last ten years of her life teaching students how to Western Dance (and Belly Dance too!) and will carry many warm memories of the studio in her retirement.  Hopefully she and Dave can come back for the Halloween Party.

By the way, Rachel has joined the SSQQ Hall of Fame.  Rachel was kind enough to give me an Interview about her ten years of teaching.  I definitely think you would enjoy hearing what this fascinating lady has to say about her experiences here at the studio.

If you would like to read about Rachel’s adventures here at the studio, visit


The name Susie Merrill is probably not familiar to SSQQ students who have started in the past couple years, but in her time, Susie was one of the most dynamic instructors we have ever had here at the studio.  Susie taught here at SSQQ for fourteen years.  She was instrumental in developing the Triple Two and Nightclub programs that Scott Ladell now teaches.

Susie retired from the studio five years ago in January 2003.  She and her husband Bill moved up to a lake house near Longview Texas. 

Like Rachel, Susie is an SSQQ Hall of Fame instructor.  Susie’s most notable accomplishment was creating a dance team of 30 SSQQ country-western students that won a World Dance Championship in early 2003.  Known as ‘Heartbeat’, this dance team consisted completely of amateur dancers who learned to dance like professionals.  During the six year era of Heartbeat, they won all sorts of awards. 

At the reunion last week, many of the former Heartbeat team was here at the studio. 


Ann (Bush) White

Brian White

Candi Gordon

Andrew Gordon

Anita Williams

Victor Marquez

Christine (Sandel) Marquez

Shirley Grossestreuer

Jim Colby

Martha Gallia

Ben Liles

Diana (Beasley) Liles

Reza Taherian

Ray Meyer

Janet (Wukman) Meyer

Martin Anderson

Kirk Gunkel

Jill Banta

Mo Hendrix

Tony Catalano

Karen (Day) Catalano


In fact, only about ten former members were missing.  That’s quite a turnout for the Heartbeat Reunion!  I was so happy to see these guys!

I understand that all teachers have to deal with losing their students.  I don’t care if it is elementary school, high school, or college... sooner or later students are going to move on if you do your job right.  The same thing is true at SSQQ.  All good things must pass.

Still it was kind of bittersweet to see all those memories staring me in the face.  Those people were a big part of some very good times here at the studio.

Of course the World Championship was Susie’s crowning achievement.  But Susie rightly pointed out that she is just as proud of the fact that six marriages formed within her group. 

That’s right, six marriages!  I find that amazing.  That didn’t stop me from teasing though.  These poor people were at the studio morning day and night for six years.  If it wasn’t for their jobs, they would have never even bothered going home... they would have slept on the couches and started practicing again the next morning.  My point was there was no earthly way these people could meet anyone because they had no free time.  So the only people they could date were the members on the team.  And since conveniently there was an equal number of men and women - all single - the birds and the bees did their job.  And of course that SSQQ Cupid who hides in the shadows did the rest.

If you would like the read the story of this amazing dance team and their talented captain Susie, please visit




July 20-July 27


We are up to 46 people.  Frankly, this is the most amazing trip we have ever booked.  Italy-Greece turns out to be the hottest ticket this summer.  According to the travel magazines, the most popular destination in the cruise industry right now is the Mediterranean. 

On March 22nd, we lose our remaining reserved space.  At that time, there will still be space available, but the price is likely to be $250 more per person.  If you are on the fence, fall off it right now and join us!

If you are game, email




August 24-August 31

Jamaica, Grand Cayman, Cozumel


When I wrote about this trip in the Newsletter two weeks ago, we had 44.  Now Marla reports we are up to 64.  That’s pretty amazing.  This trip is selling like crazy!

If you are interested in a balcony or an inside cabin, Marla reports she only has two cabins left of each.  Once we sell those four cabins, the price will automatically jump $50 to $100.  Fortunately we have plenty of Oceanview.   However once we reach the magic number of 100, the price for this trip is likely to jump.  So get on board this trip now!



I have now completed two more pages of pictures from the 2007 trip.  I have lots and lots of pictures left to publish.  In addition I have a story I am going to get around to telling.  But for now, please enjoy three pages of pictures!



We have an immediate Hall Monitor opening on Thursday.  We may have another opening coming up as well. If you would like to join the SSQQ Staff, please contact Marla.  Her phone is 713 862 4428 or email to



 -----Original Message-----
From:         Roger Lee
Sent:          Friday, February 29, 2008 1:50 PM
To:              Rick Archer
Subject:      Wendy Zhang Weds

“Hi Rick, Wendy and I married on New Year’s Eve, 2007.

We met in Sharon Crawford’s advanced western waltz class in July 2001. The first night, when we rotated partners and I got Wendy, I knew I would like to dance with her more than just about anyone. But, I never thought we would go out together. How things change.

In late August 2006, Wendy and I went ring shopping. Wendy told the jewelers what she wanted and we went to have a Chinese lunch while they created and sized the ring.

At about the same time, JetBlue ran an ad announcing their new service out of Hobby airport. The airline said that you could fly anywhere in their system, roundtrip, for the price of a barrel of oil - at that time about $72. I bought tickets for Labor Day weekend to Niagara Falls. Wendy called this trip our “proposal-moon.”

As for a honeymoon, well, we just keep procrastinating. But we have some ideas.

Thanks to you and your studio for our happy marriage.

Best, Roger and Wendy”


Rick Archer’s Note: 

Roger and Wendy announced their engagement in September 2006.

Wendy told me she knew Roger for three years before they ever went out together.   By the time they began seeing each other, they had already been friends for quite a while.

It was their mutual love of Waltz that cemented the bond between them.  As Roger pointed out in his email letter, they met in Sharon (Crawford) Shaw’s Waltz class seven years ago.  Since then, the two of them have put in many hours on the dance floor perfecting their Waltz together. 

By the way, Roger and Wendy’s announcement brings our January total of weddings to six in one month.  That is quite an accomplishment!



I received the following two notes in February.  You should read them.


“Dear Rick,


When I left SSQQ last Wednesday night I had a scare while walking down the side street to my car.  A man came through the space in the bushes by the streetlight and tried to make contact with me.   The hair stood up on my neck and I know exactly what could have happened.  I was fortunate to see his movement behind the bushes because there were no cars there at the time.  I have taken defense courses and know what to be on the look out for.  I wanted you to know that I was able to get away safely but it did upset me quite a bit.   Women should not walk along the cars but more out in the street if there is no oncoming traffic.  It’s a long and very dark walk some nights. 

I know you can’t walk everyone out to their cars but you might suggest people leave in clusters or follow someone out.”


“At first I thought it was someone walking on the curb on the other side of the bushes in that neighborhood.  I saw him stop behind the bushes.  I moved toward the other side of the street.  I was about 20 ft ahead of the opening when he came out, called to me and started advancing quickly.  I was never looking straight at him and he advanced in my peripheral vision so I didn’t see his face, I ran to my car and got in. When I look toward him he was gone.  I assume he went back the way he came because I looked down the side streets and in the parking garage but saw nothing.  He was about white 6 ft tall, husky but not fat, dark hair, casual clothes (jeans/maybe heavy flannel shirt or layers) no western wear.  That’s all I saw.

I just know the weird feeling about something not right with this guy.  I never got a look at his face.  I had hoped to see something from a safe place.  I was too upset to come in and tell y’all, emailing you is easier emotionally.

Jack walked me to my car last night and I commented about the incident to him and knew I needed to tell someone.  I hope we all will watch out for each other.”


RICK ARCHER’S NOTE:  So there you have it.  A lady from SSQQ had an experience where a man stepped out of the bushes and attempted to get her attention, and then began to rapidly walk towards her when she didn’t respond.

It is unknown what his intentions were, but on the surface it seems like we should all be careful.

I don’t see any reason to panic.  In 30 years at this location, we have never had a single attack or face-to-face robbery.  So let’s keep that good record intact.

All we have to do is use common sense.

We should all walk in groups when ever possible, walk towards the center of the street and away from the bushes, always be scanning the area when walking  - don’t be distracted by talking on a cell phone, make sure all doors are locked before leaving your car upon parking it, and for an extra degree of protection - when returning to your car, quickly look inside to make sure nobody is hiding in it, get into your car and lock the doors behind you.

You ladies should not feel guilty about asking a man to walk with you.  In addition remember there is a security guard at the hospital who will likely keep an eye on you if you ask him nicely.

But most of all follow your instincts. If you get a funny feeling about somebody or the area, return immediately to the club where there are other people.



·         Contributed by Rodrigo Aranda


Brenda O’Malley is home making dinner, as usual, when Tim Finnegan arrives at her door.

“Brenda, may I come in?” he asks. “I’ve somethin’ to tell ya.”

“Of course you can come in, you’re always welcome, Tim. But where’s my husband?”

“That’s what I’m here to be tellin’ ya, Brenda. There was an accident down at the Guiness brewery...”

“Oh, God no!” cries Brenda. “Please don’t tell me...”

“I must, Brenda. Your husband Shamus is dead and gone. I’m sorry.”

Finally, she looked up at Tim. “How did it happen, Tim?”

“It was terrible, Brenda. He fell into a vat of Guinness Stout and drowned.”

“Oh my dear Jesus! But you must tell me true, Tim. Did he at least go quickly?”

“Well, no Brenda... no.  It took a terrible long time.”


“Fact is, Shamus got out three times to pee.”


And that’s a Wrap!

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