Schamenek Rebuttal
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Rick Archer is accused of being Unethical

On January 4th, the following comment was posted on Facebook:

Alex Schamenek:  Rick signed a non-compete clause when he sold SSQQ to Daryl, violated the clause almost immediately, then told Daryl to "sue him," knowing he couldn't.

I will never respect someone with ethics like that.

Rick Archer's Note:  There is not a single element of truth to this statement.  To set the record straight, here is what is incorrect about Mr. Schamenek's statement.

To begin with, I never told Daryl to 'sue me'.   I have never in my life threatened to sue anybody. 

On the other hand, Daryl sued me twice.

The first time Daryl sued me was over my decision to teach one night a week at the Pavillion.  That was back in July 2010.   At the time, Daryl was having trouble getting his studio open.  At the same time, I had already resigned from the new studio and was out of a job.  Left with absolutely no income, the part-time opportunity at the Pavillion offered me a way to earn at least some income.  For the record, I asked Gary Richardson to approach Daryl for permission.  Keep in mind I did not need Daryl’s permission, but I asked for it anyway. 

Daryl initially did give his permission, but then had second thoughts.  To my surprise, Daryl changed his mind and slapped me with a cease and desist order.  In Daryl’s defense, I am sure he was under tremendous pressure.  He was struggling to get his studio open and here the former owner was already going out on his own.  Unfortunately, Daryl chose a very ugly way to get his point across.

Nevertheless, I wanted to give SSQQ the best chance I could to get off to a good start, so I voluntarily yielded on the disputed issue as an act of Good Will.  I doubt seriously Alex has ever heard that version of the story, but it is the truth and I have plenty of emails to prove it.

The second lawsuit came in July 2011.  This time I got fed up and hired a lawyer.  That solved the problem nicely. 

Daryl and I may have had our differences, but I came to respect him.  It isn't easy to run a dance studio.  I could see that Daryl and Joanne put their heart and soul into making a go of it.  For that, I am grateful and hope everyone else gets that. 

For seven long years, Daryl paid me $2,000 a month as part of the purchase agreement for the dance studio.  Not once did I have to ask him to send me that money even though I know he was under financial pressure on many an occasion. 

Daryl and Joanne gave me seven years of rest during which I have written a book, 'Destiny', which chronicles how SSQQ came into being in the first place.  It is a very entertaining book, I can assure you.

As for Mr. Schamenek's contention that I violated a non-compete clause, I wish to point out I had a perfect legal right to teach wherever I wanted the moment I resigned from the studio.  My non-compete clause forbade me from owning a dance studio for two years, but I could teach on my own anywhere I pleased. 

Because there is so little trust in the world, I will voluntarily share a clause in the Sales Agreement dealing with employment.

"3.1 Seller's Covenant Not to Compete

Vesper Ion and SSQQ, Inc. and Richard Archer agree there is a business rationale to protect the interest of the Purchaser in the value of the reputation, goodwill and customer base with respect to the sale and purchase of assets as set forth in this agreement.

Therefore, SSQQ Inc and Richard Archer agree not to compete with the new dance studio to be begun by Vesper Ion LLC with respect to dance instruction and the dance studio business for a period of two years. 

Richard Archer may if he chooses to exercise his right to leave this employment and be released from this covenant not to compete to the extent that he may rent space at any competing studio within Harris Country and teach dance classes so long as he does not acquire any ownership rights over said competing studio.



I do not bear any animosity towards Daryl.  Back in August 2017 I heard the studio wasn’t doing very well, so shortly before Hurricane Harvey, I offered to return to the studio and teach a class for Daryl.  After the hurricane ruined the dance floor, I made sure to give Joanne a big hug.  Seeing Joanne completely in tears, who wouldn’t feel sorry for her?  After seven years of hard work, the place was decimated!  Two days later I shook Daryl's hand as he cleaned out the studio and wished him well.  If by chance, Daryl gets a new SSQQ off the ground, I will happy to help him get it running.

I would like to say a few more things in my behalf.

From the bottom of my heart, I did my best to conduct SSQQ with the highest ethical standards.  In 32 years of operation, not one bill went unpaid, not one instructor went unpaid, there were no law suits nor were there any threats of lawsuits related to my business. If there was a complaint to the BBB, I never heard about it.

In particular, I went out of my way to make SSQQ a safe place. I would not tolerate groping or disrespect to women.  If I heard even a whiff of a sexual predator or a man who hurt women through careless dancing, they were asked to leave the studio. 

I think the highest compliment I ever received came from a prominent Houston therapist who said she sent all of her broken-hearted clients, male and female, to my studio because quote "they would be safe at my studio" unquote. 

There was a good reason why SSQQ was considered one of the finest places in Houston to find a boyfriend or a girlfriend... SSQQ was so friendly, people let down their guard and formed a family of sorts.  Anyone with a smile was welcome to join that family be they Arab, Jewish, Hispanic, Black, Asian, Gay, or Martian.   My point is that our doors were open to all; everyone was made to feel welcome. 

The SSQQ of my day was the largest dance studio in Houston.  I did it the old-fashioned way... I hired extremely talented teachers with big hearts and made sure to let my dance students know I appreciated their presence.

This is not to say I did not have my faults.  I had a temper and lost it on occasion, especially over the recurring issue of refunds.  I had a thin skin and there were times when I did not tolerate criticism very well.  There were times when I let the myriad problems associated with trying to please so many people turn me bitter.  I recall responding to people's complaints in a fairly sarcastic way using the infamous SSQQ Newsletter and probably made some enemies in the process.  So, yes, I was far from perfect.

On the other hand, despite my prickly side, it was important to me at all times to be fair and honest.  I had one overriding goal... I wanted my students to feel at home at SSQQ.  I believe I was successful.  There was a warmth about the studio that was unmistakable.  I think people understood I cared deeply about making SSQQ a good place to meet friends and have fun, maybe even learn to dance a little along the way.  This approach helped create a loyalty and affection that permeated the institution.  I daresay the consensus was that SSQQ was a good place to hang out.  In my heart, I tried my best.

The odd thing is that I have no idea why Alex developed such a low opinion of me.  As far I am concerned, the statement he made was so totally off base I have to wonder whose Kool-Aid he has been drinking.  

I have always liked Alex.  Not only did I give him his first job as a teacher, I once stuck up for him by writing a lengthy article in his defense. In 2007 there was an incident when one of Alex' students publicly criticized a Crash Course class he had taught.  I thought the critical student was way out of line, so I wrote a story to back Alex up.

Alex was in attendance at the 2010 Last Waltz, the final dance party ever held at the SSQQ Bissonnet location.  He may not have thought much of me, but he was clearly very loyal to the studio.  For that, I appreciate his contributions. 

I hold no grudge towards Alex.  If he believes I am unethical, he is welcome to his opinion.  Personally, I think his mistake was listening to the wrong person, something I am sure we have all been guilty of at one time or another.

Which leads me to my final point.  I do not think that Mr. Schamenek's inappropriate statement is an accident.  I think Mr. Schamenek was simply giving voice to an opinion held by many that somehow my behavior negatively affected the operation of the second SSQQ.

For the record, both Marla and I have been well aware of an undercurrent of hostility towards us that runs among many former members of the original SSQQ.  Many people who were once our friends at the original SSQQ have turned their backs on us in the past several years. Having spent the past seven years more or less as an outcast, I have every reason to conclude that things said behind my back have painted me as the villain.  Mr. Schamenek's outburst was simply the tip of the iceberg.

The truth is that I dearly loved running SSQQ for 32 years and would never do something to sabotage its successor.  That said, every man has a right to earn a living.  Since I wasn't welcome at the second SSQQ, I had no choice but to work elsewhere.  

Rick Archer

Friday, January 5, 2018

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