A Fantastic Night in Tacoma – by @donamadrina
Hurry up and wait! That was the theme for the first half of my night on February 6, 2013 at the Multi-Care “Do Something Healthy” conference in Tacoma, Washington. But, hey, I was up for anything to have the chance to see my favorite pro, Derek Hough, up close and personal. I’ve seen Derek a couple of times before on tour, but I’ve always secretly wanted to actually meet him and to talk to him. I say secretly, because I don’t think until it happened that I realized just how much I had wanted to. After almost 6 years of following this man’s career, I finally got to talk to the only celebrity I have ever followed, ever cared about, or who has ever interested me in the least. “Talent” always impresses me, ………and that’s what this man has in droves. And it doesn’t hurt that he’s quite handsome and sexy too. Even though I like to pretend I’m his ‘godmother’, I felt anything but that this night. Instead, I felt like a giddy schoolgirl (and it’s been years and years since I’ve attended school. LOL)
Tacoma is a town not too far from where I live outside Seattle, only about 40 minutes. Since it’s still a bit of a jaunt, I booked myself a hotel. I also made arrangements with the program coordinator, Trixi Dorn, to be able to photograph Derek. To those who have asked, I did ask about meeting with him personally for a photo opportunity before the event, but I was told that his schedule was really tight, and that there was no backstage passes, no interviews, and no autographs. Boo! I’d have to make due with just photographing him from afar. (I saw later though that a local TV station got “my” interview time with him. Haha, I wish.)
I arrived at the Tacoma Convention and Trade Center, which was only a half a block away from my hotel, at 5:00pm. And I waited………….outside. A guard told those of us who were waiting that the doors would open at 5:30. We waited patiently, and then not so patiently…in the cold. We couldn’t understand why those who had found access to other entrances were allowed inside, but we had to wait outside. This wait thing became a bit old even after they let us in, because then we had to wait in another line to get our tickets, and then in another line for the entry ropes to be taken down. While waiting in this line, many of us took the opportunity to take photos with the cardboard cut out of Derek, the promo picture of him from season 10. The entry ropes were finally taken down, only to find out that we had to wait in yet another line outside the ballroom where Derek would be. Even after being inside…….you guessed it, we waited again………this time for Derek.
That wait by the ballroom doors, by the way, was intense….Crowds of people all waiting at the doorway in a not so orderly fashion…..and after a while it got hot, I mean like really hot. I almost felt like I was going to faint from the body heat of this SOLD OUT event of about 1,000 people who were more or less impatiently waiting to get inside. Since the seats were first come, first served, practically no one was interested in the vendor booths that had been set up. Most people wanted to see Derek, and that was that, and so with no assigned seating, people were impatient to claim their space. Some people were even rude enough to just walk up to the front of the lines, and stand there as if they had been there all along. That chutzpah was amazing!
I made conversation with a lot of very nice people while waiting in line, and people shared their favorite Derek and/or Julianne moments. It was obvious that they don’t come to PDH to keep up on Derek, because what they recited about his doings was such old news. I just listened however, and smiled. I did talk up the PDH website, however, with quite a few people……and they actually asked me to write down the address for them. Yay! But…..I digress.
At about 6:50pm for a 7:00 event, the doors finally opened to the ballroom, and expectedly, there was a mad rush for seats. I was soooooo happy that I didn’t have to rush, because of my reserved seat. I couldn’t have been more thrilled when I went up front and saw the sign with my name on it. I swear that seat had to be the most perfect place to sit in the whole place for a direct view of Derek. (Trixi, you done good.). The show started right away with some information about being healthy. Oh yeah, I forgot. That was the purpose of the seminar, wasn’t it? Then some dancers came on stage and did some rather unimpressive looking Samoan and Hawaiian dances. I was hoping it would get better. Fortunately, it did.
The “real” show that everyone came to see finally began. There was going to be a dance contest with 3 groups of teens ages 14-18, but first there was the introduction of the judges. There was a dance instructor who did Dance Fever, named Jean Milano, and a costume designer by the name of Kent Roberts, and then there was…. Derek. Before he came out though, a video was shown of him and Shawn doing their Jive. (Later, in the evening, they also showed his infamous Quickstep with Shawn. It was so much fun for me to watch Derek watching himself on screen. He seemed to be getting a kick out of seeing himself. Loved his expressions.)
Derek was dressed casually, very casually, with a horizontally striped tee and his leather jacket (which he later removed), faded jeans, and white sneakers. He looked so strikingly handsome, in fact, that he looked almost too perfect. I mean, really, his face was so perfect looking that it almost seemed like a wax image of himself. I couldn’t get over that face! Everyone always says how thin he looks in person too. While definitely a slender guy, he looked pretty much like he looks on TV to me, though possibly a wee bit shorter than I had thought. At one point, later in the evening, he passed by me by inches, and I was taken at how he’d make the perfect sized dance partner for me. He wasn’t too tall for me at all, and I’m only 5 feet. At any rate, as everyone says who meets him, he is more handsome in person than on TV. One senior citizen said to me, “He’s sure a cutie, isn’t he?” Yep, that he is.
My seat was in the 2nd row on the right aisle, but it was staggered from the front row seats so that no one was in front of me AT ALL, and I had a clear shot of the stage. I’m bad at distances, but it seemed to be about 12 – 15 feet from the stage, certainly no more. I was counting my lucky stars that I had a seat that would allow me to neatly photograph Derek with no obstructions. Man was I disappointed when Derek was introduced as a judge, and he came out and didn’t sit on the stage at all, but rather to the far right of the stage in a judge’s booth. Though there were two large screens on either side of the stage from which we could see what was happening on stage, Derek wasn’t on stage, so I had to bend my neck and sit slightly on the edge of my seat to get a glimpse of him. All during the dance performances, I was, of course, checking him out, as best I could, though he was so far from me. The dancers he was judging were quite good, by the way.
Fortunately, later, a rug and two comfy looking chairs were placed on stage for Derek and the event host. Those chairs must have been really comfy, because many times Derek kinda leaned back like he wanted to just lay in it, but then thought better of it. At any rate, he was going to be interviewed, and then later there would be a Q&A. I was hoping Derek would sit on the right chair (stage left) so that I could see him better. And he did!!!. I was so happy too, because I could see every nuance of facial expression, his expressive hands (my favorite part of his body), and it seemed that he kept looking at me. However, I was unhappy that he didn’t seem to recognize me. Oh well, just to be able to be so close to him, and to watch him talk, and to look at his body language and mannerisms was really neat. I decided that I could live with the fact that he didn’t apparently “see” me.
DeAnna Lee Wolf (@DeAnnaLeeWolf on Twitter), of radio station 100.7 in Seattle, was the interviewer and host for the night. She and I had tweeted the day before, and so I knew she was excited about interviewing Derek. She told me she was nervous, but I can tell you, she didn’t look it at all. She was a true pro. Once DeAnna concluded her interview (more about this later), the show was open for audience members to ask Derek questions. I knew this would be my one and only opportunity to connect with him. So I raised my hand. Trixi’s aunt, who is much taller than I, was sitting on my left, and she raised her hand too so that both our hands would get noticed. (Wasn’t that sweet!) Sure enough, her niece came over to me with the microphone. Derek was finishing up answering someone else’s question, so I took that brief moment, to thank Trixi for getting me such a perfect seat. And then…. Derek’s gaze was on me, and in a half second, I discovered why he had apparently not recognized me before. With the lighting on the stage, he really couldn’t see that well into the audience. In order to “see” who was asking him the question, he had to place his hand above his eyes, and that’s what he was doing with me, even though we were only feet apart.
Now I am a public speaker by profession, but darn it if I didn’t get tongue-tied at that moment. Part of the reason was that Trixi said she was going to announce me, and I thought she meant she was going to tell Derek that I was from PDH, but she didn’t, all she said was something like, “We have another question here.” So I realized I had to do that part myself, and though I had been prepared to do that before, I lost my train of thought, so the introduction of myself that I had prepared in my mind, came out funny. But he got the point.
I announced that I was donamadrina from Twitter, and that I worked with Heidi on Pure Derek Hough. He quickly said, “Hey yeahhhh! I recognize you!!! (His remark threw me off my game again, so I don’t remember what else he said, but I do remember him saying, “She does a fantastic job.” I blabbered stupidly something about working on it too, but then gathered myself enough to ask my question. It was about Cobu 3D and when it would be out. He said, he honestly didn’t know, but thought it was this summer. I asked about the name change, and that seemed to be news to him too. (You know, it’s hard to tell sometimes with Derek because he’s always so diplomatic and pc.) I told him about it possibly being called Make Your Move, and he said something to the affect that he liked that title.
And then there was no more. That was the total exchange. Not much in the telling, I know, because in my excitement, I can’t remember everything that was said. However, our “moments” of conversation was just enough to make my day, and my night, and my year. Thanks, Derek! If you’re reading this, you’re one awesome dude.
After the Q&A, Derek was asked to dance for the audience. He left the stage, but appeared shortly afterwards with someone, and they danced what “seemed” to be a choreographed dance, but I couldn’t tell for sure. Either that or that gal was just a great dancer. Afterwards, Derek jumped off the stage and went into the audience to find partners. He also took a few back onto the stage to dance with. He danced with people in my aisle too. The audience exchange was definitely the highlight of the night. People so enjoyed watching him work each side of the room, as only Derek does. He brought joy to so many people. It was during the audience dancing, that he passed by me several times, and by this time, I was bold enough to just walk right up to him and take photos of him. He wasn’t bothered. Everyone was doing it too by this time. (I think I started something. LOL) Unfortunately, those pictures didn’t come out so well.
I had brought four picture taking devices with me, 2 cameras, my iPod and my phone. My phone takes the best pictures, but for some odd reason, after taking only 2 pictures, the battery went dead. And of course, I had left the back up battery in the hotel. I was going to tweet a picture of Derek from the event, but I forgot that my iPod was not connected to Wi-Fi. My two cameras don’t take the best pictures, but I’m glad I had them for backup. People might have wondered at me going back and forth between so many cameras, and my constantly taking notes. Actually, I wonder too how I managed to do all this, and still enjoy the event immensely.
As someone who desperately wants Derek to move on from DWTS, he said things during the interview with DeAnna that got me very excited. We, loyal and diehard, Derek fans will be very happy soon. Here are some of the things he talked about during the interview.
• Derek said he is producing a TV show in Utah. He was in Utah, as we know, last week.
• Many have heard that he said that he would not be back on for Season 16, but he also said, “If they call me, ‘D Hough’, I’ll always be there.” Adding also that if someone of interest is a contestant, he might just push back his plans and be on the show.
• Derek talked about the bone spurs in the neck, and how he would be having surgery on it next month. (So I doubt he would seriously be cast for Season 16 with this surgery scheduled, but who knows.)
• Derek shot a pilot last week that he said was fantastic. It’s about dancing, and about rivalry. He did not say this at the same time that he talked about the producing of the TV show in Utah, so I got the impression it was something different. May be wrong here.
• Congrats to Derek are in order. He said he just “sold” a scripted TV show to a network.
• He and Jules are close to doing a “live” show in which they dance, sing, and play instruments. I can’t wait!!! Vegas maybe?
• He talked about seeing the movie Safe Haven the night before, and encouraged everyone to see it. He said he cried in places and then jokingly said he and his dad had to leave the theatre for certain scenes. Interestingly, he also said that Ryan Seacrest had flown in his whole family for Jules’ Safe Haven premiere. What a guy!
• Derek says he enjoys growing as a person, and that he listens to self-help tapes. When he takes this next season off, he plans to really push himself more as a person. He also remarked that he has kept his New Year’s resolutions. (See DerekHough.com for what they are.)
• He was asked about his favorite dance style and he said that would be Argentine Tango, but when it was first announced on DWTS as a dance that he would have to teach his celebrity, he was like “What?”. He had never done it. So he watched YouTube videos. LOL And now AT is his favorite for its beauty and passion. He also mentioned that if guys decide to do this dance with a girl they definitely need to wear a “cup”. He said he hadn’t when dancing with Nicole and she got a few good ones on him that caused him to cringe while performing. He showed us how he tried to hide the pain. It was so funny.
• He talked about how when he was 8 years old he was a drummer, and how he liked to sing Elvis songs. He then sang for us a bar of “You Ain’t Nothing but A Hound Dog”, and talked about how when singing, he’d do Elvis’ pelvic thrusts, but his dad would make him stop. He then jokingly added, “And now that’s what I do for a living.”
• On November 1, 2012, at an event entitled, Choreographer’s: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow, Derek was honored that he was able to be the presenter of an award to the wife of Gene Kelly, Patricia Kelly. The award for Gene’s work. Whereas, I knew he, himself, had been honored at this event, I didn’t know about the former.
• Derek says that ‘dancing’ is an outward expression of what is going on inside you. He says that in some ways, everyone dances.
• A fan from the audience stood and told Derek that he was ripped off by Len during Season 15 of DWTS. Derek kind of blushed and didn’t know what to say, because he’s always so diplomatic. He did end up saying that sometimes Len would come up to him after a dance and say things like “I loved that! That was fantastic”, and then add, “Sorry I gave you a 5.” Well, we’ve all suspected that Len was doing what the producers wanted him to do anyway. He’s a great fan of Derek’s work, and has always highly complimented Derek in interviews.
Overall, I can’t be more happy with the way the evening turned out for Multi-Care, and for me. So many unplanned moments. I left the event with a smile on my face, and was quite satisfied that the night was as good as it could possibly have been. Later, when I returned to the hotel, I was seeing photos of fans posing with Derek. Hmmmm. Now how did that happen? One of the Hougheteer’s on Twitter, named Sue (@1AV8TRIX) had tried to convince me the day before to go find Derek at the backdoor after the event. I didn’t tune in enough to do so, so I lost that possible photo opt that others obviously got. So, I have no photos of my self with him. Still, I can’t complain. The evening was awesome. I had the best time. In the words of Bob Hope, “Thanks, Mr. Hough, for the memories”.
Heidi Note: Everyone thank Dona for the great, detailed blog. It’s almost like being there.