When I think of Tristan McManus I always have a smile on my face. I remember how happy I was when he became a pro and how much I enjoyed his partnership with Nancy Grace.
He is such a beautiful person, inside and out, and I am so happy that I had the opportunity to meet him. I live in Germany and usually got to the US for my annual summer vacation. And while being there I read tweets about Ballroom with a Twist (BWAT) and that Tristan, Derek and other pros would be doing shows in Virginia and Massachusetts. And in the moment I decided and booked tickets online. Having the chance to see Derek and Tristan was just too tempting. Instead of flying home from LA I flew to DC and drove to Virginia.
The first show was in a beautiful outdoor theatre - Wolf Trap. I sat in maybe the eleventh row on the far right side. I have been a DWTS fan for so many years and I have to admit that I was exited - even kind of nervous - when I saw those people that I admire so much so close to me. It was a funny feeling actually. The show was awesome. The mixture of ballroom dancing and elements of SYTYCD as well as great singing is genius. Tristan and Anna hosted, and they did it really well. Derek of course was a big star and seeing him live totally proved it. The DWTS pros did several amazing performances. I loved Tristan’s dance with Anna - so romantic, so beautiful, so elegant. I love his frame, his physical support of his partners. I also like the way he talks, even though many I times I don’t really understand him (English is obviously not my first language).
After the show there was a VIP meet and greet. Now I became really nervous. We were let in backstage and I walked in and there he was. Sitting right in front of me on a couch putting his shoes on. Nobody else was there. He greeted us and offered us some fruit - the dancers' snacks actually. “Go ahead, have some. It’s for all of us,” he said. I should have walked up to him because there were only like 50 people in the room and he was graciously taking pics and signing, but I have to admit that in this very moment I was too nervous. After a couple of minutes the other dancers came and we got in line for our photo shoot. It was so much fun to see this friendly bunch greet all the VIPs and talk to them and just have fun. Tristan and Derek did most of the talking, hugging many fans and even adding fun pics. When I walked up I was really jittery and nervous. I have to admit mostly because of Derek. I have admired him since I first saw him on the show and he is just such a big star. He hugged me and Tristan greeted me, as well as Peta. I told them that I came from Germany and was a forever fan, do lots of voting and so on. They were all so nice and friendly. We took a couple of pictures. I told them that I would be in Boston the next evening and that I would be driving. And they all wished me luck and said “until tomorrow”.
After my meet and greet was over I just stood there and watched all of the other VIP meetings. What a treat. Tristan was joking and laughing constantly and such a sight for sore eyes. He is a charmer but still so totally grounded. After the meet and greet they took all their stuff to a van and left, and I hit the road and drove all night to arrive in Boston the next morning.
In Boston two shows were scheduled on two consecutive evening. I had tickets for both - no VIP tickets though. After the previous night’s experience the first thing I did was buy those VIP tickets. The theatre was very unique with a round stage in the middle. I sat right above the stage entrance the first night. Seeing the show for the second time was such a treat. I know what was coming and enjoyed it even more. They always do a Q&A and it was so funny. Tristan’s dance with Anna on the round stage was just perfectly beautiful, as was Derek’s with Peta.
The VIP meet and greet was very different. The dancers were in an extra room and the “meet and greeters” were let in one by one. The time was very brief. Derek remembered me and came my way to greet me. And Tristan waved to me. They hugged me and asked me how my drive had been. Tristan called me “Wiener Schnitzel” with his big accent and that was just so funny. And I was so happy. What a wonderful time.
The last night a Friday I had finally the perfect seat - 3rd row, up front near the stage entrance. Another perfect show, mesmerizing especially because I was so close and saw all the movements right before my very eyes. Derek had said on the first night that he wanted me up on stage, which I thought was just kidding. Well, this night it happened. I was pulled up and stage and dancing with Derek, and Tristan stood right behind me cheering me on. To this day I have no idea how I survived that night. This is a blog for Tristan, otherwise I would elaborate on my dancing experience with Derek!! I also got the opportunity to ask a question during Q&A and I asked which of their partners had improved most over the course of their stay on DWTS. Tristan said it was Nancy and how much he enjoyed their journey on the show - the fun, the bickering.
The last VIP meet and greet was basically done the same way it was done the night before - just in another room. I decided to go as late as possible because I hoped that there would be some time to talk towards the end. Everyone greeted me when I came in. We took a couple of photos and I talked to Derek a bit and thanked him. I was permitted to stay in the room which finally gave me the chance to talk to Peta and Tristan. He was so sweet in our conversation (as much as I understood – accent!). We took pictures and talked a bit. Such a sweetheart – but we all do know this, don’t we?
So this is my BWAT experience. Now the cruises…
In December I heard about the DWTS At Sea cruise, and I gave it a thought - or many! Due to personal developments (I had another big surgery coming up and needed something to hang on to) I decided to do it and flew to Florida in January.
It is so special to meet someone that one has admired for so long. But the feeling of seeing someone again who has been so wonderful in the first place – that is really amazing. I did not at all expect that Tristan or Derek would remember my face. They meet fans by the thousands. But I thought they might remember when I told them that I was at the BWAT shows. The ship, the cruise and the whole DWTS At Sea experience were grand. The effort which was put into putting this together is really amazing. There were scheduled events where you could see the pros - like pro shows, the amateur dancer competitions, a photo shoot and an autograph session. Otherwise you could run into them on the ship if you were lucky.
And I was. The second day I was walking on Lido Deck and saw Tristan. He was heading back from the gym and I said (nervous again) hello. And to my surprise he did remember me right away. He is just so easy to talk to, he hugged me and apologized for being all sweaty (as if I cared). We talked about the last season and that I was rooting and voting for Valerie and him and how surprised I was that she left the show quite early. He told me that in his opinion she would not have been able to do another week. He also signed my picture that I coincidentally had with me. I told him I would love to see him again during the cruise and he told me he would hang out in popular places and I should just come up and say hello. He also advised me to get up and ask a question during the Q&A session the following day. And I answered that I probably would be too scared to do this…
The Q&A took place a day later and I was sitting up front after being there 2 hours prior to the event – that’s how popular it was. Tristan was introduced 5th and he walked in and sat center stage, right in front of me. Almost immediately after taking his seat he saw me and waved down to me. How awesome! I had the pleasure to watch them all so closely. Well, I did not raise my hand for a question but whatever… Again he was oh so charming in all his comments and answers - just like he was in his judging that he did a couple of times during the cruise. He always kept it funny and light but still expressed his opinion. I ended up going to all of the events really early to be able to sit in the first or second row - and to have a good view. :)
The big show with all the DWTS pros and ship dancers was on Wednesday night and such a blast. Again a first row seat for me. Seeing them dance in almost reaching distance is hard to describe. I admire these people and here they are, in reaching distance, “dancing their magic”. Tristan appeared bare chested (we all have seen that photo) and stood maybe 9 feet away from me. His dancing was superb one more time.
Later in the evening he hung out at the bar/disco and I talked to him again. A wonderful talk and again I have to point out how warm, nice and down to earth he is. Which by the way goes for all of the dancers. Considering how big stars they became through DWTS this is one of the most amazing and surprising things for me. Kym, for example, has been on this show forever and is very much a star in my eyes and she is just the loveliest person. She told me a funny story and made me pinky swear. :) Tristan is basically a very private person and that was just the way on the cruise ship. He would talk to everyone and do pics but then he just sat there, hung out in the bar and had a good time with his friends. He was the only pro that I never saw on the dance floor during the whole week. All the others put in a few moves every now and then.
Tristan was at the bar/disco on a couple of nights. I usually greeted him and he waved back but I did not talk to him every single time. During the week meeting the pros became very casual. The big excitement/nervousness was gone for me and so I was just hanging there too with my friends. We saw the stars, talked to them occasionally but not every time.
Two more things I want to mention. There was a photo shoot scheduled and group pictures were taken with all of the pros. I waited around because I was hoping for individual photos after the shoot, and I got sent away by the lady in charge (who did an awesome job with it all, no critique here). Anyway Tristan saw this and made a gesture to just wait and he would come out. And of course he did. As soon as the photo shoot was over he came over and took an individual pic with me.
During the last night there was only a small group of dancers and ship guests at another bar. The dancers had lots of time to talk and we did just that, and I got into a longer conversation with Tristan which was so amazing. I told him that I made a friend during the cruise and that he had designed and drawn amazing costumes for theme dances. And Tristan was interested and talked about this with my friend, who of course was exited. Later I witnessed a few surprises for Tristan as a bachelor party but I want to respect his privacy and not tell more. It was really funny as you can imagine.
From all I have experienced I can say that he is such a wonderful human being. And again I want to mention that this is the case for all of these people. Emma, Sharna, Kym and Derek are all wonderful, so down to earth, so personable. Tristan to me is that guy next door, easy to talk to, always a joke on his mind, but still always a gentleman. And when he dances he is nothing but a gentleman and adorable and supporting and so much more...
Hope you enjoy my notes. Let’s all keep supporting our favorite Irishman, Tristan.
Thanks for reading!