Strictly stars taught me to Cha Cha Cha as they ditched celebs for rookies

Cha cha cha-ing my way into a weekend with the Strictly Come Dancing professionals, they had three days to turn me into a star.

With a fab-u-lous Strictly themed luxury weekend away in the countryside available, getting my gladrags on to waltz into a beautiful 4-star hotel was the perfect break.

Our room in the centre of Warner Hotel’s Thoresby Hall Hotel and Spa made my husband Sam and I feel like we'd suddenly swapped the ballroom for Downton Abbey.

With meet and greets, performances and Q&As planned across the three days, it was a very busy schedule, even without the classes on top.

While I won't be competing in dance shows anytime soon, I was able to develop the skills I already have, which as someone who has learned one choreographed dance in her adult life, there were not many skills.

Our beloved professionals are as passionate and friendly in real life as they are on TV – from Amy Dowden and Ben Jones having the time of their life on the dance floor to Graziano Di Prima and Giada Lini leaving the audience speechless with a remake of Time Of My Life – they knew how to wow the crowd.

But while their performances were always going to hit the mark, what of their lessons which saw them spend an hour teaching people – some, like me, who had never danced properly before – to dance?

I love the art of dancing, so following along the routines was right up my street. My first class saw the amazing Katya Jones teach the group how to Cha Cha to Shut Up and Dance With Me.

Once I’d managed to distinguish my left and rights, which seems weirdly hard when you’re on the dance floor, I got the knack of it.

There were some moves where I struggled to find my footing, but Katya didn’t move on until she saw everyone hitting the nail on the head – and luckily, that didn’t take too long.

Every winter we see the celebrities training every day in the lead up to the competition in order to do well – I didn't really appreciate that until now.

I do think Katya’s class gave me a good start though – so when I took my next class with the incredible Janette Manrara and Aljaz Skorjanec, I was ready and rearing to go.

Janette, who is pregnant and wasn't doing much of the dancing herself, was busy correcting the moves while her husband Aljaz taught.

Aljaz wouldn't let Janette go near the end of the stage in order to protect their growing tot, so it's no surprise he took over the lessons.

The happy couple taught my favourite class by far – The Waltz – and by the end of it, my husband and I were pretty confident in gliding across the floor. But we wouldn't be winning the Glitterball Trophy, that's for sure.

Joined by a lot of the residents, there was a mix of regulars of Warner Hotels and Strictly fans who had signed up solely to be taught by the stars.

Meanwhile some of the guests were very clearly dancers outside of the weekend and gave a great little show every night on the dancefloor as some of the entertainment.

They did far better than me in the classes – see I may have had the steps figured out, but the knack of commanding attention while on my feet… that I didn’t quite have.

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