Cyber cha-cha-cha replaces Blackpool ballroom dance event

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Empress Ballroom, Blackpool
Image caption,
Coronavirus restrictions mean the event will not be held at the Empress Ballroom in Blackpool

A digital dance festival is to replace an annual event at one of the country's best known ballrooms.

The 2020 Blackpool Dance Festival is moving online as coronavirus has ruled out in-person participation at the Empress Ballroom in the Winter Gardens.

Dancers from 28 countries will compete online in front of judges who are also spread out across the globe.

The contest, which began in 1920, typically attracts thousands of entrants and spectators.

Broadband boogie

This year's festival will be broadcast on a subscription TV channel for fans.

Michael Williams, managing director of the council-owned Winter Gardens, told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: "We are connecting the world through dance.

"It's a virtual ballroom and it's reminding people that Blackpool is still number one in the world for dancing."

Participants, who are competing from countries including China, America, Australia and Iceland, can dance from a socially-safe venue of their choice whether it be their own home or garden, or a dance studio for their broadband boogies, web waltzes, cyber cha-cha-cha or a firewall fandango.

Performances will be relayed via Zoom video app then streamed with broadcast partners around the world.

Technology has also been harnessed to connect performers live to the judges as they mark each dance.

Mr Williams added: "We have worked with a Blackpool based software company to develop the project and have competitors registered from 28 countries with more expected to enter now that we are up and running.

"The concept for our Blackpool Online Festival is after months of lockdown to re-energise people's interest and passion in dancing, give dancers the opportunity to dance and encourage dancers to return to lessons and studios."

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