Strictly’s John Whaite expecting flak for romantic rumba in upcoming show

Having made history being part of Strictly Come Dancing’s first all-male duo, John Whaite will make another mark in the competition as he takes on the rumba this Saturday night.

The Bake Off star will be ditching the “pally” routines with dance partner Johannes Radebe in favour of the significantly racier style of Latin dance.

“Hopefully the whole routine will make people gasp and go, wow. From the very first step we’re very intimate,” John told The Mirror ahead of Saturday’s live show.

"What we’ve done so far have been very masculine, laddy kinds of dances. We’ve had bantery dances, pally dances, now it’s time to be romantic.”

This comes after the backlash Strictly faced last year, when the show’s first all-female pairing with boxer Nicola Adams and dancer Katya Jones, was dubbed too friendly as the couple danced like “girl pals” up until Nicola’s abrupt exit due to testing positive for Covid.

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Chef John’s upcoming routine will be far from friendly he insists and, although he is excited to perform the routine, he predicts that he’ll also face criticism for it.

“The rumba is the most sensual dance, and we’re not going to shy away from that. We’re here to make the point that gay people and same sex couples should be allowed to dance together,” he said.

“I’m a bit nervous about how it’s going to be received because it’s a very intimate dance. Some people have already expressed their distaste for Johannes and me as a partnership, so I’m expecting to get a bit of flak over it.

“But you know what? We’re over people trying to be hateful and hurtful, because we’ve had it all our lives. So, the more I think about it, the less nervous get.

“We’re definitely not holding back. Why should we? The minute we do that it’s suggesting there’s something wrong in what we’re doing, and there isn’t.”

When asked before doing the show if he wanted to be partnered with a woman or a man, the 32-year-old declined as he wanted to stand in the truth of his sexuality on TV.

“I haven’t fought for freedom and equality all my life to shy away from it when it all hits the fan,” John added.

Supporting the chef through the rumba is dancer Johannes, who has confirmed that the pair will be performing the routine to Sting’s Shape of My Heart.

The 34-year-old has said that this year’s Strictly has been his “best experience” yet, after previously pairing up with actresses Catherine Tyldesley and Caroline Quentin.

Johannes suffered homophobic bullying for being gay in his home country of South Africa and has found being partnered with another man while at work empowering.

“Dancing with John has really allowed me, more than anything, to be myself. It’s been liberating.”

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