Same-sex Strictly still suffering backlash

Stuart Hatton Jr talks dancing

After the professional dancer James Jordan spoke publicly about his dislike for same-sex couples on the hit BBC show Strictly Come Dancing there was an influx of responses on Twitter from fans and dancers alike.

Dancer, championship adjudicator and current Mr Gay UK Stuart Hatton Jr gave us his thoughts on James’ comments:

When you think of ballroom dancing, you think of sparkles, you think of glitter balls and you think of Blackpool but ultimately you think of a man twirling his partner around on the open dance floor; however, there is a new wave of Quicksteppers waltzing alongside Fred and Ginger in the shape of Fred and Ted and Ginger and Jean.

There are many who welcome this new addition to the ballroom floor of seeing two men tango the night away and two women foxtrot under the glitter ball, however there still seems to be a lot of individuals who do not want this style of Ballroom dancing to appear on the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing.

I for one do not understand this backlash against same sex dancing couples, who only just want to dance; they are not starting wars, they are not breaking the law and all they are doing is dancing with passion from the heart.

On Monday 22 June, I sat in horror and I watched James Jordan on This Morning, discuss his feelings on Same Sex Dancing Couples with Philip Scofield and Amanda Holden. I used to have the utmost respect for Mr Jordan as a fellow professional ballroom teacher and as an artiste. However, his rant live on TV against Same Sex Ballroom Dancers appearing on Strictly has left me completely upset and disappointed.

Mr Jordan said that same sex couples “would be “a joke” and that “people wouldn’t take it seriously. It would have to be comedy value, two men dancing a sexy rumba together, I don’t think it would work”. He then continued, “Ballroom and Latin dancing is about a man dancing with a woman… Ballroom and Latin dancing is 10 dances, you have 5 Ballroom and 5 Latin… I don’t believe that Ballroom and Latin dancing is about two men dancing with each other or possibly two women… on Strictly, let’s keep it traditional. Why do we have to change something to tick another box? Oh, there we go! We’ll tick that box as well! We have same sex couples dancing, fantastic! There are a lot of people in this country who would probably agree with me, that they don’t particularly want to watch Strictly and see same sex couples”

Well, where to start? I see that using the, “I’m not homophobic but…” disclaimer doesn’t make your thoughts any less outdated and by semantically inserting the word “traditional” does not make you sound any less anti-gay that you did indeed sound. If you think about it, I believe it is tradition for the Samba to be danced in the streets and carnivals of Brazil, but yet, here we are in 2015 and we’re dancing the Samba live on UK TV and in London no less; surely that’s breaking with tradition isn’t it? Things change, times move forward. This in 2015 for goodness sake! The United Kingdom proudly passed Same Sex Marriage in 2014 and here we are in 2015 listening to James Jordan ramble on about whether or not tradition allows a same sex couple to dance on TV? Let us not forget that many women go to tea dances and dance together socially, possibly because their male partners do not wish to participate, possibly because there is a shortage of male partners or maybe they have sadly lost their partners.

Same sex dancing does not just belong within the LGBTI community. It’s been going on for years. In hundreds of dance schools around the world, women have always danced with women and girls have always danced with girls due to a shortage of boys taking up Ballroom dancing. In fact, I am sure if you look at the statistics around the UK, you will see that over 70% of all ballroom dancing partnerships are made up of two women. How very dare they break the rules of tradition, well the rules of ‘tradition’ according to James Jordan. Shame on them!

Furthermore, Mr Jordan went on to say, “Ballroom and Latin dancing is about a man dancing with a woman, the way the dress moves, the feminity, the masculinty…” Hang on a a minute, as a championship adjudicator, I myself along with many of my professional peers have never once judged the validity of a dance partnership based on ‘the way the dress moves.’ When judging dancers, I take in to account technique, poise, deportment, footwork, shaping, silhouette, standard, quality, charisma, performance and togetherness and so do the majority of other dance judges; I would never mark a couple first place on the dance floor because the lady dancer was wearing a bonny frock.

On the flip side, it has been nice to read all the positive online support regarding same sex Strictly over the past few days and even Amanda Holden cut James Jordan off at the end of the interview with her thoughts, “Personally, I would love to see same sex couples [on Strictly]”. If you want to get involved then The Pink Jukebox in London have been offering dance classes for same sex partners for over 30 years. Strictly Come Dancing star, Robin Windsor offers his own same sex workshops around the country and I myself run my own same sex ballroom dancing classes at my dance studios in the North of England.

Furthermore, it is not just the dance professionals who are in support of the same sex dancers, Freed of London, one of the world’s leading companies in dance shoes will be showing support by picturing an all-male couple from now on throughout all their advertising, a shoot which I was proud to be a part of You can check out the behind the scenes video here.

Equality and diversity are very much moving forward in the UK but it’s individuals like James Jordan who voice their outdated views using the semantic shield of ‘tradition’ that will constantly leave the LGBTI community afraid that acceptance is still not, well, ‘accepted’ even on the ballroom dance floor. Just think of the many people he is influencing not only in the dancing world, but the wider general public; This gentleman has the ability to influence change for the better and yet he preaches (what many have called on social media) ‘homophobia’ hidden behind the excuse of ‘tradition’.

I hope that when same sex dancers appear on Strictly Come Dancing, because this will happen, James Jordan will maybe change his views and see the positive impact that this will have not only on the dancing world but also within the LGBTI community and really, if you think about it two women dancing together is the ‘traditional’ norm for the majority of all dance schools around the UK, so let’s get this tradition on the BBC. Until his views change, my respect for James Jordan is at an all-time low, which is a sad thing too because he is and always has been a bloody good dancer.

Image Dylan Rosser
WordsSuart Hatton Jr @hattondancer

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