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Goodbye to the big guns of dancing

JoWeekOne1Well, we’re all wearing black sequins at Healthista, mourning the voting off of twinkle toes Ben Cohen. And poor Jo and Gav are out of the sweepstake! But, as Jo reflects in week 10 of her Strictly Dance Diary, there is life after Strictly Come Dancing… Like the Strictly Tour! Jo also brushes up on her tango.

So, he’s gone. Big Ben has left the ballroom. It also means Gav and I are out of our dance class Strictly sweepstake. Shame, but the boy did good. Those guns of his will become all but a distant memory. But if that’s too unbearable a prospect to handle, you could ensure tickets for the Strictly Come Dancing Live Tour  are placed firmly at the top of your Christmas wish list, because Ben, along with Natalie Gumede and Mark Benton, are the first three celeb names confirmed. Next year is the tour’s seventh year (or should I say ‘Severrrrrnth’) with its new host Lisa Riley, partner to Robin Windsor last year and all-round Strictly lover.

Strictly Come DancingAs I write this week’s dance diary, I’ve just watched Ben, and his pro partner Kristina, interviewed on ITV’s Lorraine, with Ben, even weeks after the event, still expressing surprise that he went shirtless on national TV. In response, Lorraine spoke for us all: ‘Well, the women of Britain thank you.’ I couldn’t have put it better myself, Lorraine. Kristina remarked that she received thank you tweets for three days after THAT paso – something we’re not remotely surprised to hear.

I’ve been lucky enough to meet the very lovely Lorraine on a few occasions and, incidentally, although she’s a big fan of reality shows – I’m A Celebrity a particular favourite (more on that later), she insists she has ‘no desire’ to take part in any of them. In a recent interview in Woman & Home, Lorraine’s daughter, Rosie, said that her mum ‘dances around the kitchen with her hips swaying, singing away’. Having met Lorraine just a handful of times, I can well imagine this. However, the 53-year-old TV presenter, who’s a recent convert to Zumba and a massive fan of it, told me: ‘I’d be rubbish on Strictly and not even in an interesting way like lovely John Sargeant [another of Kristina’s partners, in fact]. I would just be embarrassingly stiff and awkward.’ I would beg to differ, but it sounds like we may never find out… or, for that matter, see her eating kangaroo bum!

"Strictly Come Dancing" 2012 Series Launch - ArrivalsWhich brings me so very nicely onto Vincent Simone (right). I’ve been missing the Italian Stallion from the Strictly ballroom this year. He and his pro partner, Flavia Cacace, took a break from the show this year as they’ve been busy choreographing for their new stage show, Dance ‘Til Dawn. Already, a few nights of his presence in the jungle has almost made up for his absence from the dance floor (strong emphasis on the word almost there). I fully expected him to start teaching his campmates some dance steps, but perhaps not clad in leopard prints pants. Tight ones at that. Funnily enough it was Lorraine who tweeted: ‘Vincent does have a pert buttock… it’s all that cha cha cha-ing.’ She’s right. Cha cha cha-ing is great for toning your posterior.

Anyway, back to reality: last week, after our fab-u-lous FitSteps class at Champneys Tring, plus the added bonus of a Thalossotherapy pool session for Gav, and a Body Radiance treatment for me (perhaps the reason why our legs weren’t aching too much come Monday morning, despite the workout the FitSteps class gave them), we didn’t head home to settle down in front of the Strictly results show from Blackpool, no, we headed straight to our dance school’s monthly practice night sessions.

Two hours of dancing on a Sunday night, where we can practice any of the steps that need it, and grab one of the two teachers present if we get stuck. There’s a lot of grabbing in our case! At each session, Maxine also introduces us to a few new steps. Last week saw us being acquainted with the Lindy Hop, a swing dance, with its roots in swing jazz from the 1920s and ‘30s. Its steps include footwork borrowed from the Charleston and tap – our little routine involved kicking, flicking, jumping and turning. All at once. Fast and fun.

Our normal lesson last week began with another fast, fun dance – the quickstep. It’s the time of year when Maxine decides we need a refresher course on every dance we’ve learnt. Why? Because our Apton Dance Christmas dance is just three weeks away. Come the big night, Maxine is adamant that we can all get up and dance to every tune played, even if for some dances we can only manage basic steps.

Jo and Gav tango 2 Jo and Gav tango

Just as Strictly celebs are soon to be tackling two dances per week, we also pick up the pace (and scramble the mind!) Following the quickstep, our ballroom (read, school hall) went dramatic as Maxine reminded us of some basic ballroom tango. Despite not having done this for some while, Gav and I were pleasantly surprised how (relatively) quickly these steps came back to us. The only thing we couldn’t master were the serious faces. But hey, we’re not being judged – and dancing is just too much fun to be serious!

Trying to master the serious tango face
Jo trying to master the serious tango face

Read more Strictly Dance Diaries from Jo

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