Saturday night, Strictly.
I find it strangely compelling despite the fact that I despise almost everything it stands for.
Apart from the dancing. I love dancing and don’t manage to go out enough. A night out, for me, is first and foremost a night out dancing. Clubbing, you might say, and I’ve done quite a lot of that in my time, though these days when I do go out I don’t have the stamina for the all-nighters that clubbing requires. Certainly not without chemical assistance, and even then I know I’d need a good week to get over it. But I live in Brixton, and I can find places to go where I can dance until I’m tired, and then walk home. It’s just that these days, with a business on the go that’s busiest on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays I don’t have the time or the energy for it. When I should be out dancing, I’m actually preparing for an early night before work.
But Strictly, Strictly. Strictly takes the joy out of dancing. Dancing on Strictly isn’t about participation, it’s about performance. What I love about the sweaty dancefloors of Brixton is the other people on the dancefloor. It’s a social occasion where you communicate with strangers by dance not words. It’s joyous, fun, sexy, energetic, sweaty, uplifting, just the best thing there is to do. The best way, bar none, to take exercise. It even beats walking to the top of a hill on a glorious Highland summer day, or taking a busy roundabout at speed on a bicycle. The hillwalk gets you the views and the sense of achievement, the cycling a great rush of adrenaline, but the dancing just gives you collective joy.
And that’s the point of it. It’s about the music, about the other people on the dancefloor all enjoying the music by dancing in time to it. It’s not about performance, practice, point-scoring, perfection or competition. OK, there’s an element of competition. There’s an element of performance. But it’s informal, unspoken, unscored. The audience is only the other dancers.
Who wants to dance on an empty dancefloor? Certainly not me. I don’t want people watching me dance, giving me points and pluses and minuses for getting things wrong or right.
When it comes down to it, I don’t think dance should be a spectator sport. Those people in the Strictly studio, clapping half-a-beat out of time to the music should get off their arses and shuffle their shoes on the floor, shimmy with the stars and boogie.
Which is why I love Lisa Riley, the fat lass on this year’s Strictly. I’m sure she’s lost a few chins during the show, and if she keeps up dancing she could get back to a single one. Kimberley’s a better dancer – and should win it – but Lisa isn’t afraid to show us all that everyone can dance. Dance is great, like sport; and like sport, it’s much better done than watched.