Yesterday, April and I and 25 other dancers from BDC set off in a school bus to Jersey City at 2:30 to be part of the audience of Paula Abdul’s new reality TV show on CBS called Live To Dance. Taping was to begin at 3;30. The following is an approximate timeline of the day’s events.
3:30 arrive at The Audition Dome, a white dome erected in the middle of a New Jersey state park, nice and secluded from the city so no one would stumble across the set. Also conveniently too far away from bathrooms or anywhere that would provide food.
3:35 re-board the bus after disembarking when we’re told there were some delays and we would have to wait a little. It was too cold, and far too windy to stay outside, so it was from the bus that I admired the view of the backside of the Statue of Liberty.
5:00 Paula Abdul arrives? Speculated. A white limo did pull up though and there was a whole lot of “PAULA’S HERE!” Everyone hoped this meant we’d be starting soon.
5:15 April boards the bust to tell us several things:
- A snack was coming in “just a few minutes” since we had now been waiting almost two hours.
- There had been a plethora of unforeseen difficulties in setting up for taping, but at the very latest they hope to start taping at 7 pm (another hour and forty-five minutes from now)
- After snacks, we would take a vote on whether or not to stay until 7 or give up and head home.
5:45 snacks arrive, not just a few minutes later. The little table covered in snack packs of Oreos and Halloween candy was wiped clean in seconds, and everyone was back on the bus for fear of freezing.
5:50 vote is taken, we decide to stay. After all, we’ve been here for almost two and a half hours, what a waste if we left now? And besides, there were rumors that if we did stay Paula might be around for “high fives” after the taping was finished. Which, by the way, it had to be finished by ten, because that’s when the park closed! Game plan: stay for taping at 7, leave by 9 because some of us had a long commute home, myself included.
6:45 Lo and behold! We get off the bus and are grouped at the base of a path that leads up a hill to the dome! We are told to file past the screw in single file, presumably so they could count us. Unfortunately, single file lines are not conducive to building up body heat and no one was prepared to be standing outside (now in the dark and gale wind forces) for more than five minutes. I myself was wearing a t-shirt, leggings and a jean jacket.
7:00 We finally make it through security. After everyone is wand-ed and searched, we’re huddled near some trailers (still outside) and told to wait “just a few minutes.”
7:30 Blimpie sandwiches show up, but not enough for everyone, so the next ten minutes are spent cutting every sandwich in half and distributing them, ten at a time. We spend the next half hour being told to “push over,” “stand single file,” and “wait just a few more minutes.”
8:00 We are finally herded to just outside the dome and told to wait “just a few minutes.” By now, I am frozen solid, my hair is tangled beyond repair from the wind, I’m tired, still very hungry (a 4-inch sandwich does not qualify as a satisfactory dinner), and we are still waiting.
8:15 we are finally let into the dome which is warmer than outside (but only because outside was down to about 40 degrees) and at least blocks the wind. We are led to our seats where we are able to observe what can only be described as chaos as every crew member wandered around looking confused and stressed, knocking over the velvet ropes around the stage. That happened three times. No exaggeration.
At this point, let us pause and recap. Taping was due to begin at 3:30. It is now 8:45. We have been fed candy and half a sandwich for dinner, we were out in the cold for over an hour, we watched Paula arrive about four hours ago, what on earth does she need twenty more minutes for!?
Turns out Paula didn’t need twenty minutes, she needed forty-five.
9:30 Taping begins (six hours behind schedule). Judges are introduced, walk across the stage, sit down, and taping pauses. Make-up and hair crews swoop down on the judges. Really? It’s been literally thirty seconds, they do not look any different from when they left you a minute ago!
9:40 The first group finally performs, and they’re actually pretty good. The get two gold stars (WHS dance team shout-out!) from the judges which means they go on to the next round.
10:15 after a series of starts and stops, the next group is introduced. The only get one gold star so they don’t get to move on.
At this point we called it quits. The park was closed, the original plan was to leave at 9…actually the original plan was to be home by 9, but whatever. The audience was not that big so when 25 of us got up and left it looked a little sparse. But no worries, other groups were leaving too and the crew appeared to be grabbing people off the streets since confused looking people with winter coats and shopping bags filed in to fill empty seats.
While we counted heads just inside the door of the dome one of the crew says:
“You’re leaving? Why were you waiting long before?”
We exit the dome and are told, impossibly, to wait just a moment by one of the crew members. April turns, says “NO!” and we promptly turn and literally sprint away across the field, through the trees, back to the parking lot where our bus is waiting to bring us back to BDC.
It was the most disorganized chaotic day. If that show makes it to TV it probably won’t be until 2034, so don’t hold your breath.