Steve Canavan hits the dance floor to find out more about the world of same sex ballroom dancing as Blackpool prepares to host and Open Championship with a difference.
Aside from doing the odd tango with my grandma – she craftily bribed me by promising a boiled sweet for every dance I did, what more could a 19-year-old lad desire? – I’m pretty sure I’ve never attempted to ballroom dance.
And I can say with some certainty that I’ve definitely never attempted it with a man.
Until now that is.
But, hey, you only live once so when the opportunity arose to meet Bradley and Soren Stauffer-Kruse (or, as Britain’s Got Talent viewers know them, the Sugar Dandies), I decided to have a bash.
The pair are in Blackpool to launch the Same Sex Open – ballroom dancing but not, as the name suggests, as we know it.
“We’ll break you in gently,” said Soren, as he grabbed my hand, thrust my head back and did anything but break me in gently. I felt something go in my back but didn’t let on. I mean this is only dancing, what kind of man can’t handle that?
A few steps later – he was trying to get me to do the foxtrot but it was more foxtrip – and after being repeatedly told to keep the weight on my left heel and smile as if in a Colgate advert, I was shattered.
And this is the thing. Ballroom dancing isn’t as easy as it looks, both in terms of technique and fitness.
Did you know, for example, that it is as strenuous on the body as marathon running or tennis? Me neither. I do now.
So hats off to Bradley and Soren, two men who came across as lovely people, and touchingly still as enthusiastic about what they do now as they were when they began a decade ago.
They also look a damn sight better in sequinned shirts and tight trousers than I ever will.
They’ve been a couple for 16 years, married six years ago, and, thanks to a storming run to the final of Britain’s Got Talent earlier in the year, are now two of the leading lights on the ballroom scene.
But whereas traditional ballroom dancing involves a man and a woman, Bradley and Soren came up with the idea of same sex dancing.
You don’t get that on Strictly Come Dancing. . . though maybe you will soon for it is catching on.
In October, at Blackpool’s Winter Gardens, the pair will be the star turns of an international ballroom dancing competition for same sex couples only. Dancers from as far afield as France, Greece and Hungary will compete.
And Soren, the taller of the couple, wants to get one thing – no pun intended here - straight.
“We may be gay but you don’t have to be gay to enter – two male friends can have a go, likewise two ladies,” the 41-year-old said.
“And you don’t have to be a professional either. On the day of the competition we want as many people there as possible and beginners are more than welcome. We’ll be putting on special classes for them.”
He and partner Bradley, 40, haven’t chosen Blackpool by accident. They love the place and travel to the resort from their London home whenever they have a spare day or two.
“It is the home of ballroom dancing, everyone knows that,” said Bradley. “You can dance at The Tower Ballroom every day.
“And the great thing about Blackpool is that no one judges you here.
“Even in this day and age, you still get the odd funny look if two men walk down a street holding hands.
“But if there is an initial shock factor in seeing two men dance, then as long as you are good you soon win people over.
“And it is good, because this isn’t just a gimmick – it is professional ballroom dancing.”
After the blow of being told the BBC aren’t filming Strictly at The Tower Ballroom this year, it’s good news for the resort to stage such a prestigious and unusual event.
Natalie Wyatt, of Marketing Blackpool, said: “We are thrilled to be supporting the launch of the Same Sex Open in Blackpool. I am sure this is going to be a hugely popular event and one which many people will enjoy.”
For more info go to: www.samesexopen.co.uk.