On Friday the boiler was condemned. No, not the ex, but the combi in the kitchen.
Outside a storm raged, the temperature dropped, the winter was taking hold and the realisation that there would be no heating or hot water for four or five days sent a shiver . . . well added another. I put on a fleece and my Damart underwear, gloves and hat, boiled some of the snow and the ice from the window and added Bovril, like Bonnington at the foot of The Eiger.
Then I turned on the telly. Strictly was coming and this week the theme was ‘Love’. My frozen hands began to shake, crikey, February already. No card for Keagan’s birthday on the 14th, no cards bought to send to self, no restaurant booked. Where had the months gone? Then I got a note. ‘It’s still October, you ninny!’ ‘Oh!’
So, Love on the dance floor, one wonders what that could mean? A snog at the school disco? The appearance of Brendan’s back catalogue? Or R-Tem’s, arguably bigger? Would relationships be born or destroyed? Would the connection flow and continue off camera? ‘Tis sure a place where dreams are made, where hearts are melted. In reality, what it did mean was that every song was Love related, that the judggies’ paddles were heart shaped and red, and out came the Rumba to play for the first time in this series, the Rumba, the dance of Love.
I say Rumba in the loosest way for it is not the Rumba as the world knows it, not the dance where there are no steps on the first beat. TV Rumba is merely erotic pictures, strong lines, bodies talking irrespective of the music. There is supposedly story telling, freeze frames producing friezes. Forget the footwork and explain when you are dancing in front of the IDTA (International Dances Teachers Association) that you are just doing what they do on the telly.
Natalie scored 36 for her pro-Rumba, Ben 28, a delight for the rugbyman who suffers from 50% deafness, a man weeks into his dance career not years. Basics would have given him better marks, a chance to move his hips more and a chance to feel the music, ‘Make You Feel My Love’. As this show is gauged by the voats Ben has a foot in a few camps. He is a gentle, family man, tick, good looking, tick, macho, tick, World Champion, tick, and he has a prominent following in the gay community as a result of him setting up an anti-bullying charity, tick. After kissing one of the juddgies in joyous celebration at the positive comments there was another demographic in the bag, even though it was only a kiss to the cheek, top half.
Hey, did you see how fast he ran? Should play on the wing that lad!
In the seventies Peter Shelley, (Alvin Stardust’s manager) sang a song called ‘Love Me, Love My Dog,’ the Dulux dog sharing the Top of The Pops arena with him. Bring on, stage left, Julien Super Mac and his best friend, his pooch. Suddenly the RSPCA, Battersea Dogs’ Home and every donkey sanctuary in the country are on his team, the latter, probably where he will end up after his Jive, 22, a Blues Brothers tribute full of wild abandon, energy and wacky animal attack.
Also on the Jive payroll, 28, was Abbey dancing remarkably like her husband plays football, tall, gangly, nice feet and probably great in the air. Using the backdrop of the heritage of her home city she danced to ‘Money Can’t Buy You Love But It Brings the Sort of Misery We Prefer’ by The Beatles. You know as a dancer which dances are your favourites, which you relish, which you court. And then comes one you fear. The Jive is about bounce, speed, technique, energy, finishing, the same tempo at the end as at the start.
Well, at the start, Abbey was sitting waiting for her beau, buying seconds.
The pivots were clunky, the spare arm, spare. She will flourish more in hold.
Another dance to cascade fear is the Samba getting its first run out this series, Sophie EB and Ashley TD both scoring 31, though to be fair his style and conviction should have won the day in that mini-contest.
The lampposts came out of hiding from the props box for Sophie, quite early that, as she danced to ‘All Night Long’, her bridal dance song, and probably a review of her wedding night. Her eyes were feline blue glitter, she wore a kaleidoscopic top, purple, blue, yellow, pink and red glitz, matched by bangles on each wrist. Her skirt was what I call a red frill skirt, not because it had a red frill, but because the closer you get to it the more of a frill you get.
This wasn’t a replica of last week’s success in spite of the full level of content but she was happy with the score and secure in the knowledge that the Samba is out of the way, now only Salsa standing in her way to the final at Christmas. They are the two key dances, two death bys.
Also there will be Ashley, the stand out male, new born baby et al, another in the competition with R-Tem and Ali Ash, flashing his tits during a Samba of conviction, pace, bounce and style. It took a while to get going, ‘Love is in the Air’ a perfect tune, but once moving, Ashley turned on the boy band training and he bound around the room with Glee and purpose. By December that conviction will be cemented in stone and his delivery will take some beating. Hopefully by then the gay flirting will have stopped, the juddgies overplaying this level of sexuality. Whilst I am no homophobe it is a question of respect for the viewers – children too, Brucie was back – and balance. This mirror is one sided, the girls are not treated in the same way. If they did there would be outrage.
Already the dancers are separated into three leagues: the willbes, the triers and the leavers.
Susanna has escaped the dancing peloton and caught the leaders, a sumptuous Viennese Waltz, 34, stealing the hearts and the voats of all the anglers and trawler men; young Kev is from the fish capital of the world that is Grimsby. The VW contains few steps: natural turns, reverse turns and a Fleckerl, but, given artistic licence, it is the dance where there is more opportunity than all to add beauty, style, sophistication and grace. This was added in spades.
There was a tad too much messing about at the start but once ‘Annie’s Song’ kicked in the mood was captured just like John Denver did in his home town of Vienna, Colorado. There was glide, control and a slow and sensuous tempo. It was a bit like a Galaxy bar. And there was a Fleckerl, though it looked like Kevin did the steps and Susanna did a rotating spin. Enough to catapult her upwards, the highest amateur score of the day.
The triers are a great bunch, the heart of the show, Deborah, Fiona, Patrick, Rachel and Mark, all growing in their own way, developing as artists and performers.
In the real world multi-millionaire Deborah, let’s call her Debbie now we know her a little, probably thought she had everything she ever wanted in life: a husband, houses, cars, stables . . . oh, yeah, and horses. Until she discovered this new art. Her Quick Step, another first of the series, scoring 28, was revelatory. The tempo was high, there was plenty of content, the bounces and flicks were perfect. But what warmed the nation was the total pleasure that the dance gave her. This, in turn, gave pleasure to us all.
Fiona had a birthday this week and having wobbled in her Cha last Saturday she was now in the arms of the master, a chance of redemption with a Waltz. With 28 points she recovered her form, her pink frock offsetting Antony’s navy blazer and white slacks and daps, straight from the decks of a liner. Fiona has timing, her feet were neat though an odd toe lead sneaked in, but the grace suited her, her obvious elegance winning the night.
I do have one issue though, Fiona, you are 57, not 67. Dance young! Dance like you’re 47!
Patrick, very dapper in his white bow tie, white shirt and pin striped jacket, white pins, plain pants, was given the Fox Trot and Nat King Cole to conquer and with a score of 27 you could say that honours were even. It is a tuff dance the FT, tricky timing, a search for fluidity, glide and balance essential, and Patrick coped well, monitoring the routine rather than driving it, you got the sense that he didn’t quite dominate. In the main his panache and elegance won the day except for one horrific circle when his shape went and it looked like he was playing ‘Chase Me, Chase Me’. Where on earth did that come from? In fact, what on earth was that?
Having been labelled a ‘Slug in Salt’ by one juddge last week Rachel was back for more Latin, from Salsa to Cha, the latter the poshest form of aerobics you’ll ever come across. In Salsa pallies they sometimes play tracks that last over six minutes. Imagine the same for the Cha, 1, 2 3, 4 and 1, and do that a couple of hundred times. Thankfully on Saturday we got just ninety seconds, Rachel concentrating like a surgeon, counting all the way through it, a true mathematician, her sums adding to a haughty 27. It was better but still wobbly, a little unstable, heavy hipped. Time for some Ballroom, I sense.
Sometimes Mark dances with his glasses on, sometimes he doesn’t. There are occasions when he clowns about, others when he is a parody, his acting leading him through from round to round. His Tango could easily have been funny; his Salsa was a party full of funn and too much sugar. So when asked to dance a Smooth in a suit that used to find favour with bank managers in the sixties you knew that all was not well.
Iveta Luck-A-shooter played the demure fan waiting at the stage door for her hero. There the story should have ended. There was little worthy of worship in a safe routine that had less pizazz than a Saturday night kebab; it was an opportunity missed, something shorn of ambition, no lifts, (no lifts!), and more potential humour when his three step turn to right nearly tumbled Iveta like a bowling pin. 26 points was his best yet.
Making no improvement and blessed with the love of the country to get him through this week Dave ‘Biker’ Myers edged in another 16 points for a Paso that was one of the incredible TV moments of the year but one of the worst dances. One wonders what Hottie was thinking of, dressing him in a leather jacket? The fella was supposed to be a matador, a trained killer, arrogant and dominant, the ultimate assassin not a Hell’s Angel. Add too the lack of traditional steps and Spanish lines. He needed a bloke to show him how to kill the bull, not just cook it. And he might want to think about acting lessons should he get beyond next week.
The dancer who didn’t have the love of the country to support her further in this contest was Vanessa, free now to go back to her day jobs. She and James did a Tango to Abba so God probably voated against her, not a great start. The routine was strange too, at the beginning a jealous Vanessa shooing away a crowd of lovelies, one presumes circling for James, and at the end she threw him to the ground, a fearsome, dominant battle axe in action. Never seen that at a Friday night dance. I even checked my Guy Howard bible. Nope, not in there.
In the midst of that there was a nice vignette of Tango, James’s musicality working well with the occasional cha-cha-cha tempo. Please don’t confuse this with Cha with a capital C.Vanessa hasn’t done much wrong in her short foray into the Ballroom. She is, indeed, a beginner, a place where we all start, and she gave it her all. She was, it is fair to say, a little unfortunate. Had this been Waltz week she would have sailed through. Had the Hairy Bikers not been the number two most popular TV chefs in the country Dave would have been exiled back to Barrow. And had Julien Super Mac not come good, she would be preparing even now.
So, what did Julien do? You remember his Jive was frenetic, like a Taz on speed? Lord Len gave him a tip before the dance off, Julien’s second in two weeks, ‘Don’t go crazy, just keep it calm.’
And he did, it was a terrific improvement.
For Vanessa, though it was a lesson too late in the learning.
October 17th 2013