May 2008
Home Up June 2008

2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999

2008 Newsletter Home

Newsletter Home Slow Dance and Romance
January February March April May June
July August September October November December
2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999

2008 Newsletter Home

Newsletter Home Slow Dance and Romance
January February March April May June
July August September October November December

There were two Newsletters in May
May Issue One
May Issue Two


This is the Second SSQQ Newsletter for May 2008
The SSQQ Newsletter is written by Rick Archer


9:15 - 11:30 pm, cover charge $7
Take a Cue and Wear some Blue!

(To register, just show up 15 minutes before class starts. Registration goes very fast.
DIRTY DANCING - Ben (Cpls Only)

A fun evening of Western Dancing! The featured Crash Course is Ben Liles and his infamous "Dirty Dancing" Crash Course. The Dirty Dance Crash Course is twenty years old, but it is just as much fun today as it has been for the last two decades. Based of course on the movie, these intimate moves are best used to Swing and Jitterbug music. However a creative mind can find many different dances to apply them to. Some people don't even need music.
Ladies, be sure to wear several layers of clothing... just kidding.

I am forbidden to name names so this person's identity shall remain a complete secret.
I have managed to publish another page of pictures from last year's Caribbean Dance Cruise. At this rate, I think I will finish last year's writeup about a week before we set sail for this year's trip.

Maybe I will even get started on Hawaii again. I could use some encouragement.


James Requenez and Melissa Wilkes definitely qualify as one of our "Flying Under the Radar" couples. James took ten dance classes (mostly Western) back in 2004. Melissa Wilkes took ten classes back in 2004, mostly Western but some Jitterbug as well.
They started dating and quietly dropped out of sight here at the studio.
Last fall I was dancing at Practice Night with an attractive lady named Crystal Davenport. While we danced, she mentioned that some friends of hers were getting married soon and that they had met here at the studio. When Crystal gave me their names, I drew a complete blank.
It turns out that James and Melissa are now living in Denver, Colorado! If Crystal hadn't casually mentioned their names, I would have never known. Their story is one of the reasons I contend that the list of SSQQ couples that have gotten married only has about 80% of the names since 2000. And of course the couples I have listed for the Eighties and Nineties bat somewhere around 50 percent. Too bad I was asleep at the wheel back in those days and didn't write things down. Oh well.
A couple years ago, I wrote a long story about the history of Romance here at SSQQ. If you have never read it, I assure you the "Matchmaker" is a great tale!


Doggone it, we still haven't filled that Hall Monitor spot.
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. You can email her at

Not only do we pay you for your time, as perks go, you are bound to be engaged within a year. After all, SSQQ is the Wedding Capital of the Universe! You will have your pick of countless thousands of handsome SSQQ men and beautiful SSQQ women to choose from!

July 20-July 27

Since our last newsletter, we have added 2 more people to the trip. We are now up to 51 people!
This is very good news because we have qualified for a cocktail party courtesy of Royal Caribbean. Therefore no one has permission to drop out or the rest of us will come get you!
Frankly, this is the most amazing trip we have ever booked. Italy-Greece turns out to be the hottest ticket this summer. Even with all the gas problems, according to the travel magazines, this Mediterranean trip remains the most popular destination in the cruise industry right now.
Marla's Memo's
There is still space available on this trip at the prevailing rate. If interested please contact me ASAP. Marla 713 862 4428 (10 am - 3 pm) or

Ann Al-Jazrawi and her husband Sam are heading off to Europe late in May for an amazing two-month Odyssey across Europe.
Ann is a vivacious blonde lady who has been in a couple of my Western classes. You might know Ann from her Swing classes or the aforementioned Western classes. Or perhaps you know one or both of Ann's lovely daughters - Gina Nelson and Joy Al-Jazrawi - who are quickly becoming talented Western Swing dancers.
Joy and Gina are my official bodyguards (inside joke). One night while they were on Protection Duty during Friday Night Western Practice, I was yapping about my upcoming Greece trip and how proud I was to finally get the chance to see a little bit of Europe.
Well, they couldn't help themselves. They immediately began to tell me about their mother's amazing two-month trip! My eyes began to bulge. I mean, Ann's Itinerary is incredible - Madrid, Alicante, Istanbul, Athens, Rome, Nice, Geneva, London, Bremen, and Paris! And did I mention the 7-day cruise across the Aegean Sea? The thought of a trip like this knocked my socks off. I would kill to visit the Swiss Alps!
So when I saw Ann in dance class the following week, I told her how envious I was. Ann grinned at me and began to rattle off the same mouth-watering locations her daughters had teased me with a few nights earlier. I was hooked. It was the trip of a lifetime.
Even more ridiculous, every time I saw Ann she would make a point to tell me some new location that had been tacked on at the end of the trip. Suddenly a six-week trip had become an eight-week trip. I just shook my head in disbelief. From that point on, every time I saw or my bodyguards, I would pry for more information.
One night last week Ann had a present for me - she handed me a copy of her Itinerary. I put it in a safe place until I could review it further. That night in the quiet of my home I looked it over. There it was - two months of one fabulous European hot spot after another. I found myself shaking my head from side to side in awe.
Finally I decided I had to share in this vacation in some way. I asked Ann if I could follow her progress around Europe via her two daughters. Ann said of course. In fact she was tickled pink at my interest.
So when Ann and Sam head off on their two-month European Vacation later this month, the entire SSQQ Studio is going to tag along!
Get ready for Ann's Big Adventure!

Ann Al-Jazrawi isn't the only person headed to Europe this summer. As I write, Dave and Jamie Hathaway are off to Tuscany, Italy, on their eighth honeymoon (they have only been married about eight months, but it seems like they go on a different honeymoon every month). And my friend Sandy Lenarduzzi is getting married in May and honeymooning in Italy... she rubs it in every chance she gets. Making things worse for me, Joan Mastrangeli loaned Sandy some incredible book of her own trip to Italy... Sandy points out different pictures to me every time I walk by.
Between Ann, Dave, Jamie, Sandy, and Joan, I am going nuts. Just when I thought I was going to lose it with envy, lo and behold I got an email from Gary Richardson. You guessed it - amazing pictures of Italy. Wouldn't you know?
Just as a way to deal with my pain, I decided to publish the pictures. If I have to suffer, the rest of you might as well suffer too. Misery loves company!
By the way, while I was adding the Italy Pictures to the website, I noticed previous postings of China, the Louvre, Venice, and Dubai. I decided to group them all together in a special section known as "Places to Visit".
I am pretty sure you will want to take a look at these other pictures as well.
Places to Visit:


August 24-August 31
Jamaica, Grand Cayman, Cozumel

Four weeks ago we were at 90. Three weeks ago we hit 111 as of the end of March. Two weeks ago we stood at 117. Currently we stand at 120. This puts us just 5 passengers behind last year's total of 125. Marla and I expect to reward passengers 125 and 126 with a special ceremony during the trip.
Currently this is our 4th largest trip in history. Marla says there are several people on the fence about going. With any luck at all we should be able to pass last year's mark soon enough and make this one of our largest trips in history.
Marla can still get anyone on board at the prevailing rate. She also asked me to say that if you are signing up without a roommate, she will have to wait-list you until another person comes along. For example, as of Monday, May 12, we have two people wait-listed. There is one man and one who need roommates to share a $679 Inside Cabin. There is also an Oceanview cabin available at $807 a person

A couples month ago when I was first getting to know Joy and Gina (the Bodyguards), one night I told Gina about some pictures of an incredible RV that Leroy Ginzel had sent me. I told Gina I was researching a story about retiring in an RV. That's when Gina told me she had a cousin who had actually done exactly what I was talking about - he quit his job, sold his house, bought an RV, packed up his wife and his dog, and headed off into the wild blue yonder. I was so envious! Gina's story actually made the entire fantasy seem so much more real.
After that, Marla and I yapped about buying an RV whenever a spare moment came along. And when I jogged in the morning that's all I could think about. It didn't help that someone parked an RV right along my job route during a three-day visit to relatives in the Heights.
It took me about a month to finally stuff my RV Fantasy back in a bottle.
Just about the time I was getting back to reality, that darn Milt Oglesby - yes, the same Milt who aggravated me in the previous newsletter - sent me pictures of a Retirement Cabana in the South Pacific. Oh no, I just can't take it! These pictures made me drool. I wanted to fly off to the South Pacific and live on my deserted island. There I would live happily ever after with Marla and rum cocktails with funny little umbrellas in them.
I was having a hard time with this fantasy too. Finally I decided there was only one way to get it out of my system - publish the pictures and make you the Newsletter Reader suffer too!
While you are reading my story about "Fantasy Island", you will probably enjoy reading my other two articles about Retirement Fantasies: Greg Norman's Yacht and RV Retirement.
Retirement Fantasies (Fantasy Island, Greg Norman's Yacht, RV Retirement)


Speaking of Milt Oglesby, he sent me a very interesting link the other day. The link took me to a video of a woman with a magic show. Ursula Martinez has the uncanny ability to make a red handkerchief disappear!
Except that the handkerchief always seems to reappear in some part of her clothing. So Ursula removes that piece of clothing. But then the handkerchief disappears again and the cycle starts over. As you might gather, with each repetition, Ursula is increasingly becoming undressed. How far does she intend to take this? You will just have to see it for yourself.
If you are a woman, you will be fascinated. If you are a man, you will be overwhelmed.
Do yourself a favor - go watch the video! It is about five minutes long.


Last week I discovered I have a new Google Page One story on my web site. Have you ever heard of a place known as "Huashan"?
If you type "Huashan" into Google, you might be surprised to see a link to the SSQQ website appearing as the second item.
What is "Huashan"? It is a sacred mountain in China.
Why does a dance studio web site have the second most widely viewed story in the world? Good question.
Speaking of Milt Oglesby, about 18 months ago Milt sent me a very interesting email with pictures of the most dangerous Hiking Trail in the world. The pictures were so incredible that I immediately went to the Internet and started poking around. One thing led to another... the next thing I knew I was writing a story about not one, not two, not three, but four different dangerous roads and trails around the world! And it is all Milt's fault.

What I didn't expect, however, is that my story about the Death Trap on Mount Huashan in China would become a huge Internet favorite. Apparently the story I wrote about the hiking trail on the other side of the Planet has been visited many times. As an example, here's a cute email:

-----Original Message-----
From: Patsy
Sent: Thursday, May 08, 2008 11:17 PM
Subject: Mt. Huashan mountain story

"Mr. Archer,
Photography in your blog and the written descriptions were
1 - beautiful
2 - spell binding
3 - terrifying
4 - much appreciated!

Despite the old spoil sport, "Chris dude" - cheers indeed! Good work!
Thanks and happy trails from a 75 yr old granny in East Texas.
P.S. and Thank you, William, way out west in San Francisco, for sending this adventure on to me!"

By coincidence, just one day after the 75-year old grandmother emailed me, I received an email from SSQQ's Gerald McEathron identical to the one that Milt had sent me 18 months earlier.
(Side Note: Gerald is featured later in this issue. His Bear Picture is the winner of the SSQQ Joke Picture of the Month. You can see pictures of Gerald and his lovely wife Virginia on practically every page of Conquest 2007...  )

When I wrote back to tell Gerald that SSQQ had already published the most popular page on the Internet regarding this same story, he went to check it out. Here is what Gerald wrote back:

NOTE FROM GERALD - -----Original Message-----
From: Gareld
Sent: Friday, May 09, 2008 12:33 PM
Subject: Mt Huashan China

WOW!! Great story, Rick. I had not seen it before. Makes one wonder when you have time to teach dance.
I sent the link of your Huashan story to several of my friends with this introduction:
"Hi Kay, Knowing how much you like to travel to out of the way places, I thought you would find this story interesting. It was written by my friend, Rick Archer, who is a frustrated writer that is forced to make his living running a dance studio."

Gerald is right, you know. I suppose I am a frustrated writer who teaches dance lessons until I can get my big break as a writer. Ha ha ha.
Actually I am not a frustrated writer at all. Without even trying, I have had a lot of success. Not only do I enjoy writing, several of my web pages have hit it big. I have all sorts of SSQQ articles that Google places on its first page. For example:





And of course HUASHAN
If you would like to read my Huashan story, please visit:

As you can see, the SSQQ web site is not just famous in Houston, it is famous around the world.
Oddly enough, the SSQQ web site is no longer on Page One of Google when you type in 'Dance Studio'. SSQQ Dance Studio was firmly ensconced on Google's Page One for ten years, but when Google started to sell the top spots for money, other dance studios bought their way ahead of SSQQ. Cheaters! Oh well, you can still find SSQQ listed on Page Two.
I would like to conclude with a word of thanks to people like Milt Oglesby, Gary Richardson, Gerald McEathron, Leroy Ginzel and Chris Holmes. Over the years, these men have sent me all sorts of amazing stories and amazing pictures on many, many occasions.
Besides these five men, many other people as well have been kind enough send me all sorts of marvelous notes, jokes, pictures, you name it. For example, here are ten more names of people who contribute to the Newsletter on a regular basis:
1. Carol Gafford
2. Jim Landureth
3. Judy Walsh
4. Tresa Frazier
5. Bett Sundermeyer
6. Ann Faget
7. Mona Nashed
8. Phyllis Porter
9. Lonnie Lewellyn
10. Sam Longoria

As you might gather, the SSQQ Newsletter and the Mighty Mississippi have something in common. Both the Newsletter and the Mississippi started out very small. But thanks to many contributions along the way, both grew and grew and grew.
Thanks to all the great stuff that people send my way, all I have to do is turn around and share it with the rest of you. Here is a nice email to sum it up:

-----Original Message-----
From: RB
Sent: Friday, April 25, 2008 10:53 PM
Subject: Newsletter Feed Back

Hi Rick,
Your May Newsletter is just a Newsletter in the name.
You actually publish a magazine, a very entertaining magazine, I must add.

-----Original Message-----
From: Rick Archer
Sent: Saturday, April 26, 2008 8:33 AM
To: RB
Subject: RE: Newsletter Feed Back

As for the Newsletter, it's just like medicine and advice - it all goes down easier if it tastes good...
If you look closely, you will realize I am actually busy selling dance classes and cruises, but people barely notice.
That said, your words are very kind.

This past weekend, I noticed an article in the Houston Chronicle about a Woodlands gentleman named David "Buzz" Budzinski who shot a dramatic nature video featured in a story appearing on the National Geographic Channel. Budzinski commented how amazing it is the way the filmmakers dissect the action in his 8-miniute video the same way you would some famous historical event.
The color and sound of the digital video have been enhanced, Budzinski said, so Sunday's viewers can hear plainly what is going on-the interplay with the lions, the hissing of the crocodile.
Then I saw another article about the same National Geographic documentary:
Return to the scene of the attack - 2 couples retrace actions that led to video
Washington Post
· Time: 8 p.m. Sunday
· Channel: National Geographic Channel

Seeing a pride of lions during the day was very lucky, their guide told them, and because they didn't have to be back at camp for a couple of hours, they might as well sit and see what happened.
"And nothing happened for 20 to 30 minutes," said David Budzinski of The Woodlands, "but when I saw (a herd of) buffalo start to walk right toward the lions, I pulled my camera out."
For the next 8 minutes and 23 seconds the amateur videographer recorded the unfolding life-and-death drama at a watering hole, centering on a baby African buffalo, six young lions, a 600-pound crocodile and a herd of 150 to 200 buffalo.
The video was shot in Kruger National Park in the northeast corner of South Africa in the fall of 2004. Budzinski, traveling with wife Cheryl, was using a Cannon ZR 50 MC videocamera that his wife recently had received as a corporate gift. The couple were just learning to use the videocamera.
"I got the camera rolling, and I just happened to hit the right buttons," Budzinski said. "I was looking at it, constantly wondering: 'Is it on record?' 'Am I holding it right?' I really was very lucky."
That's Budzinski's wife on the video repeating "It's too late" when the buffalo charge to rescue the calf attacked by lions.
After the four-day, three-night tour, Jason Schlosberg and his wife, Donna Lombardo, of Arlington, Va., whom the Budzinskis had met that day on the safari, asked for a copy of the video. Schlosberg had taken still photos as Budzinski videotaped.
Last year, when a friend asked to see the video, Schlosberg posted it on YouTube.
The video, titled Battle at Kruger, "took off on its own," said Julie Supan, a YouTube spokeswoman.
Several hundred thousand people watched it within the first few weeks of its posting, Schlosberg said. Nearly 30 million viewers had seen Battle at Kruger by the end of April, and it was named YouTube's best eyewitness video for 2007.
And like the nature event itself, the life of the video took several twists and turns.
Erik Nelson, president of Creative Differences, a production company, said a friend sent him a link to the video.
"The moment I saw it, I thought it was, quote, the greatest nature clip of all time, unquote," Nelson said. "It unfolds as a three-act drama with the buffalo as a Greek chorus."
So Nelson contacted National Geographic Channel about making a documentary. The result is a one-hour special airing Sunday that tells the story behind the video; reunites the four travelers with their safari guide, Frank Watts, in Kruger Park at the site where the struggle had taken place; and provides commentary from wildlife experts.
One of the reasons the video is rare, Nelson said, is because it takes place in real time and is complete in its unedited form.
"And the grand finale is to watch the clip in all of its widescreen glory, technically enhanced," Nelson said. "It's not any less gripping to show it in its entirety at the end."

RICK ARCHER'S NOTE: I highly recommend you watch the video. Here are two links to the same Battle at Kruger video.

Only one problem... last night I forgot to tape the National Geographic show! Duh. I am so stupid sometimes.
But good news: it is airing again on Nat Geo at 9-10 pm this Wednesday May 12. I just set my TIVO to got get it!

When it comes to Newsletter material, I generally pride myself on traipsing along the fine line somewhere between naughty and nice. Naughty but not too naughty, Nice but not so sweet you get tooth decay reading my stories. When it comes to Naughty, I realize my material crosses the line at times and gets my web site banned at work for a lot of you, but in the secrecy of your home you can laugh away to your heart's content.
For this article I openly admit I have crossed the line of bad taste. I have published ten pictures of the most horrible motorcycle accident I have ever seen. I held onto these pictures for about six months because they were too terrible to be added to my web site.
But one day I ran across a story on the Internet questioning whether the pictures were fake or not. Curious, I went back for another look. Again I was horrified at what I saw. After my revulsion faded, I took a more detached look at the pictures. At that point, I realized I was agreeing with many people on the Internet who claimed the pictures had been staged. There were all kinds of questions being raised.
That changed things for me. Everyone loves a good mystery. After all, CSI did not become one of the top shows on television by accident. I realized I did NOT want to be hoodwinked. I also realized that I didn't have enough knowledge to guess the truth of the situation.
So I was unable to decide whether the pictures were real or false. I am leaning in one direction, but my mind isn't made up. I decided to ask the rest of you what you think on one condition - don't be angry with me for posting the pictures.
We are all big boys and big girls here. These pictures are so horrible they are as bad as any gruesome picture you have ever seen of a war casualty, probably even worse. The word "gruesome" was developed for pictures like these.
So I am warning you with all sincerity to avoid looking unless you are sure this is something you want to do.
If you want to help solve the mystery, go visit and have a look. After you read the responses, email me back to tell me what you think. I will keep your identity a secret. I just hope someone with more medical training than I have can give me some answers.
Just don't fuss at me when you find you are disgusted out of your wits. Okay?


In the previous two Newsletters, I have explored two interrelated issues:

-----Original Message-----
From: A K
Sent: Tuesday, April 29, 2008 9:11 AM
Subject: Customer is Always Right

Dear Rick-
It has only been a few years since I began lessons at SSQQ and though I was only there for a short period of time, I fondly remember the staff and the members during my experience. I have been away for about two years now-as long as I took lessons-but I still regularly read the newsletter and gaze wistfully out my window whenever I drive by the studio. Due to a career change and finding the love of my life, I have been unable to continue classes, but I still read your Newsletter cover to cover so to speak.
You and I never meshed very well during classes. I had a hard time turning off my inner- and outer-control freak and having had received some poor instruction elsewhere; I was more than a little sensitive to your criticism. Combined with an intense work schedule and some personal problems of my own, I am sure that I wasn't an ideal student. Like in everything else, I was very focused and intense.
But, more than anything, I really wanted to learn how to dance...and I did. However, it was the beginning of the end for me when you decided that I needed to be taken down a notch or two during an Int. or Adv. Whip class. During the break, you had scrawled a noted "chasten Amanda" on the palm of your hand...and you did. It wasn't pleasant, but it was one of several events that made me realize that I had some changes to make for my own well-being. It took me a while to figure out you were actually paying me a compliment - you would not have singled me out like that unless you thought I was worth the concentration. So here's a belated thank you.
I have been reading your articles on customer relations. I think that you and I embrace a number of similar business philosophies. I have always admired the straight-forward, no-nonsense way in which you have operated your facility.
In particular I applaud your efforts to accommodate the often silent greater good and resist bending to the will of the much more raucous minority. In business as in politics, you must always find ways to appeal to the greatest cross-section of customers.
Often, I feel as though "the customer is always right" is taken too far and consumers take advantage of a weakened economy to bully businesses into accommodating their every whim. When will people learn to keep their grubby, little hands off things they have no concern with? (i.e. the thermostat!) People are often unable to see the bigger picture and why things are done in a certain manner.
As for my own business, I have been in the landscaping/horticulture business since I was in high school. However, it still amazes that people still think that there is a big plant store somewhere that I can just order whatever they want...regardless of how big or small the quantity... and it have it ready for them instantly. I can tell you how many people get irate when I can't have it ready for them in ten minutes and why wasn't I listening when they told me how important it is to them to have this item RIGHT NOW.
I'm not sure why I have written this after so much time away from your studio, but I guess because it is never too late to tell someone "thank you" and let them know that they made a difference. Thank you for a fabulous contribution to the community of dance.
Regards-A K

Contributed by Gerald McEathron
So the Park Ranger releases a captive bear back into the environment. And does the Bear remember to say thank you? Definitely not! Go take a look!


Contributed by Gary Richardon
Three bulls heard via the grapevine that the rancher was going to bring yet another bull onto the ranch. This prospect raised a discussion among them.
First Bull: "Boys, we all know I've been here 5 years. Once we settled our differences, we agreed on which 100 of the cows would be mine. Now, I don't know where this newcomer is going to get HIS cows, but I ain't givin' him any of mine."
Second Bull: "That pretty much says it for me, too. I've been here three years and have earned my right to the 50 cows we've agreed are mine. I'll fight him, run him off or kill him, but I'm KEEPING ALL MY COWS TO MYSELF!"
Third Bull: "I've only been here a year, and so far you guys have only let me have ten cows to 'take care of.' I may not be as big as you fellows yet, but I am young and virile and I have too much energy. I simply MUST keep all MY cows."
They had just finished their tough talk when an massive eighteen-wheeler pulls up in the middle of the pasture carrying JUST ONE SINGLE ANIMAL INSIDE.
The three bulls gasped as the biggest Son-of-A-Bull these guys had ever seen appeared at the edge of the truck. Weighing in at 4,700 pounds, each step he took toward the ground strained the steel ramp to the breaking point. It felt like a minor earthquake each time the bull took a step.
First Bull: "Ahem...You know, it's actually been some time since I really felt I was doing all my cows justice anyway. I think I can spare a few for our new friend."
Second Bull: "I'll have plenty of cows to take care of. But as a welcome to pasture gesture, I might let him have a couple of my cows. Then while he's adjusting, maybe I'll just stay on the opposite end of the pasture from HIM. I'm certainly not looking for any arguments."
Then a new sound distracted the two older bulls. The two veterans turned around and looked over at third bull. They saw their younger counterpart pawing aggressively at the dirt, shaking his horns, and snorting in the direction of the Godzilla Bull.
The two old bulls looked at each other in astonishment. Did their young friend have a secret death wish?? This was one fool bull that needed some explaining!
First Bull: "Son, let me give you some advice real quick. Let him have some of your cows and live to tell about it."
Second Bull: "Young 'un, you ain't gonna last till the end of the day acting like this. Give Godzilla his due and get out of the way."
Third Bull: "Hell, Godzilla can have ALL my cows! I'm just making sure he knows I'm a bull!"

MISCREANT: An evildoer, infidel, heretic, villainous or base, vicious or depraved person; someone who behaves badly, a scoundrel.


There were two Newsletters in May
May Issue One
May Issue Two


The SSQQ Newsletter is written by Rick Archer 


This is a TWO IN ONE Dance Party.  We have Western in one room (we take down all the walls; there’s plenty of room plus lots of tables) and Whip in another.  It allows people to go back and forth all evening and see what’s happening in the different venues.  The Western people love Midnight... that’s the hour when the Whippers become Strippers.  We take what little clothing we are still wearing completely off.

This year’s party promises to be one of the absolute sleaziest in years.  For those of you who aren’t sure this is a good thing, let me reassure you this is a very good thing.  I can’t tell you the number of women who are actually bragging to me about their outfits. 

This is a very good sign.

When women are proud of their sleazy outfits, I know we are on to something special.  In addition, I will be taking a collection on the night of the party from the men to turn off the air-conditioning.  Anything to help the clothes come off faster, right?  Who said we had to play fair?  This is truly a ‘no-holds-barred’ kind of party. 

By the way - a word to the wise - we talk a much better game about this party than we act. 

This party actually makes people laugh!  It gives us all an opportunity to play-act at being rough, bad, tawdry characters.  Although I imagine one or two people get carried away, the vast majority of us love the music, love the dancing, and love being silly.  So do not be intimidated by anything you hear.  If it is possible to misbehave in a clean-cut way, that would be us.  We have a marvelous time at this party.  Promise.


This is actually a very funny party, but newcomers find it hard to understand the inside jokes. There is no way to completely appreciate the SSQQ Sleazy Bar Party unless you know the story behind it.  We have two stories to read as Sleazy Bar Homework.


This year we have a brand new story for you to read: ‘The Legend of the Four Palms’. 

Back in 1986 I visited a very nasty club on the wrong side of town each week in pursuit of some of the best blues music I have ever heard in my life... only to discover via a news article that my favorite dive concealed a very dark secret.  I was deeply stunned.

By chance I recently ran across the article again twenty years later.  I decided to publish it in honor of this year’s party.  After all, if it weren’t for the Four Palms, this party would not even exist. 

A tribute seems in order, yes?



Have you ever heard the story about the origin of the Sleazy Bar Whip Party? 

Until the ‘Legend of the Four Palms’ article was re-discovered, my previous story about my experiences at the Four Palms was all we had to go on.  It remains a pretty story.

In addition, you will be fascinated to read how in the second year of our party we were raided by the Bellaire Police. 

The Police entered the building and suddenly thought they had stumbled on the biggest Biker Gang in Bellaire history.  One policeman even had his hand on his holster as he grimly surveyed the scene. Do you think I am kidding?  You don’t believe me?  Well, I am not kidding. It is a bizarre and very interesting true story!! 

Read the History of the SSQQ Sleazy Bar Whip Party.

One more thing - SSQQ welcomes everyone to this party regardless of where they learned to dance.  Who cares?  All we ask is that everyone leave your flag at home and come join us the spirit of community.  There is no propaganda, no agenda, and no horn tootin’. 

We just want everyone to dance and have fun.  The more the merrier.


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


Our Special class of the month is



From:        Tom Potter
Sent:          Friday, April 11, 2008 3:11 PM
To:             Maureen Brunetti
Subject:     Dancin’ in DC

“Hi Maureen:

Last week Claire and I went dancing one nite in D.C. at a gig called: “Jam Cellar”.

While there a man asked where we were from and when told, he wanted to know if we danced at SSQQ.  We said yes.

He said so did he about 4 or 5 years ago and took Swing Charleston from Maureen.

We said that we sorta knew you and that we sorta knew sing Charleston.

Then we proceeded to dance our feets off! They loved it!
And, I might add, that was a dancing crowd. there were some very good lindy dancers there. Of course, none knew as many moves as we did in Charleston...

already forgot the guys name, but he remembered you....

thanks again, we talk about you every time someone comments on our Charleston.
BTW, also danced in Baltimore and  the instructor wanted to know where we were from and wanted Claire to dance, but she declined.

regards and warm thoughts, Tom” 

RICK ARCHER’S NOTE:  Maureen forwarded the letter to me.  Lo and behold, I got the hint!

Tom Potter (who wrote the email to Maureen) was right on the money.  Swing Charleston patterns are unbelievably eye-catching.  They are patterns that performers use to wow their audience. 

Many people are surprised to find that Charleston was actually the first Swing dance back in the Twenties.  Charleston morphed into Lindy, which morphed into Swing, which morphed into Jitterbug, which morphed into West Coast Swing, Shag, and Hustle....



The fascinating Swing Charleston kick patterns can be easily merged with regular Swing.  Although Swing Charleston patterns are 8-beats and Swing patterns are 6 beats, it is relatively simple to go back and forth.

There are two Swing Charleston courses.  The first month covers Side-by-Side Charleston patterns and shows you how to get in from Swing and back to Swing.

Swing Charleston Classic patterns include Bus Driver, Kick and Rock, Side-by-Side Charleston, and Crossed-Hand Charleston as well as others. Many people are not aware that the Lindy originated out of the Charleston. In particular, the “Side by Side” and “Crossed-Hands” patterns were pretty much the first Lindy patterns ever used when Lindy was making its breakout from the Charleston in the 1920s.

Next month Maureen will tackle Tandem Charleston.  Please note this is an Advanced class, so if you haven’t finished Intermediate Swing, steer clear. Thanks!!

What is neat about Swing Charleston is that you can dance Swing to ‘Candyman’ or ‘Mambo Number Five’ for a while, then flip a switch and dance Swing Charleston to the same song for a while, then go back to Swing. 

Once you learn Swing Charleston, you literally double your repertoire of patterns.  Pretty exciting stuff. 

Class begins this coming Sunday.  If you have had Intermediate Swing, give it a shot.  Great class!



This past week, Gerry Francis proudly announced his engagement to Ms. Amy Adams. 

I am embarrassed to admit I haven’t quite yet tracked them down to get a picture, but I will soon enough.

I don’t know much about Amy Adams.  She started taking Twostep classes in January of this year.  I think she and Gerry hit it off almost immediately.  I remember meeting Amy on Wednesday, February 25, during Western Practice Night.  Amy said she was practicing diligently to get ready to dance on the summer cruise! 

Amy also made it clear she wanted me to post more pictures of Gerry misbehaving on last year’s Conquest Cruise.  I really appreciated Amy’s interest at the time. To that point, Gerry had been a little slow getting his ‘hush money’ to me, but he handed me the entire amount the following Friday.

Gerry Francis has been a big part of this studio for the past three years.  In this short span of time, Gerry has taken over 40 dance classes!  

But lately Gerry hasn’t been quite as ‘big’ a part as he used to be.  (That’s a joke, by the way).  If you have trouble recognizing Gerry, it might be because he has recently lost quite a bit of weight.  Gerry has become knockout good-looking in the process.  Now these are not my words, but Marla said she didn’t mind if I repeated them.

In addition, he has participated in our activities in every way imaginable.  For starters, Gerry had a great time on last year’s 2007 Conquest Cruise.  He got in so much trouble!  Alas, he paid the hush money so I cannot reveal anything further.

Gerry has also found the time to serve as a valuable assistant instructor in Swing and Ballroom classes.  Marla and I fight over Gerry at all times to get him to be our assistant in dance class because he is both loveable and reliable... a potent combination indeed. 

Gerry has also been a fantastic Friday night Hall Monitor for some time.  He watches our back every Friday night.  I don’t think it is an accident that attendance on Friday Night Practice has been growing steadily for some time.  I give Gerry a lot of credit.  His smiling face and responsible attitude towards minding the front door have allowed all the rest of us to dance the night away knowing our backs are covered.

Good things happen to good people.

Oddly enough, Gerry is just one of our Hall Monitors who is getting married.  At the end of May, the vivacious Sandy Lenarduzzi is getting married and honeymooning in Italy.  Soon former SSQQ Hall Monitor Sue Cirelli will be getting married.  And of course current SSQQ Hall Monitor Tammey Goodner will also be getting married in June. 

And don’t let me forget Wednesday Hall Monitor Barry Newmark who married SSQQ student Renee Fuller late last year!

Five SSQQ Hall Monitors married or engaged in a six-month span.  Wow!

You almost have to wonder if it is more than a coincidence.  Let me add that our next article should come as no surprise to anyone...


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.  You can email her at

Not only do we pay you for your time, as perks go, you are bound to be engaged within a year.  You have your pick of countless thousands.


July 20-July 27

Since our last newsletter, we have added 2 more people to the trip.  We are now up to 51 people!

This is very good news because we have qualified for a cocktail party courtesy of Royal Caribbean.  Therefore no one has permission to drop out or the rest of us will come get you!

Frankly, this is the most amazing trip we have ever booked.  Italy-Greece turns out to be the hottest ticket this summer.  Even with all the gas problems, according to the travel magazines, this Mediterranean trip remains the most popular destination in the cruise industry right now.

Marla’s Memo’s

We still have two inside cabins at the original group rate of $1101 per person.

I will lose these cabins on April 24th.  If interested please contact me ASAP.

Marla 713 862 4428 (10 am - 3 pm) or




August 24-August 31

Jamaica, Grand Cayman, Cozumel

Four weeks ago we were at 90.  Three weeks ago we hit 111 as of the end of March.  Two weeks ago we stood at 117.  Currently we stand at 120.  This puts us just 5 passengers behind last year’s total of 125.  Marla and I expect to reward passengers 125 and 126 with a special ceremony during the trip.

Currently this is our 4th largest trip in history.  Marla says there are several people on the fence about going.  With any luck at all we should be able to pass last year’s mark soon enough and make this one of our largest trips in history. 

Marla can still get anyone on board at the prevailing rate.  She also asked me to say that if you are signing up without a roommate, she will have to wait-list you until another person comes along.

Marla’s email address is



Email from Marla to Rick:

-----Original Message-----
From:         Marla Archer
Sent:          Monday, April 21, 2008 3:20 PM
To:              Rick Archer
Subject:      The Celebration has been put out to Pasture

“Sayonara to Celebration:

Carnival’s Celebration departed on its final stateside cruise on April 14 from Jacksonville, where it had been sailing year-round four- and five-day cruises to the Bahamas.

The 21-year-old, 1,486-passenger ship will join Iberocruceros, Carnival’s joint venture with Orizonia Corporacion, Spain’s largest travel company, after extensive renovations.”


RICK ARCHER’S NOTE:  The Celebration was the cruise ship where Marla and I met back in 2001.  At the time, the other passengers were a little disappointed at the quality of the ship.  Personally I don’t remember much about the ship or the cruise since Marla and I were pre-occupied. 

But I do remember the Celebration had a twin sister ship named ‘Jubilee’ which we used for our 2003 trip.  The Jubilee remains the worst cruise ship I have ever been on.  The AC didn’t work, it was dismal, dirty, rundown, awful, you name it.  One night during a storm, the Jubilee started to list.  We were all at dinner.  The ship started to tilt one way, then tilt the other.  It did this several times, but after one particularly strong tilt, the Jubilee actually froze in mid-tilt.  The stabilizers were clearly unstable!   At the time, I wasn’t feeling very stable either.

As the Jubilee stayed in this position for quite some time, I had the chance to notice the water in my glass was at least 15° from being level!  I was very nervous and so were a lot of other people.   Fortunately after a minute, the ship righted itself, but that minute was a lot longer than most minutes.  That minute was at least five minutes long if you get my drift.

It was my understanding the Jubilee was put out to pasture shortly after our 2003 trip.  Good riddance!  I didn’t shed a tear for the Jubilee, but I do have fond memories of the Celebration.

I congratulate the Celebration on living 5 years longer than its twin.  You can read the story of the Vera Cruz trip on the SSQQ web site.



Written by Rick Archer (and Marla Archer)

Rick Archer’s Note:  In our previous Newsletter, I printed 6 pages.... That’s right.... 6 pages of emails dealing with communication problems with we had with one particular student... that’s right... six pages of emails/ one student. 

In retrospect, maybe those emails weren’t that exciting.  Here is what one Newsletter reader had to say about my efforts at International Diplomacy.  Please note beforehand that it is an email from a known nuisance dance student who probably couldn’t care less about all the bad things I say about him.)

-----Original Message-----
From:         MILT
Sent:          Friday, April 11, 2008 7:54 AM
Subject:      Re: April SSQQ Newsletter Third Week

“Hey Rick, what did you do, clean out your email box?

Tell them to stuff it if they don’t like the rules. ha 

Or tell them they could buy the place and then change the rules to suit themselves.

Too much reading for so little meaningful info.

You must have been bored.

I guess I need to send you more dirty pictures.  ha

Have a grate day if you are cooking outside.”

Rick Archer’s Note:  Ordinarily I would protect the identity of the responder, but Milt is in trouble with me today for sending me new pictures of the most extraordinary Island home and yacht I have ever seen.  The envy created by that email put me in a really bad mood.

If by chance anyone got the same email and wants to help me rough up Milt, let me know.

Are you are dying for a huge case of envy?  If so, let me know and I will show you Milt’s pictures in the next Newsletter.  Then you can join my Tilt the Milt Gang and we can all Jubilee him (see previous article).



“Longtime readers of the SSQQ Newsletter know that I occasionally rant about SSQQ customers.  Perhaps the best example is my story about the Demon Dance Customer in last year’s October Newsletter.

The adage as we all know is that the customer is always right.  That said, this sentiment seems to in question these days.  For example, I have a friend who tells me she fires her customers occasionally when they stand her up for appointments.  She does it in a nice way, but makes it clear it is time for them to find a replacement for her.

That said, if truth be told, I don’t fire very many students.  I would estimate maybe one person a year gets excommunicated from SSQQ.  There are a couple I would like to strangle, but by and large the people who come to the studio are friendly, honest, and decent people.  The vast majority of our customers are marvelous human beings.

So what does a student have to do to get fired?”   




Rick Archer’s Note:  In the past, most of the complaints have been directed at me.  But today, I am going to do the complaining.  I am upset with a student whose name and identity will remain confidential.

One really easy way to get fired as a student (or an employee for that matter) is to be rude to my wife.

SSQQ currently enjoys one of the happiest Eras of my career.  There are so many people who contribute to this Era that the list is practically endless. 

If I name a few, I insult the ones I leave off.

If I name a lot, this 15-page Newsletter doubles in length.

So for now I will stick to one person.

At the top of the List is my wife Marla.   Thanks to her hard work, I have a special name for this particular Era:

It is the LOVE BOAT ERA.

Not only does Marla keep a steady hand on the business details of SSQQ, her work with the two SSQQ cruises each year is phenomenal.  No one but me sees the daily work Marla puts in answering the phone with both current and potential Cruise customers, interacting with Royal Caribbean and Carnival booking agents, and typing endless replies to an endless number of email questions.  Add to that her interaction with her host travel agency, her constant review of the travel possibilities on the Internet, and all the paper shuffling she handles, you have one very busy woman.

As I am fond of saying, “Many of you, few of me.”   Well, when it comes to the Cruises, Marla operates under the same conditions.  There is only one Marla, but this year there are nearly 200 cruisers (many of whom are brand new and feeling intimidated)!

Not only does Marla patiently answer many of the same questions day in - day out for different people, there are some cruisers who seem to make a hobby emailing Marla practically every other day.  One person has emailed Marla 38 times regarding one cruise.  Nor is he/she the exception.  There are two other people with over 30 emails.  Many of you/Few of Marla.

When I ask Marla if it gets old, she nods yes, but then she quickly adds that every job has its good sides and bad sides.  She understands that diligence in regards to correspondence is part of making sure that each cruise is well organized and that new people feel they are going to sea prepared.


From:         ANONYMOUS
Date:          04/15/2008 5:38:49 PM
Subject:      Cruise in August

“Good Afternoon Marla,

I was looking at the Cruise you are putting together in August but the prices seemed high.

When I went onto the Carnival Cruise site, I found the attached rates. (RA’s NOTE: NO RATES WERE ATTACHED)

Also, I know that for every 8 or 10 people that sign up, there is one free cruise for the person putting it together.

Am I mistaking? Is there something added into the price of the cruise for the SSQQ people that is not included in the price listed on the Carnival website? My friend and I would like to go but not if we have to pay more than Joe Nonssqq - hahaha

Kind Regards,

PS - If you search the Internet, MANY of the travel agents are offering $100 per person discount and/or double class upgrades. Certainly SSQQ wouldn’t charge their people more just to make a couple of bucks.”



“Certainly SSQQ wouldn’t charge their people more just to make a couple of bucks... ha ha ha”

This email upset Marla. Not only did this individual have their facts WRONG, Marla didn’t appreciate the insinuation that she marked up the price. 

For the record, Marla received an average of about $25 a person in commissions for last year’s dance cruise.  This is no one’s business, but I thought I would share it with everyone nevertheless.

From the start, Marla has organized these cruises as her way of making a special contribution to our studio.  She has a natural ability for this job.  Marla also puts her heart into it.

Marla could make more money at this, but she generally returns her perks to our passengers in the form of cocktail parties, champagne parties, and upgrades. 

As the Almighty is my witness, if you divided the hours Marla puts into these cruises into the commission she receives, her rate would be well below the federal hourly minimum.  She does this work from her heart, not for the money.

Despite the pleasantries, the innocent little questions and the joking banter, this email should be read for what it is:  a poorly veiled innuendo that Marla marks up the price.  I counted 7 different passages that called into question the price tag in one way or another.

This was the email equivalent of a slap in the face.  I was angry when I saw that email.  This person crossed the line and now I had something to say.


To:              ANONYMOUS
Subject:      Cruise in August
Date:          Wed, 16 Apr 2008 06:26:31 -0500

SSQQ has been doing these cruises now for eight years. 

You have the distinction of sending perhaps the least polite initial email regarding the cruise trips we organize that I have seen yet.

If you have so little initial confidence in us, I doubt things are going to get much better.

I will remove your name, but rest assured this email is hitting the newsletter later this week. 



-----Original Message-----
From:         ANONYMOUS
Sent:          Wednesday, April 16, 2008 6:58 AM
To:              Rick Archer;
Subject:      RE: Cruise in August 

Mr. Archer

Might I suggest that you re-read the email and see that it was not written as you have interpreted?

I regret that you have taken such a defensive position, and while I do not believe that you have meant a threat of trying to defame me or damage my name and reputation, how else am I supposed to read your email.

Having met you, I would not believe you are one who treats a simple question with such defamatory remarks. If you have such strong feelings, might I suggest a more professional action, such as a phone call or personal confrontation?

I have been coming to your facility for XXX and have brought dozens of new clients. Do you really think it is my attempt to intentionally harm SSQQ? Certainly not but my question was valid and just, based on current information available.

Mr. Archer, the email was sent to Marla with reasonable expectations of privacy. I do not give permission to broadcast it through your newsletter with any reference to my name or being, and I would encourage you to contact me to discuss this matter if you so feel inclined.

With Business Regards, ANONYMOUS



I said, “You have the distinction of sending perhaps the least polite initial email regarding the cruise trips we organize that I have seen yet.”

Last time I checked

1)   To be defamatory, you have to identify the person

2)   To be defamatory, you have to say something false.   


To:              ANONYMOUS
Subject:      RE: Cruise in August
Date:          Wed, 16 Apr 2008 09:55:43 -0500

No one said you were trying to harm SSQQ, but the tone of your first email clearly insinuated that Marla was inflating the price (which is not true).  I believe Marla has already replied to you with the facts of the matter.

Now as for your second email, since I have been publishing student emails in my studio’s Newsletter now for the past ten years, what gave you the impression you could write us “with a reasonable expectation of privacy?”

I previously told you I intend to publish the letter with your name omitted, but now that you have bullied me into submission, I will again promise to omit your name.  I will also omit your name when I publish your follow-up letter as well.

Don’t worry. You have my word on that as you did the first time.  I have no doubt your pristine reputation will be maintained.

Out of curiosity, if you think your initial email was harmless as you so claim, why do you feel so compelled to lawyer-up?


-----Original Message-----
From:         ANONYMOUS
Sent:          Wednesday, April 16, 2008 10:59 AM
To:              Rick Archer
Subject:      This is not the correct manner / media for these communications. 

My email was directed as a personal correspondence to Marla and in no way was intended as a student email regarding SSQQ. If I was aware of the fact that others beside her would be reading the message or if that it was open to possible publication, it would have been written with this in mind. Is it SSQQ policy to hold all correspondence open to publication? Is that posted somewhere?

Of course it is your decision as to what you decide to publish but might I suggest that as you read my email and interpreted it in an incorrect manner, I read your email also equally as offensive and as an attack and threat against posing a reasonable question about one of your products. If that was not your intent, then I too might have incorrectly reacted as you did.

I did smile with your “lawyering up” comment. Although I am not licensed, it appears my training over the years is starting to show through. As a XXX in many companies, I am constantly amazed at the manner in which we are forced to communicate. Also, at $250 - $400 per hour, my legal staff is always willing to make mountains out of molehills. No wonder there are so many derogatory lawyer jokes.

I again extend the offer of a phone call or face to face (I am there 3-4 times a week) as I am sure you will agree that there is no benefit to each of us escalating this relatively minor annoyance or damaging relationships.



I did not respond any further.  However, I did go ask Marla what the truth was regarding the initial email from ANONYMOUS.  Here are Marla’s responses:


ANONYMOUS SAID:  I was looking at the Cruise you are putting together in August but the prices seemed high.  When I went onto the Carnival Cruise site, I found the attached rates. (RA’s NOTE: NO RATES WERE ATTACHED)


As of the day that I received the initial email from ANONYMOUS, the rate on the SSQQ site was absolutely identical to the prevailing rate on the CARNIVAL site.  However, Carnival did not bother to list the fuel surcharge ($35) or taxes ($80).  This is a common practice in the industry used to make the prices of the cruise seem less than they really are.



ANONYMOUS SAID:  Also, I know that for every 8 or 10 people that sign up, there is one free cruise for the person putting it together.


The long-time industry standard is that every Sixteenth person goes for free.  This is a deeply misunderstood rule.  The reality is that Cruise Fare Only is free.  Port Fees ($160), Taxes ($80), and Fuel Charge ($35) must be paid regardless. 

If ANONYMOUS brings me 15 completely new passengers who have never been on an SSQQ cruise before, I would be more than happy to comp the Cruise Fare, but ANONYMOUS would still be responsible for the remaining $275 for port fees, taxes, and charges.



ANONYMOUS SAID:  Am I mistaken? Is there something added into the price of the cruise for the SSQQ people that is not included in the price listed on the Carnival website? My friend and I would like to go but not if we have to pay more than Joe Nonssqq - hahaha


For the record, there is absolutely NO MARKUP in the SSQQ price.  I get paid a commission and that’s it.

I would like to point out something else.  Here is a list of past perks provided by SSQQ as our way of thanking people for becoming members of our group:

1.   SSQQ pre-Cruise meeting
2.   Free Admission to the SSQQ Saturday Party prior to departure the following day.
3.   Private cocktail party
4.   Free dance lessons
5.   Champagne party
6.   Chocolates delivered to cabin
7.   Group dining
8.   On board credits
9.   Upgrades
10.  Organizing Group photo (and posting it on the Internet)
11.  Rick’s Cruise Writeup (hmm)
12.  SSQQ Cruise After-Party 

If ANONYMOUS were to sign up directly through Carnival’s Website, he or she would receive none of those twelve benefits. 

And let me add, if ANONYMOUS had come to me prior to our Group Registration Deadline on April 10th, he or she would have received a discount of $95 to $135 off the prevailing rate offered at that time by Carnival.  We were a hundred dollars below market price.  There were several warnings of the upcoming deadline well in advance, both on the website and in previous newsletters. You can’t wait forever!


ANONYMOUS SAID:  PS - If you search the Internet, MANY of the travel agents are offering $100 per person discount and/or double class upgrades. Certainly SSQQ wouldn’t charge their people more just to make a couple of bucks.”


The same day I received the initial email, I visited Travelocity, one of the largest Internet Travel booking engines, to check on this claim made by ANONYMOUS.  Their rate was identical to Carnival’s prevailing rate.  There was no offer of $100 discounts whatsoever.  If ANONYMOUS thought there was a suspicious discrepancy, Travelocity chose not to list Taxes ($80), and Fuel Charge ($35) in their posted fare.  Since this adds up to $115, perhaps this caused the $100 misconception on the part of ANONYMOUS. 

Let me add I saved an entire document worth of comparative shopping I did that day in response to the email from ANONYMOUS.  If anyone - including ANONYMOUS - wishes to see that document, please email me ( ) and I will forward my research on the spot. 

You have my word that everything I have said is correct to the best of my knowledge and I can prove it too.



RICK ARCHER’S NOTE:  While ANONYMOUS and I were exchanging emails; ANONYMOUS also wrote to Marla one more time.

-----Original Message-----
From:         ANONYMOUS
Sent:          Tuesday, April 15, 2008 9:28 PM
To:              Marla Archer
Subject:      RE: Cruise in August 

“Do we want to go?”  Of course we do!  Who wouldn’t want to join the rag tag miscreants of SSQQ?  It looks like a blast.

I’ll just need to see if I buy through you guys or online.  Would we still be allowed to play with the group if we bought our tickets online?



It never ceases to amaze me the number of people who book elsewhere, then expect Rick and Marla to welcome them into the Group with open arms.  Why do people suspend their innate sense of decency in order to save $10 here or $20 there?

If I read between the lines what ANONYMOUS is saying to me, it goes something like this: “Marla, I heard you organized a marvelous rag tag group of miscreants.   By the way, I just signed up for that same trip online.  That means I took $25 out of your pocket so I could save $10-20 out of my pocket, but surely you won’t have a problem with me joining your miscreants?”

ANONYMOUS wants to get something for nothing.  This attitude is so irritating I almost wonder if it was said deliberately to provoke me!   If so, nice shot.  You scored a bull’s eye.

‘Crashing the Party’ is an industry-wide headache.  Not one group organizer would permit such a thing.  Every website I visit has some sort of prohibition against people joining without an invitation.

Throughout the Travel Industry -Vacations to Go and Sundancer Cruises are two examples - everyone who organizes group cruise trips has to deal with this problem.


“Dances & Workshops will be “Private Parties” only available to our group! 

You must book with Sundancer Cruises to participate in Workshops and Dances.”


Q- “Can I book with my local travel agent or directly with the cruise line and still join your singles group activities?”

A- “Sorry, no. To be part of our singles group, you must book the cruise through Vacations To Go. Any singles onboard who did not book through Vacations To Go will be denied access to our special events, cocktail parties, shore excursions and dining.”

SSQQ has an almost identical policy to Vacations to Go.

Known as the ‘Book it or Hook It’ Rule, we were forced to institute this policy after several abuses.

Our policy states: “You must book your cruise with SSQQ in order to be part of our group.”

In the case of ANONYMOUS  (“I’ll just need to see if I buy through you guys or online/ would we still be allowed to play with the group if we bought our tickets online?’), ANONYMOUS has been fired from the trip so it is a moot point. 

As we wrap this story up, there are some things I would like to say to everyone who has taken a cruise with us, be they past, present, and future.

I do not want anyone on my trip who distrusts me to the degree expressed by ANONYMOUS. 

I tell the truth.  Always.  Whatever I print on the web site, that is the truth as I know it when I print it.  You have my word on that.

If you think I am gouging people I consider to be personal friends to line my pockets, please find another agent or book on the Internet.  Just leave me alone and don’t ask to join the group!

I have chosen to defend myself this time, but from now on I won’t bother.  I will simply post this document on a permanent spot on the SSQQ travel web site.  Then if anyone doubts my word, I’ll just email him or her the link.

Of course people have a right to ask questions about pricing!  I answer questions all the time.  But ask in a respectful manner, and try checking your facts first.

I have now successfully organized eleven cruise trips over a period of six years.  My work is published on the SSQQ web site for anyone to review.  I know what I am doing and I stand by my record.

Our cruise numbers grow every year for a reason - people have learned to trust me.  And I am grateful for your confidence.

But I do not appreciate having my reputation challenged, especially by someone as ignorant as this customer!

Nor do I appreciate having sarcastic, demeaning people challenge my integrity or my competence. This is exactly the kind of condescension that takes the fun out of my work. 

If you will treat me with respect, I will organize the best trip I possibly can for you and I will answer your questions to the best of my ability.  But please don’t question my word.  That is all I ask.

Thank you,

Marla Archer




RICK ARCHER’S NOTE: Two Newsletters ago, I first printed this article.  Read it quickly or skip it if you have already seen it:

“In our previous issue, I published a wonderful article on the Health Benefits of Social Dance.  It was a lovely article contributed to the Newsletter by Helen Lengel.

Personally, I loved the article and expected the readers to enjoy it as well.  But I didn’t hear a thing.  Just one little email from my friend Kathleen Ballantfant of the Bellaire newspaper who agreed that it was a marvelous article.  After that, deafening silence.

Whenever I go to the Renaissance Festival, I make sure to visit the Mud Wrestlers.  Beforehand, this half-naked mud-crusted quasi-pervert gets up and reminds the people in the crowd that a Dead Audience results in a Dead Show.  I have actually been at a show where the applause barely moved the Scream Meter.  Sure enough, the energy of that performance was kind of listless.

Now you know and I know the score.  They should be professional and do their mud-wrestling antics with the same enthusiasm time and time again.  But you know what?  It really helps to have some interaction.

Ever since I have switched to this Weber Email Service, I have been looking to hit my stride again with the SSQQ Newsletter.  In the old days, people would write me all sorts of things and we would get an exchange going.

These days I don’t hear a thing. I have no idea if anyone reads the Newsletter any more.  So I admit it’s tough to put much energy into the Newsletter. 

Part of the problem is we haven’t had much in the way of complaints lately.  Those complaints used to get my blood boiling and I would rant and you would love it.  Go Rick Go Rick!

Somehow I have to believe the complaints will be back.  But in the meantime, do me a favor.  Send me some feedback so I will know what you like in the Newsletter and what bores you to tears.  If you care, I will gladly protect your identity.  So let’s get this thing going again!”

(RICK ARCHER’S NOTEThis issue marks the Third Time I have printed this article.

The First Time I printed it, I received ZERO responses. 

The Second Time I printed it, I received many very kind responses.  I would like to thank:

1.   D C
2.   Polly  (yes, Dakota asked her to leave)
3.   Greg
4.   Will
5.   the lovely and beautiful Lisa  (thank you for the picture)
6.   Tresa
7.   Phyllis
8.   Loni
9.   Ron
10.  Gina
11.  Patty
12.  Adrienne  (thank you for your response about the credit issue) 

Plus probably several more that I missed.  This time I felt much better.  Thank you Thank you.


Adrienne lives in Qatar so she probably won’t be taking lessons any time soon.  She had something to say I found interesting regarding my rant in the last newsletter about asking for Credit even when you know your request contradicts the way the rules state.


“My husband is the type of person who would ask for a credit outside of the dance policy with the theory of ‘it doesn’t hurt to ask.’

I would argue with him that the policy is very clear and written for a reason and that he shouldn’t ask.  Thanks to this issue of the newsletter, I would win the argument.  It might not hurt my husband to ask, but it might hurt you.  It does take unnecessary time and effort on your part to handle each issue.”



-----Original Message-----
From:         SSQQ Newsletter
Sent:          Saturday, April 12, 2008 10:08 AM
To:              Adrienne
Subject:      Credit Issues 

Very interesting reply.  You hit a nerve.

Since I have direct experience with the problem, I would support your position for two specific reasons -

1)   Many of you; few of me.  It definitely drains me responding to all these requests.  I spend one, two, three hours a day emailing people on this stuff.

2)   It also creates animosity on my part and it makes me more cynical all the time.  Every time someone asks for an exception that is inappropriate, it makes me less patient with the next person.

The never-ending administrative problems take all the fun out of running what should be a marvelous experience. 

The bottom line is when people start overwhelming my wife and me with these requests, we start to look for the exit door. 

There are literally days when all Marla and I can do is talk about buying an RV and heading to the hills.  At our age, the resentment just gets harder to deal with every day.  Enough said.


I really appreciated all the nice letters of support from the dozen people above plus several kind comments at the studio.  But I was suspicious.  Why would I get Zero responses followed by a dozen responses? 

After all, several of the letters... especially Polly (who I never even responded to; forgive me forgive me!) weren’t just notes, but were actually lengthy, insightful, and very encouraging missives.

So I checked out my suspicions.  I discovered that my Aweber Email Notification system has two email lists.  On one list is Rick and Lester.  On the other the other list are Two Thousand People.  Out of the last ten Newsletters, at least three, possibly four of them have gone to Rick and Lester and no one else... but since Rick got one, he assumed the whole world got one!

No wonder no one likes me, especially Lester who never responded to my pleas for attention!


On the bright side, I have all sorts of neat things to send you that you may not have seen yet.


One of my favorite dance students, Joy Al-Jazrawi, was bragging about making Rick Casey’s column today.  I was curious about this.  Most people only show up in Casey’s column when they get in trouble.  Not our Joy.  Joy is an immigration lawyer who showed up in the April 23 column of famous Chronicle muckraker Rick Casey because she successfully helped a young man named Mauricio Barragan win his appeal to avoid deportation to Bolivia.

I am not quite sure how Mr. Casey came to take an interest in Barragan, but it was kind of him to credit Joy’s work for turning the corner.

Joy, who is also known as JJ, is very important to me.  Joy and her sister Gina serve as my official bodyguards during Friday Practice Nights. This is known as an “Inside joke”.

Although Joy and Gina bring me nothing but Joy, their mother is driving me nuts with envy with tales of her upcoming European Vacation.

Gina and Joy’s mother Ann Al-Jazrawi (her studio nickname is Mrs. AJ) has informed me that her 6-week European trip to Madrid/Istanbul/Athens/Southern France/Swiss Alps/London has been stretched to eight weeks because now she has to help her niece get married in Germany.

Poor Mrs. AJ being forced to stay in Germany for three extra weeks!  Boo Hoo.

As if I wasn’t too envious about her trip already.  I would kill to see Germany!

Speaking of trips, Troublemaker Extraordinaire Phyllis Porter tried to interest Joy in our August cruise. Joy briefly considered it, then pointed out that her clients seem to get in more trouble in August than any other month of year.  Oh sure.  Joy’s just trying to get another mention in Rick Casey’s column.  Fine. Be that way, Joy.

Everyone else will be getting in trouble in Phyllis’ hot tub adventures on the cruise. Then they can end up getting another mention in Rick Archer’s column.


It’s a beautiful, warm spring morning.  A man awakens, sees his beautiful wife sleeping and nudges her to suggest a little fun before they hit the zoo.

The wife immediately grabs her forehead and says maybe later, but right now she has a splitting pain in the middle of her forehead.  The husband groans.  He’s heard this one before.   A little grouchy, he heads to the kitchen to have some coffee.  A few minutes his wife pops in looking all chipper in a gorgeous new dress she has bought for the occasion.  “Hurry up and get ready.  We are off to the zoo!”

Sure enough, the husband and his wife are spending the day at the zoo.  Thanks to his wife’s urging, they get there early.  As a result, they are practically the only people at the zoo.

A bit wistfully, he admires his beautiful wife’s good looks as they stroll along.  She’s wearing a cute, loose-fitting, pink spring dress, sleeveless with straps. She has always been quite the head-turner and today is no exception.

As they walk through the ape exhibit, they pass in front of a pit containing a very large hairy gorilla. Looking up, the gorilla notices the woman and seems riveted.

The wife notices that she has had an effect on the ape.  She grins and decides to wave back at the gorilla.  “Hey there, Mr. Gorilla!  How are you today?”

Realizing the woman has responded to him, now the ape puts on a show.  He jumps up and down on the logs in the pit, grunts loudly, and pounds his chest.

Not expecting that kind of reaction, the wife blushes, and then decides to wave again. This time she even does a little dance, holding the side of her dress and prancing around.

The Gorilla is very happy.

The husband, noticing the excitement, thinks this is very amusing.  He knows his wife is a looker, but he never realized her attractiveness to the male gender crossed over to animals.  Furthermore he is taken aback to see her actually flirt with a gorilla.

The husband suggests that the wife tease the poor fellow some more. He suggests she play along.  So she puckers her lips, blows him a kiss, then turns around and wiggles her bottom at him.

Oh my goodness.  Mr. Gorilla gets even more excited, jumping around and hollering “hoo hoo ha ha”.  Then he starts to beat his chest Tarzan-style.  The husband rolls his eyes.  Didn’t he see this exact mating ritual on National Geographic last week?  Well, this is the real thing.  A kind of weird feeling overtakes the husband.  He suggests that she let one of her straps fall to show a little more skin.  Getting into it, she does exactly that.

Now the gorilla is about to kill himself scratching at the stone walls to get to her.  He is developing one heck of a simian youknowwhat.  Seeing this, the wife is getting a little flush herself.  She can’t explain it, but being the object of all this fuss is turning her on.  Who would ever think this could happen?

Meanwhile the husband shakes his head in wonder. Just when he thinks he has seen everything under the sun, something like this comes along.  Sure this is all a little sick, but it is what it is.  He can’t help himself.  He decides to egg her on.

“Now lift your dress up above your thighs and fan your dress at him like Marilyn Monroe,” he says.

She grins.  Oh yeah.  Good idea!  This works wonders.  Those long legs and the flapping dress drive the gorilla absolutely crazy.  Now he’s doing flips and starts making every kind of ape sound imaginable. He is going nuts!  The husband sees what they mean when they say, “go ape”.  This gorilla has a thing for his wife; he has it bad.  She has really rattled his cage.  Sometimes people do crazy things.  Logically speaking, it makes no sense, but on the spur of the moment they do stuff they can’t even begin to explain later on.  The wife is deeply amused by her power over this beast down below.  She is having a really good time and feeling kind of giddy.  Teasing comes as naturally to her as breathing.  No one is around but her husband and he’s getting into it, so who cares if she has some fun?  Without any prodding, the wife has a moment of total abandon.  She suddenly exposes her breasts and shimmies!

That puts him over the edge.  The poor gorilla is about to explode!!  He is climbing at the wall futilely and screaming with passion!!  Without warning the husband grabs his wife by her arm and her belt and tosses her over the railing into a moat below.  She makes a huge splash as she hits the water.

The Gorilla’s eyes bulge with astonishment!!

“Now, honey, go ahead and tell that Big Ape you have a headache!!”


One of the worse things in life is to be insulted and not know what the insult is.  I thought you might like to know what a MISCREANT is.

An evildoer, infidel, heretic, villainous or base, vicious or depraved person; someone who behaves badly, a scoundrel.

I just hope our “rag tag miscreants of SSQQ” will be able to manage on our own.

And that’s a Wrap!


There were two Newsletters in May
May Issue One
May Issue Two

SSQQ Front Page Parties/Calendar of Events Jokes
SSQQ Information Schedule of Classes Writeups
SSQQ Archive Newsletter History of SSQQ