Strictly's AJ Pritchard wary of crowds after nightclub attack
Strictly Come Dancing’s AJ Pritchard says he is now wary of receiving attention from fans in a crowd after he was attacked in a nightclub.
AJ, 24, was left bruised and his brother Curtis, 22, who is also a professional dancer, had to have knee surgery after they were attacked on December 27 in Nantwich, Cheshire.
Some fans in the nightclub were taking photos with AJ before the attack began.
He told This Morning: “If somebody comes up to me and asks me for a photo, and they do it politely, I’m always going to say yes.”
But he added: “It’s made me very aware of putting myself in a scenario of larger crowds. Obviously I’m doing the Strictly tour coming up, and I will think twice…”
Curtis, who has had to pull out of the next series of Ireland’s Dancing With The Stars, said: “I can only say perhaps it was jealousy because AJ was getting a couple of photos. He’s a good looking lad.”
AJ said violent attacks “happen way too often” in the UK.
He said: “It’s scary to know that this is a normal thing… It can’t be allowed for people to get away with it.”
The pair said they have received “lovely messages” from fans and the “support has been overwhelming”.
They said they felt safe as the night began as the nightclub is in “our home town, it’s 10 minutes down the road from our house” – and the attack “came from nowhere”.
Curtis said: “We were minding our own business. We were having a fantastic night…
“We don’t spend a lot of time together. So we were having one of the best nights out ever and all of a sudden I just had a push to my right.”
AJ said: “Curtis was violently pushed. By the time Curtis went to look who pushed him he was already punched in the face.”
The brothers said they did not “fight back” as they “realised in this scenario there’s no winning”.
Curtis, who praised the NHS following his surgery, said: “We weren’t out there for trouble at all. We hadn’t seen each other for a long time.
“Once it all happened, the first thing that came to my mind was we are in trouble. AJ’s in trouble, we need to get out of this situation. We need to protect ourselves.”
Asked about the pain, he said: “The adrenaline kicks in and you don’t think of that too much.”
Lauren Steadman, who partnered with AJ on the latest series of Strictly, wished him well in a video clip on the ITV show, saying: “You’re both amazing and everyone is behind you.”