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