201 Nights
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201 Nights of Whip Dancing
The Story of Rick Archer's 1986 Whip Adventure

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1986 was the year I began a life-long love affair with a dance known as the "Whip".  Over a seven month stretch I was crazy enough to go out Whip Dancing for 201 nights in a row. 

Each night after I finished with my teaching, I would leave the studio to practice the Whip at various clubs around Houston. I never missed a night of dancing the Whip the entire time. You have my word on that.

The Streak began as a solution to a very deep depression.  In April 1986, I ended a stormy two year relationship with my first wife Pat
My personal life had hit a rock.  Like the Titanic, I was sinking to the bottom fast

I had always believed that "communication" and "good will" could solve any problem between a man and a woman, but now I knew differently. I had discovered the hard way that no matter how hard you try, sometimes a relationship cannot be saved.  I was crushed. I had no idea how to start over.

The Day I Got Slugged in the Face.

It was Spring of 1986. One Saturday morning soon after Pat and I had separated, Pat confronted me in the hallway as I entered the SSQQ building. I could see she was angry about something. What was it this time? 

Hanging along the Hallway at the dance studio were two dozen posters full of 30 pictures each.  Pat ordered me to take down every picture that had the two of us posed together.

"Take them down!  I don't ever want to see another picture of the two of us together.  Our marriage was a sham and a disgrace.  Do you hear me?  I said take them down!  You have no right to keep those pictures up.  I do not give you permission."

I still hear her words ringing as if it was yesterday.

I refused to do so, pointing out that events such as the Sock Hop and the Halloween Party contained pictures of a lot more people than just her and I. They represented a photographic history of the studio. Just because Pat didn't like the pictures of us didn't mean she had the right to order me to take them down.  They were property of the studio.

Furious, Pat stomped off. This would not be the end of it. I knew Pat too well. We were both there that Saturday to attend a meeting of the SSQQ Whip Society, a group of dancers who met every two weeks to improve their dancing by inviting different instructors to come teach them. These people were not only my students, most of them were personal friends of both Pat and myself.

At Break Time, I went next door and got some coffee.  I didn't bother with a lid since I was going to finish it quickly.

Then I went back to the classroom.  Finding a stool in the corner, I sat quietly by myself and watched my friends practice their Whip dancing.  Spotting me, Pat came over to me and resumed the argument.

Again she demanded again I take down the pictures.  When Pat got in a mood like this, she could be relentless.  After five more minutes of intense arguing, I was disgusted with Pat's constant badgering.  Finally Pat said something that got under me skin.  I saw red and reflexively began to throw my cup of coffee at her.  Fortunately I caught my temper in time and jerked the cup back.  However the aborted motion jostled the coffee and some of it spilled.  Only a few drops of coffee hit the floor and none of it hit Pat, but I could see the sparks fly in her eyes. She was furious now.

"You threw that coffee at me, didn't you?  You wanted to hit me with that coffee, didn't you?"

"Yes, I did want to hit you with that coffee, but I changed my mind."   I put down the coffee, stood up and glared back at her.  I could see her hand balling into a fist.  I said, "Just like you want to hit me now, don't you?" 

Her angry face told the story.  Yes, she definitely wanted to hit me!

So I told her, "Then go ahead, hit me." 

So she did.  Pat pulled her arm back, then slapped me silly with her open palm.    I was stunned but more or less intact.  The girl could hit!  Must have been her country upbringing.

The anger flared in her eyes. I wasn't going to back down though.  I was defiant.  I said, "You want to hit me again, don't you?  Well, go right ahead!"

So Pat slapped me again.  Our group of friends had stopped dancing.  As they saw Pat strike me as hard as she could, they saw my face snap with this blow.  It was something right out of the movies.  Certainly violence of this magnitude was never seen in the polite company we kept. One woman in the background began to cry.

Everyone else was in shock. They didn't know what was going on and they were slow to react.

I was in considerable pain, but not willing to back down. Pat glared at me defiantly. She certainly wasn't backing down.  I told her to hit me again. I wanted the entire world to see this woman in action.  So Pat threw a third punch.  Sure enough, the third blow was witnessed by everybody.  This time Pat used her fist.  Her ring raked across my face and cut my face open.  The scratch was so deep that blood crossed the side of my face instantly.

Pat was ready to hit me as many times as I was going to let her, but by now the men realized she had no intention of stopping. Two men grabbed her.  As calmly as possible, they walked her out the room and sat her down on a couch in the hall.

No one said a word to me. The twenty or so people were in too much shock to know what to do.

I looked at their faces. No one had a clue what was going on. They had been dancing and laughing only to look up and see Pat smack the crud out of me.

I could see they were worried for me, but too confused to act.  Obviously I was still standing, so I couldn't be hurt that bad. I was too stupid to realize it at the time, but another reason they didn't come to me was they weren't even sure who to blame!  Surely I must have done something to cause this.  

Now I felt pretty humiliated by the experience. Cut, badly bruised, and bleeding, I couldn't see any point in sticking around.  I left through another door and disappeared. 

I didn't feel very good about what had happened. The same day I sent a letter resigning from Whip Society.

I didn't see these people again for some time.  They had passed the point where they were regular students during the week, so our paths didn't cross.

As the days went by, I would discover the consequences of this ugly scene were troubling, yet eye-opening. "Eye-opening" that is once the swelling went down.  I had expected the incident would show every person in that room what kind of person Pat really was.  That was where I was coming from the whole time. I had never met an angrier woman in my entire life, but to the Real World she was just a soft-spoken sweet country girl.

However I deeply underestimated Pat. She taught me a serious lesson in spin control. Pat got on the phone to explain her side of the story to every man and woman who would listen.  She started a word of mouth campaign that successfully influenced everyone's opinion of what had happened. The prevailing sentiment was that the incident was my fault because I had provoked her and forced her to do it. 

Meanwhile I didn't say a word to anyone. I thought what had happened was self-evident enough that it didn't require my testimony.  Nor did a single person call me to get my version of what had happened.  Pat's version of the story was left to spread unchecked. 

Have you ever heard of learning things the hard way?   By the time I discovered how the story had been twisted, it was much too late to do anything to change people's minds.  I was guilty in the court of public opinion.

Mind you, on that fateful day I never raised a hand, cursed at Pat or even threatened her.  I simply refused to take the pictures down.  What kind of provocation is that?

But these minor points were all lost in translation. There were even ugly rumors this was payback for all the times I had hit her.  Unbelievable.  I have never hit a woman in my life, but how do you fight a rumor like that? 

The whole point of letting her hit me was to show my friends what a demon this woman could be.  But now that I realized the entire incident had backfired, I was sick with embarrassment!  I could not believe the damage to my reputation.  It seemed completely unfair, but the realization that I had contributed to the problem by not speaking up made my pain even worse. 

The humiliation of being beaten by my wife in front of my friends and then licked in the court of public opinion sent me spiraling into a deep, dark depression.

For many years I had taught "Dating Classes" for Leisure Learning where I explained the Rules of the Dating Game to anxious singles eager for every pearl of wisdom I had to offer. Now I decided I had no business giving advice on relationships to anyone. I was so disgusted by my failure to save this relationship, I threw in the towel.  I canceled my Dating Classes and Workshops. My "Guru Days" were over.  I didn't know a damn thing about human beings except that I was too stupid to be giving any more advice.

After the fight, I played the part of the wounded bear. I kept completely to myself other than teaching my classes. Each night I would leave dance class immediately and come home to my empty house.

Not only was I angry that the truth behind the beating episode had been flipped, I was angry at a lot of my friends for siding with Pat or not coming to my defense with the story of what really happened.  Sometimes I'd cry, sometimes I would stare at the TV, sometimes I would just sit there in the dark and brood. I was in the grips of a powerful depression. Divorce has a way of doing that to you.

Feeling quite wounded and very lonely, for two months I stayed a virtual recluse in my home. I didn't enjoy coming home to my empty house, but I couldn't think of an alternative.  I was horrified at the thought of dating. And I had cut myself off from my friends. I wanted company, but the phone wasn't exactly ringing. 

I wasn't doing very well, was I?

One Saturday night in June I came pretty close to losing it.  It had been two months since the fight.  I had been doing private dance lessons all day and I drove home to get a bite to eat.   It was evening when I started eating, but now it was dark outside.  It was dark inside as well, but I didn't have the strength to get up and turn on a light.  The darkness in the kitchen was a perfect match for the dark thoughts in my mind.

I kept staring at my four walls. Thoughts of shame, bitterness and regret crept to the edge of my brain like a pack of wolves slowly surrounding their prey before the attack.  I wasn't in the mood to fight these demons tonight, but it didn't seem like I had much of a choice.  The madness kept coming closer.

I knew sooner or later the dark thoughts would finally take over.  Was I going crazy? 

I just couldn't take the empty house any more.  I had to get out of this place!!

Rick Archer's Note: As you might gather, these events changed my life.  This story is also covered in two other places: Spin and Matchmaker

On Saturday night, June 14th, 1986, The Streak began.

Desperate for a way to escape my demons, I got in my car and headed off to Twiggs, a club where Whip dancers from all parts of the city met on Saturdays.  I was surprised that my friends from the Whip Society seemed happy to see me.  And thank goodness none of the women refused to dance with me, a particular worry that had almost kept me from coming.

I had such a good time dancing that night!  I definitely came home in a much better mood than when I had left. The dancing had been good for me. I cheered up a little.  In fact, my depression had taken the night off.  Tired, I went straight to sleep.

The following day Sunday was my day off from teaching.  As evening approached, the fear crept in that my depression might return.  It didn't take a lot of thought to remember my solution from the previous night.  So Sunday night I got in my car and drove over to
the Four Palms for a second night of Whip Dancing that weekend.  Sure enough, I had fun again.  Even better, I had danced myself into exhaustion.  Tired, I went straight to sleep again. 

Two nights in a row of dancing.  Two nights in a row of sleep.  Two nights in a row of avoiding my nighttime demons.  It didn't take a lot of deep thought to run that play again, now did it? 

The moment my class ended the next night, I realized I didn't want to go home.  Maybe "The Thoughts" would be there waiting for me.  I really did not want to be alone.  A night of dancing seemed to keep my demons at bay.  So I asked a couple students from my class to join me after class at a place called Spinners.   Sure, why not?  Sounds like fun!

And that is how it started.  Without actually making a conscious decision, I had turned to Dancing as my answer every night that first week. I enjoyed the dancing, but best of all it sure beat going home to that lonely empty house with all the bad memories and the demons waiting for me.

However I did have a problem.  If I wanted to dance after class, it could not be at the studio. Back in 1986 SSQQ subleased its space from a Jazz studio called Dance Arts Unlimited.  The jazz dancers used every corner of the studio after 9 pm for rehearsal.  In order to dance, I had to go someplace else.

Therefore as a way to escape loneliness and depression, just like I had on Monday, each night that week I invited students to go dancing with me after my classes ended.  Here was my first week of Whip Dancing:

  • Day 01:  Saturday was Twiggs
  • Day 02:  Sunday was Four Palms.
  • Day 03:  Monday I went to a place called Spinners
  • Day 04:  The following night Tuesday was SSQQ Whip night at Cooters
  • Day 05:  Wednesday I showed up at the San Antone Rose where I squeezed in a couple Whips between the C&W music.  
  • Day 06:  Each Thursday SSQQ would go Whip Dancing at the Safari Bar Club.
  • Day 07:  That Friday I headed over to Midnight Rodeo.  

By the time I returned to Twiggs the following Saturday for Day 8, I had my routine down.

Dancing was safe. The dancing kept me active and kept me from brooding too much. Soon my depression became manageable.

The relief from depression was reason enough, but I noticed there were other benefits too.  I began to make new friends.  Even better, I grew much closer to the friends I already had.  All of us were single, everyone knew about my divorce, and best of all they took care of me.  No one said a word about the Beating Incident.  No one seemed to care.  I was their friend.  Besides, they were enjoying the ride!   It was fun going out dancing every night!   

As many people have discovered, social dancing is a perfect way to get out of the house, get some exercise, hear great music, see friends, and have fun.  It gives the walking wounded like me a chance to be near the opposite sex but not get too close.  I was able to stay busy and stay safe while I healed.  The women helped a lot.  They knew what I was going through.  They also knew I was still very troubled, so they deliberately stayed outside of striking distance.  I didn't mind a bit.

After the first week set the pace, it was pretty much the same story every night!  Each night was another Groundhog Day (referring to the Bill Murray movie) - teach dance, go dancing afterwards.  I whipped off 30 nights of Whip dancing in a row without giving it even a second thought.


Margie tells me a story

On Monday night, July 7 (#24) I was dancing with the group at the Paradise Beacheach Club. During a break in the action I mentioned to Margie Saibara that I had been Whip dancing every night for about a  month.

Margie laughed. She said I still had a ways to go to catch Hal Perry.

"What are you talking about?" I asked.

Margie proceeded to tell me story about
a guy from SSQQ named Hal Perry who claimed he had gone dancing every night for 50 days in a row.

Hal had gotten fired and was broke. He found the cheapest way for him to eat was to hit the Happy Hours and run like crazy to the dance floor whenever the waitress came for his drink order.  Fortunately the waitresses never followed him out there.

One night he went to his mother's house to eat, then fell asleep on the couch.  However the next night Hal hit another Happy Hour and began dancing again for yet another month. 

Hal narrowly missed a Streak of 80 days right there!

Hal's Story made a great impression on me...

I was greatly amused by this story. I thought about what Margie told me all the way home that night.  Having a competitive streak, I speculated I was already close to duplicating Hal's unusual accomplishment.  I got out my pen and wrote down every place I had been dancing up till now.  As I had told Margie, I was pretty close to 30 days. On a whim I decided to break Hal's record.  Why not?  It wasn't like I had anything better to do.

Breaking the record was not difficult at all. I was starting to enjoy myself again.  This was clearly the best thing that had happened to me since Pat and I broke up. Three weeks later on Saturday, August 2nd, I tied the record with Night # 50 at Twiggs. 

Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday

A List of where I went dancing 201 Nights in a row in 1986

6-14 Twiggs
6-15 4 Palms 6-16 Spinners 6-17 Cooters 6-18 Rose 6-19 Safari 6-20 Midnight R 6-21 Twiggs
6-22 4 Palms 6-23 Paradise Beach 6-24 Cooters 6-25 Midnite Rodeo 6-26 Safari 6-27 Safari 6-28 Ramada
6-29 4 Palms 6-30 Paradise Beach 7-01 Cooters 7-02 Rose 7-03 Windows 7-04 Windows 7-05 Safari
7-06 4 Palms 7-07 Paradise Beach 7-08 Cooters 7-09 Midnite Rodeo 7-10 Spinners 7-11 Midnite Rodeo 7-12 Twiggs
7-13 4 Palms 7-14 Spinners 7-15 Cooters 7-16 Midnite Rodeo 7-17 Safari 7-18 Midnite Rodeo 7-19 Twiggs
7-20 4 Palms 7-21 Paradise Beach 7-22 Cooters 7-23 Rose 7-24 Safari 7-25 Safari 7-26 Midnite Rodeo
7-27 4 Palms 7-28 Paradise Beach 7-29 Cooters 7-30 Midnite Rodeo 7-31 Safari 8-01 Midnite Rodeo 50  Twiggs
8-03 4 Palms 8-04 Studebakr 8-05 Cooters 8-06 Rose 8-07 Safari 8-08 Safari 8-09 Twiggs
8-10 4 Palms 8-11 Paradise Beach 8-12 Cooters 8-13 Midnite Rodeo 8-14 Safari 8-15 Safari 8-16 Twiggs
8-17 4 Palms 8-18 Paradise Beach 8-19 Cooters 8-20 Bullwhip 8-21 Safari 8-22 Spinners 8-23 SSQQ Party
8-24 Randys 8-25 Paradise Beach 8-26 Cooters 8-27 Midnite Rodeo 8-28 Safari 8-29 Melody Ln 8-30 Twiggs
8-31 Midnite R 9-01 Paradise Beach 9-02 Cooters 9-03 Rose 9-04 Safari 9-05 Midnite Rodeo 9-06 Encore
9-07 4 Palms 9-08 Paradise Beach 9-09 Cooters 9-10 Midnite Rodeo 9-11 Safari 9-12 Midnite Rodeo 9-13 Spinners
9-14 4 Palms 9-15 Paradise Beach 9-16 Cooters 9-17 DanceTown 9-18 Safari 9-19 Midnite Rodeo 9-20 Paradise Beach
100 Cafe dVille 9-22 Paradise Beach 9-23 Cooters 9-24 Midnite Rodeo 9-25 Safari 9-26 Melody Ln 9-27 Twiggs
9-28 4 Palms 9-29 Nickolettes 9-30 Cooters 10-01 Rose 10-02 Safari 10-03 CrownPlaza 10-04 The Grand
10-05 Fitzgrlds 10-06 Studebakr 10-07 Cooters 10-08 Paradise Beach 10-09 Safari 10-10 Midnite Rodeo 10-11Dnc Dynmcs
10-12 Midnite R 10-13 Electra 10-14 Cooters 10-15 Midnite Rodeo 10-16 Safari 10-17 Midnite Rodeo 10-18 Cooters
10-19 4 Palms 10-20 Spinners 10-21 Cooters 10-22 SW Whip 10-23 Safari 10-24 Midnite Rodeo 10-25 St Johns
10-26 4 Palms 10-27 Studebakr 10-28 Cooters 10-29 Bullwhip 10-30 Cooters 10-31 White Hall 11-01 SSQQ H.P.
11-02 4 Palms 11-03 Paradise 11-04 Cooters 11-05 Rose 11-06 Safari 11-07 Midnite R 11-08 Campout
11-09 Ren Fest 150   Cooters 11-11 Cooters 11-12 Midnite Rodeo 11-13 Safari 11-14 Safari 11-15 Tower Th.
11-16 Safari 11-17 Cooters 11-18 Cooters 11-19 Rose 11-20 Safari 11-21 Melody Ln 11-22 Cooters
11-23 JB Dalton 11-24 Cooters 11-25 Cooters 11-26 Midnite Rodeo 11-27 Safari 11-28 Midnite Rodeo 11-29 Cooters
11-30 CafedVille 12-01 Studebaker 12-02 Cooters 12-03 Midnite Rodeo 12-04 Cooters 12-05 PingPong B 12-06 Cooters
12-07 Esquire 12-08 Studebaker 12-09 Cooters 12-10 Jaggs 12-11 Safari 12-12 SSQQ C.P. 12-13WestinOaks
12-14 Cooters 12-15 Studebaker 12-16 Cooters 12-17 Midnite Rodeo 12-18 Safari 12-19 Cooters 12-20CrownPlaza
12-21 Ramada 12-22 Studebaker 12-23 Cooters 12-24 Paradise Beach 12-25Hobby Hil. 12-26 Paradise 12-27 Cooters
12-28 Columbine 12-29 Columbine 12-30 Columbine 201 12-31 Copper Mtn Rec Center


After 50, T
he Streak nearly ended right there!!

The day after 50 was a Sunday, my day off from teaching.  I did 8 hours of yard work in the brutal heat of a Texas summer. Tired way past exhaustion, I collapsed on the couch and passed out.  When I awoke several hours later, it was pitch-black outside and in the house too.  As I lay there in the darkness, there was no way I wanted to go dancing.

It was late and I didn't want to move. I didn't feel good. I was sore. I was weak. I had tied Hal Perry’s record.  What difference did it make?  Who cares?  For an hour I just laid there trying to find the strength to make a move.

For an entire hour I lay there
wrestling with my conscience.  Finally I gave in and drove to the Four Palms.  It was a long drive.  The entire way, I could not believe that I was actually doing this!  I decided to lead a few Whip steps, say thank you, leave and head right back home. 

I got there at 11 pm.  No one I knew was still there, but I asked one of the regulars to dance.  She was almost twice my age!  To my surprise - and hers too - I enjoyed the dance.  So I asked her to dance again.  I decided to stick around a while.

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That night I make a Discovery!

The Soul Brothers was the House Band at the Four Palms. They played live "get-down-and-dirty" Rhythm & Blues music. This was belt-buckle rubbin', bump and grind music at its best!

Although I love the Blues, when I first visited the Four Palms I had great difficulty dancing to this kind of music.  The tempo was so much slower than my preferred 120 beats per minute Rock music that I heard at Cooters.  The Soul Brothers music was in the the 90s and I always felt awkward trying to dance to it.

However after my long day of yard work, tonight my energy level fit the slow music speed to a T.  I was relaxed and let the music soak in. As the evening progressed I noticed I was using new footwork plus I had acquired an odd wrist-twisting lead.  I was actually dancing to the rhythm of this slow music.  I was fascinated with my discovery!

Where had this footwork come from?  No one had taught me how to dance this way.  Subconsciously my feet had found a way to adapt.  This was the night I learned that the music has the power to teach footwork. If you practice enough, your body learns ways to fit its motion to the sound.  Amazing!

Through the Magic of Practice plus my special state of relaxation, my Whip Unconscious had found a way to adapt my original Whip training to this slower-paced music. Now I could dance Slow Whip as easily as my Cooters-influenced Fast Whip. I was so proud of myself on the drive home that night!

I was aware this intense 50 day period of practice was paying some unexpected dividends. By accident I had developed a much deeper feel for this complex dance than I ever imagined possible. Not only did I break Hal’s record, I even managed to learn how to Slow Whip. I was actually starting to fall in love again - with a dance no less!!

The Legendary Four Palms

What a day!  And what a night!  That night at the Four Palms - #51 if you're counting - meant a lot to me.  It was a huge turning point.  The pain of my failed relationship was now long forgotten. Two solid months of dancing had worked wonders for my spirits.  Now I realized I was even becoming a better dancer!   This dance therapy was working miracles!

Once I learned how to dance to the slower R&B music, the Four Palms became my favorite visit of all my dance clubs each week. Did I mention this place was a dive?  As you entered, the Four Palms had a sign on the wall that said "Check your guns and knives at the door!"  Needless to say, that got my attention rapidly. The Four Palms was the Sunday Night hangout of the Houston Whip Club. It was located on Telephone Road in a rough working-class neighborhood. 

Once inside, there were drunks, there were loose women, there was smoke everywhere, there were guys hitting on the girls, the tattoos were real and so were the scars. Best of all there was this great band singing their raw Stripper Music blues about people being bad to the bone.

The first time I visited this place I couldn't decide who was naughtier - the patrons, the band, or the dancers. Out on the dance floor the women were soaking up every note of this Sin Music and expressing it with their hip gyrations. I stared in open astonishment. The men were lechers and the women were teases. Big teases. Everyone was having a great time dancing down and dirty. Here I was this innocent little preppie boy taking a walk on the blue side of town. I decided to let the place corrupt me a little.

Not only did I love every minute of it, but I talked all these clean-cut nice girls from my dance studio into going slumming with me. The women all went "yuck" the moment they got there and feared for their virtue, but once the band started playing, they gave it up just like I did. Soon the good girls were learning to dance like bad girls. The poor place was never the quite the same after the SSQQ invasion.

In 1988 SSQQ initiated a new dance party in honor of my Four Palms experience. The SSQQ Sleazy Bar Whip Party was born. If you ever want understand the nature of the Whip experience, you should definitely read this story!

Going dancing every night of the week had become a habit not just for me, but others as well!

My next 50 days were a blur.  I was a high-ranking member of a close knit group of friends who had met through dancing and my studio.  Everyone in the group knew about The Streak and teased me about how silly it was, but I had no intention of quitting. I was steadily improving, the dancing was fun, it kept me from being lonely, and I was proud that I was becoming a better dancer. The constant practice was paying off to the point where Whip was an absolute blast and I was having the time of my life.

It turns out I wasn't the only person positively affected by the Streak. My friends may have teased me, but a lot of people decided to Hitch a Ride on my Streak.  While I was dancing 7 nights a week, everyone else was dancing at least 5 nights as well. I noticed my friends were becoming excellent dancers in their own right!!

Mike Fagan and Debbie Anglin would go on to become Texas State Whip Champions. Margie Saibara and Ted Jones went on to become City and State Champions. Tom Easley and Carol Gafford competed at very high levels. Jeannie Haynes became a City Champion.

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Other members of the group such as Judy Price, Jim Ponder, Diane Head, Steve Racey, Michelle Collins, Rose Brown, Michelle Keating, and John Cowen weren't necessarily interested in competing, but they were developing into terrific social Whip Dancers.  And these were just the leaders of the Pack. There were twenty more dancers behind them who were also quietly improving as well.

During my Streak we were all becoming a phenomenal group of dancers!  A couple years further down the road many of the people listed above joined first Mario Robau's dance team and then later Gary Henson's dance team.  Their performances were a joy to behold. This group was special in so many ways.

However, Dancing wasn't the only thing we shared. Led by Head Lunatic Tom Easley, we were all starting to go a little nuts as well. Wait till you read the next story!

The Infamous Tom Easley Look-a-Like Night!

Without a doubt, the single most inspired night of lunacy during the Streak occurred on Friday, August 15, at a club known as the Safari Bar. It was Night #63 for me, but for the Group it was without a doubt the craziest event in studio history.

Tom Easley was an unbelievably funny guy who was a vital member of our Wild and Crazy group.  For most part we all loved Tom dearly except for one thing. Recently Tom had developed the curious habit of wearing absolutely the most garish clothes imaginable whenever and wherever the group went out dancing!

Tom's bizarre taste in clothes offended Margie Saibara, the beautiful lady who had never worn a mismatched outfit in her life.

Margie wasn't teasing when she complained about Tom's clothes to me one night. Margie was completely serious.  She told me how embarrassed she was to be seen sitting next to him at a nice restaurant when our group would go out to eat!  She could see other patrons actually pointing and laughing at him! 

And for some reason, to Margie's dismay, Tom always wanted to sit next to her!  Obviously opposites attract!

I couldn't have cared less about Tom's taste in clothing, but then I am a guy. What do you expect?  Tom was, well, Tom. That explained everything!  He was a bit weirder than any of us cared to admit, but we all loved him so much we "overlooked" certain things about him. 

As I laughed at how serious Margie was ("Can't you do something, Rick!?"), a wonderful idea for a prank popped into my head.  Why not have a Surprise Night where everyone in the group came dressed as Tom Easley?? 

Labeling it the "Tom Easley Look-a-Like" Night, we all did our best/worst to find the ugliest, most garish and unmatching clothes imaginable and wear them to the party.

Quite a few of us took the opportunity to poke fun at Tom very seriously. For example, from the picture you can see that Mike Fagan found a way to make himself a near-clone of the infamous Mr. Easley. When some of us saw the two of them together, we wondered if maybe this party had been a serious mistake.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. I'm sure you will quickly agree that without actually SEEING how hideous their clothes were, this particular story would not have made any sense at all.

Yes, I know the event was wacky and off-the-wall, but it also describes just how close our group had become during my wonderful Streak year.  We had more fun together than anyone even realized at the time.  

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

A story this good has to be told in more depth. For a further look at the Legend of Tom Easley and his Infamous Night, click here.  Warning - this web page contains many pictures that sensitive readers may find deeply troubling. -;)

Where am I going with this Thing??

On Sunday, September 21, I reached #100 to the 50s music at a place called "Cafe De Ville" on FM 1960.  Nights 50-100 had been an easy ride. I was in a terrific groove. Now for the first time since it all started, I took a step back on my drive home from Cafe de Ville and asked myself how much longer the Streak should go.

I was in no mood to quit, but now that I crossed the 100 threshold, maybe it was time to think about returning to shall we say a more "diversified lifestyle"?  I noticed I didn't fear being alone at night in my home any more which was another good sign. I didn't have that loneliness feeling any more. 

I still wasn't dating anyone because I still wasn't ready. But I had at least started to think about dating.

I considered that was a good sign that I was on the mend.  Some people jump right back into a rebound relationship that causes even more pain. Fortunately this dancing was keeping me out of that kind of trouble.

After all I was around women all the time!  I got a chance to laugh, to flirt, and feel attractive without risking any heartaches.

Plus I was starting to look good again. All this dancing had taken off 20 pounds. I was in shape too - I could dance all night!  I could feel the energy and the confidence radiating through my soul. It occurred to me I was having perhaps the best year of my life.  It certainly hadn't started that way, but look at me now!

But at the same time this couldn't go on for ever or could it? 
At this point I had been out Whip Dancing every night for over three months. I began to wonder when it would end or to put it another way, when should I end it?

Since I taught dance for a living, The Streak was not at all difficult to continue. However on the other hand like anything you do too much, it wasn't quite as much fun on Night 100 as Night 50 had been.  When I got home I sat down and looked at a calendar.

I discovered that if I danced each night for the remainder of 1986, New Years Eve would make 201 nights. That seemed a logical place to stop.  I was half the way there. Now I had three months to go.

I begin to lose interest.

I was starting to get bored.  By the end of September it was beginning to feel like "Same Old Same Old" each night.  So I started to look for diversions. On October 25 I was invited to perform at Saint Johns School for an alumni function. Margie Saibara was kind enough to dance with me that night. SJS certainly wasn't a dance club, but it was Whip dancing outside of class. Close enough.

A week later the Southwest Whip Club had a Halloween Bash at a hotel known as "The Grand".  I put on the mask of a Mime and went to the dance without saying a word. I had a great time!  I didn't talk to anyone the whole evening!  My only disappointment was how little time it took the ladies to realize it was me hidden behind my mask.  I had planned on being the Phantom of the Opera all night, but had not considered the fact that my Streak had made my dance style effortless to recognize. I guess I shouldn't have been so surprised.

In November
, one of the ladies at SSQQ named Aimee Atkinson organized a camping trip at her parent's property north of the Renaissance Festival. I wanted to go, but I doubted seriously there was a night club nearby in the middle of the forest.  I decided I wasn't going to let that stop me from going! 

On Saturday, November 8, #148, about twenty of us drove to a forest north of Magnolia for the camping trip. I took along a tape deck powered by batteries.  That night the whole group of us danced Whip and C&W around a campfire dodging embers and cow patties.  Did I forget to mention our exciting wilderness campsite turned out to be in the middle of a cow pasture?  I am not sure how those cows felt about "Mustang Sally", but they sure moo-ed a lot.

I had brought a tent along, but I was so uninspired by the location I rolled down the Hatchback seat and just slept in the car. Why bother?  Despite the odd setting, we had a lot of fun getting drunk and telling ghost stories and dirty jokes. How many times have I said I had more fun with this group than I ever had with a group of people in my life.

The core members were all there back when I had been married, but without a doubt the Streak had a lot to do with pulling the group much closer together.

The next day we went to the Renaissance Festival for the second part of our weekend adventure. That day at the Renaissance had to be one of the best times I ever had in my life as we laughed and played.

I may have been a little drunk from the day's activities, but mind was still focused on my commitment. It
was getting dark. As the group prepared to leave late in the day, I was worried because I hadn't danced Whip and we were a long way from home.

As we neared the exit gates, from a distance we heard the sound of a Celtic Waltz.  We all looked at each other and smiled in agreementThe music lured us through the throng until finally we discovered its source. There surrounded by hundreds of people was a medieval string band playing the beautiful tune. Shall we Waltz?  Immediately we dropped our goods and 10 couples spontaneously began to Waltz!  The crowd loved us and so did the band!  They smiled and waved to us as we passed by on our circle.

Soon we had the huge crowd watching and clapping for us too!  Our group of dancers were now part of the show!  I was so glad I had worn my Robin Hood outfit.  Anybody named "Archer" has got to have at least one Robin Hood costume hanging in his closet. Back to Merrye Olde England was I!

For its next song the band beg
an to play an Irish Jig.  An idea popped into my brain. Why not?  I asked Margie Saibara to Whip. The music may have been a little odd, but the speed of the music was the same as Whip music. Always the good sport, Margie rolled her eyes, but finally agreed to help. The Streak continued.

Two weeks later, #163, at a western club called Johnny B Daltons we ran into a "Disco-Sucks" DJ who stubbornly refused to play any Rock music. Without skipping a beat I danced the Whip to Willie Nelson's "On the Road Again". As they say, whatever it takes.

The Streak starts to grow Old...

Three weeks later, #184, I was at Judy Price's house attending her Christmas Party. It was 9 pm, we were having fun, and there was no dancing. Instead the girls were watching Tom Cruise in "Top Gun". They were going nuts and I was feeling neglected. I asked the group what time they were going dancing. The women looked at me like I was crazy and the men said they were staying where the women were. I was on my own.

Anxiously I watched the clock. Finally I asked Linda Harwell to go dancing with me. The first three clubs we drove to were closed on a Sunday night!  Uh oh.  Was any place open ? I was getting pretty worried. Next we drove over to Cooters, our main hangout.  It was open, thank goodness. We danced all of one song, then headed straight back to Judy's party. As you can gather, my interest in The Streak was seriously beginning to wane. It was the middle of December. 

As much as I loved dancing the Whip, by now The Streak felt more and more like a collar around my neck. My dancing had improved about as much as it was going to.  I had stopped learning new moves and increasingly found myself just going through the motions. I knew it was time to move on.  The time was drawing near.

New Year's Eve: The End of the Streak

Two weeks later over the Christmas Holidays I went skiing with the Space City Ski Club.  We headed to Colorado for a week at Copper Mountain. No one on the plane knew how to Whip.  No problem.  Don't forget I can also teach the dance. 

I asked my roommate's daughter Tina, a freshman at A&M, if she would like to learn how to Whip. She said yes. There was nothing romantic between us. After all Tina was half my age. I explained the situation so she was well aware what I was up to.  Tina realized she was doing me a big favor, but it was easy for her because she liked to dance.

The first night was a close call.  After the plane ride to Denver and the long bus trip to Copper Mountain, it was getting close to Midnight.  I knocked on Tina's door and told her there was still time to go dancing that night.  We walked around for a while until Tina and I discovered a small bar near our condo. It was called "The Columbine" after the state flower.  

It was 11 pm and no one was dancing, but there was taped dance music being played and there was a dance floor.  Girl + Dance Floor + Music.  What more did I need? 

I taught Tina the Whip Basic and the Bump.  At quarter to twelve we concluded with the evening's ceremonial Whip dance.  The Streak still lived, but not for long.

There were 3 days to go till the end of the year.  For the next two nights
Tina and I returned to the Columbine to practice.

fourth night of our Colorado ski trip was New Year's Eve. There was a big NYE party at the Copper Mountain Recreation Center so a bunch of people from the ski club decided to pay a visit.

At the New Year’s Eve Party, Tina and I danced the Whip to a honky-tonk tune called "If You Wanna Get To Heaven" played by the Ozark Mountain Daredevils, the band hired for the evening.

I was proud of my young protégé.  In just three nights, Tina had become a pretty fair Whip dancer.  Together we put on a show!  We got a big round of applause from our ski club friends, most of whom had never seen Whip in their lives.  Tina's Dad looked at me suspiciously, but I caught his worried eye and grinned to let him know it was okay.  I don't think he had ever seen his little daughter move like that before.

Tina gave me a big hug. We had become friends. She was well aware this was my final night of the Streak.  Tina had been kind to help me finish out the year with such a graceful conclusion.  I thanked her.  Together we greeted the New Year.

The following night was a lonely time for me. 

The next day I skipped skiing. Other than going out for meals, I spent most of the day in my room quietly watching the New Year's Day bowl games by myself. I spent the day reflecting over the events of the past year.  As it grew dark, I was feeling pretty sad about ending my Streak.  1986 had started miserably, but had become a very happy year indeed thanks to the dancing.

At 9 pm there was a knock on my door. It was Tina asking me if I wanted to go dancing just in case I had changed my mindFor just a moment, I was sorely tempted to accept her offer.  I didn't want it to end.  The Streak had been so good for me!

However after 201 consecutive nights of dancing Whip in the clubs, it was Time.  I told her thanks, but decided to pass. 

I was healed from the Breakup that had precipitated my flurry of Whip dancing. Now I was looking forward to new challenges like dating again and going to dinner and movies like normal people.

Nevertheless, as Midnight signaled the end of the Streak, I was very sad.  I felt like a real friend had passed on.

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Looking Back...

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I learned important lessons about dancing. 

My 201 Nights of Whip Practice allowed my Unconscious to learn things about dancing that deeply transcended anything I had been taught.  I realized a teacher can point you in the right direction and help you improve more quickly, but true mastery is only gained through practice. 

I had started lessons in 1977, but it wasn’t till now 9 years later that I finally could say I knew how to Whip. The Practice made all the difference.

As the Streak reached its conclusion I was as proud of myself for learning the Whip as I had been when I graduated from college. 

In retrospect college may have been easier.  Book learning has always been a strength, but as an over-analytical left-brainer I have never been a fast learner when it comes to dancing. I think too much, a real handicap for a dancer!   With this in mind,  I respected the dance adventure as a huge accomplishment.  I was deeply proud of the progress I had made.

I became a better dance teacher too. One of the things I learned is that if a woman is balanced properly, Whip leads don't have to be strong.  Power is always a cover-up for problems.  "Power" means the lady dances off-balance or the man is knocking her off balance and forced to use power to help her recover. I had learned this secret during the Streak.

I also found that Whip leads require excellent timing that can only be acquired through Practice. There are many different types of leads. Often they must occur in a rat-a-tat sequence that leaves little time to "think about it". 

My 201 nights of Whip Dancing took these moves out of my head and converted them into what dancers call "muscle memory". Now my motions had become instinct.

New forms of footwork and a gracefulness of movement developed. For example, the fast Rock music at Cooters taught me how to control the woman using arm tension. The slow Rhythm & Blues music at the Four Palms helped me develop more sophisticated footwork and a different style of dancing.

These lessons taught me that no matter how good a teacher is, Nothing beats Practice.

The Studio Grows

1986 was a phenomenal year for the studio too. After 25 years in the business I have discovered the studio always is the busiest when I am involved in the dancing.  When I am in a relationship, I am nowhere near as active in studio events as I am when I am free.  The energy I created in 1986 carried over into 1987 which was without a doubt one of the best years of my life. 

When I am happy, business drops. When I am miserable, the business improves. The irony of this arrangement was never more true than 1986 and 1987. During this time when I had absolutely no girl friend, the studio grew by leaps and bounds.

The following year in 1987 I never did quite find that girlfriend I was looking for, but it didn't matter.  During my 201 Nights in 1986 I formed the deepest friendships of my adult life.  I was an active member of the best group of people I have ever known.   Many of my best friends today were the people I hung out with in My Favorite Year of 1987. (for the full story, Tom Easley

The Streak Healed Me.

The fun I had and the lessons I learned were important.  However the most important gift of all - far more important than the dramatic improvement in my dancing - was that I regained my confidence and my self-esteem. I came out of my depression and had two of the happiest years of my life thanks to dancing.

I made more friends in this time than you can imagine, friendships that have last long after the Streak ended.  And I owe it all to my own dance studio which served as a safe haven while I healed.  My own studio cured me just like it has cured so many of my students over the years.

This was the year I learned beyond a doubt that Dancing is an incredibly very healthy activity for the body, the heart, and the soul.

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