A Closet Groupie Set Free

Susan Jacobs with the cast of SWAY: A Dance Triology
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Written by Susan Jacobs

So in my $592 seat, I forewarned my friend that I was going to live out my groupie fantasy, hopefully not embarrassing her too much.

Are you a groupie? Susan Jacobs shares her story about being a closet groupie and how she was set free.

Have you ever totally let your hair down, so to speak (says this short-haired woman), thrown caution to the wind not caring  if you made an utter fool of yourself?  If not, try it, it is highly liberating and plain old fun!

One of the great perks during my long marketing and communications career in the entertainment business was sharing.  Back in the day, expense accounts were flush, car service usage was a given, and bonuses were jaw dropping. Once, when working at a record label, after a couple of dates with a guy that I liked, I surprised him with a care package of CDs.   This just meant that my assistant picked out an assortment of 20 or so from the supply closet  and sent them Fed Ex with a note that said, ‘Happy listening.’   My total vested time:   3 minutes.   Total out-of-pocket cost:  0.

Clearly, working in a ‘normal’ non-entertainment job, this otherwise smart man completely misunderstood my intentions — thinking that I had bought the CDs and paid for shipping. His interpretation: I was acting like we were already in a relationship, rather than simply sharing my business perks. While appreciative of the care package, there no more dates! Lesson learned – always provide a disclaimer before gifting free stuff while in the early stages of dating.

Over the years at film and music events, I was either the producer or handling the PR, red carpet arrivals, and press lines.   Basically, working my butt off for anything  I got into for free.
It was therefore with huge joy that I accepted an invitation from a TV Guide  journalist friend to see SWAY: A Dance Trilogy at Hammerstein Ballroom several months ago, starring Dancing With The Stars’ Maks and Val Chmerkovskiy, Tony Dovolani, season winners Rumer Willis and Meryl Davis, and other guest dancers.

Surprisingly, our ‘comp’ (complimentary) tickets were $592 each, in the third row, where we were sandwiched between screaming fans that had come from as far away as San Francisco to see the show in NYC, paying up to $1,000 for a single ticket. Can’t say I would ever do that, but these ladies were happy as could be.

I came late to getting hooked on Dancing with the Stars — still a newbie entering my fourth season, but I can stand on a rooftop and shout that I love Val and am a die-hard fan!

So in my $592 seat, I forewarned my friend that I was going to live out my groupie fantasy, hopefully not embarrassing her too much.   I screamed and cheered, gave standing ovations, took photos and videos, and saw heart-shaped cartoon bubbles in my head imagining Val dancing with me instead of those other women.   I swooned with our seat-mates as we shared our favorite memories of the last season, debated about which we thought was the hottest guy (you know my vote) and the sexiest woman, and how envious we were of the female dancers – their grace, talent, and uber-femininity.

I bought ‘merch’ (merchandise) at an event for the first time ever, which I had no business doing since having storage bins filled with virtually a lifetime supply of t-shirts, baseball hats, sweatshirts and other free giveaways from projects I have worked on over the years.   These items serve as souvenirs and memory refreshers of my career, and now the $30 t-shirt I bought that says ‘Dancing is F**king Awesome,’ will ultimately serve as a memory, or perhaps be passed on to a friend.   But for now, I wear it proudly.

SWAY was fantastic.   I tried to catch Maks’ attention when he jumped off the stage and began pulling women from the audience to dance with him in the aisle.   Had it been Val, I would have stepped on people’s heads, taken them down, to get to him.   Think a Beatles concert…     But alas, I was too far from the aisle, and it was Maks, not Val, so even though I was itching to jump and shake my boobs and booty for the salsa song, I behaved. Still, getting to watch just a few feet from the stage was pretty awesome.

After the show, with press badge in hand, we pushed our way through to the step-and-repeat line for photos with the cast.   I’ve worked with a lot of high-profile celebrities and never, perhaps foolishly, did I ask to take a picture of them or have one taken with me.  So the fact that I stood on line for an hour to get a celebrity photo was a different experience.   Totally uncool and unprofessional had I been working, yet completely to be expected as DWTS groupie!

The set-up was highly organized, with the house photographer using each person’s phone or camera to take the picture.   The cast was incredibly generous engaging with the fans and it seemed that they truly enjoyed each other’s company and mutually shared respect.

I so wanted the picture to be perfect but hadn’t dressed for the occasion because who would have thought…   When it was my turn, with heart pounding from nervous excitement,    I told the cast I loved them all but loved Val the most. He blushed and gave me a big hug which was captured on camera and is now saved in multiple locations or multiple devices.   Perhaps it’s my imagination run wild, but I’m choosing to believe that he felt something too!

During this three-hour interlude, I stepped out of responsibility, ego, caring what anyone thought of my behavior, and was able to just be silly and have fun.   I was an adoring fan who let my short hair down and experienced life as a groupie.   It was exhilarating,  energizing, and reminded me to not take things so seriously, to let go, be present, and know that my to-do list will still get done.

With the world moving at warp speed and levels of external stimulation at a piercing decibel, it is sometimes challenging to even remember a simple train of thought.  Stepping outside of your comfort zone, your daily routine filled with responsibilities and jumping into the metaphorical sandbox, playing with crayons and getting mud all over your face can be surprisingly exhilarating.  For me, becoming a groupie for three hours did the trick and I was able to then return to my reality with a bigger smile on my face and added vigor in my step!

Identity Magazine is all about empowering women to get all A’s in the game of life — Accept. Appreciate. Achieve.TM Every contributor and expert answer the Identity 5 questions in keeping with our theme. Their answers can be random and in the moment or they can be aligned with the above article. As a team, we hope to inspire and motivate ourselves and inspire you to get all A’s.

1. What have you accepted within your life, physically and/or mentally? What are you still working on accepting?

I have a growing acceptance of  change, both physically and mentally.  Nothing stays the same and thinking that it does is counterproductive.  So I’ve become comfortable with uncertainty, with the notion of change, and with enough life history to see that for the most part, with change comes positive shifts.  Still working on accepting all of the above!

2. What have you learn to appreciate about yourself and/or within your life, physically and mentally? What are you still working on to appreciate?

That I can be a total knucklehead.  I appreciate that I now know not to sweat the small stuff, what not to take too seriously, and what really matters to pay attention to.  Still working to appreciate that I’ve always been out-of-the-box, non-conventional, and hard to define, which means that I often have felt like an outside.  Still trying to appreciate the miracle of being different and hard to categorize!

3. What is one of your most rewarding achievements in life? What makes YOU most proud? What goals and dreams do you still have?

That I am  exposing my vulnerability as a writer in a way that I never have before.  I’m proud that I am doing this, and owning my voice in the process.  Goals and dreams — to become a best-selling New York Times author, to inspire and empower women around the world to speak and live their truth through sharing my stories and giving voice to other’s stories that matter.  This is an ongoing work-in-progress so am excited to see how it continues to unfold.

4. We all have imperfections, so we think. The truth–we are all perfectly imperfect. What are your not-so-perfect ways? What imperfections and quirks create who you are–your Identity?

Most definitely how self-critical I am.  I beat the crap out of myself and am very judge mental of me.  It can be exhausting but I am aware of it so usually can now catch myself and then let it go.  My imperfections and quirks that make me who I am include: my free spirit, trusting of people I barely know, relying in part on the energetics of situations to guide my moves, my ability to talk to anyone including strangers, and trusting that there is a master plan that is in play regardless of who I try to meddle with it.

5. “I Love My…” is an outlet for you to express and appreciate all the positive traits that make you…well… YOU! Sharing what you love about yourself will make you smile, feel empowered, and uplift your spirit and soul. (we assure you!) Identity challenges you to complete the phrase “I Love My…?”

 The answer will always be the same — my salsa dancing and Kundalini yoga practice.  They both keep me sane, lift me up, provide a safe place for me to let go of all stress, and kind answers.

About the author

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Susan Jacobs

Writing has been part of my DNA, career, and creative outlet for as long as I can remember. My joy is bringing to life stories of the world, its people, and its cultures.

I'm filled with an insatiable curiosity for life off-the-beaten-path and love to share stories of the unheard voices I find along the way.

Giving voice to things that matter, raising awareness, and expanding perspectives is what lights my fire and is the heart and soul of who I am and what I do.

I have contributed a chapter to two books: “Step Forward and Shine,” published by RHG Media Productions, and “Pain, Purpose, Passion,” published by The Round House Press. I'm a contributing blogger to Huffington Post, Identity Magazine, Thrive Global, Yogic Living, and Medium.com. My personal essays and writing have appeared in Pink Pangea, FourTwoNine Magazine, Extreme Sailing Series 2018 Official Magazine, Aquarian Times, Spirituality & Health, PR Week, and IndieWire. I'm working on my first memoir.

Please visit at www.givingvoicetothingsthatmatter.com