No one knows the exact origin of Halloween. The word was never used until the sixteenth century; prior to that the day had been a pagan celebration, a time for the Romans to feast in honour of one of their gods, the chance for Christians to thank their God for the harvest and to toast all their Saints, a national holiday in France (November 1st). The Celts believed that this was the day when evil spirits were the most active, especially ghosts, witches and fairies. Well, to be honest, that sounds like a normal Friday night in this fair city. Of course, in France it is worse where freaks, monsters and ghouls abound. As we all know away ghouls are worth twice as much in Europe.
The first evidence of guising – trick and treat to you and me – was during the First World War, in America. And since then the day has been synonymous with a large orange member of the cucumber family, cut into a lantern, to ward off the evil as well as every well-intentioned carnivore, and synonymous with anything spooky that you can think of. Every horror movie from zombies to Dracklea, Frankenstein to the Krypt Kickers, from the waking dead to the walking dead, from the vampires to the totally batty, all has become fair game.
When I was a lad we might have cut a lantern from a turnip, eating the raw flesh . . . of the vegetable. But even with James Bond being the obvious choice of theme as ‘Skyfall’ filled the countries cinemas this weekend, Halloween was the theme of choice. Next week will be Bonfire Night, the week after Brucie takes a rest, the week after that we all might need to.
It was announced that the remaining twelve cupples were brave having to face the cut-throat juddgies. As is, not as brave as the audience given some of the performances. Many dancers improved, others halted and some spiralled uncontrollably towards the exit.
But before we focus on the fallen a small note about the scoring. In this show we saw the first three nines (plus one eight) of the series, all for Louis and Flav, for their Tango, danced to ‘Disturbia’ by Rihanna, that well-known Tango classic. Looking like a zombie, on purpose, Louis delivered a polished routine, the minor irritants spotted by the judggies being his right thumb and a kick higher than his lady. There was bags of content, Tango, and one trick, gym, and this was the best dance of the night. But was it worth nines?
The answer to that comes from the other stand out routine of the night, a welcome Lazarus moment from Vaughany and Natalie scoring 31 for their Quick Step to ‘That Old Black Magic’. Vaughany had a makeover a fortnight ago. His hair was coloured and shaped, he learned a little about mascara. And he looked damned fine. But it didn’t help his Cha.
So it was Monte Carlo or Bust for Vaughany. The crickit world was watching expectantly, surely such a magnificent captain could transform his own performance? Leaving the show before any other crickiter would have been too much to stand. Tuffers got further. Goughie and Ramps both won it. So with a red bow tie and cummerbund, black eyes, fake tash, a glint in his eye, and before you could say ‘Howzat’, he produced a Quick Step with great content, soft toes, light feet and smart timing. Great syncopations. He could have done to have stood a little taller at times but that would just be picky. The resultant score got him three eights, a surprising seven from Ferrara’s finest. So having marked so high the juddgies were obliged to score Louis higher. And they did.
Kimberley and Vic also scored 31s, a Paso and another Tango.
There were trees for Kimberley, lampposts long gone, she had a basket, a red-hooded cape and ‘Hungry Like The Wolf’ was their song choice, the story ‘Little Red Riding Hood’, no known link to Halloween. As I remember, this was The Brothers Grimm. Pasha threw in a cartwheel thinking he was Louis Smith. There was a lot going on in this fiery display, a buyable effort. Had this been an audition for the West End she’d have got the part. Oh yeah, dunn that.
Brendan danced to ‘White Wedding’. How apt then that his belle should wear a white dress. This sort of made up for his attempt to look like a young Tom from McFly, spiky hair et al. This didn’t have the same feel as Vaughany’s Quick Step yet the points were the same. The seven paddle came from Australia. One day they’ll play a genuine Tango track. Then the only paddle needed would be part of the defibrillator, such would be the shock.
Five points shy in the Tango stakes were Nicky and Hottie, her in red and black, he in an all-white suit straight from his Westllife wardrobe, the 2003 comeback tour. Something called ‘Weird Science’ was the song. No idea. Nicky bent forward again, stomped a little, marching rather than stalking, but the routine was his best yet, the disasters of previous weeks not forgotten but not demonising his thoughts. He will be here for a while yet, posture permitting.
Lisa was found out this week. She too scored 26 but her Charleston asked more questions than it answered. Again Robin hit the multi-colour buttttn, red braces, a purple and green check suit, black glasses, as they danced to ‘Witch Doctor’ sung beautifully by Dave Arch’s band. How he got them to sound like chipmunks was amazing. But this dance, another with the chance to show off her cheeky side – three out of four so far, can’t be many left – this routine was too much ham, not enough steps, not enough together, too much solo, not enough technique, swivel amiss. She will have to start dancing soon away from the weekly parody of panto.
The same goes for Fern who battled to 21 points in a Fox Trot American Smooth to ‘Killer Queen’. Apparently Marie-Antoinette was beheaded as part of the French Halloween celebrations in 1793. With her partner in a waistcoat, t*ts and tatts out, again, Fern danced like she was fifty something rather than thirty something and this will soon grate with the GBP. Nicey nice, slow and dainty aren’t going to cut it for ever.
Colin Double O does a voice over in one of the ads featured before ‘Skyfall’, the closest he gets to Bond at the moment. His time may come again in the movies but he is destined to be available sooner rather than later unless he can rediscover the promise of his first few dances.
He danced a Solsa to ‘Superstition’, a new dance that used to be Salsa and scored twenny-four according to our hostess. Kristina focused on herself again, the content being as limited as the leading and it lacked that dirty intensity that crystallises with Latin movement. Let me put it this way. For her, dance like you want to fulfil all your midnight wishes. For him, seduce her, show her off, know that midnight is your hour. Making the bottom two will have stirred and shaken the big man.
Also stirred would have been the head of the Spanish Union of Matadors as Richard and Erin walked their way to 22 points dancing a Paso to ‘Carmina Burana, O Fortuna’, a piece of music used for drama in dramatic movies, for tension in tense movies and for crescendo in an advert for Old Spice. My guess is that the Matador would have been searching for a new member to parade in Madrid or Barcelona; he went home empty handed.
One wonders what happens during the week of a Strictly Cupple?
‘We’re doing the Paso this week.’
‘Great, shall we go for a pint?’
Surely the first thing they would do is study the dance, select an exemplar (someone brilliant at it) and try and copy the steps, the mood, the shaping, the mindset? Walk a mile in the matador’s moccasins.
This obviously didn’t happen with Richard as this effort produced more cringe than credit; in terms of horror it was one of those behind the sofa movements, no gaps in the fingers to view, stiff, wooden, planky.
And that just leaves the last three Chas, a 28, a 27 and a 17, the latter drawing a two paddle from one juddge, almost impossible in week 4.
‘Dennis’ Van Outen as she was introduced by our host struggling to read the autocue, looked more than edible in a zebra top, hot pants flashing off nice pins. She started in a cage like an exhibition at the zoo, something you sense she may have done before, and as the music ‘Super Freak’ kicked in again her competence and ability pushed her through to next week. 28 dropped her average a little but it scooped Cha of the night award.
But all was not plaudits and praise for her or the music, the latter more akin to a circus at the turn of the 19th century than pumpkin night. A cupple of juddgies highlighted the leg action needed in the Cha, bent knee to straight leg, not just rotating hips and again the need to perform the basics shone like a full moon.
The funnest dance of the night was Dani and Vinnie dressed like Velma and Fred from Scooby Doo, dancing their Cha to the theme tune of the same TV show. One wonders what Hanna and Barbera would have made of that? Probably a little confused as we all were by Vinnie’s outfit. Dani was Velma. Orange top, glasses, bobbed hair, long orange socks. But who was Vinnie? He wore brown and green. Surely he was Shaggy? But the blonde wig? Surely he was Fred?
Dani though was the star with a quick routine, difficult in high heels, full of clean lines and sharp footwork. She needs to work on her finishing, her spare arm and almost an exaggerated accentuation of movement but she is fast developing into an outside contender. Lord Len said it was like a sausage sandwich, satisfying. It was good to see Anthony Smith of Bristol back on the dance floor finally finding his mojo in a Frankenstein costume.
When a routine contains the use of plastic ghost-busting guns, twice, a break dance and a cupple of knee slides you know that you’re in for trubble and lo and behold that was what poor Sid had to tolerate in his finale on national telly on a Saturday night.
Okay, let’s corroborate things.
Poor Ola’s mum was taken ill and Ola had to fly home to Poland to be at her side. In stepped Iveta, the understudy, to get Sid through the week only for Ola to return for the live show. Between the three of them they produced a display as lacklustre as it was bland and you have to feel for Sid. Too many gimmicks, not enough basics, a duff song, ‘Ghostbusters’, an ill-thought out theme and routine. You sense he was better than that. What happened to the charming Waltzer? Yes, to be given Salsa so early in the series is tuff, the guitar Tango was more than unfortunate, this Cha disturbing. You sense he deserved better.
Had this been Hollywood week he might have featured in the film ‘El Cid’.
Or, more accurately, hell for Sid.
November 1st 2012