The Dance Curse
Home Up The Ritz


The Dance Curse!!

Story written by Rick Archer

First Published: January 2001
Last update: February 2010


Do you believe in jinxes?  Well, I sure do.  When it comes to performing at dance, I feel like I have a curse following me around... and I only half-kidding.   It isn't that I danced poorly or failed to prepare properly.  Only the first mishap could be attributed to poor dance skills, but as you will see, it was an incredible stroke of bad luck that did me in. 

After my first breakdown, what haunted me is that things kept going wrong.  Weird things, stupid things, things I had little control over. I
had terrible luck at performing.

If I didn't know any better, I would swear that Al Capp character Joe Btfsplk with his dark cloud follows me around on the dance floor.  If I did stupid things like forget my routines or fail to practice sufficiently, then I would only have myself to blame.  That wasn't the case.  The things that happened to me always felt 'supernatural'.  It was the utter craziness of the mistakes that made me feel so superstitious. 
To be honest, my early experiences were so frustrating and so weird that after the final humiliation in 1987, I just stopped performing.  No more.  That's it.  I've had enough.  I quit.

My mishaps ranged from heart-stopping dangerous freak accidents to humiliating mistakes right out of slapstick.  Although my antics surely have been amusing to others, every problem has cut me to the core.  Just because I am paranoid doesn't mean I am crazy.  Maybe I have a reason to be crazy.  You will just have to read the complete story to understand. 

Then let's see if you agree with me.


The Disco Era - 1973-1980

The Saturday Night Fever-inspired Disco Era lends itself nicely to plenty of jokes, but it sure was fun while it lasted.  For most of the Seventies, an entire nation danced to the music of Donna Summer, Gloria Gaynor and the Bee Gees. 

Partner Dancing in America actually got its start during the Charleston Era of the Roaring Twenties.  The Charleston was originally danced apart, but people found a way to Charleston in each arms.  That energy created the Lindy Hop which in turn gave rise to Swing Dancing during the Big Band Era of the Thirties and Forties.

After the war, people needed a little peace and quiet.  Not surprisingly, lullabies and ballads became the popular music for the next ten years.  However performers like Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, and Elvis Presley got the nation partner dancing again with the Jitterbug and the Sock Hop Era of the Fifties.

However, thanks to the Twist and the Watusi, Partner Dancing took a mysterious hiatus through the Sixties and the most of the Seventies.  It didn't help that the psychedelic music of the late Sixties - think Inna Gadda Da Vida - didn't exactly fit most people's idea of compelling dance music.

The major legacy of the 1977 movie Saturday Night Fever is that it got America Partner Dancing again.

The Rhythm is Going to Get You! 

The Disco Era didn't actually start with Saturday Night Fever.  The popularity of Disco music began in the early Seventies.  Disco Music was a mixture of black jazz and Puerto Rican salsa rhythms that definitely got the toes tapping.  I remember going to Disco clubs as early as 1973.  Disco Dancing was popular throughout the Seventies, but more in the form of freestyle dancing and Disco Line Dances.  That changed in 1977 when Saturday Night Fever hit the movie theaters.

Of course the major legacy of Saturday Night Fever is that it created a fever pitch of interest in Disco music and dancing.  What many people forget is that it also inspired everybody to learn how to Partner Dance.  Partner Dancing was pretty uncommon before the movie came along, but it caught on big thanks to a story line that built around a local dance competition.

Like the dance competition in the movie, dance competitions were big money makers for all the Discos. Beautiful women with long legs, flashy low cut dresses, glittering disco balls, sexy dance movements, stunning spins and breath-taking acrobatics all made for quite a show!  People loved seeing dance contests!

I was right in the middle of it.  Thanks to being in the right place at the right time, I caught the Disco Wave just as it started to swell. I surfed that wave all the way into a career as a dance instructor.  However I fell off that surf board hard a couple times.  When I did, I really wiped out.  The most stunning blow of all came at a dance performance I did at The Ritz.
Something went wrong - very wrong.  This experience was so traumatic that it probably affected me subconsciously throughout all my subsequent mishaps.  In retrospect, my Dance Curse started right there at the Ritz. 


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