Everyone’s guilty pleasure is back! Strictly Come Dancing is once again gracing our screens for, surprisingly, it’s ninth season.
Dance is widely recognised as a great way to get fit, as the toned bodies of the professional dancers and the rapidly slimming physiques of the celebrity contestants testify.
Regular dancing also helps achieve a healthier heart, stronger muscles and stronger bones, while helping to improve one’s balance and co-ordination.
The Strictly dancers learn a varied repertoire of dance styles, from classic ballroom American Smooth or the Foxtrot, to the energetic jive and saucy salsa. There are a host of dance schools and classes in and around the Borough where you can find your inner Fred and Ginger – or even Brucie and Anton!
‘Strictly’ fever has caused something of a renaissance for classes in the traditional waltz, quickstep and even tango, which can be found at the following, among others:
Kensington Dance Studio, Exhibition Road, South Kensington
The Kensington Dance Studio offers group classes, courses, workshops and private instruction in a wide range of Ballroom and Latin American dances. Director Ralf Schiller has taught ballroom dancing for 20 years and has coached ‘Strictly’ contestants, including actress Patsy Kensit, in the American Tango, over the past five years. Highlights for October include a beginners’ crash course (one-day workshop) on October 16th, covering the Quickstep, Argentinian Tango, Slow Waltz and Bossa Nova, and a Cha-cha-cha course starting on October 3rd. For more details visit www.kensingtondancestudios.com
Karen Hardy Studios, Imperial Wharf, Fulham
One of the doyennes of Ballroom and Latin American dancing, Karen Hardy is the five-times No1 Latin American World Champion AND the winner of Strictly Series 4 (along with cricket’s Mark Ramprakash). Her studio “takes the dance experience to the next level” offering a wide range of classes for novices to professionals, including a beginner’s package of Ballroom or Latin American individual and group technical classes, as well as wedding packages and even dance classes for men.There is also an on-site bar for steadying nerves, plus a fortnightly ‘Rumba Lounge’ event. Visit www.karenhardystudios.com.
Strictly judge, Bruno Tonioli, loves the ‘smokin’ sambas and other Latin numbers – when they’re danced with passion and indeed some semblance of talent! Get into the Latin groove at the following salsa spots: Fiesta Havana, 490 Fulham Road, FulhamThe Incognito Dance Team teaches salsa on Monday evenings at this lively Cuban Bar: beginners and intermediates 7.30pm to 8.30pm, improvers/advanced at 8.30pm. Dancers can stay on to practice their moves or drink a recovery ‘Cuba Libre’ or two until the bar closes…Courses start every month. For more information, visit www.salsageeks.com.
The most energetic (and for some the most entertaining) of the Strictly dances. The jive was derived from the jitterbug and East Coast Swing which was imported to Europe by the GIs during the Second World War and is still the favoured routine of merry wedding guests…Ceroc, the simplified version of jive, with hints of salsa, lindy hop and rock ‘n roll, was created by Londoner James Cronin, who held the first event in 1980 in the Porchester Hall. The dance is now practiced in over 150 venues across the UK including Baden Powell House in South Kensington and Fulham Town Hall. Beginners’ classes encourage mingling as partners are rotated and then the novices can dance with more expert movers during the freestyle. Ceroc also offers workshops and even ‘dance holidays’ for keen cerocers. Visit www.ceroclondon.com.