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15: Strictly Come Dancing Fan Zone 

Yes, I do like Strictly, and no, I do not complain “it’s not proper dancing”.  What it is, is a celebration of dance (as in the joy of movement to music), and the involvement of numerous “manly” sportsmen over the years (all of whom have remarked how tough it is even compared with their he-man sports – rugby, football, cricket...) has given dancing a renewed public credibility.  All dance enthusiasts are now much better appreciated in society, entirely due to Strictly Come Dancing, and it is a global phenomenon.

I agree, (apart from the first few series) it is not pure Ballroom Dancing – it is Showdance, but so what?  How long would the public have remained enthusiastic to cheer on their celebrity idols, if they were restricted to an ordinary waltz, tango, rumba, etc?  These may be fun / interesting / challenging to dance, but are they interesting for the non-dancing public to watch week after week?  Obviously not.  Ditto the music – it’s rarely “danceable” in an uncorreographed context, but it is deliberately chosen to appeal to the public (Strictly has to compete for viewers) rather than the dancing minority.

The producers are to be congratulated in keeping the format fresh and interesting by bringing in new elements.  If you can’t appreciate the journey of a non-dancer being coached from nothing, developing, and discovering a joy of dance – regardless of the actual dance style – your heart isn’t in it.

However, to properly appreciate Strictly, you really have to understand that it is not a dance competition.  What it is, is a popularity contest, where the contestants sink or swim in the deep-end of the world of dance.  How many fans they have, or can attract by their revealed personalities (and maybe even their dancing), and how many of those are willing to vote, results in their celebrity avoiding a dance-off between the two lowest ranking each week.  Only then does it become a dance contest with the judges eliminating the worst dancer of the two.  As it happens, when it comes to the final, the audience seem to vote for the quality of the dancing.

I have two complaints about Strictly though.  The first is that the audience vote is not revealed at all.  How can we verify that everything is above board unless the voting figures are published, especially as the voting overrules the judges marks?  For all we know, the producers could be fixing it according to who they would like to go through (however much they might protest otherwise).

My second (and slight) complaint is that I rarely know who’s who at the start of each new Strictly season.  That changes during the run, as I get to know personalities whom would not previously have come to my attention (not being a soap or “reality TV” addict).  While I was editing the AADC members’ newsletter, I took to producing a crib sheet each season... and here it is to print off and note your own personal marks:

Click here to view / download / print Strictly Checklist for 2023

[The file is stored on Dropbox – you can ignore requests to log in or sign up, and just click the “Download” button top left.]