'Dancing With the Stars': My Night in the Ballroom
Today's cuppa: pink lemonade Arnold Palmer
Although I've been a fan of the show since the beginning, until last night, I had never been to a broadcast of ABC's "Dancing With the Stars," so I thought I'd share a few observations:
* Yes, the ballroom looks smaller than it does on TV, but not a whole lot smaller. It's constructed either on the same soundstage or adjacent to the soundstage at CBS Television City where NBC's "America's Got Talent" and CBS' "Rock Star" also taped, which is near the studio that is home to "The Price Is Right" (saw several audience members from that lined up as I walked in).
It's an impressive space, with curtained walls lined with twinkling lights, huge crystal chandeliers and swag-draped balconies. The chairs on the risers are the sort you might find at a swanky banquet hall, quite a lot nicer than you normally get at a taping (where the chairs are often more cafeteria than banquet hall). This goes along with the show's request that the audience dress up a bit (no jeans, no matter now nice, no ballcaps, no T-shirts, etc.)
* The line for the ladies' room as the audience loaded in was ridonkulous. In the end, I and a few others "liberated" the men's room. As it had only stalls, it was fine, and the men in there didn't mind a bit. Hint: If you go to "Dancing With the Stars," go to the bathroom before you arrive, especially if you're female.
* As the Monday-night performance show is a truly live show (as is, I assume, the Tuesday results show), instead of a live-to-tape show, it clicks right along, with only the usual commercial breaks.
As with all tapings, there was a warm-up guy. He brought out some folks to dance beforehand and chatted up people in the crowd during the commercials, handing out T-shirts.
At one point he became quite enamored of a lady named Sue up in the balcony across from the judges. Then he moved onto another lady named Kiki, who announced it was her birthday (and later complained that the warm-up guy was cheating on her with Sue in the balcony, even though it was clear that he latched onto Sue first).
Sue said she her favorite dancer was Rick Fox, who got booted last week. That was a godsend for the warm-up guy, who worked that bit all night.
* Yes, I was on camera a couple of times. Yes, once I saw myself sucking a cough drop. Oh, well. I'm just getting over bronchitis, and I suppose it was better than coughing (which I didn't do).
* Unlike some musical tapings I've been to, where the music sounds substantially different on TV than at home, the "DWTS" band sounded just as good live as on air. However, at several points, because of the crowd noise, it was impossible to hear hosts Tom Bergeron and Brooke Burke, and the judges. They have REALLY good mikes.
* The cameras do get in the way of watching the dancing a little bit, but it's not bad, and it's entertaining to observe how the cameramen and their handlers maneuver to keep out of the way.
* One audience member interviewed said he'd been on the list to come for two years, and he and his wife got their email and hustled in from out of state. I only had to drive across town -- they're the REAL fans.
* I didn't see a whole lot of celebs in the audience, but I attribute that to my position in the crowd. I did see Todd, Willow and Piper Palin (but not Sarah), who looked pleased as punch when Bristol came out to do her Argentine tango and "Instant Dance" samba (in an eye-popping orange fringe dress).
Just as proud and vocal was Jennifer Grey's pal, frequent "DWTS" attendee Jamie Lee Curtis . I also read that Grey's dad, actor Joel Grey, was on hand to see his daughter earn three perfect 10s for her "Instant Dance" rumba, but he must have been sitting where I couldn't see him. Kyle Massey's "Instant Dance" jive also scored very high, so I suspect this challenge will return in future seasons.
Grey had to dance to Foreigner's "Waiting for a Girl Like You," a song she didn't know at all. But when asked, the people to the left of me broke out into a pretty fair rendition.
* I seemed to be sitting next to a large contingent of Kyle Massey supporters, and they were doing an impressive job of cheering for their favorite.
As I type, the results show is airing in Eastern time, check back later for an update after it airs on the West Coast.
UPDATE: We bid farewell tonight to former NFL quarterback Kurt Warner, who was a gentleman throughout. He's no Emmitt Smith ... but who is? Thanks for the memories, QB, and rest secure in the knowledge that you're too good to come back on "Dance Center."