In their own words: Strictly celebrities on what Blackpool means to them
This Saturday the eight remaining stars of Strictly Come Dancing will descend on the famous Blackpool Tower Ballroom for a special episode of the BBC One show.
Trooped by a team of backing dancers, each couple will take to the historic venue’s floor for both their own routines as well as a number of group dances.
Prior to this weekend’s show, the celebrity dancers told the Press Association what getting to Blackpool means to them.
“[Blackpool] is bigger and better, there’s more thrown at it, costumes are bigger, there’s more dancers. It’s a big thing, a big affair.
“Mum and dad are going to come, and obviously my husband who has been there every single week. For mum and dad it’s a really big thing. They are the people who put me on the stage to start off with.
“When you are in a pop group you are part of a package. This is something I have been doing on my own. It’s kind of like when mum and dad saw me do my first musical on my own. It’s a different sort of pride because it’s their little girl doing it.”
“When I was growing up I loved arcades and I’ve heard it’s a big seaside town and I’ve seen so many photographs of those little two pence slot machines.
“That’s my favourite thing to do so if I get any spare time when I’m up there that’s where I’m going to be heading. I’m going to win about five pounds in two pence coins. Two carrier bags full.”
“I love it. I love everything about the seaside. It’s just brilliant. I was only four years old [when I first went to Blackpool]. When we arrived the lights turned on and I got really miserable because, you know English seaside towns, they have these spinning things that are fluorescent.
“Mum and dad wouldn’t let me get on them because they were a pound and I suppose in 1985 that was a lot of money. I wasn’t allowed on so I sulked all the way through.”
“Doing Strictly means knowing the history of Latin and ballroom, so to know now that Blackpool has so much history, that it had some many different competitions, and the energy and sweat that’s gone into the ballroom, I think it’s going to be quite magical.”
“It’s like walking into a church or anywhere that is steeped in history. There is something very soulful about buildings that have so much history.
“So to be in a ballroom dancing competition and to go to what is considered to be the home of ballroom dancing is obviously very special indeed.”
“AJ won all of his titles at Blackpool. If someone was going to come and do a triathlon and they were going to do it in the place that I went to the Olympics, that’s a special feeling.
“I want to step on to the floor which he won those on. For me, being an athlete, that’s how I think about it.
“It will be amazing for me to dance there. He’s told me about it, that it’s our country’s most prestigious place for ballroom and Latin. To be able to dance somewhere with that title is amazing.”
“To go to Blackpool and perform in an arena that is deemed a coliseum, that is deemed one of the Meccas of ballroom, where some of the greatest dancers, practitioners, have performed, it means everything.
“I want to go further, I’ve got that urge and Blackpool is the beginning of that.”
“I’ve done a film for Children In Need about youth homelessness and one of main lads is living on the streets of Blackpool. It would be good to get back there.
“There was an amazing charity that were helping us. I could sort of poke my head round and show Kevin off to them for half an hour.”