REVIEW of Vincent Simone: Tango Passions at The Haymarket, Basingstoke

Have you been watching the re-runs of the old Come Dancing on the Beeb?  I’d forgotten just how dreadful they were: utterly devoid of feeling, just dancing-by-numbers technique, hand-sewn sequins and bouffant bonces. What’s more, they pretty much define the term “low budget” - no licence-payers’ money was wasted in the making of these programmes. But the best thing about the whole dancing-on-the-cheap setup is watching old Terry Wogan compèring proceedings whilst trying hard – and usually failing - not to laugh. Really, they’re so bad they’re brilliant!

In contrast, Vincent Simone, who left Strictly in 2013 to spend more time with his mirror, brought his show Tango Passions to Basingstoke’s The Haymarket, and it had everything that Come Dancing lacked: lyricism, drama and passion a-plenty. 

The show is set in a seedy Argentine dance club. All the tango clichés are there – unadorned wooden tables, bentwood chairs, snap brim trilbies and Brylcreem by the fistful – as randy “Casanovas” meet provocative ladies and spend their evenings dancing to see who gets whom that night. Eventually, of course, an elegant and sophisticated outsider arrives (played by leading lady Paula Duarte) and catches the eye of our Vinnie, who falls for her Latin charms. 

This goes down badly with his regular inamorata and a dance-off ensues – Stroppy Mare v Hoity-Toity Totty - to see who gets Vincent for keeps. 

Alternatively, given the ferocity of both ladies’ ganchos, it might just have been a contest to see who could put an end to Vincent’s philandering by giving him a good kicking in the Buenos Aires region! Either way, it’s simple but effective, and it’s this storytelling that sets the evening apart from other dance shows. The choreography is full-on and very raunchy, with Paula Duarte merging elements of ballet into her routines in a way that brings subtlety and finesse to the sexually-charged narrative.

Of course, at the end of the show, little Vinnie couldn’t resist taking the microphone and telling us about himself and his love for, err, himself, before promising to dance an encore if we, the audience, promised him a standing ovulation (sic)! Given all the hormones sloshing around after such a racy evening, it was probably the most appropriate malapropism of all time. Of course, it could never have happened on the old Come Dancing, but wouldn’t old Wogan have loved it if it had?

Chris Parkinson-Brown