"We are seriously one big family right now," contestant Ricky Jaime tells PEOPLE

By Patrick Gomez
Updated June 22, 2011 08:50 AM
Credit: James Dimmock/FOX

Wednesday on So You Think You Can Dance the finalists will take to the stage once again to perform for votes, but season 8’s top 20 do not look at each other as competition – they consider themselves “family.”

“From the beginning we created this really strong bond because we all have the same outlook and goals,” Wadi Jones told PEOPLE after performing a jazz routine with Missy Morelli last week.

While the top 20 made their debut only two weeks ago, they have been living together in a Los Angeles apartment complex for almost a month now.

“To have a couple weeks before the competition actually started was amazing. We are seriously one big family right now,” said Ricky Jaime, a 19-year-old contemporary dancer from Miami. “I [was feeling] like it’s just a hotel, but no, we got our groceries and I died. I was like, ‘This is my bacon, this is my ham, I’m going to live in this apartment forever.’ ”

“I can’t believe I am waking up to a nice room and a big ol’ kitchen with food up the wazoo,” echoed fellow contestant Robert Taylor Jr., who danced for his life during last Thursday before the judges decided to save all seven dancers who were in danger of being eliminated. “I enjoy having breakfast. I enjoy playing ping-pong [and video games] with the other guys.”

Between rehearsals, photo shoots and interviews, the top 20 do not have much downtime, but when they do, they enjoy spending it together.

“It’s just an awesome positive energy,” said Jaime, who also likes to host movie nights for the top 20.

There is one thing that has proven difficult for the contestants to do together – watch So You Think You Can Dance.

“It’s hysterical because we are so loud as a group,” said Morelli. “We can’t even hear half of what is said because we are so loud.”

“We try rules to stay quiet but they don’t work,” added Jaime.

But ballroom champion Iveta Lukosiute has found one way to see the show in peace.

“We have a lot of fun, but I have to watch the show for a second time to actually hear what the judges were saying about me because I can’t hear anything [the first time],” she explained.

And while the top 20 remain close, after Thursday’s elimination show (8 p.m. ET on Fox), only 16 will remain – a fact that weighs heavy on the hearts of the dancers.

“It’s going to be hard when someone has to go home,” said Jones. “We’re all one big family and it’s been so much fun living and working together.”