‘Strictly Come Dancing’ tempts young men on to the dance floor

Sportsmen who take part in 'Strictly Come Dancing' are encouraging young men to take up ballroom dancing and be more flexible about their masculinity, a University of Bath researcher has found. 

Sporting heroes such as former England cricketer Darren Gough, who won an earlier series of the popular BBC1 competition, have shown that they are not afraid to don sequins and heels and take to the dance floor. 

University of Bath Department of Psychology PhD researcher Craig Owen says the show is helping to break down the stereotype that dancing is only for girls. 

Craig, who has studied the relationship between men and dancing for the past three years, said young men have been inspired to have a go after seeing sportsmen triumph on the show. 

He said: "'Strictly Come Dancing' is making dance much more accessible for men. Lots of sportsmen have taken part and they're demonstrating that masculinity is becoming much more flexible. One day Austin Healy is sporting a bright pink sequinned shirt, the next he is wearing his rugby shirt." Craig has interviewed and photographed dancers from the University of Bath Latin and Ballroom Dance Club.  His findings show that dancing allows men to play around with the performance of masculinity. 

One male dancer said: "Dancing at competitions is all about getting into character. Rumba is really sensual, I like to play that. Jive is just fantastic, you get to play the guy who is the cool cat. Samba is kind of pushing on camp, yet Paso Doble is very macho."

'Strictly Come Dancing' has run on BBC 1 since 2004. The final of the fourth and fifth series in December 2006 and 2007 respectively attracted audiences of over 12 million viewers, while the 2008 final had 13 million viewers.

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