It’s semifinals week on season 13 of Dancing With the Stars — and I got to witness the insanity liiiiiiiiiiiiive on Planet Mirrorballus! Perhaps you spotted me — I was the tall Big Bird-like creature behind Ralph Macchio, doing her best to not reveal that she hates the way she looks while clapping due to her giant man-hands! (There are a few intimidating crowd-boosters who strongly encourage you to stand up and clap at all times. I got texts or emails from five different people last night saying something along the lines of “haha you LOVE clapping don’t you?!?!?!?!” — so I guess my wing-flapping wasn’t very convincing.)
The new, three-story set is not as TRON-like as it appears on TV. On TV, and even in the few pictures I took, the blue piping dominates the balconies. But in person, the decorative gold layers are just as prominent. I did get to travel up to the nosebleed section. The view is actually amazing from there (it’s what you see at the top of every episode), and I realized during the show that obviously no one sits in the seats, which are hilariously set back against a wall next to a ladder. This would be a good set for Sparkalien Horror Story, which should probably air right after Bruno’s World midseason. The people up there literally drip from the balconies during the show, and they scream a lot — often at Carson Kressley. But on the ground floor, the set honestly didn’t seem that much different from the last time I was there in May. It didn’t feel claustrophobic with all the new hardware. It looked great!
I sat/stood below and to the right of the skybox in the second row of “the zone,” which on Dancing With the Stars is not a diet (screw that) but the magical set of seats that directly faces the stage and band. I love sitting there because all the final poses are aimed at that big camera in the middle, so it’s like the stars and Our Pros are effecting that final flourish FOR YOU! And millions of others!
“Welcome to my skybox.”
Nearly every crew member and producer came up at some point to warmly greet Rick Fox and Ralph Macchio, who were seated right in front of me. There’s such a camaraderie among everyone who’s ever worked on this show. During the cha cha relay, when Maks sauntered off the floor, he ended up in front of Rick and Ralph and just high-fived them both like an eager puppy for at least five seconds. I think Brooke stopped by too, but it could have been a mirage. At one point, Rick pretended to give Tom a solo standing O as Tom was gearing up for a post-commercial delivery. “I appreciate the sentiment,” he assured Rick. Earlier, he had scolded Rick for not looking aliiiiiiiiiiive during a different commercial break: “There’s no yawning in the ballroom!”
I also kept eyeing the dearly departed Carson Kressley, Nancy Grace, and Tristan MacManus, who seemed to be having a low-key blast to my right. They were so relevant to the current season, they got to sit at a table. I realized I would have such difficulty sitting at a table in the ballroom and fighting the urge to unload my purse onto it every five seconds. I thought Carson would at least let one of his spare boas rest there, or one streamer in every color of the delicious rainbow.
NEXT: I’ll get to the scores right after I play Tom Bergeron’s drinking game