"Those Were the Days,
My Friend, We Thought They'd Never End..."
Written by Rick Archer
Encore is the name of
Rick and Marla Archer's new Sunday dance
program at Melody Club.
We started our new program in June 2012 with 3 classes and 50
We had 3 more classes in July 2012 with 55 students. Like all good
hurricanes, we are slowly gathering our strength.
Now it's time for Act
III. Starting Sunday,
August 5, from 3:30-5 pm, Encore will offer 4 group dance classes in
different rooms that will meet 4 times in August.
Last month we added Gary Richardson to the team. In August we will
add Charlene Carter to the mix.
August promises to be four more
Sundays of Fun. We will be visiting the
Chandelier on August 4 (Ballroom) and August 11 (Western) indeed!
The fifth member of our
team will start in September.
You will be very impressed
- Number 5 is
a dance superstar, a definite homerun hitter. We will announce the
identity of our fifth
We have only just begun...
If you would like to
read more about the changes, visit the
SSQQ Travel Newsletter.
4 Sundays (Aug 5, 12, 19, 26) 3:30-5 pm $40
1. Western Swing II -
2. Beg Latin (Rumba, Cha Cha)- Marla Archer
3. Ghost Town Western - Gary Richardson
4. Synchronized Western Waltz - Charlene (Tees) Carter
5. Three Step - Rick Archer (at Chapelwood)
ENCORE AUGUST 2012 CLASS DESCRIPTIONS
WESTERN SWING II with Rick Archer
I will be teach Western Swing Double Turns again in
August. This Western Swing course will be a follow-up
to the patterns I taught in July. You do not need to have
taken my July class to take this August class. You simply need
to know to Twostep.
is sometimes called "Twostep with Turns". Any time a Twostep
is played, the man has the choice of dancing with the lady in his
arms or "Swing her Out" to begin leading double turns. This extra feature adds a lot of
excitement to Western dancing!
We will cover Twostep
patterns such as Conversation, ZigZig, and Wild West Shuffle. In addition
I will show people how to add Polka
rhythm to our Western Swing turns.
This is the class to
take if you ladies wish to learn how to double turn properly.
Forgive my immodesty, but I teach double turns very well (I've had
30 years of practice). In addition, I also teach men how to
"lead" the Western Swing turns welll. This is
the class to take if you men wish to learn how to properly double
turn the ladies.
I would be honored to teach this class to a new generation of
Western dancers. You can expect I will teach the new level all
the way up to Ghost Town.
BEGINNING RUMBA AND CHA CHA FOR CRUISE TRIPS AND CHANDELIER BALLROOM
with Marla Archer
In August, Marla will be teaching a Latin Ballroom class in
Beginning Rumba and Cha Cha.
Rumba and Cha Cha share
at least a dozen identical basic
patterns. This makes it easy to learn both dances side by side.
Learn the pattern to Rumba, convert it to Cha Cha and smile at the
discovery you can learn both classic Latin Ballroom dances in half the
Considering we now have 160 guests for our
October Magic dance
cruise to the Bahamas, a knowledge of Foxtrot and Waltz will
come in handy at the fancy Captain's Reception complete with
a live orchestra during the trip. You can expect Ballroom
dancing on the cruise.
I might add Rumba and Cha Cha will come in very handy during our
regular Saturday visits to the Chandelier Ballroom. Our
next Ballroom visit to the
will be on Saturday, August 4th, 8 pm.
Moonglow Orchestra plays a steady diet of Rumba and Cha Cha songs
throughout the night, this is a very practical class to take if you would
like to join us.
GHOST TOWN ADVANCED WESTERN SWING PATTERNS
with Gary Richardson
In August, Gary will follow up his July class with different
Ghost Town Advanced Western Swing
patterns for Twostep and Polka.
Gary's class will target
the many dancers who have Western Swing experience.
When we say "Advanced",
that means this class will be tougher than Beginning Western Swing,
but not as tough as Ghost Town.
Once Gary determines the
median skill level of his class, he will adjust accordingly.
Gary expects the ladies
to know how to double turn and the men to know how to lead those
turns. If you can do that much, then this class should be
right up your alley.
4 - SYNCHRONIZED
WESTERN WALTZ with Charlene Tees-Carter
In June, I taught a popular class known as Synchronized Polka.
August, our new instructor Charlene will be teaching Synchronized
Western Waltz patterns.
Like Synchronized Polka,
as the picture implies, Synchronized Western Waltz also uses the
"Sweetheart Position" as the starting point.
In Synchronized Polka
and Synchronized Western Western Waltz, both the man and the
woman start on the same foot. They dance the same footwork and dance the same patterns at each
Waltz has long been
considered the most graceful of all the Ballroom dances. When
partners dance identical patterns, the "gracefulness" effect is
These are very beautiful
dance patterns. This class is a real treat for anyone who
Note: One small favor to ask -
please don't take this class unless you have already taken some form
of Waltz. This class targets experienced Waltz dancers.
THREE STEP with Rick Archer
TO BE HELD
AT CHAPELWOOD ON MONDAY
EVENINGS IN AUGUST
Classes starting Monday, August 6, 7 pm to 8:30 pm (Aug 6, 13, 20,
In August, I will teach an unusual Western class that I have decided
to call "Threestep".
To my knowledge, this
course has never been offered in Houston before.
taking this class must be considered "brave". You will be a
pioneer and we all know that some pioneers end up with arrows in
their back. That isn't likely to happen any more, but I won't lie - learning this strange dance could
easily screw up at least three dances you have previously learned.
Background on Three Step
So what in the world is
The Three Step is
essentially 8-count Polka footwork mixed with Western Waltz
patterns. Three Step feels very similar to a Twostep when you
dance it, but you replace the four steps of Twostep (SSQQ) with six
The effect of this
different strategy makes it more comfortable to dance to the songs
that many people call "Slow Twosteps". Threestep
is a speedier option to replace the slow Twostep.
Dating all the way back
to the Eighties, I identified a speed of Western music where neither
Twostep nor Polka worked effectively. I decided to call music
recorded between 132-150 beats per minute (bpm) the "Dead Zone".
Music in this range is
either too fast for Polkas or too slow for Twosteps. Probably
the best example would be the classic Eagles song "Lying Eyes".
Recorded at 132 bpm, it feels like a Twostep, but the traditional
Slow Slow Quick Quick of the Twostep simply doesn't work very well.
"Don't Rock the Jukebox"
by Alan Jackson and "Peaceful Easy Feeling" by the Eagles have the
same problem. They are both recorded at 144 bpm. Both songs have the
feel of a Twostep but lack the speed for Twostep to feel
comfortable. You feel like you are dancing in slow motion.
For years, students
would ask what they should dance to songs in this speed range. I would tell them
Twostep and Polka were not an option. Try dancing a Jitterbug or just sit down
and have a beer.
Recently when I became
interested in Ballroom Foxtrot, it dawned on me that some simple
variations on Foxtrot would allow a person to dance comfortably to
all the Dead Zone music. Even better, fancy patterns drawn
from Western Waltz would work perfectly as well.
The result was an
extremely cool dance that I called the "Three Step".
I might add this dance form is just as a effective to Foxtrot music as it is to
slow Twostep music. In my opinion, Three Step is the
perfect new dance to add to everyone's repertoire. Not only is
it easy to learn, there are also fancy Western Swing-style turns to
show off the ladies.
If you are suspicious, don't
worry. If you aren't happy, you can definitely get your money
back at the end of the evening.
Be brave. Be a
Come try it... I think
you will be very impressed! It is very useful whenever I go to
the Chandelier and it is not a hard dance to learn.
Rick's Note: I have been teaching
dance classes on Monday evenings at
Chapelwood Methodist Church
in the Memorial area
for a year and a half.
We have a large, very beautiful dance floor all to ourselves at this lovely
I cannot begin to tell you what
a pleasure it is to conduct my classes here at Chapelwood. It is the
perfect learning environment. Best of all, we accept students of all
religions!! These are 'non-denominational' dance classes!
In August we will use Walk-in Registration.
Just show up at the door at Melody Club (see map) and sign up
the day of the class. This will go very fast. Doors will
open at 3 pm.
Sorry, no credit cards.
Cash or check (make checks to Marla Archer). Classes are $40 a
Phone: 713-862-2121 till 5 pm
"Those Were the Days,
My Friend, We Thought They'd Never End..."
Written by Rick Archer
The idea behind
Encore is easily explained by our theme song Those Were
the Days. This pretty ballad was one of my favorite songs
back in college forty years ago. With such a considerable passage of time,
I can certainly understand why this must be an obscure song to
most of you. So let me explain why the song is important.
Those Were the Days is a bittersweet song about the
sadness of aging and the value of friendship in old age. The
song begins in a tavern where a group of college age friends would
meet for nights of song and dance.
Once upon a time there was a tavern
Where we used to raise a glass or two
Remember how we laughed away the hours
And dreamed of all the great things we would do
the days, my friend,
We thought they'd never end.
Then the busy years went rushing by us
We lost our starry notions on the way
If by chance I'd see you in the tavern
We'd smile at one another and we'd say….
Those were the
Days, my Friend, we thought they'd never end...
Just tonight I
stood before the tavern
Nothing seemed the way it used to be
In the glass I saw a strange reflection
Was that lonely woman really me??
Through the door there came
I saw your face and heard you call my name
Oh my friend we're older but no wiser
For in our hearts the dreams are still the same…
Those were the Days, my Friend, ... We thought they'd never end.
the days, my friend,
We thought they'd never end.
We'd sing and dance forever and a day.
We'd live the life we choose,
We'd fight and never lose,
For we were young and sure to have our way.
We thought those days would never end...
This line reminds me of the
regret I felt in the closing days of the Bissonnet studio back in
I used to play
Those Were the Days
at every New Year's Eve Party after playing Auld Lang Syne
Most people have never
made the connection, but Auld Lang Syne and
Those Were the Days have practically the same message -
Should Not be Forgotten.
on Bissonnet served as a modern day "tavern".
During those final days, I
was asked by many people if things would ever be the same when
the studio was gone. I would simply say, "I hope so. Something this good deserves to continue."
Two years have passed. Yes, people stay in touch,
but not like we once did. As the song suggests, time has
scattered us all in many directions.
Encore - The Start of
a New Era
The concept that powered my 32 year dance program was Community.
From the moment I
started my dance studio, I saw large groups of people drawn together
by the common activity. In the beginning, certainly much of
the attraction was birds and bees. After all, we know that
Slow Dance leads to Romance. However, the dating scene was
just the tip of the iceberg.
Underneath the surface,
an entire network of friendships were being formed. As new
students became comfortable at the studio, they would say this was
the warmest group of people they had met since college. I
would just smile.
Of course everyone went
out dancing together. After all, social dancing is one of the
most powerful tools there is to unite a large group of people.
However, over time the bonds of these friendships became so powerful
that people from the studio did many things that had little to do
Back in the Eighties the
studio did all sorts of things together. We had swimming pool
parties, volleyball afternoons, charades parties, ski trips and
camping trips. Unfortunately, this energy dwindled a bit in
It took Marla and her
amazing cruise trips to help rekindle the true sense of Community
during the Millennium decade. Marla's trips continue to be as
popular as ever. However, there is something missing and we
all know what it is - we need a Tavern. We need a place to
meet between cruise trips.
This is a picture of our
cruise guests dancing on the Conquest. Obviously the dance energy is
high out at sea. It is time to capture the dance energy that
is so dynamic on our cruise trips and bring it back to land on a
The time has come for an Encore.
Let's bring the gang
together again on a frequent basis.
I am very sure we can re-create those magic
days of yesterday once more. We may
be older, but we still remember how dance
originally brought us together. We
can do this again.
I am confident the ancient Slow Dance and
Romance Magic is still there. All we need
is a Tavern.
Now we have one at
Melody. Let's Dance!
It Wasn't the
Last Waltz after all
The Time has Come
to Waltz Again
Note: This is an Excerpt from the
May 25th Newsletter
Addressing Rumors about Encore
Written by Rick Archer
Last week I announced that I am returning to my teaching career in June over at Melody
Encore is the name
of our new once-a-week dance program. Marla, myself and our friend
Cher Longoria will be teaching every Sunday from 3:30-5 pm starting
Afterwards we will host
an open dance from 5-6 pm. There is no charge. Furthermore our
weekly “Tea Dance” is open to the entire Houston dance community.
The purpose of my new
program is simple – we want to establish a place where the people I
met during my thirty years at SSQQ on Bissonnet can come and spend
an afternoon together. I don’t even care if they take a class… the
Tea Dance is free.
Working on the parallel
ideas of “Those Were the Days” and “Auld Lang Syne”, I have pointed
out how foolish it is to let our old
acquaintances be forgotten. In other words,
I mean to establish a program where we can see our friends on a
regular basis that we have met over our many years of dancing in
essentially a social program meant to re-establish my ties to the
Houston dance community. In next week’s Newsletter, I will reveal
more about what I am trying to accomplish.
The Nature of
Today I wish to clear up
a few rumors that have crossed my plate.
Everybody has a different
approach to dealing with Rumors. Some people like to ignore them.
Some people say, “Take the high road and don’t dignify Rumors with a
Twice in my career, I
have taken that approach. Both times I was badly burned.
Here is the more recent
example. Back in 1998, I received my second bitter lesson about
A person of color accused
me of being a bigot. He told anyone who would listen that I had
deliberately denied him entrance to our dance party based on his
race. Quickly this story was heard in every corner of the Houston
dance world. A dance team from our studio was almost denied
participation at a Rice University event based on his allegations.
Was I really a bigot?
No. Nothing could be further from the truth. I denied the man
entrance to the party because he had previously betrayed my trust.
This man had once taught
for us. While he was in our employment, he lied to us about his
involvement with another dance organization. Not only that, he was
secretly persuading students at my studio to follow him over to the
other program. Once I found out the truth, I told him to leave and
don’t come back.
He deliberately tried to
come back anyway to a place where he knew he wasn’t welcome. My
refusal had nothing to do about race.
Everybody who knows me
knows I am color-blind. Furthermore I don’t care what a person’s
religion is or what their sexual preference is or where they are
from or any of that nonsense.
My entire career was
spent trying to establish an environment that fostered warmth and
the development of a large community of friends. Given my goal, it
is absurd to think I would ever possess an attitude that excluded
people on the basis of race.
It was so important to me
to maintain an open studio that I deliberately avoided letting my
studio be involved in dance competitions. While I have no objection
to anyone who wishes to improve their dancing ability, I preferred
to avoid fostering a sense of competition within my own home. The
idea was to make friends, not to prove who was the better dancer.
If something felt divisive, I avoided it.
Getting back to that ugly
rumor about me being a racist, I wanted to write a letter to my
students at Bissonnet to explain what had really happened. However,
instead I kept my mouth shut and watched.
Bad mistake. That ugly
rumor spread through the dance community like wildfire. That rumor
definitely cost us students and it also cost us our reputation as a
place run by decent people. I have never felt so humiliated.
I am here to say I have
had two painful lessons about the stupidity of letting rumors fly
unchecked. Some time ago I vowed I wasn’t going to do it this way
anymore. I decided it made more sense to respond to rumors than let
them go unchecked.
Rumor One: Rick’s
Last week’s announcement
about Encore has given birth to several rumors that I will address
The first and most
serious rumor is that I am prohibited by my sales agreement from
teaching dance elsewhere.
My contract says “Richard
Archer agrees not to compete with the new dance studio with respect
to dance instruction and the dance studio business for a period of
two years from the Closing Date of this agreement within Harris
I sold the studio on
March 18, 2010. Daryl and Jo Anne Armstrong took control on May 1,
2010. By either date, I have a legal right to continue my career as
a dance instructor.
I have a right to earn a
living. I have a right to earn money to pay for my rising health
insurance. I have a right to earn money to pay for my rising
property taxes. I have bills just like you do.
I have only one
marketable job skill – teaching dance. In addition, I like to teach
dance. It is something I have a knack for. I like helping people
and I like the interaction that comes from helping my students
accomplish a goal.
Rumor Two: Encore
is the start of a new studio to compete with SSQQ
It has come to my
attention that I am said to be starting Encore to build a new dance
studio that will compete with SSQQ.
Read this carefully. I
love SSQQ. I have SSQQ in my blood. SSQQ is part of my Legacy and
it always will be. Even if I don't own
SSQQ, I have no desire to damage the program I
created. It would be like hurting my own
child. I am proud of SSQQ.
Furthermore, I deeply
respect the job that Daryl and Jo Anne Armstrong have done with the
new SSQQ. I am totally grateful that they have continued the SSQQ
They always say don’t
criticize until you have walked in someone else’s shoes. Well, I am
not going to criticize anyone. But I will tell you that no one is
more qualified to talk about a running a dance studio than I am.
So let me tell you this –
I am glad I sold the studio to Daryl and Jo Anne.
They came in with a lot of energy at a time when
I was completely out of gas. Since then, they have done a
good job against a lot of obstacles. Maybe they have had to learn a
couple things the hard way, but they are so far ahead of where I was
at a similar stage it is ridiculous.
Running a dance studio is
so much more work than any of you can ever imagine.
of time is ridiculous. Anyone who runs a dance studio is always
You are there greeting
the students at night. You are there greeting the maintenance people
during the day. And when you aren’t at the studio, you are home
writing Newsletters, answering the phone and answering emails.
Throw in the complaints and the divas and the headaches… there is
almost no peace.
Running a studio can be very rewarding, but at
times it can also feel like a thankless task. Exhaustion and burn
out is always a danger.
The stress is
unbelievable. The stress begins with the great financial risk of
running a large, complicated business. I recall that the overhead
of running the Bissonnet SSQQ was enormous. Rent, air conditioning,
utilities, payroll, insurance, accounting fees, taxes, fire
inspection, maintenance on the floor… the list was endless.
Marla and I used to say
the break-even point of every month was $35,000.
You say 35 thousand
divided by $50 a person is 700. Wrong. Many of our students
received half-price discounts. Women paid $40. We needed to get
900 students a month just to break even.
Now when the studio was in
its heyday, we averaged 1,300. So, yes, when things were good, the
dance studio made very good money.
The studio allowed me to send my
daughter Sam to a private school for 14 years. A good education is
the best present any parent can give.
I am so grateful to all of
you for helping me do that!
However, then came the plague. The shopping center was bought
by a landlord who promptly confiscated our parking lot and gave it
to his new hospital next door.
landlord took away our parking lot, many people
were forced to walk a mile to the studio.
hospital was virtually empty at night. As a result, the
parking lot was empty in the same the parking lot we had used for 25
years. Students would stare at the empty spaces in
consternation. They soon discovered if they tried to park in
one of them, the building guard would chase them off or threaten to
have their car towed.
wasn't enough to have my own landlord towing SSQQ cars from our own
parking lot. The
City of Bellaire ordered most of First
Street off limits and started towing cars
from First Street. It felt like we
were literally being run out of town.
We were being choked to death… we were
left gasping for parking spots. In the final years, our
attendance average dropped to around 900.
We paid our bills and
there was nothing left. You talk about stress; that was stress.
Now you know why I was so
bitter towards our landlord. And now you know why I said I would
never run another dance studio.
So when people say, “Gee,
Rick is trying to open another studio,” I look at these people and
think to myself, “Are you out of your mind?”
If I wanted to run a
dance studio, I would have never sold the one I had in the first
Given my broken spirit
two years ago thanks to the landlord problems, when Daryl and Jo
Anne offered to take over the reins at the studio, I was deeply
grateful. Now at least the traditions of SSQQ would come forward to
a new generation of dancers.
To this day, I can’t even
begin to express my appreciation to Daryl and Jo Anne. They have
accomplished a lot in a short time.
For starters, they moved
SSQQ to a new location and made it work. Very impressive!
I also like the way they
have decorated the new studio. Give them time. Considering the
progress they have made, SSQQ on Jester will just keep getting
In conclusion, let it be
known that Encore is not some backdoor attempt to open a new dance
studio. Encore is one afternoon a week. SSQQ is eight days a week
(2 on Sunday).
Rumor Three: Encore
is meant to compete with SSQQ
final rumor suggests
that I am not showing loyalty to the new SSQQ by starting up
Encore. Won’t Encore and SSQQ compete with one another for the
Yes, to some extent this
is true, but let’s put things into perspective.
If I could work at SSQQ,
I would. But it is very awkward. I tried. I worked at SSQQ for
seven months last year, but I was never really comfortable.
Let me see if I can
explain it. You are the Captain of the ship, but the previous
Captain is also on the same ship. Every time the new Captain gives
an order or hands out discipline, the crew looks at the previous Captain for a reaction.
You buy a baseball team,
but the previous owner wants to work in the front office. Every
time the new owner makes a risky decision that doesn’t work out
immediately, the fans and the reporters look to the previous owner
for a reaction.
Or look at it from a
family perspective. You marry a man’s daughter… and Dad comes to
live with you. Now you have your father-in-law looking over your
shoulder the whole time. You discipline the kids… he’s watching.
You have an argument with your wife… he’s watching.
I tried working at SSQQ
and it just didn’t feel right. I left SSQQ voluntarily because I
respect Daryl and Jo Anne too much to put them through that. No
one showed me the door; it was my own choice to leave. Yes, I
regretted resigning, but I understood the dynamics.
As I left for the final time, I was forced to admit to myself that SSQQ was "none of my
Yes, I have mixed
feelings about teaching dance in the same city as my former studio.
However, look at it this way. Houston has two million people.
Houston is also very dance conscious. I firmly believe our
population can support one extra program that meets one day a week.
add that the
appearance of Encore is not meant as a slap against SSQQ.
SSQQ has a marvelous
dance program. Their classes are the best value for the money in
the city. Not only do they offer 8 hours of instruction while other
studios offer 4 hours for the same price, SSQQ offers many parallel
classes for make-ups and extra practice.
SSQQ has the most
comprehensive program in the city. SSQQ teaches everything –
Ballroom, Swing, Salsa, Western. Each program has an excellent
progression of classes. On any given night, you will see a
Beginning class, an Intermediate class, and an Advanced class in
different rooms. This feature allows a student a way to make rapid
progress as a dancer in a very economical way.
Best of all, SSQQ has a
wonderful staff. Most of their instructors have been teaching for
many years and are very experienced at what they do. The SSQQ staff
I did not create
Encore as competition for my former studio.
I created Encore to fill a specific niche. There are
people who miss the spirit of the “The Good Old Days”.
For example, just because
there is a current Texas A&M football team, the players from years
past like to stick together with events of their own. This desire to
see their friends, their coaches and
teammates from another era is no disrespect to the current team.
I am trying to give the
friends I have made over the past thirty years a place to visit once
a week to reconnect on a frequent basis. Encore is nothing
more than a sentimental watering hole for earlier generations of
SSQQ students. This is easy to understand.
Encore will meet
one afternoon a week on Sundays. I don’t see any reason why a
person can’t drop by Encore and see a lot of their friends, then
turn around and take a dance class at SSQQ the same week.
I would be crushed if
someone mistakenly thought they were forced to choose between the
two programs. It is not disloyal to like both places.
In conclusion, although I
am no longer responsible for SSQQ, the studio will always hold a
special place for me. Encore is an
attempt to live those memories again.