The gay boys are dancing on BBC1 peak-time in the new series of Strictly Come Dancing now on our TV screens. Ballroom dancing is officially one of the coolest activities on the planet! Whether your a fan of star baker John Whaite, Olympic swimmer Adam Peaty MBE or CBBC's Rhys Stephenson there's never been a better time to perfect your Paso Doble or fine-tune your Foxtrot. So it's a great time too for choreographer and Strictly judge Craig Revel Horwood to remind us about his book in which you Teach Yourself Ballroom Dancing.
Written in a fun, engaging and motivating style that leaps off all 160 large-format pages, Teach Yourself Ballroom Dancing is packed with glossy full-colour photos and accompanied by a CD crammed with Craigís own inspirational top tips plus practice music to move to. You could hardly have a better teacher as Craig has a wealth of experience behind him receiving award nominations for his work on Spend Spend Spend and was resident director for Miss Saigon. He famously also staged The Lion King for Disneyland Paris.
Just as the new series takes to our screens, OutUK's Mike Gray has been talking to Craig about his new book and whether the popularity of ballroom dancing was entirely fuelled by TV show Strictly Come Dancing.

Craig: Absolutely! The show has introduced an entire new generation to ballroom dancing. Itís made it accessible, fun and trendy and what better way to learn great social skills and get to meet new and interesting people. Itís better than hanging around shopping centres, Ďhappy slappingí and stealing people's mobile phones!

Teach Yourself Ballroom Dancing is published by Hodder Education and is available from all good book-shops and online at Amazon.
OutUK: Ballroom Dancing is regarded by some as a's even been in the you think it is a sport or an art...or maybe both?
Craig: It is a sport and recognised as one. It has many rules and has a very strict code of how each step must be taken and is called Dancesport. Itís also extremely competitive, not only between the dancers but also between the organisations that regulate the steps. I myself use it as an art form to tell story in dance, theatrically. Itís a fantastic tool for choreography, so yes, itís a sport that when used for choreographic purposes, becomes art.

OutUK: So is it really possible to Teach Yourself to dance...don't you really need a teacher?
Craig: You need the confidence to get up and try it first and thatís what my book is geared towards. Naturally after learning some basic steps in the privacy of your own home, you will feel way more comfortable testing them out in front of people.

Dancesport was one of the disciplines OutGames. ©Montrťal2006 Bruce Nelson/Event Images
The hardest move is always the first, just like learning to walk. My book encourages people not to be scared to pick up the phone and dial your nearest dance school for lessons. If you want to improve and move up the dance ladder, you need one on one tuition with an instructor who can demonstrate the style and intricacies of ballroom dancing and give you advice and corrections. It also goes without saying you will need someone to dance with! It takes two to Tango we all know that!

OutUK: Why do you think Strictly Come Dancing is so successful?
Craig: It captures the hearts and minds of the nation because many people can associate with the celebrities and what must be going through their minds, not to mention their bodies. Just the thought of having to get up in front of an 11 million critical viewing audience, having to dance with professionals, live to the nation in a spangly outfit, would keep anyone gripped. Itís also a great format and raises money for charity and the great British nation love humiliation and an underdog. Itís also very lighthearted and a bunch of fun and classy Saturday night entertainment.

OutUK: This year star baker John Whaite will be the first contestant to have a male same-sex dance partner. So where do you stand on the issue of same sex couples on the programme?
Craig: Well, having same-sex partners on Strictly Come Dancing is an obvious thing to do, and I back that change to the show. Last year British Olympic boxer Nicola Adams OBE had a female same-sex dance partner, so it's only right that this year we have two guys dancing together. Partners just need to decide that the shorter person moves backwards on the dancefloor, regardless of gender. I don't see why a woman can't dance with a woman and a man can't dance with a man. I totally raise the flag for that.

Teach Yourself Ballroom Dancing is published by Hodder Education and is available from all good book-shops and online at Amazon.

Find out more about the fabulous spiritual home of Strictly Come Dancing
in this week's OutGoing Feature.


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