Rick's Gabfest with Gertrude
Written by Rick Archer, March 2006
do you think the studio is so effective at creating
"There are so many
reasons, I think I will limit myself to two, maybe three
For starters, Slow Dance leads to Romance. Dancing
opens the door! How do think I met my wife?
I saw Marla standing in the doorway to the Disco on a
cruise. Her body language said she was getting ready
to leave. I moved as fast as I humanly could without
hinting what a hurry I was in to get to her before she could
And when I got to her, I said, "Hi Marla! Want to
dance?" She smiled at me, handed me her room key
because she didn't have a pocket, and to the dance floor we
went. The utter simplicity of that moment should speak
volumes to anyone reading this story.
If you are a man or a woman and you see an attractive
person across the room, DANCING gives a man or a women total
permission to approach that person and ask them to dance.
En Garde! The Game is on!
That person might say no, that person might say yes.
That person may frown, that person may smile. You
never know. That is what makes it a Risk.
But darn it, at SSQQ the Risk Factor is lower than any other
place in the world!
People are so at ease at this studio, that nonsense about
turning people down is so negligible that if you do get shot
down, forget it about it. Just bounce off and ask
someone else. If they turn you down at my studio,
that's their problem, not yours.
The second reason SSQQ is effective is the people we
attract. For a variety of
reasons, SSQQ has always seemed to be most appealing to
intelligent, educated, down-to-earth people. The 'Life
in the Fast Lane' types don't hang out here.
As I said, Dancing opens the doors. Then you have to
speak with the person. Many people find the art of
conversation deeply threatening, especially with someone you
are attracted to. But you have to talk!!
That's is all there is to it.
The easiest way to start a conversation is to have something
in common. Talk about that.
People dance, then they go back to their spot. If they
want to talk, they can talk about how well they danced
together, offer a compliment perhaps. They can ask
what class the other person is taking, how did they hear
about the studio, have they ever read any of Rick's stupid
If the smiles are still there and the body language is good,
you can enter Stage Two.... What do you for a living, where
do you work, how long have you lived in Houston. Blah
blah blah. Maybe you even make it to Stage Three -
what do you like to do with your free time? What are
With such a large group of talented people here at the
studio, it is easy to find any number of people who have a
lot of things in common with you besides dancing.
Maybe that's when you break it off, but you KNOW WHERE TO
FIND THE SAME PERSON NEXT WEEK - right here at SSQQ.
Same time, same place.
At a bar, you don't have this advantage. Frequently
you go for broke and ask for the person's phone number and
come across too aggressive. Plus you are always
fighting the 'Mr. Goodbar Syndrome'. Is this guy an
axe murderer? A rapist? A player?
If you were to meet the exact same person in a club, it
would be much more difficult to start a conversation.
Dancing turns out to be a simple,
graceful way to get to know people with their guard down in
a relaxed setting.
At SSQQ, you can take a class with someone, dance with them
at Practice Night, and strike up a conversation at various
points every evening. Talking to strangers is always
difficult, but it is much easier when you have a common
reference point like dancing to start with.
At SSQQ, nothing is forced, the pace is relaxed. Plus it is
a level playing field. Of course, people who are
physically attractive will always have an advantage in any
walk of life and that includes our dance studio.
But nowhere on earth does a person who is intelligent, kind,
and highly perceptive have a better chance to shine than
here at the studio. SSQQ gives everyone a level
playing field.... you learn to dance, this place is your
"What do you mean by TURF?"
The concept of 'Turf' is a simple one. Take a look at
some of the Rock Stars who are legendary womanizers.
Mick Jagger is an obvious example. Mick Jagger isn't your
Put his face in a high school yearbook and every girl goes
'Yuck' while scanning across the page. Put Mick Jagger
on a beach in Tahiti where no one has ever heard of him and
that pale, scrawny white body and that jagged face won't get him
a second look. The beach is not his turf.
But you put him on the stage at the Super Bowl during
halftime, let him sing and strut, then take a casual look at
the kind of women who are screaming their brains out with
lust and desire for this guy!! The stage is his Turf.
This is why Mick Jagger is the poster boy of hope for every
pimple-faced, lonely nerd sitting at home with no
girlfriend in sight. One day the kid takes a look in
the mirror and says, 'heck, if Mick Jagger can do it, so can
I!'. So he gets a guitar and pours his loneliness into
writing some love songs.
If you are female, then substitute Alanis Morrissette and
the story is the same.
But the Rock Star scenario is pretty inaccessible for the
vast majority of the human race.
On the other hand, the Dance Star scenario is accessible for
anyone who has comprehended one/hundredth of what I have
been writing in this article.
You don't even have to be a Great Dancer! You just
have to be good enough to PARTICIPATE.
And maybe keep the beat... that always helps."
Turf in Action: The Waltz Kings!
have any good Turf stories involving the studio?"
Gertrude, if I didn't know better, I would swear you were
reading my mind! I happen to have four examples right
off the top of my head.
In my article "Advice
to Men", I wrote
about two very
ordinary-looking guys, Jim Garrison and Bill Stumph, who became
the "Waltz Kings" back in the very early 1980s.
These two men became consummate Waltz dancers. Women
would literally beg them early in the evening to include
them on their dance card. The women who got left off
the dance card would turn around and beg me to play another
Waltz because they were in line to get "the next Waltz Rick
Now that I think of it, I should have charged the women for
each Waltz I played. They would have paid, believe me.
That's how desperate they were.
As you can
see, neither Jim Garrison on the left with Debbie
Oswald nor Bill Stumph with Jann Fonteno on the
right was a sharp-dressed man. Nor were they
That said, both men were very bright.
In fact, since I knew them both well to tease some, I will say
they were nerds. One did computer systems, the
other did biology research.
In addition to being 'bright', they also had common
sense. They realized the power of the Waltz!!
Once Bill and Jim were on the dance floor, they became
God's Gift to Women. They never sat down
unless it was by choice.
This is the concept of "Turf" in action. See
the picture for
And believe what I say - Dancing is the premier skill of all time for meeting
Let me add that Bill Stumph met his wife Diane
here at the studio (1985). Another SSQQ
Romance! That Waltz stuff really paid off big
in his case.
SSQQ Turf in Action:
My second example
would be my dearly missed friend
Jack left the studio staff in the spring of
2004 to pursue his destiny out in
California (Note: Jack returned
in 2006). Of all the people we have
lost over the years, I can't think of anyone
I would rather have back more than Jack.
Like the Waltz Kings above, Jack was a man
who would not have turned heads on a beach
other than the fact that he was 6' 7".
The fact is, Jack was tall, awkward, and not
especially handsome. Jack was a human
stork along the lines of Abe
Lincoln-ungainly. Nor was Jack witty
and clever. He had limited
conversational skills. Jack was quite
simply the world's tallest nerd.
But Jack overcame all of that to become the
single most popular man to dance with in the
history of the studio. Jack Benard was the
closest thing to a one-man Practice Night I
have ever seen.
It was ridiculous to be in the same room
with him. I would ask women to dance
and they would politely turn me down because
'Jack promised me the next song'. One
night two women got in a huge cat fight over
whose turn it was to dance with Jack next.
This man drove the women nuts with frenzy.
Don't ask me what his charms were. I never
danced with him. All I know is the guy
was a classic geek when he started, but he
practiced so long and so hard he became the
most sought-after dancer in the history of
SSQQ. There has never been anyone even
remotely his equal in popularity.
Turf in Action: Jerald Anthony
But for some reason, the
man whose story most clearly illustrates the spirit of SSQQ
would have to be Jerald Anthony. He is an inspiration
to every man about the growth and rewards that come from
concentrated effort at the social skill of partner dancing
Jerald Anthony was in
the same boat as Jack. Their stories closely parallel
each other. The only difference is that Jack never confided
in me whereas I actually got to know Jerald on a
Jerald had no sense of rhythm and was challenged even when
it came to basic Polka and Twostep. Nothing came easy
for him. Add to that a total lack of self-confidence
and you have a guy behind the eight ball when it comes to
romance. Jerald was shy and terribly lonely when I met
him early in 2001. To make matters worse, Jerald had
the Social IQ of a rock when it came to women.
One evening I actually had to
sit him down to give him some
much-needed advice about women.
Jerald had been following a very cute lady around
the studio all night long with a bad case of Cow-Eye
If I didn't know any better, I would swear she had a
leash around his neck. Meanwhile the woman's body
language clearly signaled unhappiness about the
presence of her human puppy dog. Knowing from personal experience
(the hard way, of course), I knew she was giving Jerald
the cold shoulder because he was smothering her.
Finally in disgust the woman came over to me to ask
me to cover for her while she made her escape from
the studio. Then she said, "Can't you talk to him,
Rick? He is driving me crazy!"
I was deeply reluctant to say anything
I knew what I had to say was going to hurt Jerald's
feelings. How did I know? Well, a therapist had
given me the same lecture 17 years ago and it still stung
like it was yesterday. I really did not want to relive this
I debated for a
while, then finally I decided to do the right thing.
For some reason - probably because Jerald reminded me so
much of myself - I felt a rapport with this man who was
twenty years younger than me. So I sat
Jerald down on the couch. From there I explained the dynamics of Puppy Dog
As expected, my words did sting.
Jerald frowned. Then a light bulb went
on. Jerald exclaimed, "Maybe that's why she keeps
disappearing the moment I take my eyes off of her!"
Maybe?? What an insight!
Jerald handled my words with quiet dignity as I hoped he
My words had to hurt, but if they did, he hid his pain
was a really nice guy! I had always sensed a kind,
very decent man behind his quiet exterior.
Even better, the way he
reacted to my words proved he was no dummy.
Things never worked out with the girl he had his crush
on. So instead he turned his attention to dancing.
Jerald was not a natural dancer. This is another thing
that made me think he trusted me. He accepted my
dance suggestions on faith and tried very hard to follow my
instruction. Best of all, even though he
he was a very
weak dancer, he would not quit. Jerald worked hard at his dancing.
His hard work played off
in a big way. Over the next six months,
Jerald consistently improved. He became a great dancer and his body language
Meanwhile he touched my heart in an unusual way. One
night I watched as he danced with one Beginning Twostep girl
after another. Finally I asked him about it.
Jerald blushed. "I remember how hard it was for me to
get up the courage to ask someone to dance with me when I
was learning. One night in particular I just stood
still the whole evening paralyzed with the fear of getting
turned down. Then out of nowhere a woman came over and
told me she was sick of watching me just stand there.
We danced two songs and I was grateful out of my mind.
So tonight I thought I would be a nice guy and return the
favor to these women."
Don't tell anyone, but I almost hugged him.
One day in 2001, my
travel agent called to tell me about I had two free openings
on the upcoming cruise trip. We had 101 people signed
up on the trip! Since
so many people signed up,
this qualified us for a couple of bonus spots. Since
the boy-girl ratio was so out of whack, I decided to recruit
some men to fill the spots. Immediately I thought of
Jerald did not disappoint. He was so honored to be
asked to help he would have danced till he dropped if they
hadn't turned off the music each evening. He was a
very kind man.
Jerald's self-confidence grew by
leaps and bounds. As I said,
Jerald was more than just a little bit on the shy side.
But when he stood up straight and smiled, Jerald was a
very handsome guy! He just didn't know it.
See for yourself at how confident he had become six
months later when this 2001 Halloween Party picture was
taken. Isn't that a great picture! Do
you see the same gleam in his eye that I do??
Sort of like Rocky in his first picture when he was
'feeling strong now, gonna fly now'. Notice
Jerald isn't slouching in this picture. In fact, he
looks kind of dangerous if I may say so.
Jerald had become the man in demand and he did it
himself. You don't suppose I was proud of him, do
you? Nah. Not at all.
Not surprisingly, soon after
that 2001 Halloween Party, a vivacious young lady
named Stacey put Jerald directly in her bull's eye.
One night Stacey asked me what the inside scoop was
about Jerald. I said he was shy.
Stacey mulled this over. So what if he was
shy? No problem, Stacey figured she was outgoing enough for
the two of them. That's for sure! Stacey was
Then I told her Jerald was one of my favorite
people. That was good enough for Stacey - she made a
beeline for Jerald and immediately asked him to dance!!
Dancing was not a problem any more. The dance
floor was his Turf. Jerald drove
Stacey around the floor like a teenager with his first car.
Spins, turns, fancy patterns, perfect rhythm. Jerald was the master.
He had been training for this moment for nearly a year.
They hit it off immediately. It was love
at first sight. Jerald and Stacey got married in 2003.
I don't have a son, but if I did, I would want him
to have guts and determination like Jerald did.
Nothing came easy to him, but he wasn't going to let that
stop him. He worked and worked at dancing and it
paid off. Dancing opened the door to wonderful
This story has a great ending.
Jerald and Stacey were scheduled to go on the 2003
Cruise with us, but they had to cancel. The reason?
Stacey was pregnant. I guess that's what
happens when you get married, huh?
I am so happy for
both of them!"
to me like you miss Jerald."
it does, doesn't it? I grew close to Jerald because he
reminded me so much of my own struggle. I was a
mediocre dancer from the start. I only improved
through absolute persistence just like Jerald and Jack
Benard. All three of us were cut out of the same cloth
in that sense.
After I helped him get over his 'cow eye disease', I took
Jerald under my wing and I would constantly encourage him
the same way a coach works with one of his athletes.
The only difference is, the athlete gets a scholarship to
college while my protégé used his skills to land a great
So Jerald is probably my best example of a time where I was
truly a Matchmaker. I took a lot of pride in his
Turf in Action:
stories like that?"
think. Yeah, by coincidence there was another young man at
the studio about the same time as Jerald named Leo Skiba.
Leo traveled a different path than Jerald. For
starters, Leo was a much better dancer. He never encountered
the same problems that Jerald did. Nor did I get to
know Leo as well as I did Jerald. Leo definitely did
not need any help from me.
Leo was probably the perfect example of a person who fits
the studio like a glove. He was handsome, but not
conceited about it. He was a good dancer, but not
terribly interested in becoming a championship dancer.
He wanted to meet women and quickly realized that dancing
was the easiest way on earth to do just that.
Leo made it a habit to stay for SSQQ Practice Night.
Similar to Jack Benard, Leo was very good at asking many
different ladies to dance each night. He was a natural
social worker in this sense without any prompting on my
Leo was so good about dancing with every woman regardless of
age or talent that one of the instructors named Wil
Coulbourn spotted him and asked him to become a volunteer.
They were both ice hockey players and became friends at the
Due to his helpfulness at Practice Night,
was the other man I recruited for the two bonus spots on the
2001 Vera Cruz Cruise .
knew Leo would be a
huge asset during the evening dancing.
Both men were naturally
very flattered to be asked and accepted on the spot.
And of course both men were wonderful assistants to me
throughout the trip.
They both helped me out on that trip
every way they could.
As a humorous aside, it turned out it was a good thing I
brought Leo and Jerald along. This was the trip where I met my
future wife Marla.
Once I donned my 'Only Have Eyes for
You' glasses, I was useless for the rest of the trip.
Leo and Jerald practically ran the trip in my absence.
what happened to Leo after the cruise?"
"Leo continued as a Volunteer and of
course stayed active at Practice Night. A year later
after the cruise I hired Leo to join the staff as Wil's paid
assistant in August 2002. Wil and Leo worked as
a team for over a year. But during 2003, Wil decided
to get married. Believe it or not, Wil had the nerve to
marry some girl he met outside of SSQQ!! The
Then one thing led to another and, boom, Wil was going to be
a daddy. So Wil handed off his Friday Western class to
Leo starting in December 2003.
And so there you have the SSQQ Career Ladder diagrammed in a
Practice Night > Volunteer > Assistant > Instructor!
Like I said, Leo fit the studio like a glove.
Now that he was
Instructor, Leo was very helpful with his students.
He constantly encouraged them to dance after class
at Practice Night. He told them the only way
they were going to improve as dancers was to
practice. And he hinted from time to time that
if they practiced, their social life had a way of
improving. How Leo knew this is beyond me.
One day, Leo met a pretty brunette in his class
named Rebecca. They began to date, probably
some time in 2004, but possibly in early 2005.
Mind you, I watch this stuff from a distance, not
As things progressed, Leo
asked Rebecca to help him with his dance class on
Fridays. That's when I noticed a change in
Leo. He didn't participate much in Practice
Night any more. Uh oh. That's a good
sign for Leo... 'Leo' is a good sign, right?... but a
bad sign for SSQQ.
It means Leo was in great danger of being
permanently lost to the studio due an ancient curse
known as 'Marriage is the Death of Dance'.
Unbeknownst to Leo, I quietly tipped over the
hourglass I keep in the back of my mind. The Curse
Countdown had begun.
"What on earth do you mean by 'Marriage
is the Death of Dance'?"
Back in the
1980s, there was a period at the studio where a group of
people became unbelievably close to one another. At
first it was all buddy-buddy. But as time went by, the
birds and the bees began to kick in. As well they
should! After all, these people were all single.
This group was the SSQQ version of 'St. Elmo's Fire', the 80s flick
where a group of buddies start to pair off. A modern example
might be 'Friends', the TV show where in the later seasons
the same thing began to happen.
Suddenly all these relationships began to catch fire.
The next thing I knew people were getting married right and
left. Then came a phenomenon I did not anticipate -
some quickly left the studio, others made a gradual
departure, but the results were still the same: Once a
couple got married, the sands of time began a countdown till
when they would leave my life.
Of course I was happy for these couples.
I was very happy! But that was before I realized I was
going to lose them!!
One couple left. Then another. And another. This
was no longer a coincidence. It was a 'phenomenon' that
definitely got my attention. I quickly became bitter about the
phenomenon because these people usually departed the dance
scene immediately after they connected.
When people first started to leave, I was shocked to
see them go. Then I was even more shocked to realize
how badly it hurt to lose them. I literally missed them!
Nor did I understand it. I took it personally.
These people left me; how could they??
Sad to say, after the same thing happened several times, I began to get disappointed
when I thought my students were falling in love. It
was the first sign when I knew I was about to lose them.
One dear friend after another departed the studio, oops,
change that to Noah's Ark - obviously
they left two at a time. These were people who had been among my Best
Friends for one year, two years, three years, some four
years! Now they were gone.
It was like the end of Senior Year in high school or college
all over again where everyone signs the yearbooks and cries
because they are all leaving soon. It was actually
very sad for me because I got so attached to my students
back in those days. Now you know one of the reasons
why in later years I found it easier just to stay in the
background a la Leo and Rebecca and all the dozens of other
couples at SSQQ who are moving in that direction.
I coined a phrase for it - 'Marriage is the Death of Dance'.
No, I didn't handle it very well.
It took me a long time to come to grips with the problem.
What I had to learn the hard way is when two people fall in love at the studio, an entire
new set of priorities begin to kick in. Dance swiftly
loses its importance.
Whether I like it or not, sooner or later, once a couple
falls in love, someday they will disappear.
signed up for our October 2005 Rhapsody Dance
Cruise. Every Friday night that summer
leading up the cruise, when class was over, the
would either leave the studio or just sit on the
couch and hold hands if it was Leo's night to stay. Leo could
not have cared less
about dancing with all the girls in his class at
That stage of his life was
Then in an
amusing twist of fate, during the Rita Rhapsody Cruise, I barely saw
either person the entire trip. Like I said, dancing with
everyone in the group loses its importance.
Does that sound vaguely familiar?
If you think of Rick and Marla on that 2001 Cruise
when I deserted my entire group to chase Marla and
let Leo carry the ball, you would be correct.
It turns out I am no more immune to the phenomenon
than anyone else.
Sure enough, they
avoided the camera like the plague. I only got that
one shot above. They didn't eat dinner
with us on several nights. They didn't come to
dance class. They avoided the Hot Tub.
I didn't see them at our special cocktail party. They were missing in action for perhaps the entire
trip. But when I saw Leo on the last day, he thanked
me for a great trip!
My point is that
I could see Leo and Rebecca had entered the phase of their
relationship where they were separating from a Group
identity and were concentrating on forming a union.
A couple weeks
after the trip, Leo resigned from the staff. He said he and
Rebecca were buying a house in Clear Lake and were heading
down a different road. Their departure was just another case
of 'Marriage is the Death of Dance."
Let me share some of his parting words.
After several months of struggling with what I wanted to
do I finally made a decision. Basically for a few months
I've been torn between my love for teaching and what
seemed should have been a dislike for dancing. I am
certain now that I don't dislike dancing, I just dislike
that it now feels too much like an obligation, a job.
Its not fair to those who are waiting for a teaching
position or even to the students for me to not be whole
hearted into teaching. With that thought I'm afraid I'm
going to have to put in my notice. I will be available
for as long as you need me, but I would prefer this to
be my last month.
I also want to convey my gratitude for providing me a
place to have the experiences I have had in the past 3
years of teaching. Not only have I helped people through
rough times in their life by teaching them to dance, I
have helped a man recover from a stroke, I have helped
couples prepare for their "first dance" as a married
couple and not to mention the hundreds of wonderful
people I've had the chance to meet. For that I have you
to thank for building a place that attracts so many
people. Thank you.
As for my future plans... Rebecca and I are getting
pretty serious, as of this weekend we're moving into a
house on Clear Lake. If anything more progresses I'll be
sure to let you know to add to the biggest statistic of
Leo and Rebecca
were married on the ski
slopes in January 2009)
Gertrude asked, "So how do you feel about students and
staff leaving at this point?"
"The nice thing about a thirty-year career is that
take things so personally any more. This phenomenon really
stung early in my career. I absolutely hated parting
with all these people who had come to be so important in our
community. But after it had happened a dozen or so
times, I began to understand that what
was going on was natural. I
learned to accept that 'Marriage is the Death of Dance' is
going to happen. Not only did I learn to accept it, I
also learned to be gracious about
Plus I also had the sense to use my studio's volunteer
and assistant program to create spare parts for those
terrible moments when people have to move on. In Wil's
case, Wil left and his assistant Leo stepped in. In Leo's
case, his friend and assistant Abbie stepped in and hit the
ground running. Abbie's great! That takes some of the
sting out of it.
It never crossed my mind to ask Leo to reconsider because I
was used to the phenomenon by now. In fact, I had seen
it coming. So I told Leo I
completely understood and that I was very happy for him.
These days I just feel happy for
both of them which is of course the mature response rather
than my more selfish feelings back in the beginning.
But it wasn't always this way."
"So Leo and Jerald came along
at the same time. Leo didn't need any help, Jerald
needed some help. Do you ever get people who need a
lot of help??
"SSQQ is the perfect place
for the 'Walking Wounded'. Dancing has marvelous
therapeutic powers. Later on I will tell a story that
is full testament to the healing powers of social dancing.
Based on my background as a social worker, I actually keep
an eye on my 'playground' the same way a third-grade teacher
keeps a watch out for bullies.
It is my understanding that SSQQ actually has developed a
reputation among therapists as a safe place to refer their
clients to when the therapist thinks the time has come for
them to begin dating again. For lack of a better term,
the therapists use the dance studio is a sort of 'halfway
house' for people recovering from a broken heart.
Let me share a recent story with you.
Last year a woman was treated very badly by a man she met at my studio.
She lost all of her confidence and became a recluse. Her story is hardly
original. Dating is often a brutal process and people do get their
feelings hurt. That's all part of the game.
But this woman instinctively knew the studio would help
her bounce back. So she reached out to me to help bring
her back. I will share several emails to
illustrate my point.
Thanks again for
letting me come last night to class. You were
right - it was good therapy for me!! I didn't
realize how much I miss being there until I get
there! But I
don't think I have the guts to continue right
now. Maybe in a month or two.
You should NOT be taking
I believe that dance is the best thing you can
do to mend your hurt feelings and damaged
You need to be out on floor this week. No
excuses. Just do it.
letting you know - I will definitely be there
this Sat for the Swing Crash Course.
Looking Forward To Getting Back Into Dancing -
However I am a little scared of running into
I haven’t seen the Jerk this year. Quit worrying
about him and rejoin the land of the living.
While I am truly excited about coming on Sat for
the crash class - I have some anxiety.
I don't believe the Jerk would show up - like I
told you he wasn't fond of you either.
I still worry what to do.
Should I just
leave if he ends up there Sat?
am concerned - I'm not trying to put you in this
- Please advise.
In the 2% chance that he is there, if you are
that afraid of him, then leave.
Why are you so intimidated?? The studio is an
don't hate him - I don't like him either - I
don't want to be where he is.
me see: He's a liar, a user, a cheater, a game
player and accuses me of many false untruths to
make himself look better.
Funny though - he said you were a control
person that was why he didn't like you - hummm -
seems to me he is a control person
I don't want to be around this -
Rick - tell me am I wrong here?
I don’t know the man well enough to comment on
his character. I know he bristled quickly at
any attempt on my part to help him improve his
dancing. He and I probably have some
similar characteristics. He is right about one
thing – I do like to be in control. Who doesn’t?
My point to you is that you are
backing down from a bully. You cannot avoid the
studio or other public places and keep your
self-esteem intact. You have pride. Don’t let
your fear of running into him prevent you from
going about your business. That is simply the
If he shows up, that’s OK. Just
ignore him. You have a RIGHT to be at the
If he bothers
you, go stand next to other people, especially
some big guy who looks like a decent person.
Then your ex will leave you alone.
As my wife Marla
says, living well is the best revenge.
Come to the studio – YOUR studio – and enjoy
yourself. That puts him where he belongs… in
the recycle bin. Any other response gives him
what he wants… control over you. Stand up and
begin to enjoy your life.
Just to let you know -
I did come to the Swing
crash class on
Sat - (yes I
was a little scared but came anyway)
Gosh I had such a good
time! - I met some new people there who are
taking the jitterbug classes so I will see them
on Monday when I start my new classes with you.
They even convinced me to stay for the party,
which I had not planned to do.
I am looking forward to the new month!
took a chance and it paid off. As I said,
Dancing has remarkable healing powers.
You must force yourself to PARTICIPATE.
Once you do that, Dancing will do the rest.
Trust me. I know this from personal experience.
"What do you suppose are some of the reasons your studio is
successful at creating relationships?"
"The Dancing does most of the work.
They say that one in eight marriages these days are matches
created by the Internet. I don't see any reason why an
educated person should not use the Internet in the search
for a relationship, but there is no question in my mind that
Dance is a direct path to Romance.
In the early days of the studio, I would
match people up for the entire night. But these days
our group lessons are
more sophisticated. Now we line people up in a circle,
dance a pattern, switch partners, dance a pattern, switch
Men are able to dance
attractive woman after another just minutes after entering
the studio for the first time. They get to hold the
women, see them smile and laugh, look into their eyes, and
get to know them first as friends. The men are in awe
of the power of dance!
One guy in a Beginning Twostep class told me laughing
that he danced with more women in the first five minutes
than he had danced with in his whole life.
Sometimes dancing can definitely get the blood racing and I
am not talking simply about working up a sweat. For
example, I think Salsa music is the
sexiest music there is. It reminds me so much of the Disco
music from my youth. Sometimes when I watch all
the Salsa dancers hitting the beat to the pulsing, throbbing
music, there is a rhythm to this dance that is very sensual.
People move their bodies,
women gyrate and move their hips in ways men deeply
appreciate. Frankly Salsa dancing is provocative. (I
just wish I could figure out why Salsa dancing stayed so far
in the background for so long, but that's a subject I will
save for another story.) My point is that Salsa
dancing is popular because men and women have such a great
time in each other's arms!
When dancing is involved, you would be amazed at how
quickly the women let down their guard!! Take a move
like 'Cuddles'. Men will be reaching all over a
woman's body fumbling to figure out the correct arm to grab
to get the lady in the right position. The woman can
tell by the perplexed look on the guy's face that he is
oblivious to the fact that his hands are everywhere in his
frantic search! Don't get me wrong. The men
aren't touching in places they shouldn't be... but the
process looks like the silly old party game 'Twister'.
women laugh, the men get embarrassed, and it is funny.
Then I tell everyone two margaritas at a singles bar
wouldn't guarantee them this much action. ha ha. This
is a stale joke to be sure,
but if I time it right, the suggestion elicits a roar.
And it's true. A guy gets closer to a woman in a dance
class than he ever would in the same amount of time at a
club. The simple reason is that the women feel safe.
Tango is the same way - the women give the men permission to
be ridiculously close for certain patterns because they
understand that is the nature of the dance.
They know the patterns do not work
unless the man can get close enough to lead the moves
correctly. The normal distance for proper body space
goes out the door. The men and the women have to let
down their guard or the dancing simply won't work. So
people develop a rapport at a rapid clip.
People laugh. People flirt. People tell jokes.
Now that they know each other, these same people can get to know each other
even better over time as friends. Then one day maybe
they take things past the friends stage."
"So is SSQQ a bar or a church singles
Since we have dancing and music, most people would assume we
are closer to being a bar.
But I disagree. I think SSQQ is much closer to being a
church singles group than a bar. People are so
friendly and at ease here, you would have to go to a church
singles group to find a more clean cut group of people. But we have an
advantage over the church groups because we have dancing.
Plus we sanction innocent misbehavior. Frisky
Business is not frowned at. Actually it is encouraged.
Therefore it is no surprise that church singles groups love
SSQQ. We average one singles group a month taking
classes via the group discount route. Nor do they want
to have a class by themselves. They would much rather
just get thrown into the huge melting pot and have fun.
Just like a cruise, they can hang with their friends or risk
an adventure with an outsider."
"Is SSQQ a dating service?"
"Absolutely not. If we charged for what we do, I
believe the magic would go away. People wouldn't trust
us any more. They would become cynical and assume we
do it for the money."
"You got involved with Jerald.
Is this something you do very often?"
"No, not at all. Jerald was a huge exception. If that
woman had not directly asked me to help her escape from
Jerald's puppy eyes, I
probably would not have gotten involved.
The studio is huge. There are many students, few of
me. Just keeping up with the demands of daily email
threatens to cripple me with exhaustion, much less taking on
the responsibility for counseling people.
I prefer to watch from a distance and
enjoy the energy. For example, not long ago a man brought his sister to
the studio to take lessons. She and I hit it off and became
friends. We talked all the time at the studio and
exchanged emails. She had a ton of energy and she was
fun to listen to. Then about two months after she
started at the studio, she connected with a gentleman she
met in one of her dance classes.
Not long after that I saw them smooching by the car one
night as I left the studio. She waved to me and I
waved back, but ordinarily I would have just walked by and
left them to enjoy their evening uninterrupted. I miss
our chats of course, but most of all I was very happy for
The lady had an interesting relationship with that man.
However it only lasted about four months. In the
meantime, she kept up her lessons and met another man she
was even more interested in. She began a relationship
with him that has lasted more than a year and is still going
strong as I write. I always keep an eye on her because
she became a friend.
But I only watch. I don't think it is my place to
"So you didn't have anything to do with her new romance?"
"Not a thing. I take complete credit for it of course,
but like any good playground director all I usually do is
roll out the basketball and let the kids play. Then I
keep an eye to make sure everyone follows the rules."
"Do people ever seek you for
"Not very often.
Truth be told, my studio is so big with 1,300 customers a
week that I simply don't have the time to get to know most
people much more beyond the most superficial of levels.
Furthermore my social work background taught me what heavy
karma it is to interfere with people's lives without being
If I give advice, it is usually by email like for example
the lady worried about running into her ex-boyfriend."
"I notice you gave Stacey the
run-down on Jerald. Do people often ask you for your opinion on so-and-so?"
"Not that often. Once in a while, a woman
like Stacey will ask me what I know about a guy
they have their eye on. I will give the guy a thumbs up or a
thumbs down. The advantage I have is that I play center
field at the studio. I am here five or six nights a week
watching the Mix and Mingle Dance. I know which guys are
'Players' and which guys are down to earth. I occasionally
share this information when asked.
I remember on one of our cruises a really neat lady got her
feelings badly hurt. She had fallen for one of the
guys on the cruise and thought they had something special
that would cross over onto land. One night as I was
chatting with people at their dinner table, I asked for
anecdotes I could write about in the Trip Summary. This guy blurted out right in front of
everyone at the table, 'What happens on the cruise stays on
the cruise.' I will never forget how crushed
the woman looked after that remark. She reacted as if
she had been slapped in the face. Needless to say, he
never got a thumbs up from me after that."
"So one of your roles is that of Sheriff Rick?"
"That is correct. If I see a guy is hurting women when he
dances with them, I keep an eye on him. If I see a guy
is hitting on a different woman every night of the week, I
keep an eye on him. If I hear a guy has been fondling
women while dancing with them, I give him a warning.
If I see a guy abusing alcohol, I give him a talk.
I feel it is my job to police the playground.
One of the most bizarre incidents involved a very
shy girl. For some reason, a guy about my age
took a shine to her and asked her to dance every
Friday night. I thought it was unusual because
of the age difference, but the young lady was
smiling so I assumed he was just being nice.
A month later some friends of the girl asked me what
I thought of the man. I told them that I
didn't know him very well, but he had always seemed
like a poacher, a guy who looks for the loneliest
girl at the party and strikes while she is
They didn't like that answer very much since they
were already suspicious to begin with. So they
started an Internet search. They discovered
this man who claimed to be 36 (she was 24) was
in actuality 55 years old. Not only that he
appeared to be married. Not only that, he had
once married a 15 year old girl.
The young woman was quickly alerted to the truth.
Although she was devastated, once she got over her
disappointment, she realized she had been given a
valuable lesson - there are men that lie.
Immediately her instincts were sharpened and she was
better prepared for the future."
"What did you learn from
"I learned that not everyone who comes to this studio is a
decent person. So in that sense I was disappointed.
However I also learned that unlike a bar where there is
danger everywhere, here at SSQQ, people watch each other's
back. His interest in the girl had seemed odd from the
start and had drawn suspicion. After an initial search
of the Internet brought up some fishy items, at one point
five different people began to join the research. This
guy was nailed before he could hurt her much worse.
So in this sense I was proud of my studio.
Had I realized these two were dating, I would have said
something too. This guy was too weird for a girl this
"Does your protective side include men too?"
"The studio doesn't seem to attract many
femme fatales. I can only think of one woman who was pretty
dangerous. She had an affair with a married man she
met here at the studio. He later accused her of
ruining his marriage. Rumor had it she was on the aggressive side,
but she departed the studio before I could ask her side of the story.
SSQQ is not completely safe. Here is an article about
adultery (click #15)
from the Newsletter than illustrates this point clearly.
Over the years, I know of at least dozen adulterous affairs
that began through people who met through the studio and
practically every one of them was started by a man who lied
about being married. Men seem to be far more
predatory than women so I don't usually worry about them too
What I would like to say is that once we discover a
predator, they are no longer welcome here.
In addition, I think these same problems occur everywhere.
For that matter, I think the Internet is a far more
dangerous place for treachery in the affairs of the heart.
I wrote a very serious story on this exact problem:
We are probably not the right place for gold diggers to
operate either. Dance studios are usually not where
the rich and famous hang out.
Women are far more likely to be the victims. One poor woman
actually went on an SSQQ cruise with a man she had met at
the studio who claimed he was divorced. Then the Mrs.
found out and gave the woman hell.
I spoke with the woman personally after the truth came out.
She was devastated and deeply regretful. I am convinced the
woman from the cruise was completely
I have never heard of a woman pulling a trick of this
magnitude on a man.
I suppose we have our share of evil
women, but I don't know who they are because they are always
on good behavior when I am around. My guess is there
are hurtful women at the studio, but the men won't tell me
about it due to their embarrassment. Or maybe they worry I
will print the story in the Newsletter. I would never
do that by the way if someone specifically asked me not to."
"Speaking of your Newsletter and
articles like this 'Matchmaker' story, aren't you afraid
someone is going to steal your ideas?"
"First of all, nothing I have written about is original.
Many people have come to the same conclusions I have long before
I did and will continue to do so without my help.
Besides, copying is the sincerest form of flattery.
Back in 1988, Sharon Crawford and I cooked up a goofy dance
party called the "Sleazy Bar Whip Party". We throw the
party once a year in April. It has always been a
popular party. In fact it is such a clever idea that
Southwest Whip Club now throws a similar party and so do the
Push people up in Dallas.
Since my party came first, I assume these organizations copied my idea.
For that matter, so did my friend Daryl Armstrong with his
'Tattoo, Leather, and Lace Party'. It doesn't matter.
SSQQ doesn't make any money off of social events. We
put them on so our dancers can have fun. It is all
about fun. Let them copy us.
For that matter, sometimes people do a better job at our own
game than we do. For example,
Daryl's off-campus 'Leather and Lace' parties were a lot
wilder than the SSQQ version. Then he lost his venue
and brought the party over to SSQQ for a couple years.
Having the party at SSQQ
nearly killed it! SSQQ is simply too clean-cut
to let its hair down to that extent. Heck, we don't
even lose control at our Halloween parties and they are
Another example of 'copying' involves dance cruises.
SSQQ has had very good luck with dance cruises. I discovered
this myself during our first trip in 1998. A couple
years later I noticed a dance magazine that wrote an article
on dance cruises. It explained how popular they were
and how every month you could probably find another dance
cruise if you combed the Internet hard enough.
So did they copy me? I doubt it. Did I copy them?
No. I made the discovery on my own. My
the lessons are out there for everyone to discover whether I
write about them or not.
It is just like sports and business. Everyone knows
the same plays, the same strategies. It all boils down
to superior talent and/or superior hard work.
For example, I have a natural talent for this business. My
writing and my eye for social interaction make me the
perfect guy for this business. But some times I don't
have the strength to try as hard as I used to. That's
when other dance studios gain on me.
As you will read if you continue this story, there have been other times when I
didn't have another gear and my studio lost a lot of ground.
At least three times in my career when I was coasting, other
dance studios came along and stole huge blocks of students
who started with me right out from under my nose. If I
am lucky, I get a second wind and put distance between us
The dance business isn't that complicated. It all
boils down to talent and hard work. There are no
secrets to steal."
"If SSQQ is not a bar and it is not a church singles group,
then maybe it is a Singles Group?"
"SSQQ is not a Singles
Group. It is a Dance Studio.
For all the historical success we have
had in bringing people together, SSQQ pretty much stays in
the background. We don't do mixers. We don't do
speed-dating. We don't introduce people.
Like any good playground social director, we
basically tell everyone what time the pick-up basketball
game starts, sweep the court clean, make sure the ball has
air in it, then step back and watch. Once the music is on, the players do the
Dancing turns out
to be a simple, graceful way to get to know people with
their guard down in a relaxed setting. For a variety of
reasons, SSQQ has always seemed to be most attractive to
intelligent, educated, down-to-earth people. With such a
large group of talented people, it is easy to find any
number of people who have a lot of things in common with you
besides dancing. If you were to meet the same person in a
club, it would be much more difficult to start a
At SSQQ, you can take a class with someone, dance with them
at practice night, or strike up a conversation with them at
break or after class. Talking to strangers is always
difficult, but it is much easier when you have a common
reference point like dancing to start with.
Actually it's easy to do a good job when you've got the
right ingredients. For example, although we don't match the
dance clubs for their elaborate decorations and have no
desire to fool with alcohol, we have things that clubs can't
touch- we've got room to dance, we have a smoke-free
atmosphere, we've got music that has the right sound and the
right speed, and we have a comfortable, attractive place
where people feel at ease.
Plus we have a safe place- even though it may be your first
practice night, you will sense almost immediately an amazing
absence of creeps and, as a result, you will find it easy to
relax and enjoy yourself. Granted you may not be able to
dance worth flip, but at least there won't be a plethora of
obnoxious characters to make things worse.
The only thing SSQQ cannot do for you to get you to
participate...that's up to you!
"So is SSQQ a
Singles Club in disguise?"
you have figured us out. If we say we are a
Singles Club, then we scare away the Doubles.
Singles and Doubles coexist very nicely in dance
classes and cruises. The Doubles enjoy
watching the Singles be crazy and the Singles enjoy
But the moment SSQQ goes too far in either direction
and favors one group over the other, we lose
That said, I will quietly admit that when SSQQ is
at its most effective, it functions along the
principles of a Singles Club. In the years
when SSQQ has gotten away from being a Singles Club
and stuck to business, the energy of the studio has
The History of SSQQ
has had several Eras known as 'Generations'.
will see, during the 1980s when we concentrated on creating
energy for the singles, the studio's business was
spectacular. Then there was a long dry spell in the
1990s where the social side of the studio was stagnant.
In 1995, the studio finished the year with $300 in the bank.
Since we are obviously still in business, it wouldn't do any
good to play cliffhanger and keep you guessing. Yes,
obviously SSQQ made a huge comeback. So now it is time
for an SSQQ History lesson and a look at what the future
might hold for the studio.