The Ballroom Boys: Sequinned sensations Vincent Simone and Ian Waite waltz into town
They are adored by millions of fans. Strictly Come Dancing stars Vincent Simone and Ian Waite were at the heart of the nation’s favourite reality show during its golden era.
And now they’ve teamed up to take their skills on the road in The Ballroom Boys, which plays Lichfield’s Garrick Theatre tomorrow and Shrewsbury’s Theatre Severn on Monday. It will return to the region to feature at Dudley Town Hall on June 27.
Argentine Tango legend Vincent and King of the Ballroom Ian will be joined by two professional female dancers and a wonderful vocalist for a night packed with dances, songs and loads of banter. Fans can expect dances like the Waltz, Quickstep, Paso Doble, Foxtrot and of course, the Argentine Tango.
And there will be a limited number of VIP tickets that include a pre-show meet and greet with the boys, for autograph and photo opportunities.
“It’s going very well and it’s all very exciting” revealed Vincent. “We are really happy with the way it’s gone so far and we can’t wait to put it in front of audiences to see their reactions.”
Ian added: “I was thinking who I could do the tour with, and last year I had danced with Otlile Mabuse, but she was busy this year with the pro tour so I thought, who’s second best.
“I was trying to think outside the box and do something new that we haven’t seen before from a Strictly show, and then I thought of that old legend Vincent Simone. So I gave Vince a call and he loved the idea.”
There are challenges of playing theatres rather than large ballrooms, particularly for Ian.
“We really have transferred of all our skills onto the stage now. I’m actually now more used to dancing on stage than a ballroom.
“When we first went on stage when we did the pro tour together about ten years ago, it was the first time really that we had performed on stage and it was so weird because we were dancing to an audience that you couldn’t see. It was all black out there in audience, you couldn’t see their faces, but now we’re so used to it.”
The lives of both men have changed since they received the call from Strictly. Ian Waite was a runner-up and a third placed contestant on Strictly after partnering Denise Lewis and Zoe Ball. Vincent enjoyed a second place with Rachel Stevens but finished low down some years later when he partnered Edwina Currie.
Both have only happy memories of the show. Vincent said: “It’s obviously the most glamorous show on TV when it comes to the costumes, the presentation, the judges and all of that. People love dancing, even if they don’t admit it. Not only are you seeing the skills of the professionals, but you are also seeing your favourite celebrities taking part and learning a new skill and you are following their journey to the final.”
Ian balances his touring commitments through the year and leads a busy life. He doesn’t miss Strictly and his life is busier than ever.
“Strictly is great fun, but it’s hard work too. It gets quite competitive among the professionals – but only between those with a good celebrity partner. If you know you’re going out early, you can relax a bit, but then the teaching is a lot harder, so it all balances out in a way.”
He admits he had an ulterior motive when he started dancing. “Basically, my dad heard that you could meet some nice single ladies at the dance club, but was too scared to go on his own, so he took me and my brother with him. It took me a while to get involved, but one day I gave it a go and I was hooked.”
He kept his hobby to himself. “Oh, there was no way I could have told people at school. You would’ve been asking for it. The first time I mentioned dancing was when I won the European Championships at 18.
“One of the things Strictly has done is made dancing accessible. You see world-class sportspeople in tears as they struggle to get the hang of the waltz. Then, when they get it, it’s so emotional and the audience are with them all the way. If someone had said to me 20 years ago that 13 million people would sit down on a Saturday night and watch a programme about ballroom, I would have just laughed at them.”