Strictly Come Dancing trio take to the road for epic ‘Here Come the Boys’ tour

One of them cannot remember a time when he didn’t want to be a dancer.

Another was teased as a child for the tight-fitting shirts he wore while dancing and told he must prefer boys.

The third is relishing performing in public without having a celeb in tow.

This weekend, Aljaz Skorjanec, Gorka Marquez and Giovanni Pernice – three star professionals from TV’s Strictly – embark on a 42-gig UK tour in dance extravaganza Here Come The Boys.

And they can’t wait.

“Aljaz, Giovanni and I are very good friends,” says Gorka, 28. “I love sharing the floor with them because they’re such good fun. We’re going to have a blast but then we’ll be doing what we love.”

Aljaz, 29, has wanted to be a dancer all his life.

He grew up in a small town – “there was only one set of traffic lights” – in Slovenia, an hour-and-a-half’s drive from the capital Ljubljana.

His father Srecko would drive him there after school to dancing lessons every other day and then wait hours before driving him home again.

It’s a sacrifice that Aljaz has never forgotten.

His mother Natasa was equally invested in her son’s ambition. And discipline and dedication, he says, were her watchwords.

“Her favourite saying was, ‘The short cut is the longest way.’ What she meant is that there’s no substitute for doing things properly.”

He clearly took it to heart. He rolls up his sleeve to reveal his adored mother’s mantra tattooed on his left upper forearm.

Gorka was equally focused on dancing – even though he had to run the gauntlet of jibes from his peers in his native Spain.

“You know how it is,” he says. “You’d be told you must be gay because you liked dancing or because you wore tight shirts.

“But the funny thing is that those same people now want to get in touch and be your friend.

"And part of that is due to Strictly and its popularity.”

Giovanni, 28, was born in Sicily and then moved to Bologna aged 14 to concentrate on dance.

It had been his ambition ever since he’d seen a show on Italian television about ballroom dance competitions.

He’s relishing the prospect of this latest tour.

“I won’t have to worry about what a celebrity is doing. People will come to see us and find out what we’re capable of. It will also give me a chance to show my personality.”

Aljaz agrees. “We all love what we do,” he says. Well, most of the time. Because there can be a downside to life in the limelight.

Last Boxing Day, fellow professional AJ Pritchard and his younger brother Curtis, who dances on the Irish version of the show, were set upon by a bunch of yobs in a Cheshire nightclub.

AJ was left battered and bruised. Curtis’s injuries forced him to take weeks off away from the dance floor.

“It was totally unacceptable,” says Aljaz. “I hope they find the culprits and they get properly punished. But we’ve been with both AJ and Curtis since and they’re doing well.”

On a happier note, the world of dance has done wonders for the boys’ love lives.

Aljaz is now married to Strictly dancer Janette Manrara.

Giovanni is dating Ashley Roberts who he met on 2018’s show.

And Gorka is about to become a first-time dad with former Hollyoaks actress Gemma Atkinson, 34, who was a contestant in 2017.

“I was first attracted to her because she’s friendly and normal and easy to talk to,” he says.

“My English is improving all the time. I now know what ‘chuffed’ means.”

What about her Spanish?

“She was taking lessons but she’s been a bit busy. She managed to say a few Spanish phrases, though, to my mum and dad over Christmas. They love her already.”

Gemma and Gorks (as she calls him) often train together in the gym.

“And people who train together stay together. Isn’t that what they say?”

He’s not shy about his feelings.

“I hope we stay together forever because I love her. We can be in the same room doing different things and I’ll look up and there she is. I love that.”

For tour details click here

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