I have been lucky enough to experience the best (after the event) birthday present ever (so far!) My wonderful Other Half bought 2 tickets to the Dancing on Ice tour and, with much self-sacrifice, gifted one to me and one to his Mum (turns out the male equivalent to this fantastic night out is a bucket of KFC and night on the Xbox!)
We had both looked forward to this night since February and arrived at The O2 with much excitement. A quick look round and a pizza at Zizzi’s started us off nicely and, after some confusion about what words to text, we gained entry into The O2 lounge for pre-show chill out and cocktails. If I was a drinker, then my chill out would have ended there and then as despite cocktails being 2-for-1, at £8 each, I would have expected a sandy beach and gentle massage thrown in at that price. (No matter how long I continue to live down South, it’s times (and prices) like these when my northern roots spring up and push my “How much?!? buttons). At least my alcohol intolerance came in handy when I was able to order 2 non-alcoholic cocktails at a mere £2.50 each – obviously not included in the 2-for-1 deal! After continuing the chilling for a while, I was warmed to hear the women next to me have a mini rant about the price of 2 glasses of wine and a coke – £18.50!
We left the lounge and headed into the arena and, were delighted to find our seats were in a great spot, halfway up the row, just right of centre of the rink. We took some early photos which I uploaded to Facebook and whilst checking Twitter, I was excited to see that Hayley Tamadon had tweeted me directly! I had asked if there was any chance of a signing or pic with her and Dan Whiston (swoon!) after the show but she told me there were no signings at The O2.
The lights went down, the music started and the show burst into a colourful yet sinister array of circus folk, the dancers were all hidden behind masks and your eyes darted everywhere trying to spot your favourite skaters. The energy kept building along with the music and, the atmosphere was overwhelming as you try to take in all that is going on around you. Afterwards, as each of the pairs skate out to introduce themselves, huge cheers went up for everyone including Chris Fountain, Ray Quinn, Gary Lucy, Gaynor Faye and Mikey Graham, but I became one of those loud, annoying people who cheered liked crazy every time Hayley and Dan came onto the ice!
I have loved Dan ever since the first series for many reasons; he is an amazing skater, he bonds with and looks after every celebrity partner he gets on the show, he always comes across as a lovely person and he is sooooooooo cute! (I put that bit last in aid to not appear shallow and to appease Other Half when he reads this although it’s no secret in our house!) Many girls were screaming over the celebrity boys last night and, I know the manly charms of skaters Fred Palascak and Matt Evers do it for others, but the handsome, boyish charm of Dan gets me every time…
The most difficult part of watching the show was trying not to watch it through the lense of a camera. I wanted to capture the magic and amazing tricks to look back on in years to come, but I also wanted to immerse myself in the whole spectacle. Rather cunningly, I decided to focus the camera on one part of the rink and then every time it seemed like the skaters came into shot, I clicked away and hoped for the best. The result was over 200 photos although many were blurred due to the low lighting or the amazing speed people were being whizzed around!
The celebrities and their partners came out and performed a favourite routine from the series and were then judged by the panel. The second part of their mark was made up by text voting once we got to the intermission and, although they all did very well (including an unplanned fall from Gary from which he recovered with a big grin), my vote was always going to go to Hayley and Dan for Jai Ho.
I got goose pimples as soon as the music started as this was always my favourite routine and they were every bit as brilliant as I remembered. The only downside was that it seemed to be over in no time at all, and I just wanted to press the rewind button to see it all over again! There were scores of 5.5 from all of the judges and then it was time for the break. We pondered whether we were brave enough to move seats a couple of rows closer, as they hadn’t been occupied for the first half, but the thought of people turning up and us having to make our way past people in our row once the show had started again was just a fear we couldn’t get over!
The second half saw Jayne and Chris perform their 2010 version of the flying Bolero which was even more mesmorising in person. The celebrities skated out in their Bolero outfits and waited to hear which two had received the most votes. Although I really wanted Hayley to be in the final, I felt really sorry for the celebrities standing there, you just know that every night, the same ones will never get to perform their routine.
It came down to Hayley and Chris for the final, so my wish was granted and I got to see her and Dan perform their version of this iconic dance. It was beautiful; they have an amazing knack of looking completely head over heels in love while gliding effortlessly over the ice. I could however, look totally gooey eyed (and probably a bit simple!) if I was ever to meet Dan face-to-face..! Chris and Brianne were also good and it came down to a 3-2 split amongst the judges – in Chris’ favour. Hayley and Dan were robbed (no bias from me at all!)
The professionals came out and did their thing in between routines and, it just took your breath away how death-defying they were with their moves and speed. Although the celebrities were fantastic, it reminded you how absolutely skilled the real skaters are, they have all somehow managed to lose (or at least control) the very real fear and potential danger that accompanies them every time they get onto the ice. All too soon, the show was over and it was time to go home but it made us both certain of one thing; tickets to next years show are the ultimate must-have birthday present!