Chapter Thirty-Two – De de de de, der der der der…de de de dah dah! (Strictly Come Dancing -LIVE)

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OK so not a great title for this post, as what I really wanted to say was I’VE BEEN TO STRICTLY COME DANCING! The actual show – LIVE! but hard to start a blog like that so here goes…

So this is the story – but as promised I swore/pledged the strictly oath so I will not be giving away all the secrets but it was a brilliant day.

Firstly I need to tell you that my best friend gets all the credit for this experience.  We both independently applied for tickets and she actually won them! I’m so lucky she was happy to take me. Thank you Bec – I love you!

So – she won the tickets, read the instructions and we thought, yay, sorted, we’ll rock up at midday, get our tickets validated, go home and come back for the main show. Er No.

We both read lots of blogs and we realised – a) how lucky we were to even get the chance to queue b) now how much more we wanted to GET IN!!

So we are very lucky we only live about 45 mins drive away. Whilst queuing (more on that in a moment) we realised how far people had come for this experience.

Apparently there are approx. 400 seats and approx. 800 emails are sent out to ensure they fill the studio. So glad we read this information.

After ‘winning’ a golden ticket – I would have been devastated to not get in! So we hatched a plan.

We were fairly organised, Bec’s husband (bless him) had made us sandwiches and provided much needed TWIX’s and as we scuttled off around 8.30am on Saturday morning I was thinking how organised we were. We had big coats, gloves etc and felt quite proud of ourselves. We arrived and parked kind of around the corner and walked to get to the queue about 9.30am.

As we rounded the corner, we then realised that this was a marathon not a sprint.  Very organised people had chairs, flasks, blankets and full on picnic’s. The queue was already about 200 people (approx we were guessing!) and the first 30 people (who were actually sat either side of the judges in the front row) had arrived at 5.20am. To queue. Wow. Thats a level of dedication we hadn’t even considered.

So on that basis, we were both elated and tiny bit nervous! Clearly (based on the blogs we had read) we were going to get in… (we thought) but where would we sit and how long could we stand and how would it before we needed a wee. Bec is actually a self confessed ‘Camel’ and when we arrived she needed to go, 3.5 hours later she still hadn’t been. Very impressed. (If I need to go it always needs to be RIGHT NOW!)

So we started to queue. I tweeted Karen Hauer and she responded! I was sooooo excited. I then posted on Facebook. Even more excited people wishing us luck getting in. I’m nothing if not a social media junkie!

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This is us wrapped up the queue. By 10am I wanted the TWIX. We never have a problem chatting me and my best friend so we managed to fill the 3 hours with loads of good quality catching up and also we made friends! We met a lovely mum and daughter couple in front and behind us so we started chatting.  The two in front of us had come from WALES! This was also their 3rd time so I was really excited to hear what was in store for us.  They were lovely ( and we did meet them later and sit with them). We really hope we all get in next year so we can compare notes. (Although I’m sorry I rushed us out so we didn’t get to say goodbye to them).

So we chatted and queued and finally at midday they started validating tickets. Wow – Speedy and efficient. We were 297 and 298… the ladies in front assured us that was ‘ on the ground floor seats’  it hadn’t even occurred to me that there was a top level of seating. So we were super excited!

So they told us we had to be back at 3pm.

I made the decision to drive to Watford ( about 10 mins drive) to eat etc but on reflection, that was a bit of a palava. We had a small parking drama and we ended up REALLY rushing back (it was unnecessary but they made us panic!) but we got changed in John Lewis Toilets and I think we both looked quite hot despite the lack of time and space! The dress code did say ‘glamourous’ and that’s what they got!

I have no pictures at all from about 3pm as part of the strictly code is no mobile phones. I was a bit freaked out by this. Having a 4 year old at home and probably a few hours of hours of no communication, I was a tad nervous (but also I’m never more than 5 seconds from my phone!!). I did get over it quickly as we walked in to the ‘holding’ tent and found our new friends.  Everyone looked great and had really made an effort. Very impressive.

We started to get soooo excited and the adrenalin kicked in…. we were at STRICTLY COME DANCING, in the tent and getting IN!!!!

So we waited about an hour or so and we had lots of instructions but we were so happy to be there. I was nervous and needed about 3 wee’s. (sorry but its true!)

They called us in in number batches. So 250 -300 and we were in. OMG. This was it. We made it to the back row on the side opposite the judges. We could see all the action but we couldn’t be seen by the cameras. We made friends with the studio person and said if there was any spaces at the front, could we get sat down there.

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Then we got REALLY lucky, they needed to pre record the first Bollywood number because they had lots of costume changes etc and there was two spaces on the front row….. two seats and they were ours (for the number). We were in strictly heaven. Looking at this picture, we were in the front row on the right. We could see everything and I mean EVERYTHING.

All the dancers came out initially to warm up and do a few practice steps. I was a bit overwhelmed. I’ve watched this show every series since it started and I LOVE it. I never miss an episode and I’m a massive fan. I felt a bit emotional.  It all became real. We were HERE! I think I was a bit starstruck.

Firstly the female dancers are TINY and I don’t just mean small, I mean petite and very slim, but yet curvy and healthy looking, but diddy. I mean none of them are over 5 foot (apart from Natalie) who is taller but still small. Secondly the studio floor is small. Much smaller than it looks on TV. I really don’t know how they do it but it looks massive on tele but its really small in real life. The studio feels quite intimate. Like you have your own private dance floor. Its amazing. I just felt so happy to be there and be part of it.

Thirdly its worth noting how GORGEOUS certain male dancers are. Particularly one. OK well two. Aljaz is HOT. I mean Pasha is gorgeous but Aljaz is a whole other level. Lucky Jeanette Manrara! Actually to be honest, the girls are all beautiful too. (see below!).

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The boys came in pretty much topless (even Kevin is super cute – well done Karen! – who is actually sooo gorgeous too) which set out pulses racing even more!

The Bollywood number was phenomenal. I mean sensational. Then when done, they made them do it again. So not only did we see it once in the front row, but twice! It really was something special seeing it live.

We had a really good ‘warm up’ man Stu. He was funny and kind of cheeky, perfectly suited to the job. He got us all cheering and laughing. He asked of us that whenever we saw something we liked to make some noise and the same when we didn’t.  The only row that couldn’t stand was the front (apart from a standing ovation at the end of a dance) and they wanted as much cheering etc as possible.  We could happily oblige. Think we all got a bit hyper at this point!

We went back our seats and the celebs came in (it was Simon Webbe’s Daughter and ex partner) but we didn’t care, we still had good seats!

Tess and then Claudia came out pre show to warm us up. I have to say, they were really lovely. I have always liked Tess but I know she’s not everyone’s cuppa but she’s sweet, charming and calm, compared to Claudia who is cheeky, quirky and a bit bonkers but hugely loveable and funny. They did their little jokes and they seem to genuinely like each other and bounce off each other. Claudia was hilarious talking about how many pairs of knickers she had on (8) to wear the dress she was wearing and how she could barely walk. She talked about being nervous and how she had to practice. So they did. They were funny and sweet. They are definitely ultimate professionals, turning it on for the camera. But being really natural between takes and seem to genuinely liked each other.

I felt for poor Tess who always had to go rushing off and then rushing back after every dance. No wonder she looks so good!

Stu then entertained us a bit more and just before 7pm Len came out and sat on the stairs. He also seemed genuinely lovely.

Time ticked on and the countdown to the live show began. As it got closer I got nervous for the dancers. It really is live. We were delighted.

The whole show went in a real blur. From Sunetra and Brendan’s Rhumba, to Mark’s Salsa. We whooped and cheered and clapped like our lives depended on it and we loved it. The thrills, spills and sequins (and yes the female dancer bumped in to Jake not the other way around) we were like Yo’s Yo’s up and down in our seats.

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Its amazing how quickly they change sets and how nervous the celebrities look. Mark looked practically sick waiting for his turn, bless him. They do it seamlessly. Its incredible. I loved the judges. I didn’t see many notes and I think they do just say what they feel/think (especially Bruno!!) and Len was a gentleman. I think Craig loves being the panto dame and being booed. Darcey is really beautiful and tiny, still with her lithe dancers figure.

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So when the main show is over, we all get to stretch our legs and we get the chance to wee wee (much needed) we were given a Kit Kat and juice as we settled in for…….

Well …. that would be telling now wouldn’t it….. I’ll leave the story there and let the Strictly Magic continue…….. thank you Strictly  (& Bec) for an amazing experience 

Love Lady C

x

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