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The Houston Chronicle Valentine Story

In preparation for an upcoming 2006 Valentines Day article, Houston Chronicle reporter Tara Dooley contacted me by phone to ask some questions about the dance studio's vaunted reputation as Cupid's Happy Hunting Ground. 

Here is Ms. Dooley's story.

THE ROAD TO ROMANCE - Matchmakers tip hand of fate

Feb. 14, 2006/Valentine's Day
Copyright 2006 Houston Chronicle


From the dance floor to the computer, love is in the air!

At the time, Rick Archer almost seemed to be peering into Susan Broer's heart and making a profound prediction about the man who had just walked into her dance class.

Susan had come to Archer's dance studio nursing a broken heart.  A friend had recommended that she try something fun.  Disco dancing fit that bill, she figured.  It was 1979, after all.

So there she was without a dance partner when a handsome stranger walked in the door.  As Archer surveyed the room deciding what to do with this newcomer, Susan waited.

And then he did it.   As Susan remembers the moment, "Rick pointed to me and said, 'Why don't you dance with Susan?' "

At the time, it seemed like fate, the very bow of cupid in the form of a disco dance instructor. Later, after they were a couple, Archer said he put them together because they were both tall.

Whatever the reason, Archer had provided a push toward romance and nearly 26 years of marriage.

"Rick did pair us up, which I thought was some great psychic prediction that we were going to be soul mates," said Susan, who married Greg about a year after they met at dance class.  "I guess it just had to do with being tall."

Tales of romance often involve the person or place that helped make it all happen. These days, the cupid of choice is often a computer program that analyzes a series of multiple-choice questions and spits out a set of names and photos with a promise of electronic harmony.

But whether computer, coach, dinner club, dance instructor or modern-day yenta, the professional matchmaker is alive and well this century, finding finds and catching catches. Rather than delivering brides and grooms wrapped in dowries, the modern-day cupid works as a romance nudge:  Offering opportunity rather than result.

Though Archer promises only two-steps, jitterbugs or waltzes, he is not oblivious to his ancillary role to cupid.  His name, after all, is Archer.

And he fills his dance studio Web site with tales of the romances that have flourished among his students.

"When you put a man and woman in each other's arms, you allow chemistry to start to happen," Archer said.

But for those serious about romance, Archer believes you just gotta dance.

"You don't have to respond to 15 Internet ads," he said. "You don't have to e-mail back and forth. You get a living human being with eye contact in your arms and Cupid's magic starts to work.

Not my magic, but Cupid's magic."


An Interview with the Matchmaker
Written by Rick Archer, February 2006


I had mixed feelings when I read Ms. Dooley's article on Valentine's Day.  Of course I enjoyed her article thoroughly and appreciated the kind recognition she gave to me and to the studio.

But I also felt dissatisfied.  After all, we had talked by phone for over an hour! 

There were so many great stories I had told her that had not made it to print because Ms. Dooley was forced to condense her material into the allotted space.

Plus there were so many things I wanted to tell her that we did not have time to get to.

I felt very incomplete, unfinished.  There were still things I wanted to say.

That's when it dawned on me.  Why not write a "Pretend Interview"?   That way I could ask myself all the questions I wanted to!

But first I would need an Interviewer.  Hmm.  My buddy Rose from the studio hates it when I tease her.  Every time I call her "Thornbird", she turns around and calls me "Gertrude".  I assume she is trying to get under my skin, but I love the name. 

So Gertrude it is.  Therefore Gertrude will be my mythical interviewer. 

Hopefully Gertie the Birdie will ask me every question about SSQQ Slow Dance and Romance she can possibly think of!! 

I hope you enjoy "Gabfest with Gertrude". 

Rick's Gabfest with Gertrude

Gertrude's first question was pretty direct. "Do you consider yourself to be a Cupid?" 

I laughed. "Well, I don't think of myself as a Cupid, but I am an Archer. I take enormous pride in the dance studio's success as a place where people feel safe to let their guard down."

Gertrude laughed in turn. "So you consider yourself more as Cupid's Assistant?"

"Yes, I feel comfortable with that designation.  I definitely see myself as a Match Maker, but not 'directly' per se.  I don't make a habit of directly putting people in each other's face (although now that the Chronicle article came out I find myself starting to do just that!  ;-) 

No, I see my role as Cupid's Assistant.  I am his official director of the Mating Dance Playground.

I work very hard to let people know the studio is a dynamic catalyst for allowing feelings to develop in a patient, graceful way.

"Are you a Matchmaker by design?  Is this something you have done for a long time?"

"I have grown into the role.  I really didn't even lift a finger for the first twenty-two years.  Only when the Internet came along and I began to post each story did I begin to realize just how incredibly effective the studio is at creating relationships.

I mean, it was a forest and the trees thing. I was so close to the every day duties of the studio that I never took a step back to see the big picture. 

But then the Internet came along.  The Internet changed everything. First I realized how powerful the SSQQ Newsletter was at keeping huge numbers of people posted about what was going at here at the studio.  Plus writing things down in a place where I could keep track made a difference too.  The ssqq web site was the best thing to come along since the "SSQQ Hotline" back in the early 80s.

One day at the end of 1999, the first full year of the SSQQ Web Site, I collected the stories from the individual months into one spot.  That is when I noticed I had written quite a few of wedding notices.  Just for the fun of it I added up all the weddings and engagements. 

The number came to 23... practically two couples a month!

Two couples a month were getting married because of my dance studio!!  

Of course I had nothing to compare this number to, but I couldn't help but get goose bumps.

 I thought that was phenomenal.  My little heart went pitter-patter with pride.  2 couples a month.  Imagine that!"

"What do you suppose Ms. Dooley meant when she said, 'Rick is not oblivious to his ancillary role to Cupid'?"

Some dance teachers dream of winning a dance championship. Or they enjoy helping their students win huge dance competitions .  Not me.  That is not my game. 

I get my pride from creating a climate that nurtures the development of serious relationships. This is why Ms. Dooley coined the phrase 'in his ancillary role to Cupid'.

If you can avoid gagging over the corn-factor in what I about to say, the way I interpret Ms. Dooley's phrase is that I am consciously in charge of preparing Cupid's Playground.  I make a real effort to make the social side of my dance program very conducive for people to meet.

I organize dance events, I organize the Dance Cruises with my wife Marla, I organize Practice Night, I buy couches for comfy conversations, I hire security in the form of our Hall Monitors, and I publicize the events to the best of my ability on the ssqq web site.  After that all is done, then each night I roll the basketball out on the floor and tell the kids to play the game.

I believe someone put me here to do a job. Therefore I take my role seriously.  I consciously work to create the perfect climate for people to meet.  Then I get out of the way and let Cupid make his appearance. 

I have had a desire to do social work from the moment I graduated from college.  All I can say is 'Thank you' for the destiny that has allowed me to use my skills to help other people as best as I possibly can. 

People might misinterpret this article and think it is me bragging.  It is not 'bragging', I assure you.  This article is my way of telling the world that SSQQ is a very special place and that our success at creating marriages is NOT AN ACCIDENT

I think it is important that I write about our story. It doesn't do anyone any good if I put all this effort into creating the studio and no one knows about it!

That is what this article is about - I am writing this article to tell the reader that if you want to meet someone,  SSQQ is the Cupid's playground.

All you have to do is PARTICIPATE.  You must take the first step.

However, the Cynics always need convincing.   The Romantics are already on board. Therefore the rest of this article is for you skeptics out there! 

I feel deeply blessed to be allowed to contribute in this way.  The honest truth is I led a charmed life during the formative years of this studio.  Now that destiny put me in this position, I work every day to thank the Universe for believing in me.  

I realize this is pure schmaltz, but it is also the truth. I am grateful for the chance to serve.

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