Spotlight Showdown
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Showdown in the Spotlight Lounge

Written by Rick Archer
October 2012

On Saturday, October 20th, at the stroke of Midnight, a bitter confrontation took place at in the Spotlight Lounge on the final night of the trip.

I am sorry to say I was one of the participants.  

This conflict was so intense that it spoiled an otherwise perfect trip for the entire group. 

Despite the rumor on the street, I did not initiate this conflict. 

Out of nowhere, I found myself suddenly caught in the middle of a whirlwind sequence of events. 

I will let these three letters introduce you to the problem and then I will explain what happened.



Sent: Monday, October 22, 2012 4:50 PM

Marla & Rick,

The cruise was wonderful!!  I really enjoyed it!

The trip was really special!!   It felt like being with family!

I was so sorry to see it all come to a crashing halt the last night with that terrible midnight episode!  What a shame.

Will talk later.

Love you!



Sent: Tuesday, October 23, 2012 3:51 PM
Subject: the Spotlight Incident

Yes, I was in the room. It was truly unfortunate.

There was much talk about it that evening and the following day.

People took one side or the other. 

Sorry to break the bad news.



Sent: Wednesday, October 24, 2012 2:08 PM
To: Marla
Subject: that incident

 Hi Marla,

Wanted to let you know that I was on the dance floor when [  ] started yelling "wobble, wobble, wobble!!” 

I didn't hear Rick answer. 

The next thing I heard was {  } and Rick yelling at each other. 

I did hear Rick say, "Did you shove me?!"

I tried to get [soandso] to get some men and go over and stop things, but he wouldn't. 

Then I saw ( ) try, but it seemed Rick didn't want anyone, so I thought the best thing was to leave and hopefully the two of them would resolve things.

I can't believe {  } threatened to ruin your business!!!



Rick Archer’s Note:

There were approximately 50 people present in the room when the confrontation began.

However, till now only Marla and I know my side of the story. 

The events were so confusing that even Marla had no idea what was going on until I explained what I thought happened later that night.

Most people were either sitting down across the floor or still out on the dance floor when the feathers started to fly.  Only a handful of people were close enough to see the argument, but even they had no idea why I was being attacked. 

As one woman told me, the sight was so bizarre that she assumed it had to be a joke.  Surely we were just playing.

However, as the intensity rose, people saw two men arguing vehemently face to face, chest to chest.

At this point, people were shocked at the intensity.

There were no punches thrown, but the words were definitely vicious and loud. 

Since no one had any idea what caused this altercation, people were left with a highly ambiguous situation that was wide open for interpretation. 

In the days since, I have debated whether to say anything or not.  However, now that I have received emails encouraging me to speak up, I have decided to present my side of the story.

Sequence of Events 

  1. No one but Marla and I knew we had a hard Midnight deadline.  We had promised Carnival we would not run the party one minute past Midnight.  In addition, I had a secret agenda.  When I made my evening playlist at 10 pm, I reserved the last song – our Wedding Waltz - for my wife. 
  2. Sometime between 11:45-11:50 pm, the boyfriend asked Marla to play the Wobble.  Marla told him to ask me.
    I was out on the floor dancing at the time.  By the time I finished five minutes later, Marla was involved in a conversation with a guest concerning a sensitive issue.  Preoccupied, she did not tell me about the Wobble request.
  3. At 11:53 pm, a man (not the boyfriend) asked Gary to play the Wobble.  I was nearby, but the man assumed Gary was the DJ, so he asked Gary instead.  Gary said he would relay the message to me and did so.
  4. Why did I not put the song on when Gary asked me to?   The Wobble is a 5½ minute song.  Given the Midnight deadline, to play the song at this point would have forced me to skip the Waltz with my wife.  Sorry to be blunt, but in my mind, everyone had plenty of time to ask earlier.  The honor of the last song goes to Marla, the woman who spent the last ten months putting her heart and soul into organizing this trip despite adversity.  She deserved to know how proud I was of her.  Ordinarily I love taking care of the kids, but in the Midnight Hour it was time to take care of Marla, the woman responsible for putting this trip together.
  5. At 11:56, the girlfriend came over and made a last-minute request for the Wobble.  This was the first time she and I had spoken all night.  Unfortunately, we were out of time, so I said “No Wobble”.  She asked again and I shook my head 'no'.  I felt a real sense of urgency because my wife's song was about to start.  I was about to explain to the girlfriend “why” I could not play her song, but just then my Waltz came on.  What a terrible stroke of bad luck!  Now my plans were ruined. I was deeply frustrated because there was no way I could rescue the dance with my wife. 
  6. I turned away from the girlfriend to turn off the music.  Hearing the song irritated me. Every second I heard the song play ratcheted up my disappointment.  As I took steps to the computer, I snapped “That’s it. We’re done here.”  The meaning of those words should be clear. This was my way of saying there was not enough time for either the Wobble or the Waltz.
  7. In my frustration, I raised my voice when I said "That's it".  I had my back turned to the girlfriendShe apparently interpreted my raised voice as being directed at her.  If so, her conclusion was incorrect.  However, I can understand why she thought otherwise.  By the time I ended the music and turned back around, she had left. 
  8. The girlfriend's rapid departure was a major feature in our failure to communicate.  First, her leaving prevented me from explaining the problem.  Not only was I unable to explain that the Wobble was too long, I was unable to suggest we could dance the Wobble outside the room after Midnight.  In addition, I had no idea she was upset... which meant her boyfriend's upcoming attack would take me completely off guard.  In fact, no one nearby knew she was upset or they would have told me.  There were at least 5 people who witnessed our 'No Wobble' exchange.
  9. A minute later, 30 seconds later, whatever, the boyfriend came barging across the floor.  He shoved me hard without warning. This man insisted I had yelled at his girlfriend.  That’s ridiculous.  I did not yell at his girlfriend.  I was simply frustrated that my Valentine moment had been shattered.  I am sorry she misunderstood what I said.  However, if her boyfriend had not lost his temper, I could have explained my actions to both of them.
  10. When the man shoved me, I stumbled backwardsI was flabbergasted.  I had no idea what he was even mad about.  All I could remember saying was “No Wobble”… and not loudly either.  He proceeded to say I had yelled at his girlfriend and that I had ignored her 15 minute old request to play the music. Considering she had just spoken to me for the first time all evening just a minute or so earlier, I didn't have a clue what he was talking about.  Even if he was correct in both assumptions – which he wasn’t – that still didn’t give him the right to shove me.  Complain, yes.  Ask for an explanation, yes.  Ask for an apology, yes.   But he had no right to push me.
  11. I did not start this fight.  My assailant was responsible for the ensuing fireworks, not me.  He shoved me without provocation.  From that point on, all I did was hold my ground as best I could.  Someone suggested it was not polite to argue with the man.  For the good of the group, I should have backed down to avoid ruining the party.  I disagree. If you think I did something wrong trying to resist a man who had just shoved me without warning and tried to humiliate me in front of my friends and wife, then you can save yourself the trouble and stop reading here.
  12. During the argument, the man threatened to tear me to pieces.
  13. At the conclusion of the argument, the man threatened to hurt my wife's business.



My Agenda

Whenever there are disagreements, there are usually vital pieces of information the opposite sides are unaware of.  I will speak later to what I believe was the agenda of my antagonist, but I will address my own case now.

At 10 pm Saturday night, Marla and I arrived at the Spotlight Lounge to set up our music equipment for a two-hour dance that would end at Midnight.  As Saturday was the final night of our trip, this party would mark the symbolic end of this year’s journey.

There were two very important pieces of information the other party was unaware of.

The Midnight Hour

This Late Night party was expected to end SHARPLY at Midnight.  

We had a firm stopping point because our Carnival liaison had asked us to end the party no later than Midnight.  She wanted to let her clean-up people get some much needed rest before welcoming a new group the following day.  Marla promised we would not run the party over.  

This party was not even listed on Marla’s original social itinerary.  During the week, Marla had developed a rapport with her onboard Carnival liaison, a woman who will remain nameless for her own protection (that’s another story).

As the woman began to trust Marla, she offered to let our group have a special extra dance party on the final night of the trip on one condition – we had to stop at Midnight.  Not 12:15 am, not 12:05 am, but Midnight sharp. 

On Friday, Marla met with this same woman to arrange a special “Walk-Off” for our entire group for Sunday’s Departure.  This kind gesture would allow our group to avoid standing in the endless line to leave the ship.  Not only would this get us off the ship quickly, our entire group could leave at the same time.  This was a definite advantage for the people on the Party Bus.  As a result, we got back to Houston in record time. 

The woman concluded the Friday meeting by reminding Marla to shut it down at Midnight.  Marla promised her that would not be a problem.  Marla gave the woman her word.

This is an important point.  Ordinarily I would stretch any party to meet a last-minute request, but for our Saturday night Spotlight party, my hands were tied by our promise.

Let me add that at Westwind on Tuesday, October 23, 3 days after the Spotlight Showdown, Gary Richardson attempted to explain the Midnight deadline to a group from the cruise trip.

They scoffed at Gary's words.  "Rick can run a party late any time he wants to." 

Back when I ran a dance studio, that was true.  But on the Magic, since the staff had been very touchy about our presence all week long, neither Marla nor I wished to give them any reason to have their last memory of our group be a negative one. 

Despite the cynicism of certain people, this happens to be the truth.


The Wedding Waltz

As a token of my respect for Marla, I wished to share “A Time for Us” at the end of our party. 

Three weeks ago Marla and I celebrated our eighth anniversary.  We were married aboard the Rhapsody cruise ship in 2004.  On board the ship, our first dance was a Waltz to a pretty instrumental version of “A Time for Us” from the 1968 movie Romeo and Juliet.  

Not only would the song serve as a sign of my affection, during the song I intended to tell Marla how much I admired her for all her hard work.  I felt Marla deserved all the credit I could possibly give her.

This was the most difficult trip Marla has ever organized.  You have no idea.  The continued ignorance of Carnival was only the tip of the iceberg.  Only I knew the complete story of what she had to deal with behind the scenes. 

Knowing what I did, I wanted to honor my wife.  This was extremely important to me.



Countdown to Disaster

10:00 pm - 11:30 pm

The Spotlight crowd was small at first.  We started with about a dozen people.  Many people were still packing while others went to a show.   As time progressed, our crowd grew to about 30.  

11:30 pm -11:40 pm

Once the show ended around 11:30, several more people joined us.  Our ranks swelled to 50.  The boyfriend and girlfriend arrived with a group at 11:30. 

Their 11:30 arrival time gave me plenty of time to play their songI would have been happy to cooperate.  Except for the last song, I was prepared to take requests as long as time permitted. 

I took requests all night long.  Usually the requests were of a general nature… “play a West Coast Swing” or “play a Night Club”, etc.  I estimate I added half a dozen requests to my play list as the night progressed. 

For example, at 11:40, a gentleman named Danesh asked for a Salsa.  At first I hesitated.  Our group was thoroughly locked into East Coast and West Coast Swing, Western, and Night Club music.  Our crowd doesn’t dance much Salsa.  To play a Salsa now would likely result in a deserted floor.   My instincts said this would not be in the general interests of the group energy as we wound down the evening. 

Then I had an idea.  Why not play a song that was part East Coast Swing and part Salsa?   “Mambo #5” and “Tequila” are the two best known crossover songs.  With an eye on the clock, I chose “Tequila”, the shorter of the two.  As the playlist still saved on my computer will show, I added “Tequila” to the song lineup at 11:43 pm.  

So I told Danesh to go find his partner and the next song would be his.  Danesh left smiling.  The lady I was chatting with complimented me on my compromise.  I shrugged my shoulders.  I replied that I like to please people whenever possible.  I have added this "Tequila" story to make the point that I accepted requests all night long.  No one was turned away.

Looking back on the evening, I can now see that the Wobble was on the mind of the boyfriend right from the start.  I base this on the odd fact that the boyfriend came over to my area three times right after they entered the room.  All three of his trips took place between 11:30 and 11:40. Each time we made eye contact.

Considering the boyfriend had to cross a very large floor on each occasion, I thought it was curious that he kept coming back. 

On each visit, he spoke with other people.  However, I noticed that he also glanced in my direction each time he visited.  Twice he appeared ready to say something to me, but then he would hesitate and walk away. Then he would come back again. 

In fact, as he approached for the third time, I distinctly pointed out his odd behavior to Marla.  I told Marla he must want something or he wouldn’t keep coming over here.  I now suppose that he was considering whether to ask for the song.  I wish he had.  All he had to do was ask.  I would have gladly played his song. 

11:40 pm – 11:50 pm

There was one important development in this ten minute stretch. 

Just to be clear, I danced the entire ten minutes.  Thanks to the influx of new people at 11:30, there were several women who showed up without partners.  I made it a point to dance with three different ladies in this stretch.  

What I did not know is the seeds for the eventual drama were being sown while I was on the dance floor. 

Sometime around 11:47, the boyfriend came up to Marla. 

The boyfriend said, “I want you to play the Wobble.”

Marla replied, “I am not responsible for the late night dancing music.  You will have to ask Rick.”

He replied, “If you ask Rick to do it, he will do it.”

Marla looked him in the eye.  She said emphatically, “You need to ask Rick yourself.”

Despite Marla's suggestion, he never said a word to me.

Shortly after the boyfriend left, another man approached Marla to tell her about his experience during the trip.  Marla got involved in this new conversation and did not relay the message to me.  Nor should she be expected to.  Her exact words were, "You need to ask Rick yourself". 

“Tequila” ended at 11:47.  Now I asked a different lady to dance a Twostep to “Deep Water”.  When the song was over at 11:50, it was time for the final three songs of the night

11:50 pm – 11:56 pm

At 11:50 pm, I made a special announcement to the group that we were down to our last 3 songs.  I made this announcement for one specific reason – if people still wanted to dance, I wanted them to know this was the home stretch.  

At 11:53 pm, a man (not the boyfriend) asked Gary to play the Wobble.  I was nearby, but the man assumed Gary was the DJ, so he asked Gary instead.  Gary said he would relay the message to me and did so.

Gary relayed the last-minute message to me at 11:54 pm.  Gary pulled me aside and said someone had asked for the Wobble. 

I did some quick math.

At 11:54 pm, the numbers looked like this:

“Ball of Fire” was due to end at 11:54.
“Miracles” would end at 11:57.
“A Time for Us” would end at Midnight.

The Wobble is 5½ minutes long.  "Miracles" is 4 minutes long.  If I substituted the Wobble for “Miracles”, I would also have to cancel “A Time for Us”.  So it boiled down to this - Play the Wobble or play the Waltz.  There wasn’t time for both songs

My Waltz with Marla was a priority.  

Once I made my decision, I told Gary there wasn’t enough time left for the Wobble.

Rick the Negligent DJ

Someone pointed out that if I had done a better job of DJing, this incident would have never occurred.

According to this person's expectations, a DJ is supposed to sit around and wait for requests.  Or, at the very least, the DJ should come back on a regular basis to see if anyone needs him.  I don't have a lot of sympathy for this argument.  No one had any trouble making requests earlier in the evening. 

Our cruise trip had a ratio of 3 women to 2 menI left my DJ post all night long because I made an effort to ask the extra ladies to dance. 

I regret that I wasn't at my post for the emergency Wobble requests, but to imply I was somehow responsible for the failure to receive the Wobble requests in a timely fashion is quite a reach.  Everyone knew exactly where to find me.

Besides, the boyfriend had come to my area on three different occasions and we made eye contact each time.  He could have asked then. 

In retrospect, now that Gary has talked to me and Marla has shared what she knew, I can see the big picture. 

I now realize the boyfriend felt like he had been asking all night long and that I had been deliberately ignoring him. 

So I can understand why he was frustrated.

However, I think he should take some responsibility here.  He failed to ask for the Wobble when I was just sitting there and he waited till I was gone to actually say something.  Then he refused to take Marla's suggestion to ask me directly.

As the Wobble Group noticed their song wasn’t being played, it makes perfect sense they would jump to the conclusion I was deliberately avoiding playing their song.  To their mind, they had been asking for the Wobble all night long. I suppose they began to think I was snubbing them.  This might explain why they had so much energy on the issue. 

Well, the answer here is that I wasn’t snubbing them at all.  You have my word on that.  The first time I ever heard about the Wobble was from a man at 11:53 who wasn't even associated with the Wobble Group. 

Furthermore, the Wobble Group didn't realize I had a time deadline either.  At 11:50 pm when I announced we would be done after three more songs, apparently they didn't take me seriously.

I remember these details fairly well.  I don’t drink when I work.  As a result, I had a pretty clear mind.  It was only when the arguing started that things got fuzzy. 

After Gary mentioned the Wobble request, he and I continued to talk.  "Ball of Fire" ended and “Miracles” began to play at 11:54

I should not have sat down because suddenly I was too tired to dance.  As we spoke, Gary mentioned that a man had just left the party in a huff because I didn’t play any blues music for him to dance to. 

I stared at Gary in complete frustration.  I had played two blues songs earlier in the evening, including "Blues Stew", a song that Gary himself had given me.  If this guy wanted a blues song, why didn’t he just ask for it? 

I was disheartened.  Gary’s statement really upset me.  I try as hard as I can to please everyone. In fact, the very song that was playing as we spoke was a West Coast Swing.  If some man wanted a blues song, I could just as easily have substituted a song of a similar length or shorter. 

Gary didn’t mean anything negative by his statement, but what he said put me in a bad mood nevertheless.  I had just worked for two solid hours and all I had to show for it were people who were unhappy with my performance.  One person had waited too long to ask for the Wobble and another person had left the party angry because I didn’t play a blues song.

I am not a mind reader.  If someone wants a song played, they have to speak up. Everyone thinks they have a perfect right to criticize the DJ, but how am I supposed to succeed without their spoken input?


It was now 11:56 pm.  As Gary and I continued to speak, I noticed the girlfriend was headed across the floor straight towards me.  Based on what Gary had said to me about the Wobble at 11:54, I had a pretty good idea what was behind her mad dash. 

I am not quite sure why she had to wait for the last minute, but again I can only assume that they did not take me seriously when I indicated a Midnight deadline.  Nor did the girlfriend understand that I was committed to my own last song.

Not one single person had mentioned the Wobble to me all night long.  How was I supposed to know it was important?

Only Gary said anything (11:54).  Since he didn't attach any particular significance to the song, I just shrugged and said we didn't have enough time left. 

Like I keep saying, I am not a mind reader.   I did not know what their agenda was.

On the other hand, they aren't mind readers either.  Nor did they did not know what my agenda was.

When I saw the girlfriend approach, a sense of dread came over me.  Uh oh. 

Experience has taught me it is extremely difficult to say 'no' and still keep someone's good will without an extensive explanation.  Tact takes time.  I was almost out of time. At this exact moment, my Waltz was seconds from playing and I still had not asked Marla to dance... she was still busy talking to her friend a few feet away.

There was not enough time left to play the Wobble and my own song too, but how was I supposed to explain everything in a tactful way in 20 seconds or less?  The closer she got, I was worried I was going to lose my Waltz.

This timing was critical.  She could not have possibly picked a worse time.  My only chance to dance the Waltz was to tell her we didn't have time in as few words possible (not easy for me), then go get Marla ASAP.

When the girlfriend arrived, she was full of excitement.  She immediately exclaimed “Wobble Wobble Wobble Wobble Wobble!!”

I could see she really wanted her song played, but we were running out of time.  So I said “No Wobble”.  I am not positive what happened next, but I believe she asked again.  I shook my head 'no'.  At that exact moment, my Waltz began to play.  The sands of time had run out.

I looked at the frown on her face and realized she was upset that I was turning her down.  Then I looked at Marla and realized I would never get my Waltz with her. 

A massive wave of frustration washed over me. This was pathetic.  My plans were ruined and this woman was mad at me.  Damned if I do, damned if I don't.  The hard Midnight deadline left me handcuffed.  Could this moment possibly be any worse?

Did this woman do anything wrong?  Of course not.  I don't blame her one bit. 

It certainly wasn't her fault she had chosen this moment to make her request.  In her mind, this was the last possible chance to get her song played.  In retrospect, now that I know what her agenda was, I would have done the same thing in her place. 

Nevertheless, I was crushed. I had been waiting for this moment all night long to surprise Marla and now the moment was gone.

This was a No-Win situation.  There was no way to save it for her or for me.  What was I supposed to do?  I didn't have time for the Wobble and the unfortunate timing of the request squelched my Waltz. 

I just stood there staring at her lost in my frustration.  Meanwhile the haunting sounds of my Waltz song continued to play throughout the confusion.  I felt the song was mocking me like a Betrayed Kingdom.

Every single note increased my disappointment.  So, yes, I was upset and frustrated.  No doubt about it. 

What a lousy twist of fate!  There was absolutely not one feeling of romance left within me at the moment, just total frustration.  Sensing the utter pointlessness of asking my wife to dance now, I threw in the towel. 

I spun around to reach the computer.  I snapped, “That’s it; we’re done here.”

The party was over.  After I turned the song off, I turned back around to continue the explanation with the girlfriend.

However the woman was gone.

As I watched her head back across the floor, now we were both out of luck.  Neither of us would get our last song.



After the lady departed, I do not know what was said or what happened on the other side of the floor, but it must have been a doozy.  Based on what happened next, I think we can assume that someone took offense. 

On our timeline to disaster, it was now seconds to Midnight.  As I collected the various cords and cables for my computer, I looked up to see the woman’s boyfriend stomping across the floor. 

I groaned.  Can’t we just wrap this trip up without more drama?

Obviously not.

As he approached, the thought that came to my mind was “raging bull”.  

I assumed the boyfriend was mad because I had said ‘no’ to the Wobble.  As it turned out, I was wrong.

He was not there to insist on the Wobble at all. 

He had come to avenge the honor of his slighted girlfriend. 

I stopped what I was doing and stood there awaiting his arrival.  At the time, I had no idea what he was so upset about. 

To my shock, without warning the man came right up me, put both hands on my chest and shoved me hard. 

I was knocked backwards several steps, but I did not fall over.  

I was astonished.  In 35 years since I began teaching dance, no man has ever struck me in anger… until now. 

Stunned, I said, “Did you just put your hands on me?” 

I was really taken off guard.  Mind you, I had no history of animosity with this man.  This was the same man who had worn a Princess tiara to dinner the previous night.  At the time, he had politely invited me to kiss him on the cheek… which I did. 

He was obviously not in a kissing mood tonight. 

I don’t remember his exact words, but he made it clear he was angry because I had yelled at his girlfriend.   He added that I had insulted her.  He had shoved me hard because he was defending her honor. 

I have to admit something.  I had no idea what he was talking about.  The only thing I could remember saying to the woman was “No Wobble”.  I was so shocked by the level of his aggression that I wracked my brains to figure out what I had done to make him this angryWas there something else I said that I had forgotten about? 

It would not be until four days later that someone reminded me of my “That’s it; we're done here” remark.  It is pretty strange to think the fight was based on words that had so little meaning to me that I didn't even remember saying them. However, I did raise my voice when I spoke, so perhaps that was the spark that lit the bonfire.  On the other hand, those words are so innocuous that maybe it was something else. 

All I know is that it is very hard to defend your words when you don't even remember what your words are.

As these thoughts raced through my brain, it took me a moment to react to his attack.  I remember being overwhelmed with shame.  I felt horrible because I felt like I had done something to tarnish my wife’s hard work. 

I was beside myself with regret.  I remember thinking, "How did I ever get myself into this mess?"  All I wanted to do was Waltz, but instead everything had turned into this nasty bile.  No one would ever be able to think of this trip again without remembering this confrontation.

My next thought was to wonder why this man was so darn angry at me. 

Meanwhile my assailant stood there glowering at me.  He was seething with anger.  Whatever his problem was, he wasn't done yet.  He clearly had more things to get off his chest.  Whether I liked it or not, it was either walk away or stand up and meet the challenge.

I chose to stand up to him. 

I addressed him by name and said, “You know, there is a right way to do things and a wrong way to do things.  This is not the right way to handle this matter.”

He replied, “Well, then you tell me what’s the right way.  She asked you nicely 15 minutes ago to play her song.  What’s your problem with that?  And what business do you have yelling at her?  All she wanted was for you to play her song.”

I took one look at the man and realized he didn’t have his facts straight.  In my mind, he was totally wrong on two accounts.

  1. I had never yelled at his woman.
  2. I had spoken to his woman for the first time all night long about 2 minutes ago.

This was ridiculous.  Why was this man arguing with me over things that made no sense??  Or should I say why was he arguing with me about things he didn't know?  What was he basing all this anger on?

I decided he didn't have a clue what he was talking about. 

This man had simply jumped to conclusions and lost his temper.

He could have avoided the entire incident by checking his assumptions with me, but he didn't do that.

Instead, like a bully, he just walked right up to me and shoved me without warning.  I never had a chance to defend myself.

Now that I realized how ignorant he was of the facts, I got pretty hot under the collar.  This guy had shoved me for no good reason.  In my book, that's a cheap shot. 

In addition, he had just ruined my wife’s trip by losing his temper so needlessly.  In this grand display, he had shamed me and embarrassed my wife.  I didn’t appreciate being humiliated in front of my wife and friends one bit, especially since I had done nothing to deserve being treated with this level of contempt.

I was ready to give him a piece of my mind.  I got right up in his face“What the heck is your problem?!?"

He proceeded to say several harsh words to me.

“No one speaks to my woman that way!” 

At this point, some involuntary saliva hit me in the face.  I did a double take.  Then I got right back up against his chest and said, “Did you just spit in my face?”

For the record, he said no; he denied spitting on me.  So I guess we disagree on that one.  In his defense, I don’t think he even realized what he had done.   

However, this intensified my anger.  At this point our faces were four inches apart.  He didn’t like having me in his face, so he pushed me backwards using his chest against my chest.

I held my ground as best I could, but he outweighed me by forty pounds.  I had no choice but to take a step back. 

I guess it was 'Pick on Grandpa Night'

Now he warned me, “Back off, Rick, or you’re going to get hurt!!”

I might be forced to back up, but I wasn’t backing off.  I stayed right in his face and challenged him.  “So do you want to hit me?  Is that what you want to do?  Is this worth fighting over?”

He replied, “You don’t want to fight me.  I’ll tear you to pieces.”

“Oh, really, Mr. Wobble?  Aren’t you the tough guy!”

“Don’t push me, Rick.  I will rip you up.  I don’t like you.  I have never liked you.” 

Strangely enough, that remark broke the tension for me.  For a second, I thought it might be fun to goad him with the memory of our precious kiss last night.  Probably not a good idea.  I may have a big mouth, but I’m not that stupid.

However I do remember having a private smile comparing this tough guy to the man who begged me to kiss him delicately on the cheek

Then I laughed to myself.  Were we really fighting over the Wobble?  Has there ever been a dumber fight than this one??

As we continued to argue face to face, several men tried to come between us.  Although I appreciated their gesture, I motioned for them to let us be.  I was still mad, but I wasn’t actually afraid. 

I had no desire to fight this guy. However, when someone pushes me, I don’t back down.  It's a guy thing. I stood in there because I did not appreciate being bullied, especially over something as stupid as the Wobble and over a woman I had not insulted

Now that I had my private giggle, I calmed down enough to start thinking.  I became curious to know why he had become so belligerent in the first place.  “So what exactly is your problem with me?”

“You are an A….!  And I’m not the only one who thinks that.  Everyone knows it.  You are a complete A…!   I will never go on one of your cruises again.  Never.  That’s it for me.  And I intend to tell every one of my friends not to go either.  I am going to tell them the truth about you.”

“Okay. Got it. Anything else?”

“Yeah.  I expect you to apologize to my girlfriend.”

For the first time I noticed the woman standing a few feet away.  To be honest, I was so lost in this confrontation that I still didn’t have the slightest idea what I had done to offend her. 

However, if I had upset her, I had no problem offering an apology.  She had always treated me warmly; I had no issues with this lady

So I told the lady I was sorry I had upset her.  And I meant it. 

This seemed to mollify her boyfriend somewhat.  We exchanged a few more taunts, but as other men got between us, our 4 minute showdown began to wind down.  At this point he and his girlfriend went back to the other side of the room. 

I packed up my stuff and left. 


In any conflict, it is extremely difficult to accurately recall all the details

Many movies have been made about the unreliability of eyewitness accounts.  Many times people see things out of the corner of their eye, but aren't sure what they saw because they weren't paying attention from the start.

For that matter, in sports, until instant replay came along, frequently it was only the retaliation that was seen and never the thing that started the blowup.  As a result, often the wrong guy got punished with ejection.  

Concerning this confrontation, I was surprised to discover that even people sitting as close as five feet away weren't quite sure what had happened.  Everything developed so quickly we were all caught off guard.

I am going give you three simple examples.


Marla has been deeply upset ever since the confrontation ruined her perfect trip and embarrassed her terribly. 

Given her ringside seat, you would assume that Marla would remember everything perfectly. That is not the case.

Marla will tell you herself she doesn’t remember everything that happened very well at all.  She was engrossed in a serious conversation at the time and did not even begin to pay attention until the shoving began.  The only thing she is certain of is that I did not raise my voice because she would have heard that.  After all, she was sitting just a few feet away. In addition, she did hear our Wedding Waltz begin to play and thought that was kind of strange.  She did not realize at the time that I had planned to surprise her.

However, since Marla did not pay attention to my initial conversation with the girlfriend, she has been trying to piece together as much information as possible from the other witnesses. 

In other words, despite sitting 5 feet away, Marla is still somewhat in a fog. 


It bothers me to admit I don't remember every word that was said.  I suppose my story is at best 95% accurate.

For example, during a phone conversation, one of Marla’s friends said she had heard me say, “That’s it. We’re done here.”

When Marla asked me about it, I was surprised.  I had completely forgotten that part of the incident.  Now it came back to me for the first time since the confrontation.  Good.  I had been bothered because I felt like something was missing; now I knew what it was. 

I am going to tell you something.  Everything happened so fast that it was easy for people to get confused… including me. 


Here is another example of confusion. 



From: Marla
Sent: Wednesday, October 24, 2012 03:47 PM
Subject: Re: the Spotlight Incident

Hi again,

Not to belabor this issue, but what exactly did you see?

{ } claims that Rick yelled at his girlfriend.

I was sitting right there, but didn't hear Rick yell at her.

All I saw was { } race across the room and shove Rick hard and then the fireworks started.



Sent: Wednesday, October 24, 2012 9:36 PM
To: Marla
Subject: Re: the Spotlight Incident 

Rick did not yell.

He did however turn off the music because of her chanting for the wabble.

She then tried to request it again and Rick told her that she did not ask in the right way.

He did not raise his voice but was firm with her.

Too much drama indeed.


When Marla showed me Letter Two, I pointed out to Marla that even though this person was an eyewitness to the event, I raised an eyebrow on three small points.

First, I do not recall the girlfriend asking a second time, but I will take the word of the eyewitness on it.

Second, the eyewitness suggested I turned off the music because of the girlfriend's insistence on having the Wobble played.

Although I am sure it appeared that way, I did not turn off the music for that reason.

I turned the music off to get the music to stop.  That Waltz song was driving me crazy because it increased my sense of disappointment.  That’s why I turned my back on the girlfriend in the first place.  

But I can certainly see why that coincidental action was misinterpreted by several people… including the eyewitness. 

Third, I doubt seriously I told the girlfriend there is a right way and a wrong way.  I remembering saying that phrase, but I am pretty sure I said that to the boyfriend minutes later, not to the girlfriend.  I could be wrong, but I doubt it because I don't recall engaging in any conversation whatsoever with the girlfriend

The reason I point out these inconsistencies is that I have tried to reconstruct the sequence of events to the best of my ability.  However, short of seeing an actual videotape, I confess there is a margin for error here.  It is possible that I have made a mistake or two in my account of what happened.  That said, I doubt seriously I have left out anything of importance.  Gary has read my story; Marla has read my story.  They both corroborate my account. 

So now it is time for a summary.

In the battle of He Said, I Said, as far as I am concerned, it
all boils down to this:

  •  The eyewitness reported that I never yelled at the woman.
  •  Marla reported that I never yelled at the woman.
  •  Gary reported that I never yelled at the woman.
  •  I have given my word that I never yelled at the woman.
  •  Given 4 witnesses speaking to the contrary, I conclude that the boyfriend's claim that I yelled at the girlfriend was erroneous.  Nor is there any evidence that I insulted the girlfriend.
  •  It becomes increasingly obvious this entire event was based on a giant misunderstanding.
  •  If the boyfriend had bothered to ask me for the song AS HE WAS DIRECTED prior to my "Last Song" announcement, this incident would never have even taken place.
  •  During the confrontation, the boyfriend claimed his girlfriend had asked ME for the song 15 minutes earlier.  This is pure malarky.
    I spoke to the girlfriend for the very first time just moments before the confrontation.  The boyfriend had his facts wrong on this count as well.
  •  In situations where there is room for error, the prudent thing is to gather information before striking.  It really helps to have your facts straight ahead of time. The boyfriend exercised poor judgment in pushing me without giving me a chance to explain.  This conflict should have been avoided.
  •  This confrontation was not my fault.   


I have not spoken with either the girlfriend or boyfriend since the Showdown.  No surprise there.  In the absence of their input, I have done the best I can to analyze their mind set based on the information at hand.

What bothers me the most in the aftermath is the total lack of respect shown to me.

This attack was based on a series of misunderstandings and weird timing. 

Misunderstandings are part of life. They are a major part of the human condition.  For that matter, some of Shakespeare's best plays are based on misunderstandings.

I think it is an odd but telling coincidence that the sticking point in the Showdown revolved around a song from Romeo and Juliet.   Although most of us think of the play as a sad love story, the cynics will point out that six people had to die over a 3-day relationship between a thirteen year old girl and a seventeen year old boy due to a series of misunderstandings.  Interesting.

Let's hope no one has to die over the Wobble.  Had I realized we had the makings of a Shakespearean Tragedy brewing here, I would have surely handled things differently. 

For example, I definitely regret not being able to explain to the woman why I had decided to say ‘no’.  And you know what?  Under normal circumstances, I would have explained the problem.  But in this case, I got distracted. 

The moment I said “No Wobble”, “A Time for Us” began to play... Frustrated that I had lost the one moment I had planned for all night long, I got distracted by the music I literally could not talk to her until I got rid of that nagging song.  In the process, I forgot about giving the lady the explanation she deserved. 

This mistake created the communication breakdown.

Once I finished turning off the song, I turned back to her.  But she was gone.  That’s why she never got the explanation she deserved. This prevented me from offering a simple compromise like dancing the Wobble outside.  In addition, her departure prevented me from realizing how upset she was. 

Obviously the woman felt offended.  Why else would her boyfriend attack me? 

Clearly the man had no respect for me.  He was so convinced I was wrong that he never hesitated before pushing me.

Here is what bothers me. I wonder why this man failed to take into account that his girlfriend and I have been friends for several years now.  Didn't any sense of caution cross his mind?  Why on earth would I suddenly begin to insult a woman I like and snub her after three years of friendship?  

His belligerence was curiously out of sync with the facts.  Maybe she secretly dislikes me, but if that's the case, I have never picked up on it.  She has always been gracious to me.

This woman and I have enjoyed a cordial relationship for the past three years.  We first met on a cruise trip in 2009.  Marla and I spent an entire day with her at the beach in Jamaica.  I quickly realized this lady is quite a character. Taking note of her fuzzy drink holders, her fondness for pink, and her colorful dialogue ("This ain't my first rodeo!"), I was definitely taken with her.

We have been friends ever since.

In the years following 2009, this same lady has taken trips with us in 2010, 2011, and now 2012.  Not once has there been even the slightest issue between her and me.  Not one single cross word.

I happen to like this lady a lot. I have enjoyed her ingenuity ever since I met her. That is the complete truth.  She is a friendly, outgoing woman who has spunk, drive, and oodles of talent. 

Most of all, I respect her leadership ability. Not only do I like the way she organizes events for her group, I also admire how she goes out of her way to do nice things for her friends.  Over the years, I have complimented her on several occasions for her thoughtful gestures. 

She and I have shared several events at the Chandelier Ballroom.  She has been to my house to watch cruise trip pictures.  Marla and I were recently invited to a party at her house. Her house contains some of the most tasteful, exquisite decorations I have ever seen... I was impressed and I told her so.  

Interestingly, she asked me to play the Wobble at last year’s “Welcome Aboard Party”.  At that time, I was happy to comply.  I will freely admit it bothers me to think someone in the Wobble Group would conclude I wouldn't play their song out of spite.  That is ridiculous.  I cannot think of one single reason or incident that would support that conclusion.  The history is on my side. 

Another reason I like this woman is that she went to bat for the group with Carnival.  Just days before we left on our trip, she was on Facebook with a Carnival executive trying to get permission for us to do our Late Night dancing.  Although on the surface she was no more successful than Marla had been, I still gave her a lot of credit for trying.  And, who knows, maybe her intervention had something to do with Carnival's eventual "look the other way" trick.

As for the Fateful Showdown Saturday, this lady and I shared two positive moments earlier in the day.

At 6:15 pm, I spent an hour with my friends up on the deck during our Sunset Farewell party.  Harmony prevailed throughout our group as the sun slowly set in the distance.  During this event, I took several photographs of the lady. Let me add that she was smiling.

At 8:15 pm, two hours later, this same lady dropped by my table during dinner to sprinkle decorative confetti on the tablecloth.  I thought it was a nice gesture and thanked her.  This was a simple example of what I mean when I refer to her "thoughtful gestures".

In other words, right up until very the final seconds of the trip, this lady and I got along just fine.    Why would I insult her!?!?!  I had absolutely no reason to be mean to her.  In fact, I was banking on our rapport when I said "No Wobble".  The only way I could rescue my Waltz was to be brief.

I hoped that our friendship would give me enough credit to allow me to be short with her.  Obviously my gamble backfired. 

But I will say this in my defense - I will swear on the Bible that I did not have a bit of anger towards this woman during the Wobble incident.  However ambiguous my actions might seem, I was a victim of circumstance.  There was never any malice intended.

This might help all of you understand why I was so taken aback when I was been accused of insulting her.  I hope she accepts my apology.  In fact, I still like her.  This whole thing was a giant misunderstanding.

The Right Way and the Wrong Way

I remember during the Showdown the boyfriend asked me what the right way would have been to handle this matter. 

Personally, I think the correct way to handle things would have been to point out my alleged mistake first and give me the chance to explain and apologize.  I certainly would have been happy to apologize.  As I have said repeatedly, I never meant any offense to her. Even now, I am still not sure what I did to upset her... or him. 

I am disappointed in this man because after three years of good will, I deserved the benefit the doubt that night.  Why didn't this man ever stop to wonder why I would suddenly turn disrespectful to his girlfriend? 

Instead this guy could have cared less.  He didn't even bother to ask.  He just wanted to bust my chops.

As far as I am concerned, whatever I did to upset him, that surely didn’t give the boyfriend the right to shove me, insult me, curse me, threaten to hurt me, and promise to destroy my wife’s business.  

That's the wrong way.


I would like to address the comment where the boyfriend said he didn’t like me and that many people don’t like me.  I am sure he is right.  Based on the negative attitude of certain people at the Westwind who contradicted Gary Richardson over the Midnight question, there are clearly people who don't like me.

I also think I have my fair share of friends.  That said, I have little doubt they wonder about me sometimes.

For example, I am sure during the Showdown, my friends saw a side to me they are not familiar with.  I was hardly in the mood to "turn the other cheek".  I am no choir boy. If someone pushes me, I push back. 

Once I was mad at this man, I definitely said some harsh things of my own.  But I don't apologize for my behavior.  He had no business embarrassing me in front of my friends.  Whatever I said, he deserved it.

The Wobble incident aside, I regret several mistakes that I made during the trip.  Perhaps it is these mistakes that contributed to the ill will shown me on the final night.

I would like to explain my side of each incident.  Perhaps people will cut me some slack. 

I began the trip under a great deal of stress.  For starters, thanks in large part to the Magic trip that split October in half, enrollment in my dance classes was sporadic.  Then my 16 year old dog died just days before the trip.  I had to put her to sleep, one of the most gruesome things any pet lover ever has to face.  I was so shaken over the loss that I completely spaced out about two important meetings.  I was so upset that I missed appointments two days in a row!  Now I had to turn around and apologize profusely for standing people up.  Those mistakes only served to deepen my depression.   

Adding to my stress was my concern for Marla.  Marla was distraught over her inability to convince Carnival to let us have our Late Night Dancing.  I hated that I was helpless to cheer her up the entire week.  And then came the night where the dog screamed in pain.  After I put the suffering animal to sleep, our mood grew worse. 

On Sunday morning, we both headed for the Magic Party Bus with a heavy sense of dread.  I was very worried that Carnival would make things tough on our group all week long.

Incident One

I was definitely walking wounded that first morning Thanks in large part to the pre-trip tension, I lost my temper immediately.  At the parking lot for the Magic Bus, I loudly slammed my trunk lid and one of my car doors. 

So what was this all about?

You may recall I went through an ordeal on my Russia cruise not long ago.  Not only did I lose my passport, Marla lost some of her luggage.  There were other mishaps as well.  It was all due to being careless and absent-minded. 

Obviously the scars are still with me.  So for this trip I had one major objective – be alert at all times when dealing with luggage.  I wanted to do a better job. 

People question why I bring so much luggage on these dance cruises.  I do it for a reason.  For this trip, I brought two large amplifiers plus a heavy tote bag full of my DJ computer, extension cords, power outlets, dance wax, and other dance supplies.  I brought all this stuff as a way to ensure late night dancing on this trip.  In addition, I also brought a giant jigsaw puzzle board so we could do jigsaw puzzles after dance class.  My point is I bring this extra stuff down for the group, not for me. 

Just as I began to unload everything, I realized I had not counted how many separate items there were.  I had promised myself I would do that because this extra luggage made it hard for me to keep track of everything.

So the moment I parked my car at the Magic Bus parking lot, I began to unload our luggage on the curbI placed every piece of luggage in a specific place side by side so I could count it first. 

My head was in trunk trying to extract a heavy piece.  Without my knowing, several well-meaning men materialized to carry the various pieces of luggage away. 

I looked up from my trunk and saw my luggage being carried by three different men in three different directions.  I flipped out.  The timing was unfortunate because it hit a huge nerve – I had not even had the chance to count how many pieces of luggage I had!

Suddenly 8 pieces of luggage were being scattered who knows where.  Or was it 9?  Or was it 10?  How was I supposed to keep track?   So I got mad at my own helplessness.

Was I mad at someone in particular?  Heck no.  These guys were trying to help!  Did I yell at those men?  Heck no. I was simply upset because I had lost control of the one thing I had vowed to do right on this trip. 

But did these guys know that?  Of course not.  I am sure when I slammed my door, they assumed I was a jerk.  Or perhaps someone concluded I am an A...

Incident Two

The next incident took place in the middle of Marla’s dance class.  I was on the side taking pictures of the dancers.  A woman in our group approached me.  She was obviously very upset.  She said her roommate was miserable because her father had suddenly died back in Texas.  Did I know any way for this poor woman to get off the ship? 

I was immediately concerned and anxious to help.  However, the stress of the situation crept in.  Without realizing it, I raised my voice while explaining the options to this woman.  Marla had no idea what was going on, but she couldn’t teach over my voice.  Marla politely asked me to quiet down. I was instantly embarrassed by my loudness when all I was trying to do was help this woman.

I snapped back to Marla that I was distracted by this tragedy and to go back to her class. That comment didn't sit very well with people.   I immediately regretted what I said.  I was wrong and I knew it.

So of course I apologized to her in private.  For the record, Marla didn’t give my comment a second thought.  She knows I raise my voice when I get upset.  She forgave me on the spot, especially once I explained to her why I was so upset. Neither of us even remembered the incident until one of Marla’s friends reminded her of all the things I had done wrong on the tripI must live under a microscope.  Apparently the Wobble incident magnified every other mistake I made on this tripOh gee, lucky me.

Actually Marla and I got along great the entire trip. Not one single balcony night for me (inside joke). This "loudness mistake" was the only awkward moment between us, but since it took place in public, I got a black eye. 

This incident in Marla’s dance class is ironic because I ended up being upset over the same thing the next day.  On the last day of the trip I barked at a group of six people who were talking at the edge at my dance class.  They were not involved in the class itself, but rather there to wait for luggage tickets.  Their combined voices were so loud I could not even hear myself think, much less speak to my dance class.  My class could not hear me over the noise. 

So I went over to them and said, “Hey guys, can you take it outside?”  They all left.

Did I raise my voice?  Probably.  Could I have been more polite?  Absolutely.  Did I regret being so abrupt?  Absolutely.  These people had no way of knowing how loud they were… just like I had no idea how loud I was in Marla’s class.  A couple of soft words would have worked just as well and not bruised any feelings.

I should have handled this situation much better.  But you know what?  I didn’t do that.  I apologize now to each of those individuals. 

Obviously I raise my voice when I am stressed out.  When it happens, I am usually not even aware of it.  However, I got four first-hand lessons on this trip.  Just like my vow to do better with the passports, now I am busy trying to be more careful about not raising my voice when I get stressed

To err is human. I have my share of Achilles Heels just like the next guy.  But when I recognize my mistakes, I try to apologize, and I always vow to do better the next time a similar situation comes along.  I say life is for learning.  

Please accept my apology for the mistakes I made on this trip.  I promise both to myself and to all of you I will do better next time.



-----Original Message-----
Sent: Thursday, October 25, 2012 10:05 AM
To: Marla
Subject: Extend Peace!

My opinion: here is an opportunity for you to bridge the gap!

I want the bad feelings to end before it takes 7 years to heal.

We have had fights before which divided the Houston dance followers!

We are ordinary people who are successful on our own areas who want to have some fun before the bad years when our health fails!

Marla, all the work you have done with be affected.

No one will take SSQQ away from meI had no life or love before I found it!  

Nip this in the bud.  You have the power!

I completely agree.  Marla's Travel Group is pretty wonderful.

Two years ago, I let my dance studio get away.  It was the right thing to do at the time, but that doesn't stop me from missing it.

Today I certainly don't intend to repeat the same mistake with my wife's Travel Group. 

Let me say again I regret my part in the Wobble drama that ended this trip.

Although I do not feel like I caused the Showdown per se, I understand that I can be controversial at times.  Over the years, I have become a lightning rod of sorts due to my outspoken ways.  I can be aggressive and I do make mistakes.  However, I firmly believe that the easiest way to become a failure is to never take a chance. 

So yes, I do put myself out there and take the risk of being misunderstood and criticized.  In the case of the people at Westwind who suggested I was bending the facts on the Midnight deadline, that's a perfect example of being misunderstood and criticized.

I didn't exactly have smooth sailing on this trip.  Every time I turned around, I felt like the victim of some especially deadly timing...

  •  luggage disappearing at the exact moment when I wasn’t looking.

  •  unconsciously raising my voice when a distraught woman reported a death.

  •  losing my Waltz at the worst possible moment. 

When you add the fact that I was on public display each time I made a mistake, I guess you can see why I am still shaking my head over this trip.  It certainly felt like there was Black Magic shadowing my every move.  As one person pointed out, it was my own fault for calling the trip "The Black Magic Cruise".  They may actually have a point.

But then you already know how superstitious I am

I am humbled by the mistakes I made on this trip.  I knew from the start something was not right with me.  I had a foreboding that something was going to go wrong right from the start.  In a classic case of self-fulfilling prophecies, I am sure my worries contributed directly to my demise.  I am sure when my dark mood passes, I will be myself again.  But in the meantime, I am sorry for my missteps.

As for the man who shoved me, I am ready to move on if he is.  Now that I have had the chance to figure out where he was coming from, at least his actions make a little sense.  Now I am ready to cut him some slack. 

Yes, the man embarrassed me.  However, he didn’t hurt me physically.  As for what he said, well, sticks and stones can break my bones, but words will never hurt me.

If I can ask people to forgive me for my mistakes, I can certainly forgive him for losing his temper. 

Yes, people make mistakes, especially when they are tired. That goes for me, that goes for him, and that goes for the other people who made mistakes on this trip.  For that matter, I can respect any man who wishes to defend his woman’s honor.  Good for him for caring about his girlfriend.  She’s worth it.

I have told the truth in this letter.  That said, there will be people who do not trust me or believe the things I say.  If that’s the case, so be it. 

That said, there is no reason for you to blame my wife.  I ask you to try to separate whatever your opinion is of me from Marla. 

The only thing I have not forgiven the boyfriend for is threatening my wife's business. He has not apologized to Marla.  Shame on him. He has no idea how badly his words hurt her.   

For someone who goes so far out of his way to protect his own woman, I wonder if it has crossed his mind that he attacked a completely innocent woman with his remarks. 

Marla does not deserve to have 10 years of hard work go down the drain over such a silly incident.  She played no part in this event; why take it out on her?

Our 2012 Bahamas trip was incredibly successful on so many levels.  It would be a shame if people decided this strange misunderstanding was important enough to justify leaving Marla's travel group. 

No matter what you think of me, I would hope you would not punish Marla.  Marla has worked far too hard to see everything go up in smoke over an incident that was out of her control.

Thank you for hearing me out.

Rick Archer

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