Daryl Armstrong
Home Up Margarita Pictures


The Daryl Armstrong Experience!!

Story written by Rick Archer
August, 2001


On a Saturday evening in July 2001, SSQQ instructor Daryl Armstrong and his fabulous wife Joanne escorted about 30 SSQQ Crazies on a trip to 5 different venues in search of the Perfect Margarita.  I know they were crazy because I watched them.  Yes, I admit I was with them. There are too many pictures floating around to deny it.

Before I start my story about Daryl's Margarita Tour, there are some things I have wanted to tell the world about Daryl Armstrong for a long time and this is a good time to get it off my chest.  To start with, there are very few people at the studio I admire and respect more than Daryl. He is truly blessed with immense talent. Not only does he exude warmth, I don't think I have ever met a funnier person.  Daryl has a way of making people laugh without seeming to even lift a finger.  It's a gift.

In fact it is this incredible talent that irritates the heck out of me. If I want to make someone laugh, I have to work at it.  Not Daryl. He just grins and people laugh.  Daryl reminds me at every turn how a true extrovert operates. 

1997 - Daryl and the Name Game

I should have known this guy would drive me crazy from the start. After all, it took me a year just to learn to spell his first name right.  

Daryl first showed up at the studio in 1995.  He came at his mother Betty's insistence (more about this later).  Like practically everyone who meets Daryl, I took an immediate liking to him.  He has a great deal of natural warmth and charm. 

After a year or two, I asked Daryl to begin teaching Western at the studio.  Daryl was hardly a natural dancer, but I could see he was a born leader.  I have always believed that a person's heart is more important than their dancing ability when it comes to teaching.  Daryl had plenty of heart, that was easy to see.

Now that Daryl was officially teaching at the studio, I added his name to our list of teachers in each month's printed schedule.

For the first 4 months I spelled his name "Darrell".  One day he casually mentioned his name needed a 'y' in place of the 'e'.  OK.  I can handle that.  So I spelled his name "Darryll" for the next 4 months

one day he told me his name only had one 'r'.  This caused a problem for me.  For the next 4 more months, I couldn't remember if he had told me it was one 'r' or two.  So I flipped a coin and guessed wrong.  I kept the two R's.  I wanted to do right, but I inadvertently kept misspelling his name because I was confused.  And, since Daryl didn't correct me, I assumed my guess was right and concluded I was now spelling it correctly.  

Mind you, this was back in the mid-Nineties, a prehistoric era in the days before email.  One simple email with his name spelled correctly would have cleared it all up.  No such luck.  Instead I went around misspelling his name while believing I was spelling it right.  And I assume Daryl went around rolling his eyes because I couldn't spell his name right even though he had taken the trouble to correct me.

Four more months passed.  Then one day Daryl asked me why I still spelled his name wrong. I was so embarrassed.  How insulted he must feel that he works for me and I can't even get his name right!   I immediately began to apologize and try to explain that I couldn't remember if it was one 'R' or two.  Daryl smiled.  Not only was it only one 'R', it was also just one 'L' as well. 

Just one 'L'?  That was new.  You mean I got the L's wrong too?   This is ridiculous.  How hard is it to spell someone's first name?

Now for next few months, I tried to spell his name spelled right, but then I lost my confidence.  Was it one R and two L's?  Was it two R's and one L?  Was it an 'e' or a 'y'?  I always had a sinking feeling that it still was wrong and he was just being polite again.  I was so confused that I could not stop second-guessing myself. 

(2009 SIDE NOTE: My silly inability to master Daryl's name was repeated in 2008 when I discovered I had been misspelling SSQQ Western instructor Jamie Mabry's name for many years.  One day at the studio Jamie came up to me at the studio and pointed that "Jaime" was incorrect.  Like with Daryl, I was mortified.  But I continued to repeat my same mistake.... for an entire year, I alternated the spelling of her name because my mind kept flip-flopping as to what was right.

Mind you, I finished second in my school spelling bee two years in a row. I know how to spell.  But once I get someone's name in my brain wrong from the start, I have fits remembering which name is right and which name is wrong.)

My problem with Daryl's name was solved by a technological breakthrough.  In 1997 I got my first computer and my first connection to email.  One day Daryl complained to me I was still misspelling his name.  I made a suggestion.  Why not email me? 
That was the turning point.  From that point on, whenever I needed to publish his name, I would go look at one of his emails From then on any time I forgot whether it was one 'r' or two, one 'l' or two, I would go to the In-Box and see how he spelled his own name.  Brilliant. Problem solved.

However, there was an odd twist to this story.  Even though Daryl never said a mean word to me or even seemed miffed, I felt so stupid for messing up his name that I would get rattled any time he approached me to say something.  After the name fiasco, all Daryl had to do was look at me funny and I swear I would get nervous wondering what I had done wrong this time. 

To this day, I believe it was own difficulties with getting his name right that gave Daryl the idea to suggest one of the great innovations at the studio - Name Tags.

I am sure it goes deeper than just confusion over how to spell his name, but over the years - 1995 to present - I still get rattled when he walks by.
I don't know why someone as kind as Daryl flusters me, but it is the truth.  I have a sneaky feeling Daryl knows full well he has my number.  However, other than some gentle teasing, Daryl has never chosen to exercise his full power.  

1986 - Daryl's Car

I knew about Daryl Armstrong ten years before I ever met him.  I was very curious about Daryl.  For one thing, I once owned his car without actually meeting him.  For another, I admired his mother Betty Armstrong a lot (she was a dance student here at SSQQ for many years).  But mostly I was curious about Daryl because his mother had told me some crazy stories about him.  He sounded like quite a character.

Daryl graduated from Bellaire High School in 1977.  He then moved on to Baylor.  After he graduated, Daryl got a Masters in Speech Pathology and Therapy at the University of Wisconsin. 
(Side Note: Daryl helps people who have had an injury or a medical problem regain their ability to speak. I have a hunch he is very good at what he does. For someone who is such a smooth talker himself, I have never quite figured out what drew him to that profession.)

In 1985, Daryl moved from Houston to Hawaii.  At the time, Daryl thought he was just going to visit for a while, but he ended up spending the next ten years there.

One consequence of visiting Hawaii was that Daryl couldn't take his beloved sports car with him.  So like any other young adult, he did the sensible thing and parked his favorite car in Betty's driveway and asked her to watch it till he got back.

As the months passed, Daryl's 'short visit' to Hawaii started to seem more like a permanent move.  So one day his mother Betty decided Daryl was in Hawaii for the long haul.  Betty told her son he needed to sell his stateside Nissan 280Z hatchback sports car to get it out of her driveway and to get some value out of it while it was still marketable.  That made a lot of sense except for thing - Daryl loved his car.  He loved his car a lot.  He really didn't want to part with it. But Betty has a way of talking sense into people so Daryl reluctantly gave in and gave her permission to sell the car.

Meanwhile Betty had been taking dance classes here at the studio at the same time Daryl was in Hawaii.  I had put a bulletin board up at the front of the studio for people to put business cards, etc.  Betty noticed the bulletin board and put a picture of the gorgeous car up at the studio .

When I entered the studio one day (Summer 1986), I noticed the picture and stopped in my tracks.  Wow!  That was a pretty cool-looking car!  By chance, I was ready for a new car. So
I called up Betty and arranged to visit her home in Meyerland.

When I saw the car, I
fell in love at first sight.  I wasn't leaving this house without a deal. 

But naturally I wanted to drive down the $13,000 price tag.  Once Betty explained why the car was available, I licked my chops.  This was good news.  Betty was selling a lame duck car!  I was betting Betty wanted to get rid of that car.  Besides, it wasn't even her car.  Betty would have absolutely no sentimental attachment.  I sensed a kill.  Wrong.  That is when I discovered to my consternation I had just met
the finest negotiator of my entire life.

I could not budge Betty even one single cent from her original asking price

And it wasn't for lack of trying, believe me.  I told her I had enough money in my checking account to literally write a check ON THE SPOT and close the deal instantly.  All Betty had to do was, you know, drop the price a thousand dollars or so.  But
Betty would not concede a thing. 

We went back and forth for at least 30 minutes.  I mean, Betty had a sure sale.  She was taking a big risk by sticking to her guns.  Betty was gambling that I wanted that car badly enough that she didn't have to drop her price $1,000 to get me to bite.  To my dismay, I discovered she wouldn't even drop it $100!

Why not concede a hundred dollars to get a sure sale ?!!
 It is a USED CAR for crying out loud!

Why not give in just a little

I could have understood Betty sticking to her number when I asked her to drop the price a thousand dollars.  But I was surprised when she didn't make a counter-offer. 

So I came down a little.  Betty just smiled.  So I came down some more.  Betty just smiled.  She was so nice about saying 'No'.  I have never in my life seen someone say 'no' more patiently than Betty did. 

I kept probing for a deal.  What about $500 off?  Betty smiled. No.

Finally I asked for $100 off just as a good will gesture.  Betty smiled. No.

I was aghast.  No sensible person risks losing a $13,000 sale over a hundred bucks.  Just throw the guy a sop to shut him up and close the deal.  Not Betty.  She wanted me to pay the original asking price.  It was a fair price, Betty said.  And since it was a fair price, she added I should not mind paying it.

I wish now I had a tape recording.  Betty's style was so simple yet so powerful.  She didn't argue with me.  She didn't try to persuade me or anything.  She just let me talk for a while.  Then whenever I made my newest pitch, she would smile and shake her head.  Nope.  The price is still the same.  It is a fair price.  And since it is a fair price, I shouldn't mind paying it.

The woman was invincible.   There was simply no reason on earth for her to stick to that price.  She didn't need the money!  She didn't need the car!  The car was completely expendable.  Letting me drive it away was exactly what she wanted me to do so she could get it out of the driveway.  So knock off a hundred bucks, for crying out loud.  Everybody knows you give in a little.  Not Betty.  

During the negotiations, I can't begin to explain how much I came to like Betty.  I already knew her from the studio and I guess that was part of the problem.  Since she was such a neat lady, I didn't really have any desire to play hardball.  It would have been so much easier to be the tough guy if I didn't know her ahead of time.  However, I still expected her to weaken a little.  After all, she liked me too.  It is a lot easier to make concessions for people you like.  But as the talking progressed, I was shocked she would not budge an inch.  Worse, I found myself liking her even more.  I became more amused than upset that I wasn't going to get my way. The more Betty stood up to me, the more I liked her.  This lady had a lot of guts!  Finally, I gave in.  I decided I wanted her friendship a lot more than I wanted some stupid face-saving consolation prize discount. 

I suppose I should add a confession.  I had taken one of those Karass Negotiation Seminars.  During the seminar they had training situations where we were given situations to practice negotiating with the other students in the class using the principles we had been taught.  Forgive my lack of modesty, but I won every one of my practice negotiations. My trainer said I was a natural.  So before I drove over to Betty's house, I had fully expected to shave considerable money off her price tag.  That's right.  I was going to save myself some money because I was a natural negotiator.

And I came away with zip. If that doesn't make you smile, nothing will.  I didn't just meet my match, I met Godzilla.  I met someone so far superior to me I never had a chance. 

Let's face it, I liked Betty.  Betty had a style about her that I can not explain.  It was really that simple.  I had no desire to be a jerk just so I could get my way. I was amazed by her gentle strength (
oxymoron alert) and I liked her car.  And since deep down the money was not really that much of an issue, I gave in.  I didn't even feel bad about giving in.  That is how gifted Betty was at holding her ground - she did it without making me feel cheated, swindled, manipulated, or in any way taken advantage of.  I was impressed.  I had just been given the finest example of how to conduct business I had ever seen in my life.

To this day,
I have never regretted buying Daryl's car.  It remains my favorite car of all time (his too).

You will be amused to know Daryl's hot car immediately began to pay dividends.  By chance, I had a date that weekend.  I remember picking up a lady named Pat to take her Whip dancing on a Sunday night at the Four Palms.  It was our first date.  As she got in, I remember her exact words - "Ooh, nice car!"  The ride was smooth, the bucket seats were relaxing, and the sexy blues music delicious.  Pat was smiling from the moment she got in.

All that bullshit about using a car to impress a woman... well, guess what, in that one single moment, I discovered it's true.  Amazing.

Since I know you are curious, no, I didn't get lucky, but I came close.  At the end of the evening, I walked Pat to her door.  She hesitated at the doorway.  I could see she was really torn whether to invite me in or not.  One little kiss and I would have been past the door.

The lyrics to the old C&W song began to play in my mind. 
"Somebody's knocking, should I let him in?  Lord, it's the Devil, will you look at him!  I'm gettin' weaker And he's comin' on strong, But I don't wanna go wrong..."

There is no doubt in my mind if I had worked it, the outcome would have changed.  But I had a rare ethical moment and decided not to press.  I didn't see the point of moving too fast.  Instead I was content to leave with the knowledge that Daryl's Magic Car had been worth every nickel I had paid for it (260,000 nickels in case you are counting).  This car had given my self-esteem a huge bolt of confidence.  I was groomed to zoom!

On the other hand, I wasn't quite as cocky about my bargaining skills any more. To this day
I still shake my head at how easily Betty handled my pathetic attempts to slash the price.  I still can't believe the serene confidence Betty displayed while she stood her ground.  If I were to ever hire a business manager, I know exactly which door I would knock on first.

1995 - Daryl Arrives at the Studio

In 1995, Daryl returned from his beloved Hawaii back to Houston, his hometown, to help his ailing father. After his return from Hawaii, Daryl came over to SSQQ because Betty insisted he pay us a visit.  Personally, I think he came over just to find out what had happened to his car.

I actually knew quite a bit about Daryl ahead of time because his mother had told me so many wild stories about him.  Besides beginning his career as a speech therapist, Betty told me about the margarita tours he organized for his friends, his motorcycle gang, and his crazy parties (Daryl denied all of it).  However I wasn't quite prepared for the ponytail and the ear stud!!  The ponytail was down past his shoulders.  This appearance might be no big deal today, but it was quite avant garde for Houston in 1995.

Daryl hit the studio running.  In short order, he had Margarita Tours and Leather and Lace Parties.  All the rumors Betty had started were being confirmed before my very eyes.  I soon came to the conclusion that the guy was amazing.  After getting my ass kicked by Betty, I guess I should have known Daryl would be just as sharp as his talented Mom.  Wherever Daryl went, he created energy.  SSQQ has never been the same since.

A year or so after Daryl started at SSQQ, I asked him to become a Western instructor.  It was about this time that Daryl met his stunningly attractive and equally talented wife Joanne here at the studio. They were married in 1998 and had a reception here at the studio (to this day, I don't know how I managed to not be at their wedding).

Joanne and Daryl were blessed with a
son named Austin in 2000 and a daughter Ali in 2003.

1998 - Daryl, Joanne, and friend Gillian Tilbury. Think Monica.

The Daryl Armstrong Experience

The first thing you have to understand about Daryl is that he is nuts.  Daryl has the most amazing ability to make people laugh.  All you have to do is take one look at his 1998 Halloween costume and realize how crazy he is.  Better yet, the people around him are inspired to be just as crazy.  You have no idea how much fun Gillian and Joanne had coming dressed up as Monica Lewinsky that year complete with cigars, knee pads, and shameless grins. 

To try to describe The Daryl Armstrong Experience to people who do not know him is a difficult task, but let me try to capture his essence by describing a wonderful scene from the otherwise forgettable movie Pearl Harbor.

There is a scene early in the movie that shows a Top Gun flyboy executing dangerous loops, spins, and crazy stunts with his airplane during a training run. All the while his WW II Captain fumes in anger as he watches helplessly from the ground below. He mutters to himself this hotdog will never fly again. 

The Top Gun kid is called into the Captain's office. The Captain says the purpose of this meeting is to permanently remove his right to fly. The kid stands before him shuffling nervously. 

The Captain frowns angrily and asks the kid what he has to say for himself before he rips the insignias off his student's shirt and grounds him for life. 

The Top Gun kid replies, "Sir, you have the reputation for being the greatest fighter pilot our country has ever known. I admire you so much!!  The French have a wonderful word for what I feel, 'Homage'. It means 'great respect'. Sir, 'Homage' is the kind of respect I have for you.

You are the most legendary figure in military aviation. I only performed those maneuvers in the air to inspire your training class and to show you how much you have inspired me. I regret that in my excitement I crossed a line, but I did these things only because I knew you did them first and I wanted you to be proud of me by emulating your greatest moves. I am so sorry I have upset you, Sir!  I am prepared to accept any punishment you feel I deserve

The Captain's jaw drops as he stares incredulously at the kid a while. Finally he says, "
Son, that is bullshit! That is complete and total bullshit."

Then the Captain pauses to stroke his chin for a while he thinks some more. Then his expression changes. "
But you know what, son?  It is good bullshit. It is damn good bullshit. In fact, it is the best bullshit I have ever heard. Now get the hell out of here and report back to your squadron."

How Daryl has Rick's Number

I intend to refer back to the Pearl Harbor anecdote, so don't forget about it.  Now let's move to the SSQQ Dance Studio. I wrote earlier about the ease with which Daryl gets my goat.

A simple example is Wednesday Night at the studio.
Every Wednesday, one of Daryl's favorite tricks is to talk his entire class into bowing to me while humming 'om'.

Om (or Aum) is
a simple Hindu chant that carries with a complex and sacred meaning. The sound Om is believed to be the spoken essence of the universe. This sacred sound is typically uttered as a mantra and in affirmations and blessings.  In my experience, Om is typically reserved as used as a term of respect for someone of spiritual greatness such as a yogi. 

Try to imagine how unworthy I feel when an entire group begins this chant in my presence.  Daryl promises me he isn't teasing me.  He says it is his way of showing me the respect I am due for owning the studio
or any other reason that is equally ridiculous

Personally, I am not comfortable with people making a fuss over me.  Can you imagine how embarrassing it is to have all these people bowing and scraping
whenever I walk through his classroom?  

Now compare this 'om' nonsense to the Pearl Harbor story and how the pilot spoke of 'homage', the French word for respect, and compare that story to Daryl's 'om'.  Now you start to get the picture.  In his own bizarre fashion, Daryl is showing me respect, but there is a twinkle in his eyes as he does it.

The first time this ever happened, later on I asked Daryl what on earth was this all about. I am not sure he used the word 'homage', but he said the idea was to offer tribute to my presence as the leader of the dance studio in the same way disciples would to a divine guru.  That was a little too much for me, but I just rolled my eyes.  Daryl must have sensed my discomfort.  Over the years I suspect Daryl has guessed how exceedingly embarrassed I get when this happens, but does it anyway.

I am a born skeptic.  No one is going to fool me.
 I reached the conclusion that Daryl doesn't like having me in his room.  Since I hate the om trick, Daryl teaches each class how to do it to be used as a clever ploy to reduce the number of my visits through his room.

The Master of BS, Daryl Armstrong, Mr. Malarkey

Daryl is much too clever for me. 

Daryl has candidly told me he doesn't like having me in his room for a variety of reasons.

  • He says he doesn't know how to dance some of the moves very well and can't teach them very well either and he is ashamed that I might find out.
  • Daryl says that when he can't teach a move very well, he throws the syllabus away and either teaches something else he likes better or just tells jokes for a while.
  • Daryl says he knows he isn't paid to tell jokes, so he is worried I will come through the room and find out his students aren't learning anything.
  • Daryl says he gets uncomfortable when I watch him because he is such an unworthy teacher compared to me.
  • Daryl says that truthfully he can't dance a lick, but when I am around, he gets so tense he can't keep the beat either.  He would rather I not be around.
  • Daryl says another reason I shouldn't watch his classes is that he makes harmless fun of me whenever I am not around and it might seem disrespectful if I overheard some of the things he says.
  • Daryl believes that a major reason his classes are extremely popular is that the students love hearing silly things about the studio's revered leader. Then Daryl quickly adds that he only does it to help make the studio more money. 

Mind you, I am not making this stuff up.  Daryl has a line of Malarkey (Irish for 'foolish and ridiculous talk') that is unparalleled in my experience. Whenever Daryl tells me these things, he does so  with a poker face and a deadpan delivery. I never know when he is teasing or when he is serious. Daryl is way too smooth for me.  He is a rascal.

Daryl is also a rogue and a charmer. He reminds me of the Mel Gibson character in the movie Maverick, a guy who gets by on his quick wit and slick talk.  I imagine Daryl would have made a heck of an Old West poker player or a snake oil salesman.  Except that we always know that he isn't being clever to hurt or manipulate, but rather to have fun.  Now I am aware that some of this fun is maybe a little fun at my expense, but it's harmless.  While I am cringing on the outside, inside I am also grinning right along with the joke.

has the kind of charisma most people - including me - just dream of having. 

Daryl has Good Ideas too

Despite his malarkey, Daryl is also quite an innovator.

Daryl was one of the first of several SSQQ instructors to start using name tags, a practice that has become a studio tradition. People tell me they think I am a good businessman, but in truth I usually have to learn things the hard way.  For example, on the name tag move, I was one of the last people to sign on.

I thought name tags were a stupid idea.

I was finally convinced of their value one day when I watched Daryl's class through my secret spy hole in the DJ booth (don't tell Daryl). I noticed that his students voluntarily put on name tags when they entered his room without even being asked. That is how I realized our students actually wanted to use them and liked using them. Silly me.

Another studio tradition - Altoids - is Daryl's innovation plain and simple. He gets complete credit. I don't know his exact thinking on the subject, but from my spy hole I noticed that as the students did their own name tags, they would also reach over and take a couple Altoids breath mints that Daryl supplied personally. I had never even heard of Altoids, but decided to try them and got hooked. I would take a couple anytime I walked through his class despite the stupid crescendo of Oms that drove me crazy. This went on for about three months. One day it dawned on me maybe the whole studio would like a steady supply of Altoids.  What a genius I am. It only took three months to sink in what Daryl already knew. It wasn't till two years later I discovered Daryl has a heavy financial holding in Altoids shares...

(Side Note: The end of the Altoids Era came sometime around 2006.  Someone pointed out that anyone who reaches for Altoids touches several of the tablets.  If the person was sick, this would be an easy way to spread the virus throughout the studio.  Watching people cough and sneeze, this concept began to take hold at the studio.  The Altoid use dropped rapidly.  So as interest in the Altoids disappeared, hygienic handwash bottles took their place.  Personally, I miss the Altoids.)

However the tradition that Daryl is most famous for are his Theme Night. Each night his class has a theme of some sort. Automatically the first week of every Daryl class is Red Underwear Night. This is a well-known tradition. Daryl tells me as far as he can tell, he gets nearly 100% compliance. He says he has never seen anyone wearing a different color of underwear in his class.  Even though Daryl is known for his blarney, I have to believe he wouldn't fib to me about something this serious. 

Daryl's most famous theme is Hawaiian Shirt Night.  As I wrote earlier, Daryl lived in Hawaii for several years.  From what I gather, he enjoyed his stay there thoroughly.  It is said that Daryl has practically an entire closet, possibly even a complete room, dedicated strictly to his Hawaiian shirt collection. 

Another popular theme is Elvis Night. Daryl does an excellent '
Good evening, Ladies and Gentlemen' in the Elvis tradition. He looks pretty convincing as Elvis with his sideburns.

Besides Elvis, other themes include 'Hat Night', 'Sunglasses Night', 'Fringe Night', 'Vest Night', 'Men in Black', plus 'Red, White, and Blue' night. There are definitely others, but these are the ones I can remember off the top of my head.

Anytime I ever see someone wearing something totally peculiar at the studio on Wednesday, I don't have to ask. I just assume it is another crazy Daryl theme. 

Copycat that I am, I once tried 'Themes' in my classes as did another gifted SSQQ instructor, Rachel Seff. My students loved them!!  However with teaching classes six nights a week, I started to have trouble remembering which night was which theme. I started wearing Black shirts on Winnie the Pooh night and my Mickey Mouse costume on Rhett Butler night. I think it was the Curse of Daryl.  As you know, Daryl cast a spell on me and I could no longer remember how to spell his name.  Same thing with themes.  I was pathetic at remembering what day was what themes.  Bitterly, I told my classes that Daryl only had to remember one theme a week while I had to remember six!!  I gave up in disgust.

It is almost impossible to explain the pressure I have felt over the years trying to be as popular as Daryl.  It really can't be done; the guy is simply too funny.  So I gave up and threw in the towel.  It was easier to simply stop trying to be sunny and funny.  It was easier to return to my well-documented arrogant and angry personality.  

Once I became rotten again, I started to notice any class that Daryl taught parallel to mine were always twice as well attended even though he himself admitted to anyone who would listen that he barely knew what he was teaching.  Daryl openly wished he could be half the teacher I was.  Except that his classes were twice as large as my own.  Do you have any idea how irritating this was?  Here I am with 30 years of experience, but I am forced to watch this charlatan whose classes are two times larger than my own.  

I hated it.  Something had to done before my ego went down the tubes.

Finally I figured out a solution.  I quit scheduling Daryl and his lovely wife Joanne to teach the same Western class on Wednesday that I did on Sunday or Friday. This was a damn good move, one that I have never regretted. Now I could more easily ignore the fact that I had a far more popular teacher than myself at my own studio.

This most excellent move allowed me to let Daryl keep his job. Sometimes an inferior person has to be big enough to allow a truly gifted person, albeit a vaguely obnoxious one, hang around.  It isn't easy to be the boss and allow someone more talented than yourself get all the glory, but in Daryl's case, I don't mind.  After all, those people he is making happy are my students too.

I am just grateful he likes being here.

The Search for the Perfect Margarita

If you can't beat 'em, hire 'em. That's what I say. And join 'em too!! 

When I found out Daryl was offering another of his infamous Margarita Trips, I signed on instantly. I was impressed with the whole operation from the start. I cannot imagine a more well run operation than this tour. It came off with the precision of a Swiss Watch. Amazing. 

First a day ahead of time Daryl phoned me with the secret location of where we would meet. I assume this kept people from pressuring to join at the last minute or tagging along. He whispered over the phone to me in a tone usually reserved for Paul Revere, "Rick, its Daryl. Longhorn. Be there by 7:15 pm and don't be late!" 

So on Saturday night there I was with 30 other men and women trying to act natural before the storm hit. Hawaiian shirts were everywhere, probably out of respect for Daryl's fondness for Hawaiian shirts. These people were not innocent, but I won't bother listing their names. However I think pictures of all of them dancing naked at Cabo are on Miss L's secret Internet website somewhere. Daryl gave us the thumbs up so we all got on a big yellow school bus driven by a man named Reggie.

Our first visit was to Tia Maria's. Joanne would phone ahead to each restaurant or club to let them know we were on our way. They would have the Margaritas waiting for all of us by the time we got there. We would just walk over and grab the next one on the table. These tasty drinks went down fast and easy. Yum!

One gentleman, code named R, drank 3 of them at our first stop. He never says anything, so I suppose no one can tell the difference between when he is sober or lit up. I on the other hand never shut the F up so I stuck to just one. 

At Tia Maria's while I was still conscious I decided to interview Daryl about the origins of his Margarita Trip. He said he started doing it during his years in Hawaii. He would visit different clubs and explain to them he intended to bring a busload of professionals to visit. Since the visitors didn't need to 'sit down', this allowed the club to serve dinners to its regular patrons and still find room for a busload of 40 people who would just stagger around and entertain the customers. Daryl said he did so many Margarita Trips that he actually got written up in the Honolulu newspaper. He didn't say which section, but I assume it was probably a Man About Town piece in the Society column. Listening to him proudly tell his story, I couldn't help but feel I had met the perfect man for the right job. Daryl took his tours seriously and was rewarded with the gratitude of his many friends for a job well done. Just as much as I am sure SSQQ has never been the same since he arrived, I am sure the island has never been the same since he left. 

The moment we got back on the bus, I could tell something had changed. The bus was really loud!!  Everybody was talking and apparently didn't mind that lights turned on followed by calls to 911 in every neighborhood house as we passed.

Next we went to a place called Tony's, probably a different Tony's than most people have heard of. Here the lady with the Naked Internet Web Site, first initial L, decided to mix with some of the patrons. The next thing I knew she grabbed me to do a Swing demonstration for the customers. Good grief. 

Tony's was also the place where I told my first dirty joke. I know lots of dirty jokes since everybody sends me LOTS of them. I only retell the ones I can understand. Usually I get a polite smile or a groan, but I was stunned at the reception my joke received. This time the laughter to my joke practically raised the roof. God, I like these trips!  I can be funny after two Margaritas!

We discovered a woman named K was the only person on the trip who had never taken a dance class at SSQQ. Oh my word!!  We put her into a circle and surrounded her and touched her head with our hands. We enveloped her in the spiritual warmth of the SSQQ fraternal brotherhood. Soon she was nearly in tears - not from our warmth, but because we were suffocating her. Oh. 

Then we were off to our favorite visit - the Red Dog Saloon or something to that extent. Our swing demonstrator, Miss L, was also our most dedicated photographer. She lined everyone up for a picture then suddenly started hopping up and down like crazy!!  I have seen people do almost anything to get a smile, but this was impressive. It turned out that she was standing in an ant bed!!  Her poor feet were covered in ants and you know the saying 'ants in the pants'?  Well, this could be a dance training technique - I have never in my life seen footwork as impressive as Miss L!  Several men offered to help with the ants in the pants, but Miss L was sober enough to know better. Bless her heart. She was really attacked - I saw the bites a few days later and felt so sorry for her. She had one nice break: Miss L said she barely felt a thing. Hmm. Right then I became dimly aware we were all in trouble. The warning was too late. I had already passed the point of no return.

The Red Dog was a dive. It was practically deserted. There were 8 people when we entered, 38 people while we were there, and 7 when we left - I think one person joined us. We were getting pretty looped. Several of us danced two-step around the pool tables to "I'm in Love with the Armadillo". One lady, the Divine Miss M, sang a Patsy Cline torch song karaoke-style while a gentleman, Mr. R, did a George Strait song. Or maybe it was a Clint Black song. Or a Tiny Tim song. Or Lyle Lovett. I was past being able to tell the difference. All I cared about was my group enjoyed my next dirty joke. 

The place seemed so sad when we decided to go. For a while there, it had been one heck of a hoppin' joint. But when we left it went back into its catatonic state. Sad. We were definitely the life of the party. Daryl could have rented us out - "Daryl, my party sucks. Please send me your 'life of the party' team. My party needs your kind of people!"  Now that I think about it, maybe these places hired Daryl to bring us over. Why am I always so worried about Daryl?

Our fourth venue was a classy joint called Surfer's Paradise at the Edwards Complex off Silber and I-10. It had beautiful fountains and gorgeous waitresses wearing skimpy Hawaiian outfits. I am sure Daryl felt right at home again. For a moment, I thought I noticed him standing there with his ponytail again, then realized it was an illusion. 

Here we actually found tables with padded seats to sit at!!  Oh boy!  This inspired me to tell my favorite dirty joke, the kind that people need to be sitting down to here or risk injury. The place exploded at the punch line!  It was so popular one lady asked me to email it to her. Oh sure, as if I am going to remember which one it was tomorrow. 

An unfortunate thing happened to me - a nice-looking man in an expensive business suit grabbed my arm as I walked by and introduced himself to me. It turned out his 8-year old daughter attends the same Catholic girls school, Duchesne, as my daughter Samantha. He recognized me from the school and wanted to ask me some questions about the 3rd grade teachers and the curriculum. Are you kidding? I had just knocked down my 4th Margarita. I was fortunate to even remember what school Sam went to. 

It got worse. 'What do you think about the school's curriculum?' 'What is your opinion of the dress code?' 'What effect do you suppose a girl's school will have on your daughter's relationships with men later in life?'  I just stared at him blankly. 

Here I am staggering while standing trying to fake my way through this serious conversation when the Trippers decide to start singing the 'Do Re Mi' song from 'Sound of Music'. Every person in the bar is astonished. Good grief. The gentleman looks at them curiously and asks, "Do you know those people?"

"Them? Oh, heck no. Those people? Nah. Aren't they ridiculous? Who let them in?" 

Almost on cue, one of the women from our group grabbed my arm from behind. She blew my cover completely. Now attached to me like a Siamese Twin and wearing a big grin from head to toe, she screamed from an inch away, "There you are, Rick!!!  You were lost so Daryl sent me to find you!!  It's time to go!!" 

Daryl appeared right behind her to whisk me off. I apologized to him and said it was time to go. It's been fun, but gotta run!  I might add the memory of this man's parting expression makes me very reluctant to want to see him again at the school in the Fall. One more dent in my facade of respectfulness...

And on to Cabo we went. According to legend, on the last trip Cabo had been the place where most of the misbehavior had taken place. Up till now, our trip had been tame in comparison to our predecessors. Apparently we were a rookie crew for the most part and didn't know how to misbehave properly yet. 

Well, here the veterans took over. They immediately climbed to the top of the bar and started dancing a wild aboriginal zulu dance to the Disco music. This place was strange. It was a nice place, but completely empty!! I think it had zero customers. Zero. Nada. Nil. No one. It was just us and a few employees whom we outnumbered badly. You all wanna dance up on the bar? Sure, go right ahead. Just let us live. 

And up we went, about a dozen of us, dancing freestyle perilously five feet off the floor. The bar was narrow. Once I lost my balance and decided to jump down. Hmm, maybe that's where my heel bruise came from… I wondered why my foot hurt so badly the next day!!  Now that I am writing this story I just figured out how pretty stupid it was to dance up there considering how drunk and out of control we were. But it was so much fun to dance up on the bar like a frenzied banshee. Everyone screamed in laughter… I didn't want it to end!

Someone handed me a dollar for my efforts while I was up there. I have no idea who it was - I later gave it to Reggie, our driver. All I know is I was very flattered at the time. In all my years of dancing, it was the first buck I have ever received. Thank you whoever you were/are. You were probably too drunk to remember who you were either. Hmm. 

Back on the bus!!  Good grief that bus bounced a lot on the way home. What happened to the shock absorbers??  I felt like my brain and my toes were changing places as my head kept snapping back and forth. Do Margaritas affect neck muscles?  Well, I guess so - I didn't have any left as my head left bruises on my shoulders. My body was jello. My brain was slime. My skeleton had turned to ooze. Pour me, er, poor me. There were parts of me all over the bus. Someone get a mop, quick!

The bus stopped at the Longhorn and all of us drained out. Once known as the Trippers, we had become the Margarita Drippers. Fortunately the Longhorn was downhill so we bayou-ed our way down the Longhorn Canal and out onto the dance floor. They asked for $5. I handed them my wallet and they handed it back. Someone got a squeegee and pushed me in. I immediately looked for a mermaid to dance with. 

The Margarita Drippers slowly made their way back to consciousness as the evening wore on. It was nearly 2 am and I was still a mess. I turned the Global Positioning Locater on my car's dashboard to home and let it auto-drive me to safety. 

No headache the next day, but no energy either. Plus my foot throbbed mysteriously. I zombied my way through classes. I was pretty useless to society for the next day too.

So was it worth it? 

You better believe it. I can't wait for the next one! I haven't misbehaved that badly in years! I am already memorizing some new jokes and I have a new video on order for advanced aboriginal zulu moves… 

Thank you, Daryl. Thank you, Joanne. 

By the way, here are the Margarita Trip Pictures!!

The Daryl Armstrong Experience Revisited

I originally wrote my story about Daryl in 2001.  It is now 2009.  How about an update?

2009 Update

Those were the days, my friend, we thought they'd never end...

Gone is the pony tail.  Gone are the Margarita Trips.  Gone are the Tattoo Leather and Lace parties.

In their place is a handsome, clean-cut, hard-working family man helping his lovely wife Joanne raise their two children Austin and Aly.  These days, Daryl is as clean cut as any guy who has ever entered the studio doors.

Where did the rogue go?  I have a hunch the insanity is still there.  After all, i
nside every older person is a younger person wondering what happened outside.

Daryl and I don't get many chances to talk.  I only see him once a week at the studio.

Since we are usually pretty busy on Wednesday nights here at the studio with Western lessons, usually we just smile at each other when we pass. 

Typically Daryl greets me with the line, "
Thank you for owning a dance studio so I can have fun."

I invariably reply, "
And thank you for helping me stay in business so I can have fun too." 

It isn't fun growing old, but it is comforting to have friends like Daryl around.

2009 Jo Anne, Daryl, Ali, Austin


2006 - The Matchmaker

I wrote my original story about Daryl in August 2001.  Five years later in March 2006, I wrote an article titled The Matchmaker which covered the history of the studio.  I wrote in detail about the different Eras and Generations we have had here at SSQQ.

The Matchmaker Story gave me the chance to finally acknowledge Daryl for helping to turn my dance studio around back in the late Nineties.

In my Comeback Kids Chapter, I explained how the insanity and chaos generated by this gifted gentleman had much to do with reviving the energy here at SSQQ at a time when the studio wasn't doing very well financially.  Daryl is too modest to agree with me, but I watched as he led this studio back to prosperity.  Besides the Margarita Tours, there were the hysterical Halloween costumes, beer drinking escapades at Saint Arnold's Brewery as well as his infamous Tattoo Leather and Lace Parties.

Daryl and his group of fellow lunatics created a whole lot of fun here at SSQQ. Any story about Daryl Armstrong and SSQQ would not be complete until you have read the story titled
The Comeback Kids

If there was any doubt left that Daryl is slightly cuckoo, I hope the Matchmaker Story about him will remove any lingering doubt. 

What you will also discover is that Daryl has a genius for inspiring people to misbehave and have fun that few others can ever hope to match.

Sometimes people ask me to describe Daryl. When I think of Daryl, I think of someone who loves to stir up trouble, but at the same time would never hurt a soul in a million years.  I guess if I were to pin a label on Daryl, I would say he is a born rascal. 

Daryl should also be compared to the Pied Piper.  He makes people laugh.  He makes people want to follow him wherever he goes and enjoy the fun.  Daryl may bring out out the madness in people, but it is a silly, crazy, harmless madness.  He makes the whole studio a happier place because wherever Daryl goes, there is always laughter.

Over the years, I have tried many times to copy his moves.  What I discovered is that his ability to inspire people to be complete and total nuts is something you simply can't imitate.  Whatever it is, he's got it.

Leadership comes from natural ability.  Daryl has this gift in abundance.  We are all so fortunate to have him to share his gift with us.  And that includes me - I am grateful for all the laughter and smiles he has created here at SSQQ.  This studio would never be the same without him.    RA

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