Johannes Radebe is a gay, Black, South African ballroom dancer so - by his own admission - the odds have been stacked against him and yet, thanks to a moment of television magic, he is now selling out theatres across the UK, including Swindon’s own Wyvern Theatre, with not an empty seat in sight.

The talented dancer created something of a movement by partnering with Great British Bake Off star John Whaite in the last series of BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing, becoming the first partnership between two men on the show.

The pair provided some overwhelmingly beautiful moments and fantastic dances and in doing so, won over the British audience, many of whom were seeing two men dance together on television. This propelled them into the final and irrefutably showed that progressive representation worked.  

Riding that wave, Radebe was in Swindon to perform his solo tour – Freedom – in what turned out to be an immaculately put together life story starting from his hometown in South Africa, to becoming one of Strictly’ s biggest stars, as well as a celebration of all things fabulous.

This Is Wiltshire:

The show was broken up into sections, starting homage to traditional South African dances. In the second half we saw the dancer, and his equally talented company, take on some of his favourite moments in Strictly, and then the finale was an all-out extravaganza and celebration of the LGBTQ+ community.

Nothing has received a stronger reaction in the Wyvern than Radebe’s adrenaline-fuelled, relentless, feather-filled finale romp. Audience members were springing up out of their chairs as if compelled by an invisible force, involuntary screams and whoops were escaping out of people’s mouths. It was joyous, it was electric.

It all took place around Radebe’s candid and intimate interludes where he simply spoke to the audience. Sometimes he would explain the meaning behind why we’d just seen certain dances. Sometimes he’d talk about his partnership with John and how much that meant.

During these moments, he would get visibly emotional and this, along with his complete earnestness, helped to truly highlight the weight and importance of a show like this. 

The standing ovation that Johannes Radebe received at the end of his performance carried with the result of years and years’ worth of progress when it comes to free to be yourself. Things really have come a long way, even if they still have a way to go, and it takes a star like Johannes to demonstrate that.