Controversy 2005
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 The Feud Begins: 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2005


There is one story at SSQQ that never dies and that is the Legend of the SSQQ-HSDS Feud.

As of 2005, very few people in the Dance World are still around who know that SSQQ is more or less the father of the Houston Swing Dance Society.   I'm sure HSDS would prefer to whitewash this awkward truth, but that won't happen as long as my web site stays around.

In 1997, People who started Swing Dancing at SSQQ decided to form another Swing organization. 
Unfortunately it was handled very poorly and a lot of people got their feelings hurt.  Some people ask me from time to time why I still have energy on this event.  Well, one of the people who suffered the most was me - I lost a marriage to all bitterness generated by this dispute. 

There was some serious animosity that lasted for over five years.  However there has been not one negative energy incident since 2001. This has led me to the conclusion that the "Feud" is dead.  And hopefully it is.

However, you never know when someone will open the door and some of the demons out.  In 2005, Ann Pan, one of the key players in the 1998 Harvest Moon Ball incident, contacted me.

-----Original Message-----
From: Ann Pan
Sent: Thursday, May 26, 2005 8:32 PM
To: Rick Archer
Subject: hsds swing controversy


Out of pure coincidence, I found my name on a page that you authored:

"Late in the following year, Carnell cleverly prevented Judy's second Swing team from participating in the prestigious Rice University Harvest Moon Ball. In October 1998 Judy wrote a lengthy letter to Ann Pan who was on the Rice University/Harvest Moon Ball Organizing Committee. In this letter Judy attempted to explain why SSQQ had asked Carnell not to come to our party. Unfortunately, Judy's words fell on deaf ears. Judy's team was prevented from performing."

I moved from Houston in December 1998 but I do have a record of what happened that autumn, including all of the emails that went around. So I would like to rectify a few fallacies in the above statement.  FYI, I have not had any association with the HSDS since I moved from Houston.

1. Judy's team was not prevented from performing. The SSQQ Swingin' Skirts and Mugz chose not to perform. The only reason I was given was because some of their members could not make the performance time.

2. Judy never wrote a lengthy letter to Ann. Ann called Judy on the phone and had a lengthy telephone conversation with Judy (and Rick) on Wednesday, October 21, 1998. (See above.) If such a letter existed, then please send me a copy as I have never received it nor seen it.

3. Judy's words did NOT fall on deaf ears. Making such a statement blatantly ignores the extensive amount of time that I especially spent on this topic.

4. Blaming Carnell, Rowena, the HSDS, or me for the SSQQ group not performing at the 1998 Harvest Moon Ball is placing blame on the wrong people. I invited the SSQQ group to perform at the Harvest Moon Ball and the HSDS supported this decision. In the end, it was the SSQQ group who chose not to perform 5(!) days before the Harvest Moon Ball.

I'm sorry for everyone in Houston that this problem seems to still be in existence several years later. Isn't it time to start collaborating? In either case, please correct your statements as they currently contain fallacies.

Ann Pan"



Uh oh, somebody just woke up the sleeping dog.  I was amazed.

I read her letter twice because Ms. Pan's email absolutely
flabbergasted me.  Who on earth keeps such detailed notes of an event 7 years in the past? 

I was very impressed.  Furthermore, when I went back and referenced the story she referred to, I realized was Ms. Pan was talking about.  All four of her points directly contradicted something I had written.  Hmm.

I wrote Ms. Pan back.  Not only did she furnish more details, she sent me a copy of her Timeline of Events (read story) from 1998.  The Harvest Moon Ball was unquestionably the most bitter event in the five year stretch of animosity.   Now I had in my possession the answers to questions that had bothered me for years. 
I compared my notes to hers and realized she had a point. I decided my story was not complete without adding Ms. Pan's version of the events.

I was very excited.  It was time to update the story.

I had to chuckle at some of the consequences.  There were a lot of unhappy people over at HSDS.  Even though Ann Pan had been gone from HSDS for seven years, she suddenly got a flurry of emails from HSDS people screaming at her to shut up!

As it was explained to me, certain HSDS members could not believe that Ann Pan had contacted Rick Archer of all people to tell him to get his facts right, then turned around and supplied him with information that he had never had access to before!

And that Ann Pan asked for a copy of Judy's original letter... only to have Rick find it and publish it. 

As for me, I simply said, "Gee Ann, I can't believe all these years I had it wrong.  Why don't you tell me exactly what happened and I will make sure I get it right?"

From that point on, Ann Pan revealed some of the most ancient details in a very ugly story.  Things came to light that I never understood before.  All Ann Pan was doing was
insist that I get my facts straight.  But what she really did was allow me to tell the story for what it really was - a Smear Campaign. 

You see, I was in the dark for a number of reasons.  First, I was not an eyewitness to any of the events except for the fateful phone call from Carnell that started the incident.  I eventually wrote the first version of the story about a year after it happened.  At that time I had to rely on the word of my ex-wife Judy Archer for much of my story, except that she didn't really want to talk about it!

But my big break came when Ann Pan reminded me that Judy Archer had written a letter to her.  Ann Pan wanted to read it!! 

Now I was confused.  This is the woman who saves everything.  Why didn't she save Judy's letter? 

That is how I discovered that Judy had never sent the letter in the first place!

So I published Judy's Harvest Moon Ball letter.  And while I was at it, I I updated the 1998 story.  And my goodness what a great story it was thanks to Ann Pan's missing pieces!

While I was at it, I ran across Carnell's hate letter from April 28, 2000.  This was the letter that NEVER GOT PUBLISHED the first time around.  If you will recall this is the letter that ended my marriage.  I decided to publish it too.

And while I was at it, I ran across my reply letter as well.  So I decided publish the response to Carnell's letter that Judy never allowed me to print back in 2000.

Here it is:


If you wish to re-read Carnell's April 28 2005 letter, click here

Rick's Reply (written in 2000, published in 2005):


Carnell’s words:  “To quote Ms. Archer, she let it be known to the members of her dance team that she "would not let anyone else take the credit for bringing the Lindy Hop to Houston!"  How ludicrous and arrogant for anyone other then the likes of Mr. Frankie Manning or Ms. Norma Miller to assume that they are single-handedly responsible for bringing a dance that is over 80 years old to a major metropolitan area.”

Carnell, Judy never claimed to have developed the Lindy Hop. She was however the first one to reintroduce it on a large scale to the Houston area during the 90s. You should know since Judy taught you your first Lindy steps.

Personally, if someone asked me who brought the Lindy Hop back to Houston, I would say Judy Archer. And let add the list of people behind her is pretty short: No one else was even teaching the dance in Houston in 1995 and 1996. 

Others followed eventually, but for a good year and a half, the only person in the city teaching the Lindy THAT I KNOW OF was my wife.

It is now 2000 and I still don't know of anyone who was teaching Lindy in the Houston area in 1995 or 1996 other than Judy.  I know where YOU learned to Lindy - right here at SSQQ from Judy.  I know Rowena came here to learn Lindy from Judy. And I know where Judy learned it; she got it off the videotapes. I watched her with my own eyes!

It isn’t “arrogance”, Carnell. It is a FACT.

And it isn’t “ludicrous”, Carnell. It is a FACT.

Judy Archer brought the Lindy to Houston.  You can argue till you are blue in the face, but you are wrong.

Just out of curiosity, who do you think first brought the Lindy back to Houston in the 90s??  How about supporting your argument?  

Here are the facts as I know them.

Judy taught her first Lindy Hop class in Houston on November 18th, 1995. She taught her second course on February 5, 1996. My records list an Intermediate Lindy class on March 4, 1996. If I remember correctly, you were in some of these classes learning from her. Hmm. Here's another one: I see another class that she started on April 30, 1996.

Judy brought the Lindy Hop to Houston. The fact of the matter is that you can't bear to tell the truth on this issue, can you?

Frankie Manning sure as heck didn't bring it here. 
Judy was teaching Lindy here in Houston more than a year before Frankie’s first visit.  Frankie didn't make it to Houston until April 1997!!  He came at Judy's request, by the way.  Norma Miller sure didn't bring the Lindy Hop to Houston, Texas!!  So who is your next candidate?  Barbara Bush?  Mattress Mac?  Charles Barkley? 

C'mon Mr. Know-It-All, tell us who YOU THINK BROUGHT LINDY TO HOUSTON IN THE 90s?

Now it is true that Judy owes all her knowledge of Lindy to Frankie Manning. She studied his videotapes, went to his Catalina workshops, and even corresponded with him regarding the timing on some of his patterns. But I made this information perfectly clear in my original write-up of the history.

So where do you get off insinuating that Judy and I are "Liars"?  It looks to me like you are the one who has trouble accepting what really happened.   


6)  There was one more ugly incident involving Carnell. In the fall of 1998, Carnell informed us that he intended to come to one of our Swing Extravaganza parties at the studio. Based on previous incidents, we were concerned he intended to once again promote HSDS at our expense.

First of all, I have much more respect for someone else's property than that.  And I do not appreciate your feeble attempts to make me seem to be unethical and conniving. I have never tried to sneak HSDS material into your dance studio nor have I ever encouraged others to do so.  And you know that to be a fact.  As the owner of the SSQQ dance studio, you have every right to say what can and cannot go on your property.  When Judy asked me not to wear HSDS-related clothing while I taught at your studio.  I complied.  When Judy asked that I not bring HSDS-related material to your studio.  Again, I complied.  So, I don't know what previous incidents you are referring too.  As Judy was woman enough to make her desires known and I was man enough to respect them, I wish you would be man enough to state exactly what incident you are talking about and not continually hide behind vague assertions that you have created.  I don't appreciate anyone attempting to besmirch my character on baseless accusations.

Rick's Reply:

So, I don't know what previous incidents you are referring too."

Carnell, why are you playing stupid? 

I personally overheard your message on our answering machine.  You called to say you were coming to the Zoot Suit Party on October 17, 1998, and wanted to make sure there wouldn't be a problem.

I compliment on your foresight - we did not want you in attendance.  And trust me it had nothing to do with the color of your skin.

I consulted with Judy.  We agreed you were not welcome and we told you so.  I don't have take Judy's word for it. I listened to her as she returned your phone call. 
Judy simply said we preferred that you leave us alone.

You played the race card in an email to the HSDS Board of Directors that embroiled Judy in the ugliest of controversies that basically devastated the woman. 

So, I don't know what previous incidents you are referring too.

Now you turn around and say you don't know what we are referring to?  Ann Pan's timeline of events contradicts your attempts to plead ignorance.  But you can plead ignorance if you wish to.  I think I could help convict you of ignorance.

I don't appreciate anyone attempting to besmirch my character on baseless accusations."

I am sure you don't.  Except that they aren't baseless.

First you helped Rowena take away Judy's Swing team and her friends. Then you took her syllabuses. Then you lied to her face about not teaching elsewhere when you even admit yourself that you were "assisting".  How clever of you to rename "teaching" to "assisting" so you could lie to her face, by the way.  Typical HSDS word twisting.

I've got Jack Benard. I've got Lester Buck. I've got Maureen Brunetti.  I have plenty of people who were around in the mid-90s to back up my story.

Furthermore, why do you continue to insult Judy? Childish insecurities”? "Arrogance?" "Bald-Faced Lies?" "Needlessly threatened?" 

If Judy has a fault, it is her reluctance to stand up for herself against bullies like you. Every time Judy turned around, someone like you was demeaning her accomplishments in much the same way as you have continued to do so in your letter. I cannot imagine why you would blame Judy one bit for wishing to preserve the memory of her contribution to Houston’s Swing Scene.  She worked hard for something and now you wish to strip her not only of her dignity, but her contributions.

Let's face it, Carnell, Judy put you on the Planet, you treated her poorly, and now you would like to do something about your guilty conscience by attempting to deny what really happened.

Judy is not some Egyptian Pharaoh whose memory can be erased by rewriting history.  Judy is just as much the true founder of your organization as you are and you don't want to admit it. 

Sincerely, Rick Archer



You know what?  After I published Judy's 1998 letter in 2005, Carnell's 2000 letter in 2005, and my 2000 response in 2005, I felt absolutely no satisfaction out of printing it.  At this point, no one could have cared less. 

It was all water under a bridge. 

The players were long gone.  I was divorced. Judy had quit the studio. Carnell had disappeared from sight.  Even Rowena no longer appeared to be involved with HSDS.  I was the last man standing.

After writing six chapters, I was still baffled by the unanswered question:

Why had Judy prevented me from fighting back at a time when the truth would have made a lot of difference?

If I ever find out, I promise to put the answer right here.

Thank you for reading my story,
Rick Archer
July 2007

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