WITH their harmonised lyrics and choreographed dance moves they once ruled the music scene selling millions of records and filling stadiums with screaming teenage fans.
Now Scots are getting the chance to relive the boy band era of the 80s and 90s with a new dance initiative aimed at getting men dancing.
“The Ultimate Boy Band” workshop being launched by Dance Base, Scotland’s national dance company, promises the “ultimate nostalgia trip” learning the dance routines made famous by groups such as New Kids On The Block, Take That and Backstreet Boys.
Instead of dancing around the bedroom with a hairbrush microphone the workshop gives the opportunity to relive MTV music video dreams and learn some of the original moves and new routines.
The idea came from dancer-choreographer Ashley Jack, 26, after she found the first old Backstreet Boys album she had when she was aged eight.
“I grew up watching music videos and the best dance routines were always by boy bands. I virtually trained myself and was obsessed with getting the moves right. I thought it would be great fun to run a workshop which everyone could enjoy even if some of the men might not have admitted they liked the bands at the time they were around.”
“I do think some men find it harder to “let go” with dancing but will be able to relate to boy band music from watching things from ’back in the day’.”
John Lyndon, 31, an arts administrator from Edinburgh, who has signed up for the workshop which is for both males and females, said boy band music was growing in popularity despite having some negative press in the past.
“I’m from the era of bands like Take That, N Sync and New Kids on the Block. Back then there was still a bit of a stigma about that type of music.
“We’ve now moved forward from that and can see it as dancing and fun.
“Speaking as a straight man I’d say dancing has changed over the years and it is now much more acceptable for men to go out there and dance.
“I think Justin Timberlake did a lot to break down that stigma. I can remember when he was with N Sync him being kind of sneered at. But then when he broke out into his solo career and worded with people such as Pharrell Williams he became more acceptable as a dancer and singer.
“JLS and One Direction are foremost right now. While they are not so choreographed everyone has a lot of fun dancing around.”
Francesca Dymond, communications and marketing officer at Dance Base, said: “When Ashley came to us with her idea for an Ultimate Boy Band workshop, we absolutely jumped on it right away. Not only does it fit with what we do here at Dance Base, which is to find new, fun and creative ways to get people dancing but it seemed to instantly appeal to staff and customers, male and female alike.
“We realised that dance, up to now, has been a female-centric activity. But if you look at the most successful boy bands, strong dance routines are a huge part of their success – from an era where MTV was reaching its peak, every boy band worth its salt had a strong choreographer behind them to create amazing videos and boost their appeal. We’re really excited about September 14.”
Kelly Apter, The Scotsman’s dance critic, said the boy band workshop was a rare opportunity for men to dance without feeling outnumbered by women.
“There’s been a lot of nostalgia stuff from the 80s with Flashdance and Fame where females get the chance to relive the era. But the boys in these bands were doing some pretty slick moves too. But while you can watch such films where do they go to join in?
“It’s no wonder young boys tend to drop out of dance classes. There is only so long they can cope with being in a room of little girls in pink tutus. No wonder they drop out.
“Dance Base has a requirement, a duty almost, to get men in. Those in their 20s, 30s and 40s probably haven’t done this sort of dancing for a long time so it’s wonderful for them to be able to go back to an era when they weren’t so inhibited by life.”
• “The Ultimate Boy Band”, Dance Base, Grassmarket, Edinburgh. Sunday 14 September 3pm-5pm. £15(£12.50) 0131 225 5525 dancebase.co.uk/howto