‘Dancing with the Stars’: Shangela on opening the door for same-sex couples on the competition series

“To be anyone who gets to walk through a door, there’s a responsibility not only to walk through there fiercely, but also push it open for the others coming behind. That’s what we’re hoping to do,” said drag star Shangela to “Dancing with the Stars” co-host Alfonso Ribeiro on “Elvis Night” when asked what it’s like to be a groundbreaker. Shangela — aka Darius Jeremy Pierce — and pro partner Gleb Savchenko are the first male same-sex couple to compete on the show.

Shangela had a strong first dance on the show on premiere night, a charismatic and energetic salsa that got such a great response from the studio audience that he felt “like Beyonce at the Super Bowl.” It was actually the first time Savchenko got straight 7s from the judges on his first dance. But week two was different. “Elvis was a rebel. And being a person who likes to live outside the box that society tries to put us in, I feel a real connection to him,” he explained during his clip package. But it was going to be a quickstep, his first ballroom dance, which would require more technically precise footwork in hold. He was up for the challenge, though: “Next time y’all see me I’m gonna look like I just came out of ‘Bridgerton.'” No matter what, though, “I’m going to be Shangela. I’m going to show up, I’m going to bring you a show.”

Their quickstep matched their opening night performance, getting straight 7s from the judges for a total of 28 out of 40. That tied them for sixth place out of 15 performers for the night, and when the votes of viewers at home were factored in, they were safe from elimination and advancing to the next round. Will they go as far as last year’s groundbreaking couple, the female same-sex pairing of JoJo Siwa and Jenna Johnson, who were the runners-up for the Mirror Ball Trophy?

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