Sunday Mirror - - SAIRAKHAN - By

WITH strictly Come danc­ing hot foot­ing it back to our screens, bri­tain has the ball­room bug again.

But while celebs are busy prac­tis­ing for the first live show next Saturday, what’s it re­ally like in­side the ul­tra com­pet­i­tive world of ball­room danc­ing?

Doc­u­men­tary series The Se­cret Life of the Ball­room, start­ing tonight, prom­ises to lift the lid as 10 or­di­nary peo­ple at­tempt to mas­ter dances – from the rumba to the cha-cha-cha.

They range from a mum who has roped in her re­luc­tant teenage son to a cou­ple seek­ing a new chal­lenge.


Fight­ing it out at fort­nightly ball­room com­pe­ti­tions in dance halls across Bri­tain, the five am­a­teur cou­ples are pushed to their lim­its as they learn eight dif­fer­ent dances over three months.

With a new rou­tine to tackle for every com­pe­ti­tion, the part­ners only have two weeks to per­fect their moves.

They are judged on their tech­nique, chore­og­ra­phy and ap­pear­ance, and ranked from one to five.

But af­ter mas­ter­ing the steps it is the out­fits that most oc­cupy their minds as they com­pete to catch the judges’ eye.

Here the dancers tell how they’ve em­braced the span­dex, sparkles, blis­ters and lash­ings of fake tan.

The show starts at 8pm on W. DONNA Rhodes’ hus­band isn’t at all jeal­ous when she leaves him at home to dance with part­ner Mike bent­ley.

For Michael, 40, is gay – so his own hus­band Colin has no wor­ries ei­ther.

Donna, 42, a mum of two from Soli­hull, West Mid­lands, said: “Danc­ing with a gay part­ner is per­fect. It’s like hav­ing an af­fair but with­out the sex.

“We spend hours prac­tis­ing and trav­el­ling round the coun­try but my hus­band doesn’t have to worry about us run­ning off to­gether.”

business con­sul­tant Mike, from Acocks Green, birm­ing­ham, said: “you can see why they have the Strictly curse. you spend so much time in each other’s com­pany.”

The pair, who started lessons four years ago, found learn­ing a dance every week tough. Donna had a nasty fall dur­ing one dress re­hearsal and Mike needed hours of physio for a back in­jury dur­ing tango week. TeeNAGeR Harry Wood­house has yet to tell his mates he is danc­ing with his mum.

she signed the 19-year-old up for the com­pe­ti­tion with­out telling him then bribed him with fivers to turn up for lessons.

Harry even­tu­ally warmed to the idea – when he started go­ing out with their in­struc­tor’s daugh­ter, Natalie.

Mum Roberta, 45, a nurs­ery teacher from brighton, said: “He took danc­ing a whole lot more se­ri­ously af­ter that.”

she added: “One of the high­lights was when he first put on his ball­room out­fit. He didn’t quite re­alise that men’s ball­room out­fits are like body­suits and had pop­pers around his bits.”

but he re­fused to wear fake tan so he was the whitest per­son on the dance­floor, she said. Harry con­fessed: “It’s so em­bar­rass­ing hav­ing to dance the samba and tango with your mother.”

TANGO TOR­MENT Harry and his mum Roberta STEPS TO SUC­CESS Dancers per­fect their tech­niques on show

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