‘Dancing With the South Florida Stars’ Brings the Drama

It was a mic-drop moment. Literally.

When “Dancing With the South Florida Stars” judge Gary Santis praised the performance of Velvet Lenore and Tony Lima, he noted the pair brought in a “ringer,” and only gave them a seven (out of 10).

Lenore was having none of it. She gave Santis a piece of her mind and then some. The crowd was 100% there for it and erupted when she dropped the very expensive microphone to the ground.

It was, without a doubt, the most electric moment of the night.

Brian Neal and Bobby Blair brought the event back after a years long hiatus and are thrilled with the results.

“The evening went incredible,” Blair said moments after the pageant. “Bringing the community together and recognizing our trailblazers and game changers has always been our vision. Supporting such a worthy charity was inspiring to everyone. The support was incredible.”

The pageant was at The Venue in Wilton Manors, and the packed ballroom was a who’s who LGBTQ leaders and allies. They were there to watch local luminaries dance with entertainment professionals.

The pairs were: Rolly Villaverde and Alyson Thomas representing Hotspots and Ms. Florida; Steven Edgar Ross Dybask and Vauz Allen for Equal Pride, Out.com and Advocate.com; Scott Szeker and Jessica Channing for Scandals; Jess Wolverton and Chris Caputo for Peak Fitness; Patrik Gallineaux and Jennifer McClain for Tropics Bar & Grille; and Tony Lima and Velvet Lenore for SunServe and Lips.

The night was also a moment to recognize trailblazers in the community. Business honorees were John Manzi, George Kessinger, Victor Zepka, and Michael Murphy.

Entertainment honorees were a trio of legends: Electra, Tiffany Ariegus, and Nikki Adams.

The most touching and poignant moment of the night was the tribute to the late Deja Devonier. Devonier had been in each of the previous DWTSFLS events. Velvet Lenore and Nicole T. Phillips did a Dreamgirls performance while clips played on the screen.

Blair says preliminary totals show the event raised between $7,000 and $10,000.

Back To the Drama

Lima and Lenore were the final pairing of the night and had the crowd whipped into a frenzy, a frenzy that quickly turned on the judging panel, Santis in particular. Until his score was revealed, they had four 10s and were on the precipice of beating McClain and Gallineaux, who had a solid 48 (out of 50).

But Lenore and Lima would have not only the last dance, but the last laugh. The top three teams were brought forward, and the winner was determined by applause. Lenore had that crowd in the palm of her well-manicured hand and took the title.

Any hard feelings? You’ll have to wait until next year to find out.

Room For Improvement

Not everything went according to plan. First, there was no food.

Originally planned as a three-course dinner, food was nowhere to be found. Blair said the decision was made weeks ago and guests were informed. However, many say they only found out Monday evening via texts from friends.

Many people in fancy dress were spotted in nearby restaurants, including Spencer’s.

Also, there were no same-sex couples dancing. Yes, some men danced with drag queens, but there were no male-presenting male-presenting or female-presenting female-presenting pairs.

Blair says the teams formed on their own, and he had no say in the decisions.

Third, the event didn’t seem to have an identity. While a dancing competition in name, some performances were more suited for a drag pageant, while others lip-synched. Many in the crowd weren’t sure which performance aspects and criteria were being judged.

The morning after, Blair was already planning for DWTSFLS in 2025 and working on improvements. But, he’s very happy with how the return went.

“I’m not quite sure there’s been a moment in our history where change makers and trailblazers come together on one stage.”



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Corrections: editorial@outsfl.com

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