I'm amazed at how the revival of ballroom dancing has taken off in this and many other countries through programmes such as Strictly Come Dancing. The only low point of our Christmas trip to Australia a few years ago was just how bad Australian TV could be. This was epitomised by championship ballroom dancing being touted as the highlight of Christmas Day's televisual entertainment. Now ironically, the same may happen here soon.
I'm not against ballroom dancing per se. I've even been known to take to the dance floor myself from time to time, so I guess I'm more pro the participation side of things than watching it. When I was 10, I attended the Maureen Lewis School of Ballroom Dancing on Saturday mornings. This was held near our house in a large, airy room above several high street shops. Maureen herself was a faded version of the professional dancers currently gracing our screens and seemed impossibly glamorous to me. The main problem with the classes was the lack of boys as partners - such an activity was deemed to cissy for them. Tell that to Anton or Brendan! I was often cast as the boy, or simply danced on my own. Maureen's solution was to include plenty of fun dances, such as The March of the Mods, which required mass dancing, not partners.
The weekly highlight for me was a single dance with a male partner. I don't know how it began, but after a while the Cha Cha Cha was always reserved for Clive (Maureen's dance partner) to dance with me. It must have looked distinctly odd to our audience though - a plump, awkward child dancing with an extremely tall, elegant gentleman. I didn't mind though - in my imagination I was wowing them at the World Championships. Since then, my only other major encounter with ballroom dancing was an invitation to the Finnish Embassy in London 10 years ago, where the evening's entertainment was to be an exhibition of Finland's national dance, the Tango. Finland - what about Argentina? Sadly, I was too much of a coward to go as I couldn't understand why I'd been sent the invitation. I'm sure I missed out on a real treat.
I did enjoy Strictly last week though, snuggled up cosily with my niece (10) and nephew (6) on the sofa, joining in with their running commentary on the proceedings. My niece gets so involved with it, willing her favourites to stay in the competition. I'm also rather envious of my neighbours, who've joined with the many others in the land now going to dancing classes. I doubt I'll be joining them though, as I still have the same partner problem as when I was 10: NAH absolutely refuses to dance unless very, very drunk. An absolute non-starter then.