This week has seen a proliferation of wedding couples at Kensington Dance Studio, perfecting jive, swing, foxtrot and crowd-pleasing lines and drops (mainly intentional) for their ‘first dance’.
Some are experienced dancers, but the majority are keen beginners, drawing on the current ballroom trend to bring a touch of showbiz to their big day. This once uncool, old-fashioned pursuit has developed into a cultural phenomenon. Strictly Come Dancing rules the airwaves (and the National Television Awards), and the ballroom world is feeling the benefits. Far from suffering a credit-crunch decline, studios are experiencing a surge in popularity, as people seek a sequined escape from winter and financial blues.
My monthly dance night at London’s still-threatened Rivoli Ballroom is still going strong, and on Saturday, the glamorous new Stardust Ball at Fulham Town Hall had a healthy turnout, comprising cabbies, dentists, law students, actuaries, members of the Oxford and Cambridge dancesport teams (sitting on opposite sides of the floor) and the former managing director of English National Ballet, among others. Strictly has made it acceptable for anyone to have a go. If John Sergeant can swap grilling politicians for shaking his cha cha hips to Twist and Shout, why shouldn’t we all find our inner Latino?