Wanted: a London club where dancers over 40 can slutdrop without feeling self-conscious

·3-min read
 (Natasha Pszenicki)
(Natasha Pszenicki)

The question I get asked most (other than “Do you think you can ask Benedict Cumberbatch for an autograph?”) is whether I miss Strictly. I don’t miss the sequins or spraytans, but I do miss being shouted at by beloved Oksana in outraged Russian.

But more than anything I long for the sheer joyfulness of dancing. I get a little bit from my fabulous dancercise classes, but I really miss Saturday night dancing — the giddy, brazen (often slightly drunken) pleasure of jerking about with friends on some sticky Nineties dancefloor.

But it feels like that’s all over for me. Because, while the young are squeezing back into the city’s sweatiest clubs, I can’t help but feel that they withdrew my dance pass a few years back. Pop into one of London’s fancier clubs (especially its more glamorous gay bars) while daring to be over 40, and everyone looks at you like you got lost looking for a comfy cardigan. Poor old Michael Gove tried to cut some shapes, and they laughed him out of Aberdeen.

It doesn’t have to be like this. In places like Berlin or Tel Aviv you’ll see dancers from their twenties to their nineties all having a merry time in the same funky places. Surely somewhere as great as London can create spaces where people of any age can slutdrop without feeling self-conscious?

If already exists, tell me where … I’ll be there in two twerks of a lamb’s tail.

Back when everything— shops, galleries, museums, restaurants — was locked down tight, I spent hours wandering through London.

It all felt apocalyptic. A few minutes in an abandoned Trafalgar Square and I began to have proper disaster movie thoughts: how will my bulldog Rocco and I battle the zombie hordes? How will Taron Egerton and I repopulate the earth?

But on those strolls I also discovered loads of the city’s secret places. From strange little gardens to forgotten galleries… I made a hundred resolutions to revisit them all when they opened again.

Now, finally, I can. For example, I couldn’t wait to get myself back inside the John Soane — an extraordinary museum just off Lincoln’s Inn Fields. It’s Soane’s own home, a neo-classical box crammed with his lifetime of collecting (a Pharaoh’s sarcophagus here, a Canaletto there). You almost feel the history vibrating. It’s also free (though donate if you can). It’s just one of the hidden gems in London we can all get to again. Sometimes it’s worth recalling how lucky we are to have so much gorgeousness at our fingertips. I’m also still willing to have a crack at the repopulating, if you’re up for it Taron?

I’ve been asked by Channel 4 to take part in Stand Up To Cancer — it’s a tremendous campaign that annually raises tens of millions of pounds and I was delighted to say yes.

In a year of reflection, they asked me to focus on one person I know affected by the disease. Like so many, I struggled to pick only one (after all, half the population will get cancer in their lifetime). In the end, I chose my late uncle, Mark Radstone. When we lost him, we lost a truly incredible source of humour, happiness and brightness. SUTC reminds us that the more we invest in fighting it, the more it’s being beaten. The message needn’t be one of fear or bleakness or death, it can be about how we’re taking on this illness and, in many ways, are starting to win. As I think about that and my Uncle Mark, I choose to be hopeful. I hope you’ll join me in the fight.

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