Bindi Irwin, Gary Busey and more have big opening nights for very different reasons

September 14, 2015 11:15 PM

Dancing with the Stars is back in the swing of things.

The season 21 premiere saw standouts shine right out the gate and other stars struggle to find their footing.

Read on to revisit highlights from the memorable episode.

The first married couple to compete on DWTS both fared quite well, with Alexa PenaVega and pro Mark Ballas earning 22 out of 30, and Carlos PenaVega and his partner Witney Carson earning 23 out of 30.

But rather than focusing on their scores, Carlos was more interested in his wife’s outfit for the competition.

“I need to ask costumes if she can borrow that,” Carlos said to laughs.

Alexa, looking embarrassed, joked that she’d be willing to ask to borrow the costume, “if it makes Carlos happy.”

The proud wife told PEOPLE she got “a little emotional” watching her husband.

“We all work so hard, and we’ve never done this before and nerves come into play ,so I was just rooting for him. I know he was feeling the same way. I was really proud of him.”

For more from the couple, check out their exclusive PEOPLE blog.

Paula Deen struggled out of the gate, earning just 15 out of 30. But the cooking icon, who returns to the limelight following a career-threatening controversy in 2013, still managed to entertain using her big personality.

“I had white underwear when I started, but it’s probably white no more. I was scared!” Deen said immediately after the performance.

Earlier, pro Louis Van Amstel said he had to keep Deen on track because, “she is so distracted, so easily.”

Deen treated the audience to some flourless brownies from her new cookbook. She told PEOPLE she wanted to bring the crowd a treat every night she competed (lucky them).

Vine star Hayes Grier said part of the draw of joining DWTS was that it might help him get girls. The 15-year-old probably didn’t think that would extend to judge Carrie Ann Inaba.

“If I was 30 years younger, I’d still be way too old for you,” Inaba said, adding she’d be a “cougar” even if it were three decades ago and she were trying to date him.

“I’m not weirding you out,” added Inaba, 47. “Sorry, mom.”

Later, younger clarified her statements. “I actually don’t have a crush on him. I want to clarify because everybody s going to think I m a weirdo,” younger told PEOPLE. I was just reflecting on ‘Wow. I ve been doing this show for so long. That was 30 years ago that I was his age and yet still a little older. I was not hitting on him!”

He may have ended the night with just a 15 out of 30, but Gary Busey made his mark with a memorable segment. He revealed that DWTS was the favorite show of his late mother, Sadie Virginia Arnett, who died three years ago. He dedicated the performance to her, and also had plenty of colorful ways to describe pro Anna Trebunskaya.

He called her “From Russia with Love,” and said she “sculpted me into the dancer” he is today.

He also had this to say to host Tom Bergeron: “When I’m talking to you, your left eye is spinning. That’s really neat!”

Afterwards, Busey told PEOPLE he didn’t pay attention to the roar of the crowd.

“I didn’t notice the crowd. I didn t hear the cheers,” he said. “I was noticing my partner Ana – from Russia With Love – and we did it. I heard nothing.”

He added of the judges commenting on his crazy energy onstage that he “was born with the energy of ten men who have normal jobs.”

Bindi Irwin said she’s competing in the show to make her late father, Steve Irwin proud.

She wowed the judges, earning a 24 out of 30 (tying with Nick Carter for the night), and her pro Derek Hough revealed her secret weapon: She was humming “Eye of the Tiger” before competing.

“It’s my theme song,” Irwin said. “My dad liked that song. My mum liked that song.”

Inaba continued her trend of longing for the glory days of three decades ago.

“If this was 30 years ago, I would want to be your best friend, because your energy was so contagious,” Inaba told Irwin. “The way you attacked every pointed toe was beautiful.”

Irwin told PEOPLE she’s more used to documentary filmmaking, where wildlife, not her, is not the focus.

“I’m in a sequin dress and I’m kicking my legs! I was quite nervous. So I was singing ‘Eye of the Tiger,’ ” she told PEOPLE.

What were your favorite moments from the DWTS season 21 premiere? Share them in the comments below.

Dancing with the Stars premiere week continues Tuesday at 9 p.m. on ABC with a look back at Monday’s performances, as well as unseen rehearsal footage.