Dance Histories 
and Other Stories

2Step2.net

 

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The Origins of Country Dancing History of Swing History of Western Swing (Modern 2 Step, Polka, and Waltz) History of Whip and West 
Coast Swing
History of Waltz History of Nite Club Two Step. History of Bachata History of Tango
History of the Hustle History of Salsa Stories:
Betty's Dance History
Stories:
She's Right Over There Watching Us
Stories:
The Plan That Did Not 
Work
  
Stories:
Shut Up - I'm Counting
Stories:
What are We Doing? Falling
Stories:
What Goes Around, Comes Around
Stories:
What a Hoot!
Stories:
If Only They Knew!
Stories:
You Need to Take More 
Lessons 
Stories:

East Meets West

Stories:

Triple What?

Stories:

That Spot is Magic

Stories:

Yogi Berra Explains JAZZ

Stories:

Decisions and Parachutes

Stories:
It Don't Take Good Looks

Stories

Betty's Dance History   <Back>

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 Ballerina”. 
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 as I 
hobbled to the car.  I could not dance for about three months -I missed dancing!

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 fractured my foot a few months before while doing a line dance so I was taking 
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 to 
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 each other 
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 night- 
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 had no 
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!  In 1993 
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 it.  We 
needed a place to practice when we wanted to, to perfect patterns, and teach privates and  also teach 
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.  Stella our 
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 group 
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 their 
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 fact 
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 dance till 
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 dancing!

The Plan That Did Not Work by Louis Whistler   <Back>

I 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.

I thought 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.  

I bolstered 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 started asking.

You know 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.

She's Right Over There Watching Us by Louis Whistler   <Back>

When my wife and were first married.  We were a little insecure about dancing with others.  We first
vowed to dance with only each other. 

That 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 our class."  

That 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 classes." 

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. 

The 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. 

My 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.

On night 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 said, "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 now."

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. 

Shut Up - I'm Counting by Louis Whistler   <Back>

Not 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 that look.

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.

What are We Doing? Falling by Louis Whistler    <Back>

When 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.  

We 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 was seeking 
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 we were 
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?"

I 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 rose 
into my arms.  Fortunately, the song was almost over.  I swept her into a deep dip, and we limped off 
the floor together.  

Our students and friends had been watching us on the sidelines and they erupted into applause.  They 
thought 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 your mistakes 
except you, unless you make a scene and let them know.

What Goes Around, Comes Around by Louis Whistler    <Back>

When 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 
somewhat.

One 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.  

One pattern I tried called for me spinning in close to her.  Unfortunately, I still had not mastered keeping 
my 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 
deeply apologized 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.

My dancing improved over time with practice and I perfected keeping my arms and elbows close to my 
body in a spin.  In fact I often spun so tightly that my partner and I were just inches apart in a blazing 
swirl.

One night many years later, I was dancing with a lady who had recently learned to spin.  She danced 
very well, 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.

We finished the dance, and I escorted her off the floor.  She was not a student of mine and it was not 
my place 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 with a 
partner you do not know.

What a HOOT! by Louis Whistler    <Back>

Several years ago (before Betty and I had the dance studio) I worked for a chemical company.  One 
year, 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 Alabama.  

I was deeply involved in dancing and teaching at the time, and I continued those activities in Alabama.  
On 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 where they 
danced the same patterns around a circle (synchronized).  I started teaching couple dancing and 
gathered a fairly large group around me who took classes from me.  I taught them what I had learned 
here 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.

One 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.  

Ropers 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 
interested. 

Then 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 
applause 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.

Carol 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 know.  

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), 
and 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 
around 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.  
I thought we had done disastrously, but when we left the floor, there was tumultuous applause.  They 
must have been clapping for the other dancers.

About 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 
pair of $275 cowboy boots each.  As we left the floor the last time, Carol turned to me and said, "What. 
A HOOT!"

After 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 
now sit in a decoration outside the door of 2Step2 Dance Studio.

I never did compete professionally.  Betty and I started to, but we quickly came to the conclusion that it 
was 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 their patterns.  
They deserve everything they win.

If They Only Knew! by Louis Whistler    <Back>

Betty 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 and teaching.  

I tell 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.

We 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.

We 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 
demonstrated 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.

We 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.  

It 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.

It 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 out.

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 
disastrous."

That was about 8 p.m.  The contest had been going on since 4 p.m., and the last contestant performed 
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."

Then 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.

I 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.

You Need to Take More Lessons by Louis Whistler    <Back>

I 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. 

We 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 well.

I noticed a young lady standing at the side watching us, and in one break, she came over to me
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.

I 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."

Through 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 several dances.

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.

East Meet West by Louis Whistler    <Back>

In 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. 

We 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 reception.

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.

We 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."

The 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 "UNCOMFORTABLY CLOSE"
when you execute certain patterns.

Triple What?   by Betty Whistler  <Back>

Louis 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.  I 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 town 
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 
the 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 on 
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 
ears 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 and quickly lead 
me out on the floor to teach me this fun looking dance.  He tried to sign the steps to me by holding up 
two fingers.  We tried 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 Big TX. 
Had a great turn out, response was good & so here we are teaching it at  2step 2 Studio.  We will be 
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.  Please pre-register.

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

That Spot is Magic  by Louis Whistler  <Back>

The 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.  

We 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 
practicing 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  would return to the favorite magic spot.  

When I told them that the floor went in all directions and that they could start anywhere, they would 
laugh, move 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. 

I have found that most students over time will break themselves of this habit.  I do find it a curious and 
an amusing trait.

Yogi 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 over."

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 money."

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 that well."

Decisions and Parachutes <Back>

One 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 out."

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 necessary.  

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.

It 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.

One 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.

We 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.

I asked 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.

Later 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."

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