When I was a little girl around the age of 6 I
lived for a while with one of my sisters named Minnie in
Channelview, TX. She
bought me a little record player and a 45 record entitled “Tina the
I would play that record over and over and dance around for hours it
seemed like. My sister could not
afford Ballet or Tap lessons, so I would make up patterns I had seen
in books and on our small black
and white TV. I thought I could really dance! I had a lot
of fun singing “Tina the Ballerina” and dancing
on my toes! I told everyone that my dream was to be a dancer
when I grew up! Well as most little
girls do I started school and got other interests, but I still loved
music and dance! I went skating
occasionally at a rink and did skate dance, but mostly I skated on the
sidewalks at my school across
the street from where we lived. It was so much fun!
When I became a teenager, I would spend
weekends with my nieces that were around my age and
we would attend dances at the TEEN HOP Pasadena, TX. When I
reached 18yrs old I went to live with
my older brother Lee for a while and he and his wife took me to dances
at Gilly’s. He taught me to
slow dance and 2step. That is how I go introduced to country
music. I really did not like the old
crying in your beer type music, but that is what my brother listened
to most of the time! So that is
what I learned to dance to!
I married at age 19 and my husband did not dance
a step. We also had joined a church that did
not approved of dancing. So I was content for19 years, raised 3
kids, helped out in my husbands
business, but I still loved music and would dance around the floor
with my babies. After my children
started school I worked part time and helped at the church.
Things happened and I was divorced
in 1986 and after a while some friends took me to a square dance one
night to meet some friends
and get a social life started. They taught me to square dance- I
caught on fast! Afterwards they
played C&W music and had a mixer dance. I loved that even
better than Square Dancing!! New
country music and dance. WOW! I certainly had to take
lessons and fulfill one of my dreams to
becoming a dancer- not a ballerina, but a dancer never-the-less!
I also had to learn to dance on
the balls of my feet and I found out later that dancing on my toes was
not a good thing for country
dancing- it creates foot problems later-Oh well!
I started dating a man that loved dancing
also and we took many lessons together at “Stella’s Dance
Country” WOW this is great I thought! After we broke up I
continued to dance getting better and
enjoying it even more! Then one night I was doing a line dance and
some lady with high heels
stepped right on the top of my foot and broke it! Man that hurt!
Debbie my friend helped me
hobbled to the car. I could not dance for about three months -I
Louis and I met in1989 while taking a private
dance lesson with “Stella’s Dance Country! The rest is
History! To hear Louis tell it- it was love at first Dance!
I had been dancing about five years before
I met Louis. I had
foot a few months before while doing a line dance so I was
dance classes at” The Lone Star Dance Saloon” in League City that
night doing a private to catch
up with my regular 7th level dance class. Louis
worked shift work and was doing a private catch up
class that night for his regular 5th level 2step
class. Louis had his lesson first and I came in a little
early for my lesson. Before
Louis left Stella our dance instructor introduced us- making a point
tell me that afterwards Louis would be going over to Last Frontier to
practice for a couple of hours.
I discovered later that he did that every night if he was not working. He
loved dancing! So did I -
I went over there to practice also.
He saw me from across the room and he nearly ran over to
where I was standing and ask me to dance.
Louis and I both love to dance country western,
2step, swing, Latin, and Ballroom. We danced that
night for a couple of hours, practicing what we had been taught
earlier that night. We saw
a few days later- out dancing of course.
I think he asked for my phone number, but being cautious-
I got his instead. We
started dating and-seeing each other every day for three months. One
at the same place we had met three months earlier- he proposed to me
in dance class, down on his
knees, with a red rose in front of everyone there - such a romantic!
I had been praying for a man like
this but thought it was too good to be too and certainly too
soon! He convinced me otherwise when
he said he loved me. I was
beginning to fall for him too, but not before I checked him out- he
criminal record, he was honest, hard working, and loved to
dance! What a catch! I
only wanted a
dance partner for a little while, but thankfully ended up with Louis
as my dance partner for life.
In 1989 we had a beautiful wedding at a church in
Alvin with lots of dancing! We have kept up our
dancing to later graduate in all levels of dance. Texas 2step, Polka,
Waltz, Cha Cha, Salsa, Whip,
West Coast Swing, East Coast Swing, Jitterbug, Triple 2step,
Niteclub-2 and Tango. We also
learned several line dances.
Louis and I went dancing which was and still is
most weekends! Louis loved to teach back then on
the sidelines of each night club we went to. He is very good at
breaking down the patterns so anyone
can learn to dance with a little practice. He can tell you what
a hard time he had learning how to
dance to the beat. But
look at him now- he is such a great dancer and a greater teacher!
we started teaching for Stella’s Dance Country.
We both had to learn the leader and follower’s part.
I rebelled at learning the mans part, because guys have a lot more to
learn than ladies do. But I had to
learn this in order to be a teacher- glad I did now- it is fun to lead
Louis even though he follows like
a rock sometimes- I know he enjoys letting me leading now and
then. It teaches us what the other
partner is feeling and thinking. It made us a better dancer as well as
a better instructor!
We taught for Stella 10 yrs and for the new
owners for about one year and we both decided it was
time to go on our own. We
had a two-story garage built in 2001 with a recreation room above
needed a place to practice when we wanted to, to perfect patterns, and
teach privates and also
a few classes in. The past few years we have taught many classes,
privates and held many practice
parties for our students and friends. We also teach for College of the
Mainland in Texas City, and we
are now their main C&W and Swing/Salsa dance instructors. We
also taught for Friendswood high
school community education program in Friendswood Texas for 3
years. We teach 5 days a week
and go out social dancing on the weekend! I have been dancing
now for 25 yrs. We have now been
teaching since 1990 and still loving it!
We have had some real exciting experiences and I
will try to relay a few of them to you.
instructor was always trying to get several of her students to dance
at little demos, promotions etc.
One time we danced for a Chevrolet Co. in a 2stepping automobile
promotion on cobblestone sidewalk
in the summer in Clear Lake Texas, it was rough, but lots of fun.
We won a prize for best 2steppers!
Another time we danced at League City Festival on a raised
stage, three feet off the ground- that was
scary! One other time we
preformed in downtown Houston at the Marriott Hotel for a religious
of Stella’s students. Now
that was super! We danced
a West Coast Swing in costume, under, lights
and in front of cameras with hundreds of people watching!
Our adrenaline kicked in and we had the
crowd roaring! We have danced on sand at the beach, grass at the
park, concrete floors, and wooden
floors with nails sticking out-OUCH!
We demonstrated Swing dancing at I-Hop restaurant on
sticky, tile floor. We
danced to “Deaf Leopard” music that was playing over their
intercom and no-
we were not drunk just high on life and dancing! Everywhere we
go we find a place to dance! We love
sharing our love and knowledge of dance with everyone we meet!
Dancing is such great exercise, it is
not just learning the steps and music it is a perfect combination of,
physical, social interaction and mental
stimulation! Dancing has enhanced our lives in so many
ways: Health, confidence, self expression,
social life, relaxation and fun!
If you can walk you can dance!
We have been asked why we didn’t enter dance
competition. Well it is
too much work, cost lots of
money and Louis and I do not have the time nor competitors fever.
We love to dance for fun,
entertainment and to share our love of dance with everyone.
Since then we have danced a few local,
small time dance contests. Won
a few bucks and a few trophies! We
may even do a Dance Show,
but competition we tired it once and do admire anyone that chooses to
dance competition. In
several of our students have entered that world and are doing very
well! In our spare time we enjoy
doing dances and demos as volunteer work at Wellness Fairs, Assisted
living centers, Community
Centers, Women’s Crisis Centers, Head Start programs and Church
functions. We plan to
we can’t walk anymore and instruct till we can’t speak!
Follow your dream! A Dream without action is just a thought! Keep on
Plan That Did Not Work by Louis Whistler <Back>
was single when I first wanted to learn to dance. The dance
halls were the big craze around the water
fountain where I worked. I eagerly listened to the stories the
guys told and noted a persistent theme.
Nearly all the guys said that the girls stood around the dance floor
in little cliques talking girl talk. Sure -
some of them were there to dance, but most of them got their pleasure
out of shooting a hopeful guy
down when he asked them to dance. They said you would approach
like an eagle, and return like a
broken winged sparrow.
to myself, "Now this is a dance hall. Surely, many of them
are there to dance." I did not know
much about dancing, so I formed a plan. I would go to the
dance hall, and line up three ladies all
looking the other way. Then, I would ask the first for a dance.
If she turned me down, I would head to
the second, and so on. I figured that if I got turned down by
all three, by then the dance would be just
about over. I would pick out three more ladies and try again on
the next dance.
my courage, put on my best duds and headed out to the local dance
hall. I took a deep
breath and put my plan into action. I lined up three ladies and
what? The plan never worked. Time after time, I never got
past the first lady. They ALL
wanted to dance. Those guys were full of bologna.
Right Over There Watching Us by Louis Whistler
my wife and were first married. We were a little insecure about
dancing with others. We first
vowed to dance with only each other.
went out the window as soon as we were in a class. Guess
What? They rotated partners. So, we
said, "OK, we will dance only with each other and the people in
lasted until we started our second class. Guess what? New
people. So, we said, "OK, we will
dance only with each other and the people in all of our
We kept on
taking classes and adding to our dance list until we realized that
what we were doing was
ridiculous. We could not keep track of everyone in our
classes. So, we said, "OK, we'll dance with the
people in our dance club.
club continued to grow until we could not tell who was in the club and
who was not. Besides, our
trust of each other had grown by leaps and bounds, and we realized
that it did not make any difference.
This social dancing was designed to provide for socializing, and with
all the patterns we were doing, we
could not get in rubbing belt buckles.
wife and I took a vow that we would do our level best not to go out
dancing without the other.
However, we trusted each other well enough that we could each dance
with anyone we chose.
after a lot of dancing, I spotted a young lady on the side rail.
I did not recognize her, but that
was OK. I asked her to dance, she smiled and took my hand.
When we got on the floor, I immediately
knew something was wrong. The young lady clung to me like a
leach. I tried one of my patterns that
moved her away, but she quickly returned and clung to me. I
tried another but to no avail. Finally, I
stopped dead in the center of the floor and pried her away so that I
could talk to her.
"I am married." She looked shocked and asked,
"Where is your ring?" I pointed to my
finger that held my glowing wedding band. She asked, "Well,
where is your wife?" I pointed to the
side rail at my cute wife and said, "She is right over there
watching us. You see, we dance with
everyone. We trust each other, and I am not about to spoil that
The young lady
apologized. We finished the dance in proper form, and I
introduced her to my wife. I
saw her dancing several other dances, but when we returned the next
week she did not show up. I
never saw her again.
Up - I'm Counting by Louis Whistler <Back>
long after Betty and I started teaching dance, I was at a practice
party and took the
opportunity to dance with one of my students. She was just a
beginner, so I was leading only
very basic steps. I wanted to make it as interesting experience
as possible for her, so I struck
up a conversation.
Have you ever been to a
party and got into a conversation where you can tell the topic of the
conversation is not a good one. The look on a person's face is a
definite clue that this is not
good or not a topic they are interested in. This lady had
So, I changed the subject and went to
something else. The look - again - bad topic. In fact,
her face stiffened and her lips became a line. The more I
talked, the worse it got. I changed topics
two or three times until finally, through gritted teeth, she said,
"Shut UP. I'm counting."
I smiled and
began counting for her. She started to relax, and shortly her
face was beaming with
a bright smile. At one point I told her, "You can count out
loud also. It will look just like we are
having a conversation." We started counting out loud
together. Sometimes she would count, and
sometimes I would count. When we left the floor, she was as
proud as she could be.
This lady was one of the many
hundreds of students Betty and I have had. I don't even remember
her name. But, somewhere out there a good dancer got her start
by counting out loud.
are We Doing? Falling by Louis Whistler
Betty and I first met, she was returning from a convalescence of a
broken foot. She had been in
a line dance, and a lady with spiked heels stepped directly on her instep
breaking her foot. Betty was
away from the dance scene for about three months while her foot healed. When
she came back, she
walked perfectly, but she
favored that foot on spins.
met in passing - she was going to a private and I was leaving
one. We were married within three
months and we have remained happily married for fourteen years. For
many years after we started
dancing together, she had a very strong resistance in our dance connection, because she
support for her still mending foot. I had to physically support her more than I
normally would in a
pattern - but that was ok. I loved it.
She and I had taken
West Coast Swing classes and had advanced fairly far. One night
showing off on dance floor performing an intricate spiral. We sank lower and
lower. Through clenched
teeth, but still smiling
broadly, she looked up at me and asked, "What are we doing?"
had lost my balance, I could no longer support our combined weight,
and we were slowly sinking to
the floor. I smiled back at her and said, "We are falling," upon which
we collapsed in a heap upon the
floor. I immediately
leaped to my feet, and took a stance as if in presentation of her on
the floor. She
continued to smile, curled her
legs under her, held her hand out for my assistance, and gracefully
into my arms. Fortunately, the song was
almost over. I swept her into a deep dip, and we limped off
students and friends had been watching us on the sidelines and they erupted
into applause. They
that was a fantastically planned ending. They never knew that we
had just turned a total disaster
into an elegant and unique ending. We probably could not have repeated it if we
had wanted to.
The moral of this
is to keep on dancing, even if you make mistakes. No one knows
unless you make a scene and let them know.
Goes Around, Comes Around by Louis Whistler
I was first learning to dance, I worked very hard at it. There
were a lot of new motor
co ordinations I had
to master. One of these was spinning. The balance required
and the muscles I had
to use for spinning were foreign to me. However, I persisted and I felt sure I had
mastered the art
night I had the opportunity to dance with Nina, one of the best
dancers in the place. She was a
slender figure with perfect balance, lightning follow, and she spun like a
top. We got onto the floor, and I
put on my best performance.
pattern I tried called for me spinning in close to her.
Unfortunately, I still had not mastered keeping
elbows tucked in tight and I accidentally clipped her in the cheek
with my spinning elbow. She lost
all her composure and stood dazed on the floor for a moment. She said
she saw stars. Of course I
and escorted her off the floor. She accepted my apology, but she
declined to dance
with me for almost a year
and a half after that.
improved over time with practice and I perfected keeping my arms and
elbows close to my
in a spin. In fact I often spun so tightly that my partner and I
were just inches apart in a blazing
night many years later, I was dancing with a lady who had recently
learned to spin. She danced
and I let my guard down. I led her into a spin, her elbows came
out, and she clipped me in
the mouth. I don't
think she ever knew that my lip was busted on the inside. I
don't even think she
knew she hit me.
finished the dance, and I escorted her off the floor. She was
not a student of mine and it was not
to correct her, so I did not. However, it gave me a new
appreciation for caution. Betty and I
do our best to make
sure our students know how to spin properly, and we preach caution
partner you do not know.
a HOOT! by Louis Whistler
years ago (before Betty and I had the dance studio) I worked for a
chemical company. One
I was assigned an extended duty of working in Decatur, Alabama
starting up a new chemical plant.
Betty remained in the Houston area and we commuted to see each other about
once every two weeks.
One time I
would fly to Houston, and the next she would fly to
I was deeply
involved in dancing and teaching at the time, and I continued those
activities in Alabama.
my time off from work, I was either teaching dance or taking lessons
at Ropers in Huntsville,
Alabama. At the
time, they did a tremendous amount of line dances and partner dances
danced the same patterns around a circle (synchronized). I started teaching couple
gathered a fairly large group around me
who took classes from me. I taught them what I had learned
in the Houston area.
When I was
not teaching, I was taking lessons from a couple of national
competitors who taught me
quiet a bit of excellent material.
day at Ropers, I was dancing with and instructing a young lady named
Carol. She was steady
dating another of my students, and I danced with her regularly.
had been running a contest and for several weeks had been conducting
preliminaries. They still
needed one more couple for the final and they broadcast it
regularly. I paid it no mind - I was not
I heard them broadcast that everyone on the dance floor was in the
contest - whatever. Carol and
I continued to dance and I continued to instruct. When the song
was over, there was considerable
and as Carol and I exited the floor, they announced that we had
won. We each got a t-shirt
and they said we
were entered in the finals that would be about three weeks away.
and I discussed it and decided we would make an effort even though she
knew few patterns. I
would choreograph the dance and teach her what she needed to
We only got to
practice a couple of times during that period, (either she or I was
alternately busy) but it
turned out fairly well. We decided on a costume - she would wear
all red (because she had a red dress),
I would wear all white. I had a tan hat that I spray painted
white - I had an old pair of brown boots
that I polished white, and I bought a white belt. Just to tie the two
costumes together, I tied a red ribbon
the crown of my hat.
When the day
of the contest arrived, we changed into our costumes and went to the
dance floor along
with three other couples in our heat. We started the dance, but made
one mistake after another. I forgot
the sequence of patterns we had practiced, and finally just winged
it. Carol did her best to look elegant.
we had done disastrously, but when we left the floor, there was
tumultuous applause. They
must have been clapping for the other dancers.
30 minutes later, they called all the dancers onto the floor, and
after going through a sequence of
naming third and second place, they announced that Carol and I had
taken first place. The prize was a
of $275 cowboy boots each. As we left the floor the last time,
Carol turned to me and said, "What.
my stint in Alabama was finished, I returned to Houston. I never
saw Carol again, although I have
since seen several others of my students and they say Carol is doing
fine and still dancing. I wore the
boots I won completely out, and had them re-soled three times. They
finally gave up the ghost and they
in a decoration outside the door of 2Step2 Dance Studio.
never did compete professionally. Betty and I started to, but we
quickly came to the conclusion that it
more expensive than we desired to bear. To us, when we prepared
to compete, it was no longer
fun - it became
work - a lot of work. We chose not to follow that path.
However, the HOOT incident
gave me a new
appreciation for competitors. They put a lot of work into what
you see as effortless.
And believe me, there
is a certain measure of raw terror on the dance floor when they do
They deserve everything
They Only Knew! by Louis Whistler
and I decided a long time ago in our relationship that we would not do
competition dancing. We
bickered a lot, it was a lot of work, we did not like to criticize
each other, it was expensive, and it was
no longer fun. We concentrated instead on dancing for enjoyment
you this, because you need to know that it did not come easy when
Betty decided to enter us in
the Galveston County Fair talent contest this year. Reluctantly,
I agreed. However, we decided that
we would not practice a routine, but "wing it" and have
several things we wanted to do - Betty
suggested some, and I suggested others.
decided on a costume. Betty wore a lacy turquoise outfit, and I
wore solid black. I have worn hats
in the past, but I have gotten away from that because of the
heat. For, this dance I reluctantly agreed
to wear a hat and do some hat tricks. I also wore a long sleeve
black shirt, and it was hot.
met with Mike Coleman and Monica Holmes (who were also competing as
swing dancers) before the
contest and we migrated to a cool place to look at an art
exhibition. Betty and I explained and
what we were going to do including a fancy grapevine beginning and a
deep angel dip
at the end where
I would rest Betty (almost prone) on my knee and throw my arms into
the air in a
victory "V". The middle was entirely open. Mike and Monica liked it.
offered them suggestions of what they could do in their dance with one
thing being the guy
fluffing the lady's skirt as she free spun.
came near time for our entry, so we migrated to the competition
area. We were listed as
competing second on the list in our division. We chose the
concrete floor below the stage
where we would perform, because there was carpet on the stage and I
did not want to lose Betty
over the edge if she tripped.
came our time, and Betty and I pranced onto the floor. The
music started and we executed a perfect
grapevine lunge. We began spins and turns, and then everything
started to go wrong. We had not
danced for a long time with me wearing a hat, and the motor memory did
not kick in. Betty almost
knocked my hat off twice - one time she held the hat in place over my
face with her arm until I could get
my hand up there. The button on the sleeve of my long sleeve
shirt caught in Betty's hair, but she just
swept her arm over her head in a hair brush movement and ripped the hair
I did my hat trick, but I
lost the grip on my hat and ended doing a shaky simple version.
At one point,
as Betty did a free spin, the incident about fluffing the lady's skirt
came to me, so I fluffed
her skirt. Then, came the break at the ending where I was
supposed to deep dip Betty. I got off balance
and almost fell, but I caught myself and lowered her onto my knee with
unstable footing. Betty felt my
frailty and steadied the two of us with her hand on my backside.
I did not feel comfortable about
leaving her there for the victory "V", so I just held her
instead. The music ended, and I spun her in
presentation. We walked off the floor amid the clapping and I
said aloud to Betty, "That was
That was about
8 p.m. The contest had been going on since 4 p.m., and the last
at past 10 p.m. Betty and I watched entry after entry of high
grade entertainment. Some of the singers
were of professional quality in our opinion. I thought to
myself, "There is no way we will even place
in this event. These people are GOOD."
came the presentations. A yodeling singer took third
place. I figured, that was it. Then, they
called Betty and Louis Whistler for second place. Betty screamed
and started jumping up and down.
She continued to bounce as we came out on the floor for the trophy and
the cash reward.
A guitar playing
singer took first place. Betty and I were all smiles as they
took our picture, and the
glow stayed with us a long times afterward. They trophy now sits
in a window in the studio, and a
picture of it is on the web.
guess you never can tell. If you make the effort and do your
best, have fun, and dance as if no one
is watching (except the judges), things just might turn out your way.
Need to Take More Lessons by Louis Whistler
began learning to dance at Stella's Dance Country here in the
Galveston Bay Area. I joined the club,
took lessons regularly, and attended as many of the outings as I
could. One of the outings was to
the famous Eddie's Ballroom located near Pearland.
had a fairly large group, and we reserved a number of tables so we
could all sit together. It was a
whirlwind with us dancing one dance after another with an endless
string of partners. At the time,
I was only in third level, but I practiced a lot and I did my patterns
I noticed a young lady
standing at the side watching us, and in one break, she came over to
and asked who we were. I explained that we belonged to a dance
club, we took dance lessons from a
club instructor, we went out on dance outings, and we danced with many
different partners. She was
impressed and asked if I would dance with her.
don't know where she learned to dance, but nothing I did with her
worked. We could not even keep
the same footwork. We stumbled and struggled around the floor
until thankfully the song was over.
On the middle of the floor, she turned to me and said, "Let me
give you some friendly advice. You
need to go take some more dance lessons."
gritted teeth, I gave her my best smile. "Thanks. I
appreciate that. Let me take you BACK
to your table." I escorted her off the floor and returned
to my group feeling thoroughly lashed. I
immediately took up another dancer from my group and flawlessly danced
I never saw the
stumble lady again. I am sure in her own group she danced
well. Perhaps she danced a
different kind of dance and in my inexperience I did not recognize
that. However, I have never had
trouble like that since. It just goes to show - different
strokes for different folks.
Meet West by Louis Whistler
the course of our dance instruction, I sometimes use a story to
illustrate an important point. One
problem we often have in dancing (especially Swing) is that when two
partners pass close to each
other, they often make a sub-conscious effort to increase that
distance, and they often end too far
from each other to complete an elegant pattern.
tell our students that they are following their envelope of
comfort. We point out that the
envelope of comfort in the Western world is about
14-16". When people get inside that distance,
you feel uneasy. We demonstrate this by having people walk
toward each other. It even works
with couples provided they do not open their arms in a gesture of
We tell them that the
envelope of comfort is different in different societies. For
example, in India, it is
about 6-9". We often tell the story of a gentleman who went
to India and was waiting in a train
station sitting on a bench. Soon the local travelers began to
arrive and seats started to fill. When the
space between the gentleman and the next passenger was down to just a
few inches, someone
promptly squeezed in and sat down. The gentleman moved
over. The next person did
the same thing and the gentleman kept edging to the end of the
bench. Finally, in disgust, the
gentleman got up and left the station.
tell our students that the gentleman was thinking, "what
rude" people these were. However,
the people on the bench were thinking, "what a nice man that was
to give us his seat."
point of all this is to alert dancers that there is an envelope of
comfort. If you want to be
in the proper place when you are facing your partner, you should be
when you execute certain patterns.
What? by Betty Whistler
and I went on a weekend get-a -way in May, 2004 to Austin to visit my
daughter for her
30th birthday and celebrate Mothers day at the same time. We had a
nice bar-b-q in Zilker Park,
went cannoning and as the evening was fast approaching we had to
decide where to go dancing.
We always check out a new place to dance whenever we go out of town.
made a few phone calls
to a couple of places. The one right down the street from our
Hotel was having a band and a high
cover charge so being the dancers that we are, we decided to go to the other club across
named "Dallas Night Club" (in Austin?) Oh well!
They were having a free dance class and
since we were a little late we decided to sit &
watch for a while. A man and lady were teaching a new dance. I
tried to figure it out and dance it on
side lines but could not get it. Was it a Polka? No, maybe a Dallas
two step? I even asked Louis
to watch and see if he could learn it. No luck either. I noticed the
black man that was instructing was
having a little difficultly teaching it to several of the ladies, and he looked a little frustrated
at times but
kept on teaching. He would point with his hands then dance with them a few rounds. He was right
beat having a great time, smiling
and such. I thought nothing about it. This was definitely
a new dance
that I just had to learn tonight because
tomorrow we go back home.
After the class ended I went over to
the man, taped him on his shoulder. He turned around quickly,
looked surprised and startled. I asked him
what was that dance and would he be so kind as to show
me and dance with me. He made some signs with his hands and tried to speak instead pointed to his
instead. He was Deaf!
He quickly called his dance partner over
and motioned to her to
tell me he was deaf. I repeated to her
what I had just asked him . She explained his being deaf and that he danced to the
beat by feeling the
vibrations through the speakers and the floor. She then described the dance steps to
me, but being the
tactile learning person that I am, I had to get out there and do it! He smiled, said sure
me out on the floor to teach me this fun looking dance. He tried to sign the steps to me by holding up
it but I still could not get it. He then stepped
in front of me, demonstrated the steps.
I danced behind him and told
him by motioning thumbs up I think I got it!
He seemed honored. So off
we went. We danced around the floor doing Triple
2-Step. He taught me the basics. It was a blast!
I noticed Louis waiting patiently on the side for me to return. I
returned to him, told him what
had just happened and taught him the basics too. He loved it!
On the way home
we discussed learning more and teaching this dance at home.
While we were learning
this new dance. Texas Classics was
about to begin at the end of May and they would be teaching - you
guessed it Triple 2-Step in workshops. We attended,
loved it, practiced some more, bought videos,
and attended classes. We held two workshops ourselves - one at 2stp2 Studio
and the other at
Had a great turn out, response was good & so here we are teaching it at 2step 2 Studio.
offering another first level Triple 2 Step in Aug and
continuing higher levels. We have enough material
for a minimum
of four levels and possibly as much as eight to
twelve levels. If you want to learn this fun,
new dance come join us.
There are nice dancers everywhere and if you ask them, they may just
teach you a new dance or two.
Remember, Keep On Dancing! Whatever the dance is! Thanks, Betty
Spot is Magic by Louis Whistler
background for this story begins many years ago when I was in college
taking a class in educational
psychology. I got in with a group of my fellow students and we
decided to do a psychology experiment
on our own. We regularly attended a laboratory session several
times per week that was taught by a
young lady graduate teaching assistant. We students decided that we
were going to see if we could
influence her behavior. I don't know who came up with the idea, but we decided
to see if we could
cause the teacher to
teach from a precise spot on the podium.
picked out a spot. Then when the teacher taught from that spot,
we gave her rapt attention.
Otherwise, we generally cut up and paid no attention to her. It was not
long before that spot is the
only place she would teach from.
I recalled that
incident recently as I watched several private students we were
teaching. As they begin
their footwork they usually start in a particular spot on the
floor. Sometimes they got the
footwork right and sometimes
they got it wrong. Subconsciously, they must have come to the
conclusion that if they started from a
particular spot, they would get it right each time. They danced
around the floor, and if they made a mistake, they
to the favorite magic spot.
I told them that the floor went in all directions and that they could
start anywhere, they would
to another location and start. However, over the course of the
hour, I found that as often
as not, they would
return to their magic spot.
have found that most students over time will break themselves of this
habit. I do find it a curious and
Berra Explains JAZZ <Back>
Master trombonist Max Lyon shares this with us about
Yogi Berra, that Lord of Linguistic Looseness.
In case you don't know, Yogi was an All-Star catcher for numerous NY
Yankee World Championship Teams.
He is credited with coining the phrase "It ain't over till it's
You may have seen him in the barber chair in recent AFLAC Insurance
commercials sharing such word
wizardry as "They pay you cash, which is almost as good as
Interviewer: "What do you expect is in
store for the future of jazz guitar?"
Yogi: "I'm thinkin' there'll be a group of guys who've never met
talkin' about it all the time.."
Interviewer: Can you explain jazz?
Yogi: "I can't, but I will. 90% of all jazz is half
improvisation. The other half is the part people play while
others are playing something they never played with anyone who played
that part. So if you play the
wrong part, it's right. If you play the right part, it might be
right if you play it wrong enough. But if you
play it too right, it's wrong."
Interviewer: "I don't understand."
Yogi: "Anyone who understands jazz knows that you can't
understand it. It's too complicated. That's
what's so simple about it."
Interviewer: "Do you understand it?"
Yogi: "No. That's why I can explain it. If I understood it,
I wouldn't know anything about it."
Interviewer: "Are there any great jazz players alive today?"
Yogi: "No. All the great jazz players alive today are dead.
Except for the ones that are still alive. But
so many of them are dead, that the ones that are still alive are dying
to be like the ones that are dead.
Some would kill for it."
Interviewer: "What is syncopation?"
Yogi: "That's when the note that you should hear now happens
either before or after you hear it. In
jazz, you don't hear notes when they happen because that would be some
other type of music. Other
types of music can be jazz, but only if they're the same as something
different from those other kinds."
Interviewer: "Now I really don't understand."
Yogi: "I haven't taught you enough for you to not understand jazz
thing I learned a long time ago is that nothing goes as planned.
During the course of years that
Betty and I have been teaching, in the realization of that maxim, we
began to teach our students what
we called "parachutes." Either from analyzing a
pattern or from experience, we tried to decide what
might go wrong as a pattern develops and what we might be able to do
about it. The ideal was to be
able to complete the pattern (or some pattern) to a stable position
such that no one except the dancers
knew that the pattern attempted had fallen apart.
We also developed universal parachutes for the cases when things went
wrong and we did not have
a prepared plan of escape. An example of this is that if a lady
sees trouble or does not know what to
do next, she should continue to spin until she can recognize clear
direction from her partner. Betty
developed a catch phrase to describe it, "When in doubt, spin it
Recently, when we were practicing for our competition at the Brazoria
Count Fair, we had several
difficult patterns in our routine. One of those patterns was a
left throw out where I was supposed
to spin past Betty as she was spinning. When we were at the
tryouts, we performed on a stage.
When it came time for the left throw out pattern, we just happened to
be at the front of the stage
passing from stage left to stage right. Betty was spinning
within two feet of the edge, and I had a
razor thin space in which to spin by her. I made the decision to
go for it, because I had pretty good
balance. However, I was prepared to stop on a dime if
It worked perfectly as I spun by her inches from the edge. There
was an audible gasp in the crowd,
but we had their attention. We placed in the contest.
When we practiced for the final competition, our ending was to
complete a deep dip with Betty prone
across my knee. My part was to release her as if she were
suspended in mid-air and stretch my arms
out in a line parallel to her body.
While practicing, I suggested that instead of stretching my arms out,
I should do a complex hat trick.
We both knew the potential for disaster, so we practiced both
endings. This paid off in the competition.
When we came near the end of the song, I could see that if we went
into the deep dip according to
music, we would be facing the wrong direction and would have the
judges and audience at our back.
At the last moment, I spun Betty around and dipped her facing the
judges. The consequence was
that we were unstable. In a flash, I made the decision to go
with the original ending.
We were disappointed that we could not just "blow their doors
off", but it turned out well anyway.
We took FIRST place.
The moral of all this is that you should prepare regularly for the
un-expected. The un-expected
happens ALL THE TIME.
Don't Take Good Looks
2005 was fairly rough for me. In December of
that year we
discovered I had a skin cancer
under my right eye, and after four surgeries, we got the cancer, but I
looked pretty banged up.
Betty had broken her foot while teaching, and we were among the
walking wounded. I was hungry to
dance again, but the most Betty and I could do was a few slow dances.
night in May 2005, Betty, I, and a group of our friends and students took a weekend
trip to dance at
Shenanigans in Huntsville, Texas. Some of us reserved rooms on Friday night and
some came up for the day.
We got together to eat dinner and then went out to the club to dance.
had not been inside the club for more than 20 minutes when a young
lady came up to us and asked
us about our dancing. She was previously a competitor dancer and
had been at the Texas Classics the
same time that Betty and I had been there. She said that she had been
out of competition for a while
but wanted to get back into it real bad.
her if she would like to dance, and shortly we were on the floor
spinning and whirling. She paid
no attention to my banged up face. I danced several dances with her
and she hooted in joy at the end
of one because she was dancing again.
Barton Mc Guffin pulled me to the side and said, "No offense,
Louis, but you are the ugliest man in
here with your banged up face, but you can sure dance! That just goes to show you, it
don't matter if a man is
ugly or not. If he can dance, before long, he will be dancing all night long."