As some of you may know, I am living outside of the U.S. and have been for the last ten years. Some may wonder, how did you become a Tristan MacManus fan aka a MacManiac? I have always enjoyed watching Dancing with the Stars but have not had regular access to American television in quite a while. In various places where I have lived, we had access to Armed Forces Network (AFN) which showed a variety of primetime shows covering all the major networks. A major drawback was that everything was taped so we never saw anything live. It made it much more difficult to stay involved with a television show. I was aware of Dancing with the Stars and made an effort to watch it when I could but invariably missed quite a few seasons.
I remember watching the troupe introductions for Season 12 and thinking, “Oh, isn’t he cute, and he’s Irish too!” My father’s family is from Ireland and I’ve long had a dream to live and work in Ireland (more on that later). So I kept an eye out for him. Season 13 is when I really became a fan. His relationship and interactions with Nancy Grace were just wonderful. I didn’t find out about the MacManiacs until maybe March 2012. Then I became a YouTube addict looking for any videos that included Tristan. The MacManiacs were the ones who kept me up to date on every season and what was happening. I became a staunch supporter of DublinDown330 and Grassroot Soccer through the website.
Then came the DublinDown33 charity event in January 2013. I know people thought I was crazy but when was I ever going to have the chance again to see Tristan in person and also support his charity?So I ponied up the money for a plane ticket to New Jersey, made hotel reservations, and then tried not to freak out! I got there a few days early and Shakes greeted me like a long lost friend. I was able to help out some in the set-up for the event and then it was time for the big event itself. Really what everyone says about Tristan is true. He is a true gentleman and is so gracious in person. He met everyone there and treated them all with the same courtesy and consideration. He made a last minute decision to offer a private dance lesson in a raffle to raise additional funds for the charity. There was a lot of last minute filling out of raffle cards and then the big moment came. He stood there with the box of cards in his hand and asked which number he should draw. I yelled out my number “12!” Everyone laughed and then he drew out a card, squinted at the number written on it (there was lovely mood lighting in the room) and then asked “Is this a 12?” The MC for the evening verified the number and I about fainted. He then drew SassyLass’s number and we moved into a small studio for our dance lesson. I think Sassy and I were both in shock. He ignored our glazed eyes and stumbling feet and treated us as if this was a regular every day occasion. What an amazing gift. Tristan is a very talented teacher and has a rare gift of being able to explain things very clearly and use stories and/or analogies to get his point across. Sassy and I have some great memories of learning to “know the wall.” When our lesson expanded from what was supposed to be a brief 20 minutes to over 30 minutes, we began to feel a little guilty. I would have stayed in there until the cows came home but I had a feeling the rest of the group would have been pounding on the door a lot sooner than that. Not only did Tristan manage to teach us a trio cha cha in that short amount of time, we then went out and performed it to the entire group. The only way we were able to do that was because he had the utmost confidence in our ability to do it and was completely supportive of whatever it was we managed to dance that night. What a perfect end to an amazing night.
I flew home the next day on cloud nine. Not only did I have an opportunity to meet Tristan and dance with him, I was able to meet and spend time with some great MacManics that weekend including Shakes, TealRibbon, Out of Tea, Sassy Lass, Lincap, and many more. What an amazing community of friends.
I’ve continued to follow Tristan’s career on Dancing With the Stars and all of his off season activities. It was his inspiration in January that convinced me to start taking ballroom dance lessons. This past August I competed in a pro-am competition in Finland. I also went on a Holland America cruise in September and participated in the Dancing with the Stars At Sea dance lessons. To my amazement, I was chosen as one of the finalists. I ended up dancing a Cha Cha with one of the ship’s dancers on the final night of the cruise. Just another experience I never would have had it not been for Tristan MacManus. Thank you to him and all of the MacManiacs for enriching my life over the last several years.
Oh yes – In 2016 I will be assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Dublin, Ireland for three years - another one of my life’s dreams coming true! (Granted I will have to spend the next two years in Islamabad, Pakistan but it will be worth it.)
Thank you, Patty!