“It’s a challenge for clever women, they overanalyse when they need to just relax and trust their partner,” sighed Viktoriya.
As she pulled me into a waltz position, I couldn’t help but analyse whether I was overanalysing. Was I exaggerating the tiptoe-bend motion because I was overthinking it? If I didn’t assess the situation to some degree – Viktoriya’s average length of stride, the slight stiffening in her resolve before she led us into a turn – would I not start making errors? In theory, as someone who practises classical ballet four times a week, I should have been in my element. In truth, the control-freakish precision of ballet is a world away from the co-ordinated conviviality of social partner dancing. The latter terrifies me.
After we did a few clunky drills, the lilt of the Blue Danube was carrying me away to an early-20th-century ball, or perhaps a soirée at Buckingham Palace. More comfortable with my steps, I started to soak up the splendour of the room, with its frescoes of angels, gilded stucco and central staircase.
I was at the Dilly hotel in Piccadilly, London, for a dance lesson in its Edwardian ballroom. Inspired by the popularity of Strictly Come Dancing, the hotel has started both private and group classes, ranging from classical ballroom to American smooth.
After a quick crash course in the waltz, we spiced things up with a spot of salsa to Michael Bublé.
“Relax your arms. You’re just dancing on a beach with a tequila.”
This was exactly the psychological trick I needed to get my sultry Latino vibes on. After perfecting some turns and salsa walks, we threw them together in a basic routine. I couldn’t help but fantasise that I was on the Strictly set as we sashayed to a club mix of Ed Sheeran.