There were poppies on sale everywhere last week and not just the rubbishy paper versions that we have all exhibited over the decades. There were rugby balls, Grenadier Guard hats, Clifton Suspension Bridge pins, beautiful ceramics, wrist bands, stunning golden brooch tributes to Passchendaele, car stickers, pens, bags, you name in, all in the greatest cause of them all. Even the local buses wore poppies.
On Saturday 10th we had two minutes of silence at 11:00am. The following day this was repeated. At the Home Nations’ international rugby matches the crowds stood as one for another sixty seconds, a fitting tribute.
The dignity continued on the Results Show when the team poured their dancing hearts out in a tear-inducing, brilliantly choreographed routine, Christopher Scott take a bow, dedicated to the soldiers that didn’t come home, all wars and conflicts bound by a universal theme. The RAF Spitfires Choir provided the voices as Kevin and Karen Clifton took centre stage, a husband and wife team; she waited at home for his return from war. It’s a good job she wasn’t dancing with Ali-Ash. That would have been awkward.
Festivals of remembrance are a reminder of what psychologists and opticians might call perspective. It helps people understand what really matters. So when a furore – f-roar or for Rory (golf chant) – hits us about the departure of a dancer here and a dancer there it is important to remember simple facts. If you don’t voat, don’t complain. And if your man can’t do Ballroom, accept it. The word bobbins was invented for Aston and his Ballroom.
Now, talking of master choreographers you may have noticed Mr Vincent Simone in the audience on Saturday night, or was it Sunday, the two-time World Argentine Tango champion, fresh from Tango Moderna, his ailing back recovered enough to design the stunning routine that Alexandra and her non-Argie specialist partner marched to the top of the Leader Board. Every week Alexandra is marked down, a bit like a horse with a handicap, the top weight asked to do more than anyone else, for this is a pure thoroughbred. She has previous, as we know, she can dance anything and everyone knows it. To be penalised is against the spirit of the show. Perhaps her and Danny Mac should form a club?
The dance began on a balcony, Alexandra stretching her hamstrings temptingly on a ballet bar, and then they fought their way downstairs, Gorka dressed like a gangster rather than a docker queueing for his lady of the night. Why he let her run off is beyond me. Just give her her fee and close the door. Isn’t that how it works? Boss? Ganchos followed, lifts, leg wraps, high kicks, dynamism, she even walked on his feet, an extra charge normally, apparently, and to finish he got the S & M that his money desired as he nearly smashed her head on the floor. Stunning. They hot-foot it to Blackpool next weekend to see Gorka’s dentist. He’s due his annual check-up.
When you think about it it’s hard to find any benefit that Cockneys or people from the East End of London bring to the world. Cheap suits, cheaper attitude, jack the lads, geezers, cheeky chappies, dodgy businessmen, bank robbers, more gangsters. Eugh! Add the accent and the ‘wanna buy a watch’ mentality and there is little wonder that they get a bad press. However, on the plus side the area has produced Maurice Micklewhite, Fat Phil (Collins), HBC (Helena Bonham Carter), Sir Alf (Ramsey) and Marc Bolan.
Darverd and The Steam Team danced a Charleston to the Cockney anthem ‘Any Old Iron’, sorry ‘The Lambeth Walk’, and thankfully this was the last reference to the district apart from the ‘Who Will Buy’ stand from Oliver being wheeled out again, so soon. Oi, Buster, flowers? Fruit and veg, love?
This is a young, fit man’s dance and thankfully Darverd ticked those boxes, his energy and stamina perfect. He is coming of age. Nads was ambitious too: one over the arm reverse somersault, a round the world where her buttocks ended as cushions for his head, he gets all the great gigs, and then, to finish, she straddled him vertically only for him to throw her over his head. He caught her as she headed down his back towards the floor. One handed. Clever Darverd. His reward, 38 points, in the Ten Club after eight weeks of trying. Fabulous.
It was great to see Darverd splitting the pros because at this stage it looks unlikely that anyone will catch them when the crunch comes. The lovely Debbie McGee has spent a long time in the shadows since her seven years as a dance pro. Not sure I’d mentioned that before but as a female lead she is flourishing, three turns to right, comfort on her own, trusting and courageous in lifts. Her Salsa though was a touch clunky, the transitions tuff, but not as clunky as the music. They began the dance with Debbie as an ophthalmist testing her partner’s eyes. Maybe the producers misread the dance sheet and its accompaniment? There can be no other explanation.
The myopia continued in Joe’s Rumba.
Ah, the Rumba, the sensual, romantic nay erotic exposé. If you’ve never seen this dance and you watched Joe you would be forgiven for thinking that there were just two steps, a forward basic with pigeon toes and a side cucaracha. That is where the curriculum ends because that is all that Joe performed. As the juddgies purred short-sightedly we all waited for more steps. There were none. A dance that is notoriously hard for the male celebs was made easy. Just don’t do any steps. Voila!
There are three tiers in this contest: the pros, the beginners with hope and the beginners with none. Gemma remains in the second tier; those below will perish quickly now.
Gemma’s Viennese Waltz was set at a railway terminal, a homage to the Rail, Marine and Transport Union, Ali-Ash clearly supporting the need for drivers and train guards. And why not, it must be safer. Starting gently, the dance then accelerated, ridiculously fast in spite of natural breaks and stoppages at the right stations but in trying to match the tempo the technique and the mood disappeared. There was almost a Cinderella moment too, her shoe slipping half way off her foot, so all was not well for Bury’s finest, her seat on the bus to Blackpool in doubt. That said she could hitch it from home, it’s not far. One wonders why they didn’t just slow the music down. Surely they were in charge of the train? Perhaps the Fat Controller wouldn’t let them?
Imagine this. Bite into an orange and it tastes like a lemon. Or try a chocolate sprout this Christmas. This was the impact of Susan’s Tango. Kevin from Grimsby wore a full tail suit with white tie offsetting her vibrant red smock beautifully. For the first forty seconds or so it was all a touch pedestrian, slow motion as they paraded in a park reminiscent of the Rockerfeller in New York, white fairy lights in the trees illuminating the promenade. In New York it’s an ice rink at this time of the year so you get the picture. But then the music kicked in, a ditty called ‘Firework’. All sensory expectations were now destroyed. Wasn’t that last weekend? Was there a time lapse? Was York’s finest parliamentarian Guy Fawkes still in town? There was even an explosion at the end. The House of Lords? Someone’s birthday? Christmas? New Year? Who knew? More damp squib than banger.
Susan was flagrantly used and abused by those pesky producers. At this stage of events she deserved more, something more genuine. We all did. Her performance was heartfelt, her technique solid. Dame Shirley stated that she had made huge strides. Well, huge little ones.
In 2009 Anthony Smith of Bristol danced with the actress Laila Rouass. Remember her? Dark, sultry, tempting. They danced a Paso to Derek and the Dominoes’ finest tune ‘Layla’. See what they did there? (A Brucie bonus if you can name another.) Fast forward eight years and they were at it again, this time Moll (her partner’s pet name for her) and Aubergine Jamiroquai getting the pleasure. Another Paso to the same song. I suppose Good Golly Miss Molly wouldn’t have worked either.
It started out so beautifully, lovely guitar intro, great expectations. And then we realised what it was. No wonder Moll nearly had an anaphylactic fit. Add in the pressure of being the dance off queen, the desperation to get to Blackpool and the fact that this was her partner’s favourite dance and it was nearly too much. But she lives to fight for another Saturday but not many more.
In 1914 Gavrilo Princip caused a bit of a stir. He was the chap credited with the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and the First World War was born.
At the same time Baroness Barbara Castle’s great Uncle and Auntie, Vernon and Irene, no relation to Roy, invented the Fox Trot, a dance spawned from two previous incarnations, the Boston and the Bunny Hug, not to be confused with the Quick Fox Trot. It was a slow, gliding dance with a smooth flow. I thought it best to explain that because the dance off was a competition between the two Fox Trots of the night, Jonnie versus Ruthie, and they didn’t really match that description.
Set in Paris, almost Blackpool, just in case they didn’t make it, this effectively a trial, Jonnie looked like he was off the set of a Tarantino movie the lapel of his silver jacket edged in black, Oti in full yellow, infectiously bananas. This is a tuff dance, the timing, the technique and any needed sophistication was difficult to find. It takes more than a week with two feet let alone one, the only dance so far where there looked to be a prosthetic issue.
You could say the same for Ruthie, who, just when she didn’t need it, produced one of her worst dances of the series. In the dance off she ruined the first ten seconds, off time, panicking, trying to hide her squirms with a cane and hat routine obviously knowing that soon she would have to return home. It wasn’t a great end to her delightful beginner’s journey, the gapping, the bobbing, the cantering rather than trotting, almost a gallop, meant that all the feel was soon gone. He knew it, she knew it. It was like she was on a space hopper. I worked in a shop that sold them once. I was a bouncer.
So Anthony goes to Blackpool only as an extra. Some say he has a second home there, one that he built when the Winter Gardens opened in 1878.
The rest of the troop continue the search for their Shangri La, their Holy Grail, the road that leads to their Emerald City.
For Ruthie it was the road to perdition. She thought she could dance her way to Blackpool.
The GBP asked her politely to Fox Trot, Oscar.
November 17th 2017