Monday, October 24, 2011

Can we CANDance? Yes we can!

I arrived Saturday night prepared to have fun, and Poodle, I most certainly did!  The Community AIDS Network's major fundraiser, CANDance - Dancing with our Stars, was a hoot from the time I stepped through the doorway.  During the cocktail hour everyone was carrying around their signs, lobbying for their favorite celebrity dancer or signing up for taxi dances (more about that later).  All of the dancers were nervously pacing, preparing for their big moment.  Oh, the electrifying excitement!

I must say, this is one of the most delightful charity parties I have been to in a long time.  I am not usually a fan of the Chelsea Center for events, but it was perfect for this event.  It is an odd-shaped room that intimately wraps around the dance floor and everyone has a good view.

As a take-off of the ABC network show, Dancing with the Stars, CANDance does a great job mimicking the reality show, right down to the mirrored ball hanging from the ceiling.  I have wanted to attend this event for a few years, but somehow never did.  I am now putting it on my Don't Miss list, as have the other 300 in attendance.  This was the 12th year for the event and they have it down pat.  First of all the professional dancers do "taxi dances", taking turns around the dance floor with the mere mortals in the audience.  There were around 20 pros who danced with attendees for $20 a dance through 15 ballroom favorites, such as the tango, the rumba, and the ever-favorite, pasa doble.  One of the pros also performed a special dance with octogenarian and ballroom champ, Gloria Moss, to the tune of Teenage Dream, and by the look on Gloria's beautiful face, she was living her teenage dream.  So that's how she stays so young looking!

Playing Tom Bergeron and Brooke Charvet were The Bobs - Nosal and Trisolini, who were also kind enough to have me at their table.  Hugs and kisses to them.  Stephen Sieg was the producer.

Looking as beautiful as the dancers, were co-chairs Jackie Rogers and Penny Hill.  Jackie in a stunning red dress with a flouncy treatment on the bottom and Penny in blue with discreet sparkles.

Michael Klauber auctioned off a couple of really terrific items - a party cruise on the Golden Eagle for 20, a private dance party for 24 catered by Michael's On East, and this fab one - a wine trip to Spain with Michael and Admiral Travel, which was purchased by Renee Hamad and Flora Major - lucky girls!

Then it was time for the big competition.  Each pair's time in the spotlight started with a short video recording of their practice sessions and then it was dance time!  First in line were HGTV Design Star finalist Jason Champion with pro Molly Demeulenaere.  Jason was dressed as a 50s nerd, but looked cute as could be in jeans with suspenders, white oxford shirt with rolled up sleeves, and black-rimmed glasses.  He looked like a natural dancer and did some professional booty swinging.

Next was Clerk of the Court Karen Rushing with pro Max Lototskyy.  Karen wore a beautiful orange/red costume with feathers and a ruffled bustle.  She performed charming twirls and dips in dramatic fashion. 

Then Gulf Coast Community Foundation's Scott Anderson was up with pro Tayna Vy.  His dance was full of enthusiasm and shimmies.  His bronze silk shirt was the perfect accompaniment to his complexion, exuding warmth and sexiness.  In his video, he mentioned that his butt had never been so hard.  Well, that's a little TMI, Scott!

Slinky Rita Greenbaum followed with pro Sid Procius, who was seemingly the Derek Hough of the evening.  Rita looked like quite the sex-kitten in her red dress and in some of her very advanced moves, such as riding on Sid's back, ahem, among other things.  The song they danced to was All That Jazz from Chicago - enough said about sexy.

Restaurateur Mark Caragiulo danced with pro Elizabeth Cartier, and though he didn't do much dancing, he did do a stunning cartwheel, but mostly used a chair as a prop.  His video actually had him doing a few dance moves for Baryshnikov - very cute.

Finally Dr. Allison Silver and pro Jim Helmich took the floor and I thought she was quite spectacular in her light blue full fringe dress, shaking with every move.  Though she tried to smile, she had an intense look on her face and was giving it her all, along with some great Jagger rooster moves. 

 The most boring part of the evening - when a professional couple from Clearwater took the floor to dance.  They were fine, but at this event, we want to see our local celebrities!

Seen in the crowd - Emily Walsh Parry, Myrna and David Band, Margaret Wise, Mary Ann Robinson, Kyla Weiner, Julie and Brock Leach, Denise and Roberto Mei, Flora Major, Renee Hamad, Victoria and Harry Leopold, John and Janet Hunter, Hillary Steele, Lee and Ira Barsky, Terri Klauber, Carolyn Michel, Bob Plunket, Dennis Stover, Phil King, Veronica Brady, Dr. Karen Hamad, Sally Schule, Susan Jones, Nate Benderson, and Community AIDS Network CEO, Michael Cuffage.

And now to the winners....The overall winner was Rita Greenbaum who took home the trophy and the fundraising winner was Scott Anderson, who took home a painting by Debbie Dannheiser.  You could buy votes for $10 a vote.

The goal for this year was to beat last year's profit of $94,000.  And guess what?  Not only did they beat last year, but Scott Anderson raised more than ALL of last year with his votes alone!!!  Now he is definitely someone you want on your team!  You are the best, Scott!

Put this one on your calendar for next year!

Dottie and Bob Garner

Terri Klauber, Veronica Brady, Michael Klauber

Flora Major and Renee Hamad

Jim and Charlie Ann Syprett

The Centerpiece

Richard Carpenter and Shannon Ruedlinger

Dr. Karen Hamad and Scott Anderson

Phil King and Dennis Stover

Bob Trisolini and Bob Nosal

Jackie Rogers

Susan Jones and Sally Schule

Hillary Steele

Penny Hill and Dr. Lawrence Wild

SCENE photographer Cliff Roles

Jason Champion and Molly D.

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