Get your hat and your boots ready because The Bachelor's going line dancing!
Or rather he did go line dancing several months ago when the current season of The Bachelor was still filming, and I went with him. Sort of.
For one afternoon back in September, the show took over The Canyon, a restaurant and concert venue in Agoura Hills, California, fairly close to where the actual Bachelor mansion is located, and fairly close to where Peter Weber actually lives. So close, in fact, that he goes to The Canyon regularly in his own regular, non-TV life.
"Yeah this actually didn't feel at all like a TV show date," Pilot Pete told me after the date was over. "This is like a real date I would do in real life. I come here all the time. This is the place where Wednesday nights, my friends get together, and we love to line dance."
The whole date, in fact, had quite the hometown vibe.
"Even before this, I got to show her around. We drove around my hometown, I got to point my high school out, where I had my first date, where I had my first job, and then to bring her here after this was just super cool."
The lucky lady on this date is Victoria Paul, a 27 year-old nurse who has opened up a bit this season about her hard childhood, losing her dad at a young age and dealing with her mother and sister's drug addiction. It was Victoria's mom, now several years sober along with Victoria's sister, who nominated her, since Victoria herself had only watched a couple episodes of the show before.
"We all kind of hoped it would be Peter," she told me, though she says she didn't look into him too much before she arrived for filming.
"I didn't really do any research or do too much digging, because I wanted to form my own opinion, and I didn't want to have any preconceived idea of who this person was," she said. "So this is real and this is genuine. I wanted the opportunity to find love, and my family and friends really encouraged me to do this, and so here I am. And I am so glad that I am here."
And how's she feeling about the show, having never really watched it before?
"I think that this whole thing is just freaking surreal," she said.
While Peter and Victoria drove around his hometown, a large crowd of mostly women inside The Canyon learned how to line dance. There were two dances—one for everybody, and one for those who are a little more "advanced" with line dancing, or at least with choreography.
I declined to dance at all since I wasn't dressed for the occasion and I'm an awful dancer, but I was happy to watch from a table off to the side for several hours while we waited for the arrival of Peter and Victoria.
The crowd practiced dancing, then took a break, then practiced again, then took a break.
They got instructions about what would happen: Peter and Victoria would come in during a dance, they would join the dance, and then they would head over to the bar. Do not touch the Bachelor. Do not kick the Bachelor. Do not acknowledge the Bachelor.
There was a bit of a time limit on this date because The Canyon had to open up for dinner and a show in just a couple of hours, and I personally started to worry as the hours went on, but finally, Peter and Victoria arrived, and everything from there went almost exactly as planned.
In their cowboy hats and boots, Peter and Victoria came in, joined the already-dancing crowd, and did some line dancing before they headed over to the bar to have a conversation I could not hear from all the way across the cavernous room. While they talked, the dancing continued behind them.
There was a moment where Peter lost his hat and that had to be tracked down, and then before they headed off to their post-date interviews (and our interview), Peter took a moment to ride the mechanical bull, with Victoria cheering him on. Unfortunately, that ended badly for Peter when he fell off and landed a bit too hard.
"I had my mic on my spine, and then when I got thrown off, the mat compressed all the way to the ground, so I smacked it," he said as he sat down for our interview holding a bag of ice. Luckily his date was a nurse.
"I just had such an amazing feeling about her from day one," he said of Victoria and why he chose her for this particular date. "Her heart has just been so clear to me, how full it is and the type of person she is. She also, I could just tell...this wasn't the most extravagant, crazy date out there that you get to do on this show, but I could tell that she would be someone that could really appreciate this kind of hometown, what-really-makes-me-me, laid-back type of date, and I think she did."
Most Bachelor stars do not live five minutes from the Bachelor mansion, and so most Bachelor seasons do not feature quite so many dates in places that are quite so close to home.
The very first one-on-one of the season was a trip to Peter's home to watch his parents renew their vows, and the first group date was a trip to the airport where Pilot Pete learned to fly. He says he was aware of the show growing up, but it's weird and awesome to now actually be the star of the show.
"I started watching the show my freshman year of college," he said. "So I definitely knew the show had been filmed here. And I used to try to sneak onto the mansion back then, years ago. But It's weird. Definitely weird, just being so close to it. But it's awesome. It's super unique. This is like my backyard, and it's just really cool."
That said, Peter also said the process was "100% a lot harder" than what he had imagined going into it, his backyard or not.
"I know probably everyone says that, but yes, this is not easy," he said. "I always knew that I'm someone that falls easy and quickly, and I'm OK with that. That doesn't bother me. That's just who I am, and I'm not gonna try to change that. But I've been very surprised with how many connections I already feel like I'm forming, like legit...and this is three weeks in. I'm sure every Bachelor says he has the best group, but I really do feel like I have quality, quality girls. And it's tough. The second rose ceremony already got difficult. But with that being said, it means that this is probably going to work."
Hannah Brown's season of The Bachelorette had just ended a few months before in heartbreak for everybody, with Hannah single after having broken off an engagement, and with Peter sent home in third place. And just a week or two before this date, Hannah had returned for that emotional, somewhat open-ended conversation that left Peter stunned and confused. And yet he says her season proved to him that this could work.
"Everything that I felt last season, with Hannah's season, I know this works. I've said that since day one," he said. "I was encouraging the girls night one. This works. Just give yourself the process. It's weird. I mean, today was weird. Everyone was just kind of staring at us, and that part's uncomfortable, but when you really just focus on that person and enjoy the date, this does work."
So did he feel like his person was among the women currently living in the mansion? A quick and confident, "Yes."
"I definitely feel like there's a very good chance I already met my wife," he said. "That's crazy."
You can watch Peter's date with Victoria in tonight's episode of The Bachelor, at 8 p.m. on ABC.