Millenium Romance 2000


Millennium Romance 2000 Retrospective
Written by Rick Archer, January 15, 2006

The article below is where I first posed the possibility that SSQQ is the Romance Center of Houston. As I wrote the story on New Years Eve, ironically just one week earlier my former wife had announced her decision to divorce me.

In retrospect, the Millennium Year was very good for SSQQ. We probably had more students this year than any other time in studio history.  30 marriages and engagements seemed like a staggering total at the time, but we repeated the feat again in 2003. With the addition today of one previously undiscovered 2003 wedding, I realize we actually broke the 2000 record.

However since news of weddings I never heard of before always seem to pop up, as Yogi Berra would say, "It ain't over till it's over."  Tomorrow two couples could email me to say they got married in 2000 and just now got around to telling me.

Having finished re-reading my article of yesteryear, my only comment is how remarkably pleasant I sounded considering how my life had just changed. In fact, I think I sounded optimistic. Interesting.

As you know, things worked out just fine for me. In August 2001- 8 months after I wrote this article - I fell deeply in love on our SSQQ Cruise. Marla and I got married three years late in September 2004.  Add yet another testimony to that incredible SSQQ Slow Dance and Romance Magic...

Is SSQQ the Romance Center of Houston, Texas? 
This article was written December 31, 2000 

SSQQ can make a pretty strong case for this honor.  In 2000, 30 couples who met at SSQQ got married or engaged. This was not an isolated event either.  The year before the total was 23.  In 2001 it was also 23.  

Can you think of another location in the city that can match this record?


As Christmas Day is over and we approach the end of our Millennium Year 2000, the former Miss Patty Cloninger and her new husband Gilbert Cardenas have just completed their honeymoon cruise somewhere in the Bahamas. Congratulations to both!!

Yes, you guessed it - Patty and Gilbert met at SSQQ. They are the 17th couple to marry this year that met at SSQQ. In addition 12 other couples that met at SSQQ have announced their intention to marry next year. That makes 29 marriages and engagements in one year. (Make that 30 - after reading this article, Sharon Roth wrote in to add her marriage to Steve Dent in April of 2000 to the list!)

(2000 Wedding and Engagement List is at bottom of page)

Furthermore this is no freak occurrence. In 1999 we had 14 couples get married and 9 engagements. Although we have no standard against which to measure, don't these numbers seem fairly remarkable?

Think about it - 30 couples married and engaged in one year!!

Steve Bahnsen and Patty Cloninger from Halloween 1999

Furthermore there could be more couples that met at the studio and got married, but didn't bother to tell us. For example, two weeks ago Robert Leake wrote to tell me that he and Jennifer Lynch met at the studio two years ago and got married 7 months ago. This was new information to me. I would imagine the true numbers for 2000 are even higher. For example, at the end of last year I wrote that 12 couples who met at SSQQ had gotten married during 1999. Several months later two more couples wrote me to confess they too had gotten married in 1999. That changed the total from 12 to 14.

Hmm. Maybe "confess" isn't the best word for it, but my point is that we could easily end up with even more marriages and engagements for 2000 by the time all the hanging chads are tallied later in 2001.

As you might gather, I am very proud of the Social Side of SSQQ. Although we are in the business of teaching people how to dance, believe it or not there is a little matchmaker with a big smile who lives hidden deep inside grouchy Mr. Porcupine. I take great pleasure watching how the studio helps to bring people together in such an effective way. In addition, judging from the spirited battle my Staff fights to take matchmaking credit for each couple I see I am not the only SSQQ person who feels this way either. Besides the marriages and engagements, it is gratifying to see the many people who have made friends at the studio and the sense of community that has grown here over the years.

For that matter, SSQQ has been a Wedding Factory for 20 years. And now I am actually curious to know how SSQQ compares to other organizations at bringing people together. I am serious – is SSQQ one of the top places in Houston to find a husband or wife?  

My guess is there is a real possibility that SSQQ might actually be the Romance Center of Houston. That would be especially impressive since the last time I checked we don't even try!  

Help me out. Back when I was "younger", bars and church singles groups were said to be the best ways to meet single people. Does the Longhorn Saloon average 30 weddings and engagements a year? Or what about church singles organizations? Surely these places have newsletters. Do Second Baptist, Chapelwood, St Lukes, Lakewood and Memorial Drive average 30? Or for that matter, what about our sister organization, Leisure Learning Unlimited?  I would put SSQQ somewhere in the middle between a bar and a church singles group and roughly parallel to LLU, but I have no idea how SSQQ compares in matchmaking to either type of "meeting place".

Would any of our readers happen to know or care to comment?

(Editor's 2006 Aside: in the past five years since I first asked the question above, no one has ever stepped up to challenge my assertion that SSQQ is Houston's League Leader in the Wedding Department)

Personal Ads

Since the Internet came along, "dating services" and "personal ads" have apparently been added to the mix. I sometimes wonder if professional dating services are truly effective at bringing people together. I mean, that is actually their "Business", right??

So I am going to ask our readers - do Dating Services average 30 weddings and engagements a year? Do Dating Services even bother to announce their results? If anyone has some answers, please share them.

I was thinking about this exact question the other day. I had nothing to read at a restaurant so for the heck of it I picked up a Singles Magazine. The first thing I noticed was that in the Personal Ads the ladies got to advertise their first 30 words for free while men had to pay a buck a word for 0-30 words. Does this mean that when it comes to women, talk is cheap?? (Come on now, just teasing…) I know darn well why we charge men more than women for dance lessons (leading takes extra time to teach), but this pricing structure seems a bit unfair. Are men more inclined to use personal ads as a way to meet women? As I continued reading, I realized the ins and outs of the Singles World seem very complex these days. 

Then I decided to read some of the personal ads. My favorite was a guy who was looking for an Oriental woman who ballroom danced and lived inside the Loop. The ad said she must have "pep in her step and whee in her knees." Is "whee" an Asian term, you know, like "Kung Fu" or "Tai Chi"? I've heard of knees snapping together to prevent "wee wee", but "whee knee" is a new term for me. Is it a Singles Slogan?

A woman managed to describe herself in less than 30 words as "Blonde Princess, 47, looking for Prince to share a kingdom. Must have IQ over 150, terrific sense of humor, and love Austin." Austin?? I guess that rules out Mr. Inside the Loop above. 150 IQ?  Counts me out too. Although I do like Austin, I suppose I wouldn't have a chance at a babe like this since I'm not funny although people do laugh at me all the time. With those standards, I imagine Blond Princess is lonely.

Don't some of these personal ads turn out to be people who are married?? How can you tell if you are wasting your time or not? And how do you know if you are dealing with a straight shooter or not? I mean, if they say they took college courses up at Huntsville, how do you know which institution they are referring to?

As I leafed through the magazine, I found a 1-900 phone number where I could respond to the personal ads above at $2 a minute. Oh boy!!  If only I was smarter and funnier, maybe I could get the Blonde Princess' number!!  Better not chance it; she probably administers the Stanford-Binet IQ test on the first date.

The next ad said I could dial a 1-800 number and "save 40% by talking to hundreds of Sincere Singles for 30 minutes at $1.50 a minute". First I tried to figure out how much money I would save by not talking to anyone at all  ($45.00).  Then I figured out if I did decide to save 40% and call for 30 minutes, this would allow me to talk to each of the 100 sincere singles for an average of 18 seconds at the rate of 45 cents per sincere person. I sincerely hope the sincere singles don't work on commission. Heck, even I can be sincere for 18 seconds, but I am not sure I can be sincere for 45 cents.

From Russia With Love

Then I discovered the Russian Women page on the Internet. Damn!!  Olga, Lara, Nadia, Tania, Anastasia, Svetlana, Katerina, Yelena, Georgina, Alexandra, Alexia… Six different advertisements on one single page offering "Foreign Affairs" with some of the most amazing women I have ever seen (great pictures!)

Are Russian women really this good looking? And are good-looking Russian women really this desperate?? Furthermore, are American men so pathetic that they have to go all the way across the earth to find a good-looking woman?

I am not sure I totally understand this Russian angle. A trip to St. Petersburg used to mean Spring Break, but now we are talking Baltic Sea. Brrr. Personally I think American women are very beautiful and I would think they have the big advantage of living much closer. Heck, I know most of the really good-looking American women seem to live outside the Loop, but at least the local calls aren't long distance. Or is it that Russian women aren't as smart as American women??  I mean, after all, how many of us American men can say we have an IQ of 150?  And how many of us are also funny?  And like Austin? These are tough standards. Maybe that's it. Maybe American women expect too much of American men. For example, what if a guy is funny, smart, but went to Texas A&M?

Hmm. How much is that trip to Moscow?

Dating Services

Then I noticed an advertisement for a dating service that included an "Application Fee" of $125 at "Houston's Most Exciting Match Service". I wasn't previously aware that you had to apply for a Dating Service. Is applying for a dating service like applying to get into college? Do they administer SATs for Singles? Do they get to keep the application fee even if they decide you are too boring or too stupid to get married? Or do they simply transfer your fee to their "From Russia with Love" department?

On the last page I discovered an ad for an upcoming New Year's Eve Party. It listed an expected attendance of 500+ Singles. Wow!!  500 people!  Maybe even more!!  (It had a "+" sign, don't forget). However you better hurry - described as a "Singular Event", if you order a ticket today you can go for $30, but if you wait and buy at the door it balloons to $40. I felt a little embarrassed by the obvious anticipated success of this event.

My own personal New Years Eve Party only gets maybe 200 people. Plus we charge a pathetic $12 cover.

Personally, when I originally priced my party I thought $12 was kind of high, but then I read about this "$40" cover charge. Gee whiz. Do you think people are insulted by our price??  Should we show our party guests more respect and charge more? Do you think if we charged more for the SSQQ party we could get 500 people?? Or maybe it's the fact that we allow married people to come to the studio on NYE. I bet that's it!!  I guess singles only want to be with singles on a special night like New Years and will pay whatever it takes to keep the married people out. Now that makes sense.

What didn't make sense was that I went to high school next door to the facility hosting this NYE singles event. It has been a while, but if memory serves, I think the fire marshal would have a serious problem fitting 500 people into a room that holds at best 200 people. But then, maybe single people are thinner.

Enough sour grapes. I'm just bitter because their party sounds bigger than mine. I guess it is time for me to ease up on the Singles Magazine too. My sarcastic comments might have been a little funnier if it weren't for the fact that everyone needs a friend at this time of year and it is sad all the BS they have to go through to find them. The Singles World today seems as scary as ever. Personally it sounds to me like looking for love in all the wrong places, but if dating services work, then any edge is valuable. Go for it!

What Category Do We Put SSQQ in?

Now let's play a game called "What's My Line?"  SSQQ is not a dance hall.  Nor is SSQQ a religious place.  Nor is SSQQ a singles club.  Nor is SSQQ a dating service.  Furthermore SSQQ is not a "front" for anything else. We are not a tanning salon. We have no massage, no adult books to sell, no videotapes, and no performing acts of any nature. SSQQ has no membership. Furthermore we have no application fee although I have been amusing myself all day by wondering if I could get away with charging one.

Nor are we very exclusive. Maybe that's our problem. Everyone is welcome here as long as they follow the rules. SSQQ is simply a dance studio. We make our living teaching people how to dance. Any Romance you find here is strictly compliments of the house, a pleasant sort of door prize. It is free and since you don't have to pay for it or give it back, you don't even have to hide it if you find it.

We are very fortunate that many of our students enjoy dancing at our studio after classes are over, so in addition to our classes we also have a "Social Side" to the studio, which includes Practice Night and our Saturday Parties. In addition many of our students organize to participate together in activities outside the studio. If you are interested in learning more about the "Social Side" of SSQQ, please read an article I wrote a year ago called "Where the Creatures Meet". It is pretty interesting.  Where the Creatures Meet

Dance and Romance not only rhyme, they go hand in hand. From Cinderella and the Prince to Scarlett O'Hara and Rhett at the Ball, Dance has always held an invitation to Romance. There is something far more deeply satisfying about asking a woman to dance and moving around the floor with her than some far-fetched dreams of a mythical Russian Goddess in Vladivostock. Out on the floor, this woman is real, you don't have to pay $2 a minute for her smile, and she feels good in your arms. Dance has Magic to it.

And when a woman responds to a personal ad she doesn't know if she is getting an axe murderer or a philanderer, but when she sees a man smile at her and treat her with respect and gentleness on the dance floor, a woman somehow feels reassured she would be safe being alone with him. It's one thing to lie on the phone, but very few people can keep the rhythm on a dance floor and lie with a straight face at the same time. Think about it, who can lead, keep the beat, and lie convincingly all at the same time?  The dance floor might be the one place where a woman can get either a straight answer out of a guy or learn quickly when he is being deceitful.

I don't know about other people, but I would much rather have an eye to eye encounter with someone before I go to the trouble to rearrange my schedule, fight traffic, and drive across Houston to meet a total stranger. Not only would I like to know if I will smile when I see her, wouldn't it be nice to know ahead of time if she would smile back? Aren't blind dates a drag? Talk about awkward!!

I realize that with email, internet, speed dating and etc, using a dance studio to meet people must seem terribly old-fashioned. However if it works, why knock it?  I have always felt the nicest thing about the studio is that you can simply chat with people over the course of time. You don't have to make a quick move and you don't have to make up your mind right away. People have the chance to "grow on each other" and become friends first. You can warm up to people at the studio in a graceful way that far transcends the hostile environment of a bar or the deeply suspicious and guarded milieu of the dating services.

Furthermore, in my experience, bars are mostly a beauty contest. That's great, but statistically speaking aren't most of us average looking?  At SSQQ, you can actually learn what a person is like without the lines and the pretenses. And even if you aren't handsome or pretty, you get the chance to let people realize who you are in a way that far transcends the "Bar Environment".  Plus you meet a different kind of person in a dance class. No one who lives in the fast lane is going to spend 4 weeks learning to dance.

Plus have you ever noticed how people get better looking when you start to like them?

When it comes to the old-fashioned way of making friends, I would imagine SSQQ is more similar to a church singles organization than to a bar. Except in church you have to be good while at SSQQ you can be bad to the bone. Therein lies the difference: SSQQ, naughty but nice, a place to entice... 

Seasons Greetings, Everyone.

Rick Archer, 
SSQQ Dance Studio
December 31, 2000

 SSQQ 2000 Dance and Romance - Weddings!!     (Back to Top)

18. Patty Cloninger and Gilbert Cardenas

got married December 15, 2000
 17. Tom Maples and Yvonne Granger got married October 14, 2000

16. George Wallace and Suzy Kish

got married August 26, 2000

15. Michael Gabrysch and Shannon Barton

got married August 26, 2000

14. Peggy Sue and Anton Solovyov

got married August 26, 2000

13. Brady Pasemann and Sarah Milford

got married August 11, 2000

12. Karen Murray and Dave Bowman

got married August, 2000

11. Theresa Hazel and Tim Cyr

got married June 17, 2000

10. Ray Meyers and Janet Wukman

got married July 22, 2000

09. Stephen Kirk and Jennifer Smith

got married May 19, 2000
 08. Robert Leake and Jennifer Lynch got married May, 2000

07. Dave Mammone and Alison Terzakis

got married May 2, 2000
 06. Steve Dent and Sharon Roth got married April, 2000

05. Letty Molina and Patrick Dougherty

got married St Patrick's Day, March 2000

04. Haim Levy and Martha Neg

got married  March, 2000

03. Donnie Jacobs and Kimberly Bryson

got married March, 2000

02. David Meinert and Eileen MacPherson

got married February, 2000

01. Brad Arbaugh and Verladyne Williams

got married January 15, 2000

 SSQQ 2000 Dance and Romance - Engagements!!

 12. Dana Pattison and Rudy Garcia announced engagement November, 2000

11. Ella O'Neal and Robert Goerz

announced engagement November, 2000

10. Mike Fagan and Trisha Bradford

announced engagement November, 2000

09. Bruce Boulanger and Margaret Williams

announced engagement October, 2000

08. Larry Carlton and Brenda Evetts

announced engagement September, 2000

07. Tony Catalano and Karen Day

announced engagement September, 2000

06. Gary Bezemek and Elizabeth Monzingo

announced engagement August, 2000

05. Mark Billingsley and Cindy Hansen

announced engagement August, 2000

04. Debora Moore and Don Bottling 

announced engagement August, 2000

03. Franki Fowler and Marty Macy

announced engagement July, 2000

02. Kathleen Alexander and Kenneth Parker

announced engagement February 14, 2000

01. Julie Adamis and Troy Thornton

announced engagement October, 1999

(Back to Top)

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