It felt surreal being in the Tower Ballroom, for the annual Strictly show, on Saturday 18 November, 2023.
My partner, Brian, and I joined in with all of the excitement, sparkle and ceremony that we thought we’d only ever marvel at on the television.
Walking into the magnificent ballroom absolutely took my breath away – the grandeur of the building, matched by the decadent no-expenses-spared props and set designs...and all the cameras!
Brian has limited mobility, and having notified the Strictly team in advance, we were blown away to discover they had assigned us front row seats next to the main cameras. The accessibility was excellent – we were able to use the lift and there were lots of staff members willing to assist those in the disabled seating area.
It also meant that we felt completely immersed in the show – at times I was picking shiny pink confetti out of my hair!
I felt the panicked energy of crew members dashing past us to switch around sets between the couples dancing.
It was fascinating to watch all of the work that goes into making this slick Saturday night production a success.
Floor manager, Alan Conley, ensured the whole day ran like clockwork – while every clothing malfunction and ‘eyelash casualty’ (yes, really!) was dealt with on set by wardrobe and medics.
I loved seeing the pro-dancers preparing for the group routine before the pre-recorded section was filmed for Sunday’s results show.
They were stretching and working through choreography in micro-movements, before they filmed an incredible routine to a Harry Styles medley.
Having watched the show back on the TV, I can say the costumes are even more dazzling in real life – especially Katja Jones’ stunning gold and cream gown, and Nikita & Layton’s matching crystal corsets.
The room fell silent as Angela Scanlon and Carlos Gu danced an intense Argentine Tango, which earned them 38 points, with Shirley Ballas, Motsi Mabuse and Anton du Beke all giving the couple perfect 10s.
Anton praised Angela’s ‘beautiful legs’, calling the emotional performance his ‘favourite dance of the night’.
Bobby and Dianne’s jive put the bouncy Blackpool floor to the test, with flicks and kicks and bright 80’s pop energy.
We were urged to clap, holler and whoop at every opportunity – and join in with the rhythm on upbeat numbers. The atmosphere felt electric, with everyone – including dancers, judges and audience – excited to be in Blackpool.
Despite lots of high scores, there was still no 40 and none of the performances encouraged Craig Revel-Horwood to part with his 10 paddle.
There were tricks galore from all the couples – which are even more impressive than they look on screen. But Layton’s athletic pole dancing routine was next level! The only thing that stopped them getting a perfect score was that Craig spotted some sync issues.
We were there from 2:30 until 11:15 – a long day, but it went very quickly.
It’s a day I’ll never forget, and I feel privileged to be able to say I was in the Strictly audience at Blackpool.