Aug 6, 2017
Dancing with the Stars: What Does Bootylicious Mean to You?
Dancing With the Stars has another new theme week! It’s the Switch! No, no, sorry. They canceled that one. Apparently everybody sucks when they trade partners, and the whole thing’s just kind of embarrassing. Well, it’s… Movie Night! No, no, they just did Disney Night. It’s a little bit too similar. Well, uh… how about… Spring Break?
Spring Break Night? You are aware, Mr. Producer, that a lot of these people haven’t experienced a Spring Break in a decade or two? Or five? Are you also aware that for most students in this country, Spring Break was over weeks ago? You might want to consult a calendar before you make these decisions.
Well, Spring Break Week it is, then. I guess they just wanted to make everybody strut around in bathing suits and pretend to get smashed. They will be looking to manufacture a fun, spontaneous spirit, all very carefully planned. Keep an eye out for lots of fake indoor beaches and real hangovers.
Julianne’s hair is still pink. I hope she jumps in a chlorinated pool and it comes out seaweed green.
The first couple to dance this week is soul diva Patti LaBelle and her pro partner, Artem. Artem reads the theme week declaration, looks helplessly at Patti, and says, “Uh… what is this Spring Break?” Apparently, they don’t celebrate this annual bacchanal in his native Russia. Patti doesn’t care. She’s just been asked if she’d wear a bikini. After playfully agreeing, she yells “PSYCH!” and we can all breathe a grateful sigh of relief. Much of Patti’s regal aura relies on showing as little sagging flesh as possible.
It is pretty comical, however, to see Ms. La Belle covered from head to toe, poolside. Quick, somebody, push her in! No, wait, don’t. You will end your Spring Break at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean with a bunch of old mirror balls chained to your neck. They’ve got the Quickstep, and I sigh as I sit back. This is going to be another disaster, isn’t it? Oh, lord, here we go—hey? What am I seeing? I rub my eyes a little bit. Is that… could it be? Is Patti LaBelle actually doing real Quickstep motions? As in, a lot of them? In time, and everything? Holy cow! Patti LaBelle has learned how to dance a little!
This actually isn’t bad at all! She’s grinning from ear to ear, having a terrific, goofy time, and when one shoe goes flying off, she doesn’t miss a beat! She dances the rest in one shoe, and for once, I get the waves of enthusiasm coming from the Judges Table. Viva la Belle! Absolutely her best dance ever! You know how you can tell she was going full out? She’s out of breath when it’s all over. For once.
Len: It’s the best dance so far tonight. (Um… yeah. It is. Funny how that works. Clearly, somebody wanted to say that to her at some point, and it’s the first opportunity they have had.)
Julianne: Patti La Belle is bringing Spring Break heat!
Bruno: It’s definitely Happy Hour, don’t you think?
Carrie Ann: You are the most consistent performer. (That’s not really a compliment. She’s been consistently slow and incapable. This is not consistent. This is an enormous step forward, at last. Shame on you!)
Judges’ score: 29
Patti’s score hasn’t changed much from last weeks’. She just earned it this time.
Olympic gymnast Nastia Liukin is beginning to get quite full of herself. “High expectations come with a price,” she boasts as she launches into a new week of rehearsals… and finds she can’t keep up with Derek. He’s too fast! It’s too grueling! It huuuuuuurts! Nice work, pro partner Derek. You just made a world-class athlete cry. She reaches down deep and tries to remember what it was like to train for her gymnastics competitions. Glory days! Oh, they’ll pass you by, glory days…
Nastia and Derek are doing the Tango to a song called “Summer” by Calvin Harris. So the song’s not about Spring Break, and there’s nothing in this dance that evokes sand, beaches, parties, or any part of the theme in any way. Hey, judges, can we get a point deduction for just blowing off the rules completely, here? They are dancing in a dark auditorium, wearing pristine white formal wear, under lights that emit glowing streaks of bright blue. A fog machine and flamethrowers complete the ambiance, which is more Olympic Opening Ceremony than anything having to do with any Spring Break, anywhere. As usual, their number is a showcase of cold, technical proficiency, complete with high kicks, a blur of lightning moves, and one floor spin for Nastia that went around four jaw-dropping times. Showoffs. Wait… what’s wrong about that?
Julianne: I felt like you didn’t connect together as a couple.
Bruno: That’s how you attack a Tango!
Carrie Ann: You always go back to gymnastics. Allow yourself to dance.
Len: The key to the Tango is low, slow and go. It was all fast.
Thanks, Len. That’s the iciest, least sultry Tango I’ve ever seen in my life. For Spring Break week.
Judges’ score: 34
Well, now that the judges have finally stopped yammering on and on about how Hunger Games actress Willow Shields is only fourteen, I guess I’ll be starting up. She’s a great kid and she’s doing a fine job, but really… what genius decided that the best possible song for this girl to dance to was The Champs’ “Tequila?”
Fun fact: Willow had to get an X-ray for that rib injury she had a few weeks back, and now she… and everybody else in the world… knows that she’s got extra ribs. Apparently, that’s a thing, and she had no idea. What a wonderful revelation to have broadcast on national television with no warning at all!
The song may be too mature for Willow, but the scenario pro partner Mark’s set up for their Salsa is right on target. One minute she’s a bored boarding school student in a jazz band, reliving a scene from the movie Whiplash, and the next… the school bell rings, and the kids are all breaking into their parent’s liquor cabinets. Apparently. Yeah, I remember some Spring Breaks like that. The dance itself is fast and fun, and some of the lifts are spectacular.
Bruno: High spirited high school! Your performances are always 100% proof.
Carrie Ann: I liked that it was sassy and you turned on the heat, but you didn’t go sexy overtly.
Len: I liked the energy. It was full of fun and enjoyment.
Julianne: All the arm flips and tricks were fantastic.
Judges’ score: 34
Shark Tank tycoon Robert Herjavec is having a personal crisis. His last dance… sucked. To an embarrassing degree. He’s suddenly not the most successful man in the room, for the first time since he swam over from his native Croatia. He’s at the bottom of the leaderboard, and we assure you, this man does not like being a bottom. Kym insists that their personal connection is still strong, and Robert insists it’s not the end of the road for them, even if they do go home soon. Ah, Kym, you may get that Ferrari after all.
Or is it a Thunderbird? Their dance puts them in a drive-in, not making out like most kids during Spring Break, but doing the Jive. The Jive? Uh-oh. That’s another fast dance. Robert thinks the judges are out to get him. It shows, too. He’s a bit out of sync with Kym, and his formerly joyful, gleaming grin is beginning to look more like a terrified, pasted-on grimace. And here, we can see a problem with the whole Spring Break theme. All this time, this sweet little showmance has clearly been going on between two consenting adults and it’s been kind of adorable. For the very first time, Robert gives off the impression that he’s a lecherous old man copping a feel on one of his daughter’s friends.
Carrie Ann: You didn’t miss a step, but you didn’t do it at the right time.
Len: There was a lots of content in there. It’s better than last week.
Julianne: You are fighting hardcore.
Bruno: You definitely did revitalize.
Judges’ score: 28
And now we get some rather embarrassing proof that a lot of what we see in the packages is manipulative bullshit taken out of context to create drama—or make less favored couples look bad. It appears that one day in rehearsal, war veteran Noah Galloway and his partner, Sharna, have an argument. She wants him to try harder moves, and he wants her to remember that he’s only got one arm and one leg. Some things just aren’t possible for him, period. Well, that argument lasts about five minutes in a span of a week of rehearsals. Of course, that’s what made the package. So going into this dance, not only do we have Noah nervous about moves he can’t do, but he’s ready to storm the producer’s offices and punch somebody out for making Sharna look like a heartless bitch.
The actual dance is sensual and pretty one-sided. They’ve set up a nighttime luau. Her job is to dance the Rhumba. His job is to show off his glorious chest and lift her occasionally. As they come off the floor, host Tom Bergeron can see that Noah looks pretty pissed and asks him what’s wrong. That’s when Noah calls out the producers on national television, and I strongly suspect he’s going home next week, regardless of what his scores are or how many votes he gets. Watch this space to see if I’m right.
Len: It was like a conversation. It had that lovely action and reaction.
Julianne: Your hip action is fantastic.
Bruno: What you two do is so intuitive. A wonderful rhumba. You shouldn’t worry at all.
Carrie Ann: You deserve to be here. Hold your space!
Judges’ score: 29
Celebrity offspring Rumer Willis and her pro partner, Val, have an interesting assignment. They’ve been given the Destiny’s Child hit “Bootylicious” as their song for Spring Break Week. Val, like Artem, is from Russia. Val looks at the raunchy song. He checks out the raunchy theme. He remembers how much praise they got for making Sea Witch Ursula into a sex goddess… and he jumps to a conclusion. Just to make sure, he runs around asking all his American competitors what the word “Bootylicious” means, and they give him just enough rope to hang himself.
So, what does Val decide “Bootylicious” means? Apparently it’s some lonely guy’s daydream, as he gazes at a billboard featuring three really hot chicks in bathing suits. They come to life to dance with him, naturally, and then Rumer sticks around to get it on.
Some of the moves in this Jazz routine look like sexual positions, and at one point he’s got all three girls on all fours. This is a family show?
Julianne: I was a little underwhelmed. I thought there was a lot of walking around.
Bruno: That was raunchilious!
Carrie Ann: I think we took a wrong turn. You are one hot mama!
Len: I don’t like all that raunchy stuff.
Judges’ score: 32
In the skybox, a crestfallen Val whimpers. He thought raunchy was what they wanted! They did, Val. They just wanted to blame it on you.
Former Bachelor Chris Soules injured his calf last week. He’s still whining about it—and just about anything else that pops into his head. He’s running out of chances. He can’t get the beat. At one point, pro partner Witney has him clapping in time to a song. It’s a good method for working out musicality. I’ve used it with rooms full of preschoolers before. Is he getting any better? Well, let’s hear it for the boy!
This evening, they’ve got a Waltz set to Olivia Newton John’s “Hopelessly Devoted to You.” This is one of the easier dances, with no fast moves, lifts or tricks, so… Chris is not awful. They look like they are at the prom, in their matching peach formalwear, twirling around a carousel gazebo. It’s all very simple and sugary, kind of like cotton candy. For once in his life, Chris has a dance style he can’t screw up.
Bruno: It’s a spring awakening for Chris!
Carrie Ann: You, like, wooed us!
Len: I liked the feel of it, the romance of the whole affair.
Julianne: Get over here and shake my hand. High Five!
Judges’ score: 31
Do they give out extra points for Most Improved Dancer? Still, that crown should go to Patti LaBelle, and it didn’t… but there’s a reason… shhh… spoilers.
Rocker wannabe Riker Lynch is really excited. He got his first tens last week! Surely he’s on a roll now! The sky’s the limit! He can do anything! He can… uh… Allison? Are you OK?
Pro partner Allison is not OK. She’s just gotten their music selection, a Missy Elliot song that’s all wrong for him and in bad taste, too. (Maybe she saw what was going on with Val and Rumer and got a bit panicked.) Allison goes into meltdown mode and spends a precious day freaking out while she waits for a new song selection, “Want You to Want Me” by Jason Derulo. We see Allison trying to choreograph and teach at the same time, wailing that this is the most pressure she’s ever endured in her entire career. Riker’s got band performances this week, so he’s going to be out for a couple of days, so basically, they are screwed.
Except that they aren’t, because this kid is really that talented. Their Samba puts them in a video arcade. At first I think they are the pinball players, but as the song progresses… ah, no. Maybe they are the pinballs! The dance floor is covered in lights suggesting bumpers and other pinball gadgets, and they whiz back and forth with lightning energy, precise moves, and an almost manic sense of joy. This couple is really amazing to watch.
The audience gives them a well deserved standing ovation.
Carrie Ann: You make it music on your body. I love listening to you dance, Riker.
Len: I can’t give this a huge mark. You were moving across the floor like Spider-man a lot of the time.
Julianne: I thought that was fantastic.
Bruno: That had the vibrancy, the vitality, the visual impact of the best Samba.
Judges’ score: 37
And then it’s results time! To nobody’s shock, Robert, Patti and Noah are in jeopardy. But wait a minute… so is Riker. He was at the top of the leaderboard last week. Why isn’t anybody voting for this guy?