STRICTLY Come Dancing star Vincent Simone has been delayed. He’s been seeing his parents off, is running late. “I was helping them with their suitcases and stuff,” says the Italian-born dancer who moved to the UK as a teenager.
Simone’s parents are as good a place as any to start this interview. After all, were it not for their love of dance, the 33-year-old’s life might have followed a very different career path. Both were dance teachers with a passion that they passed on to their son.
“My family are all great dancers and all self-taught,” reflects Simone.
“I remember when I was small I used to see them performing. They were amazing. They still are. So dancing was always in the family, but it wasn’t until I was seven-and-a-half that I went to a proper dance school - I was the first in our family to do that.”
That early training has certainly paid off as Simone and long-time dance partner Flavia Cacace will demonstrate at the Edinburgh Playhouse next week in their live show, Midnight Tango.
Like Cacace, Simone was catapulted into the limelight when he signed up for Strictly Come Dancing in 2006. Then, he partnered Louisa Lytton, a year later he was back with Stephanie Beacham - the pair were eliminated in the second week.
He fared better in 2008, coming runner-up with singer Rachel Stevens, but has had mixed fortunes since, tripping the light fantastic with ex-EastEnder Natalie Cassidy, veteran actress Felicity Kendal and former Tory minister, Edwina Currie, with whom he came last.
“Who you get is 100 per cent a lottery,” he laughs.
“Although we meet all the celebrities beforehand, nobody knows who they will be dancing with until it is announced live on TV,” he explains.
Appearing on the show changed both Simone and Cacace’s lives.
“Flavia and I represented the UK internationally. We had all the European Championships, the qualifications... invitation competitions... it was a very stressful life.
“We wanted to be the best, so we were training every day. Travelling the world competing, performing, teaching and giving lectures. We were very busy - one year we only had 13 days off. Now it’s a bit more enjoyable.”
Unlike others on the show, Simone has no hesitation in naming his favourite partner... or should that be partners.
“Louisa Lytton,” he smiles. “She was an amazing dancer, an amazing character and I went through the experience of my first year with her. I will never forget that. Then there was Rachel Stevens. We made the final and came so close to winning the show. So those two are my favourites.”
Right now, though, Simone’s focus is on Midnight Tango.
“Flavia and I love moody dances, passionate dances. You can’t go wrong with the Argentinian tango, it’s now like second nature to us.”
Midnight Tango, Edinburgh Playhouse, Greenside Place, Wednesday-Saturday, 7.30pm (Saturday matinee 2.30pm), £14.50-£35.50, atgtickets.com/edinburgh