Friday, March 14, 2008

Friday Film Night - Strictly Ballroom

Today Fiona Harper raves about one of her favourite films of all time, Strictly Ballroom. Who said sequins, feathers and gallons of fake tan can’t be sexy?

Strictly Ballroom opens to the strains of The Blue Danube. Couples in neon colours twirl in slow motion, the tension mounts… And Scott Hastings is the poised to take the title in a ballroom dancing competition – that is, until he dares to dance his own steps. Right from the moment his mother fell into hysterics and asked herself what she’d done wrong, I knew I was going to love this film.

I love the over-the-top characters, the drama, the brash glamour. I love the struggle for independence and creativity in a world full of rigid structure. Most of all, I love the slow-burning romance between the most unlikely of couples.

Scott has been training to be a champion since childhood; it’s his destiny. But years of dancing the same steps – other people’s steps – have left him aching for the freedom to dance his way. Fran is the most awkward beginner at the dance school – the lowest of the low – not even fit to talk to Scott, let alone dance with him, but she shares the same passion, the same need for self-expression and she alone challenges Scott to stop being afraid and follow his heart.

Fran and Scott start training in secret and when her strict Spanish father catches them, he offers to train them in the Paso Doble, and Scott starts to discover that there is more to dancing than making the right shapes and moving his arms and legs in the right order. To be a truly great dancer, he needs to get rid of his arrogance and dance from the heart. He starts to feel the movement and, as Fran and Scott push against all the outside forces that want to stop them dancing their steps their way, they start to feel other things – they start to fall in love.

I have plenty of favourite moments in this film:

  • Fran and Scott dancing the rumba on the roof of the dance school, and then again backstage at a competition.

  • Scott’s little sister, who seems to be the only voice of reason in a world gone mad.

  • Antonio Vargas, who plays Fran’s father, doing the earthiest, sexiest flamenco ever!

  • The final scene, where Scott slides into the ballroom on his knees, stops at Fran’s feet, and becomes the dancer he was born to be.

A little bit of sizzle is a must in a good dance film, and I know people say that dancing is the vertical expression of a horizontal desire, but, believe me, it can be so much more. In a romance movie, or even a romance novel, a lot of the magic comes from the subtext – what’s being said and done and felt beneath the surface. And dancing is the perfect way for the hero and heroine to express all those hidden emotions and simmering sexual tension without having to spoil it all by putting into words.

In my book, this film is a ten out of ten! If you haven’t rented the DVD yet, shame on you!

Fiona Harper's latest release English Lord, Ordinary Lady shortlisted for the RNA's Romance Prize 2008 and is available right now on the shelves in Australia and New Zealand, and also on eHarlequin and Mills & Boon wesbsites.

Cataromance gave it a five-star review saying, "Warm, witty and feel-good, contemporary romance does not get any better than this!"


  1. Fiona, great choice! Strictly Ballroom is one of my all-time favorite films too. And it's one I've watched again and again. Hmm, must hunt out the video...

  2. Fiona, I have this movie on DVD and I love it. Thank you so much for bringing it to everyones attention.This was one of those feel good movies that you just have to watch, more than once.

  3. And I had such a great time researching this post! Intended to put the DVD in and just skip through it to remind myself, but I couldn't do it. Had to settle down and watch it in all its glory.