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Flying to LA isn’t the only way to see Dancing with the Stars live—Charleston has its own version: “Lowcountry Dancing with the Stars.”
For these toe-tapping fundraising performances held during the American Lung Association’s Oxygen Ball on Friday, April 29—local celebs and their professional dancing partners from Fred Astaire Dance Studios offered all the drama of gorgeous performances, sans all the tearful rants. Kirstie Alley could take a tip or two from this group.
As guests ascended the stairs at the Charleston Marriott, they were met with posters displaying contestants and winners from previous years (Charleston magazine’s own editor-in-chief Darcy Shankland danced a fabulous salsa last year). This heightened the excitement to line up and buy the mini disco ball necklaces necessary for voting.
For the cocktail hour, tables with silent auction items lined both sides of the corridors, where people placed bids, mingled with the dancing couples, and took advantage of the open bar. Once the ballroom doors opened, and everyone sat down for dinner, the live bidding began. Hosted by T.J. Philips of WEZL and party-circuit fave Doug Warner, the auction featured a variety of items, including dinner for 12 by dancer/chef Brett McKee and a stay at Anita Zucker’s beachfront home on Folly.
Just as everyone was finishing up dessert or testing out flavors at the oxygen bar (think invigorating peppermint and therapeutic lemongrass), the lights dimmed and all eyes were on the dance floor as the main attraction kicked off with Channel 2 news anchor Carolyn Murray and her partner, James Meek. Their fox trot was followed by accessories designer Mary Norton and Maksym Sidak’s cha cha cha. And businesswoman and philanthropist Anita Zucker and last year’s champ Andrey Gergel received a standing ovation after their waltz tango.
Next up was chef Brett McKee and Elena Ivanchenko’s tango, followed by RTW stylist and one of Charleston magazine’s Most Stylish (March 2011) Jeffrey Rhodes (who dyed his hair “electric blue” to match his partner Lacey Bramblett’s dress). The daring duo capped off the competition with a cha cha cha to GaGa’s “Bad Romance.”
Each pair dazzled audience members, and after the votes were tallied, the lovely Anita Zucker and Andrey Gergel were announced as the 2011 Lowcountry Dancing with the Stars Champions. The Oxygen Ball raised nearly $150,000 to support the South Carolina chapter of the American Lung Association and its programs, such as Camp Puff ’n’ Stuff for children with asthma.
—Written by Natalie Miller