Sequins, sparkles, feathers and fake tans, it can mean only one thing: Strictly Come Dancing had arrived – with a special Black Country twist.
Strictly Dancing with Wolves, a take on the hit TV show, was held at Wolverhampton’s Civic Hall to help raise thousands of pounds for charity.
The black tie event was organised by Punjabi Wolves – a group of football supporters who raise money for good causes – and saw dancing professionals put through their paces alongside local celebrities following weeks of gruelling rehearsals.
Among those pulling on their dancing shoes were Deana Uppal, from Walsall, who took part in last year’s Big Brother, and kickboxing champion Kirkwood ‘Firewalker’ Walker, who runs Firewalker Health Club. Former Wolves favourite Mel Eves also took part along with BBC News reporter Laura May McMullan, who was crowned the winner.
Punjabi Wolves spokesman Andy Sahota said: “All of our previous events have been something to do with sports such as football and boxing and we started getting a lot of females asking us to put on an event aimed at them. That was when I came up with the idea for Strictly Dancing with Wolves.
“We haven’t done anything like this before. The turnout was fantastic and the atmosphere was brilliant.
“We hope that we will have raised around £10,000 for charity from the event and intend to make it an annual thing with the winners bringing back their trophy each year.”
Proceeds will be shared between the charity’s six nominated causes.
They are Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research, Promise Dreams, Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust Heart & Lung Centre, Royal Centre for Defence Medicine, Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham and the India Project, which helps destitute families in India.
Professionals from dance schools across the Black Country, including the Zig Zag Dance Factory in Showell Lane, Wolverhampton, were paired up with the contestants to learn a variety of dances including the waltz, ballroom, tango and the cha cha.
Warren Bullock who runs the dance school with his wife Jane, was on the judging panel alongside singer Jaki Graham and dancers Martin Cutler and Inder Singh.
He said: “Some of the contestants have been training for around six weeks while others, because of their busy schedules, were only able to attend three or four classes, so I am sure they must have found it tough and very nerve-racking out on the dance floor.
“I am pleased that I was asked to help train the couples and take part in the evening. It was a lot of fun.”
More than 600 tickets were sold for the event.
Mel Eves, who scored 44 goals for Wolves during a nine-year career at Molineux said: “I’ve always supported Punjabi Wolves, but this is the first time I’m getting hands on and involved. It is completely different from football. I think it’s fantastic what they’re doing raising money for such worthy causes and I am pleased to be a part of it.”
Winner Laura May McMullan added: “This was something completely out of my comfort zone so I can’t believe I won. I will definitely be returning next year, just try and stop me, and I will carry on dancing because I have enjoyed it so much.”