I don’t know how we coped before the Tinterweb and all the hifalutin technicality that has swamped the planet in the last few years. There was a time when you used to have to go to a library in a quest for knowledge or nip to the phone box, put in your tuppence and dial away to listen to your favourite pop song. Accessing a pharmacy meant a visit to Boots, the only chemist in the country, movies were at the pictures and to find out what was on telly you had to pledge a badge of allegiance by buying either the TV or the Radio Times.
So there I was, no TV listings, PC switched off and phone charging, sitting, not sat, in frunnt of the telly on Friday night waiting for the first six dancers to grace the screen, just like last week. The air of expectation was palpable. I had popcorn, Twiglets, a large box of wine, a Geisha offering a shoulder massage, a Reiki specialist sending positive charges from my toes to my ankles. And so I turned on the box.
Much as I searched I found nothing. Have I Got News. Footy. People killing each other. I rang the DA, Dance-aholics Anonymous, and they said it was all starting on Saturday.
‘But last week we had two nights,’ I implored.
‘It’s tomorrow,’ they convinced me. ‘Bit more room on the scheduling.’ Disappointed, with my habits curtailed, I sent the home help home.
And then there was Saturday, nearly two hours of spectacularness, dancing of quality, dancing of mirth, dancing, not dancin’, of less than mediocrity, an avalanche of entertainment, many proving that it isn’t just excellence that provides cheer. Everything, not everythin’, was epic.
And then there was Sunday too, a repeat of Saturday plus the results show where the phone lines were cut off at 8:45pm on Saturday night. Strange for a live show. What if I fancied a voat after the Sunday roast? Mmmmmmmmm.
Back to Saturday; let’s take it one dance at a time for there were five to chose from.
Hottie Hauer had never heard of Westlife, many would wish the same, and after his disastrous lifting Waltz, Nicky was dancing for his survival. This he did with courage, his heart bursting, but there was more Marty McFly about this routine than Back to the Future; it was the eighties revisited, a decade before the Cha was invented. Nicky admitted that he couldn’t hear the beat and that he winged it, making it up, pretending he was on the scene of Coyote Ugly. When I saw the preview to this routine I was convinced that Nicky and Hottie would be exiting the show. What could possibly be worse?
The B52s ‘Love Shack’ is not my favourite song ever and not one that immediately springs to mind when thinking of the Cha. Add in a psychedelic shirt from the sixties, a DA from the fifties bordering on the cockatiel and someone who doesn’t struggle with camp and you have a veritable cocktail, one that was a tad bitter at first taste and one that didn’t improve as the song wore on. Yes, he did okay, another routine missing steps and basics; it had a nice tempo and his attitude is commendable. It just wasn’t pleasant.
Just by chance bring on young Dave/Sid and Ola dancing Salsa, not the. There were some firsts tonight. The mirror and dressing table came out, so too the lamp posts. Sid brought the knee slide back to the public’s attention, never seen in a Salsa pally, he added a shoulder shimmy and then far too much prancing on his own like a groom to be, the night before the big day. In a last ditch to experience freedom he gave it some wapatumba at the expense of technique, transitions were lumpy, chunky even, a lesson for all wanabees. Subtlety matters. Len alluded that this was more Kingston-upon-Thames as opposed to Kingston, Jamaica. It bordered on Bermondsey, Dick van Dyke standing in the wings.
Sid has a great attitude, a must in students, but his 22 was overshadowed by Dani’s Salsa, 27, only Darcey Yah offering a 6. This is good given that she doesn’t normally overshadow much save for the Borrowers or the Pixielettes.
Dressed in red, her body the colour of a Jaffa cake filling, Dani was totally at ease with this dance even though her long strides took her a fair distance away from Vinnie, even though she was weighed down by tattoos, at least three. Bruce was asked if he had a tattoo. He replied, ‘You don’t put stickers on a Ferrari.’
Dani’s routine was full of content, nice pretzel, a courageous forward roll and dismount, brilliantly set up. One lift was less than gracious in its denouement but by the end she had blossomed, her confidence strong and after a few more nights out practising she will go further, higher even.
The Viennese Waltz has three basic steps: reverse turns, natural turns and a Fleckerl, though the Fleckerl, four bars, two rotations, to the left or the right, could be classed as two. So when a cupple dance the VW and omit everything save for the natural turns then it makes you scratch your head. Bring on 00 Salmon and Kristina.
Firstly let’s get the obvious out of the way. When these two were paired together someone was either having a laugh or on their way to blind school. No offence. None taken. Colin is nearly a giant. He is the Gulliver to Kristina’s Lilliputian. They are twins in a Schwarzenegger – DeVito sort of way. Dancing with such a disparity doesn’t look right; goodness knows what he’s feeling?
And then bring on the dance. Not a Viennese cross (reverse turn) in sight. What on earth was going on? Lots of faff and fancy, nice lines, good extensions, lovely song, ‘Kiss From A Rose’, but where were the reverse turns? And bizarrely none of the juddgies, not even Lord Len, my favourite stickler, said anything, all sixes, 24. Divide this by the number of steps and this should have been an 8. You can tell I’m not happy, can’t you?
Fern, Lisa and Louis scored 24, 25 and 30 for their VWs.
It was good to see R-Tem with his shirt on as well as some Viennese crosses but most of the focus seemed to be on Fern’s audition to be the latest Shake N’ Vac girl as she wofted her hands with gay abandon. Safe in the master choreographer’s arms Fern enjoyed this ride. She was given tips on travellin’, yah, followin’ through, the need to firm up her posture and how she could pull up through her back. Great advice, applicable to all, but no-one advised Lisa to get longer legs. The VW is tough for the long legged and the short. Dressed like a posh toilet roll holder Lisa delivered a professional performance, something you would expect from an actress and an old hand at panto, but she decided that leading was her job not that of her male pro. Poor Robin. Don’t fret old lad, this happens a lot in the social ranks.
Louis danced his VW to ‘Puppy Love’, a Donny Osmond classic, straight from the streets of Vienna and whilst first glance might give you the impression that he was a bit skippy, no bush kangaroo, he mastered the steps, hurrah, and a Fleckerl or two to boot. Nicole Kidley commented that there was calm, confidence, grace and great posture but she questioned the connection, yah, something vital to any performance. Bruno thought it was a Valentine’s Card brought to life. Craig wasn’t asked. More Beeb timing issues. 30 points earned him the ‘best dance of the series’ so far, only to be topped by the Jive of all Jives later.
Louis made a clear statement about his latent ability. He also repeated the same with his haircut. It looked like a size four wig on a size nine skull, a small black mass asleep on his head.
As ridiculous as Louis the Hair’s hair was Vaughany’s Ballroom Jive, the nemesis of many. Why he was allocated it at this stage, who knows? Not great fortune. Unless someone wanted him out early?
We were told that he and Nat had spent hours and hours practising. One wonders what because it wasn’t the Jive. In a mishmosh of missed timing, poor footwork and hips leading their own life Vaughany compelled a two paddle, 15 points in total, Shakin’ Stevens still shakin’ after the foundations of ‘This Ole House’ were well and truly rocked. If his timing was that bad when he was batting he wouldn’t have got the ball off the square.
Fresh from the tanning booth Vaughany completed the energetic romp with some great flicks and total relief. This was a huge effort and he is blessed to have got this one out of the way early, blessed too that he missed the dance off for he wouldn’t even have had to dance. In cricket parlance, when you know you’re out, you walk. He’d have walked. But he lives on. Message to competitor: get the pro to teach you some basics!
One pro who doesn’t need basics is Denise Kathleen Outen. I say pro. Who, in week two, could produce a performance of such class other than someone bred in theatre school, someone who has lived in front of a camera or on a stage? It is almost unfair and barring a peasants’ revolt she will be in the final at Christmas.
Yet she only scored eights across the board, 32, ‘Tutti Frutti’ the song of choice. Denise gave it a lash, funny that having suffered whiplash in training. High octane, sharp technique, bounce, energy and a very tired but gleeful pro partner at the end, he laffing so much inside, knowing that the Glitter Ball is almost in touching distance.
And it’s still October.
The remaining incumbents were asked to Fox Trot, three celebs led by a male pro, one male celeb facing the toughest dance of all to lead all by himself.
Having fallen from her bike last week Victoria got up, brushed herself down and was delighted to ride the Fox Trot tandem with Brendan. There was a little stumble in the first four bars and Vic didn’t fancy turning much, but in the sanctity of his arms back came the confidence and the security that all that brings. There was much relief in their camp as 26 points equalled the best FT of the night and this put out a marker for the weeks to come. Vic has pedigree, she is a winner, she is an Olympian. The other dancers will have taken note.
Kim and Pasha danced to a song by someone called Adele. Quite good she was, I wonder if she’s got a record deal? The mood was black and dark in a moody, sultry sort of way and, dodging the lampposts, the stage school inspired songstress equalled Vic’s 26 in spite of a mixed bag of comments from the juddgies. Most went well but her top line looked soft and Lord Len, closer to the action, spotted more and told her off. There is no other way of saying it. It was like your dad having a word. ‘You can do better than that girl!’
Rather than be perturbed by the guidance Kim knew that he was right.
Eight points less was Jerry Hall, somehow surviving selection for the dance off, Anthony Smith of Bristol knowing now, if he didn’t before, that he has once again been given a dud. What crime did he commit in a previous life? Surely he deserves a chance? Okay, we know his Latin is bobbins, but not even the Master could get Jerry to Fox Trot, his favourite dance. She slumped, she swayed, her elbows dropped; it reminded you of a 2:00am flurry after a few too many gins. Maybe Jerry forgot that she was dancing in front of over eleven million viewers? Maybe she thinks that the deed has been done and her endorsements have now been given a high enough profile for accepting to be on the show? I would have said dance but we haven’t had any evidence of that yet.
And that just leaves Johnny Ball, sadly not Johnny Ballroom, the first celeb to bite the dust. As the Michael Bublé song ‘Crazy Life’ caressed the airwaves the only thing that came to mind was ‘has he got his own teeth?’ Johnny not Michael. I know, bizarre, but his gurning disguised his feet and it was thoughts of his top line of teeth that dominated, not his real top line. He scored 20 in what was a decent enough effort, not the worst of the night, but such is the power of the populace that Johnny made the dance off with Richard when, on form, Nicky and Vaughany were destined for the chop.
So the oldest contestant falls at the first hurdle leaving ten cupples to wait their turn and the top three to focus on their journey to the final. It was a shame for Johnny but more so for Aliona, his forgotten partner, offed before she had the chance to dance. A bit like getting picked to play for England, getting injured and never being picked again. Johnny is gone. But who is next?
October 18th 2012