Oh what, wow! He’s the greatest dancer... Well folks, I'm not. After peaking during an impromptu on-stage performance to a James Brown cover on my 23rd birthday, my finest moves have long since been lost to dodgy ankles and even dodgier club nights.
So when asked (read: told) to audition as a performer for the much-anticipated IMG Worlds of Adventure theme park, this part-time funkster/headbanger/shoegazer instantly reached for his doctor’s note.
Contract loophole closed, it was with massive trepidation that I headed to The Fridge in Alserkal Avenue for what promised to be a hugely chastening, if not wholly embarrassing experience.
Joining a room full of professional movers and shakers, I tried my hardest to hide my one-and-a-half left feet as the charismatic Giorgio took us through the routine we would have to learn and reproduce to his high standards.
“This is a very basic opening,” he assured us as he demonstrated the first steps. Thankfully, even I could muster a passing effort, for starters at least.
But there was no room for smugness as Giorgio took the routine up a level and I soon began teetering right on the edge of my dancing depth. “How on Earth are they all keeping up with this?” I thought to myself as my fellow wannabes pulled it off with an almost effortless grace.
As the sweat started to seep out and my face grew ever redder, Giorgio continued to embellish the piece, leaving myself and a few of the others flailing like flightless birds desperately trying to reach the skies.
After being split into two groups, I had even less space to hide, but somehow managed to wing my way into the second round. Maybe I wasn't a complete charlatan after all. Maybe I could quit the day job and carve out a career in the entertainment business.
I soon snapped out of my rather deluded daydream, though, as our leader upped the ante once more, finally leaving your faithful narrator so out of step that he quickly began edging towards the exit door.
So my heart sank yet deeper when Giorgio called me forward for my solo effort. The eyes of the entire room and, it felt, the whole of Dubai were on me as I bumbled my way through.
My kind compadres managed to stifle their giggles long enough for me to reach the end of the number with a modicum of self-respect.
But what came next truly took my breath away. Called upon to perform their own freestyle manoeuvres, I watched in utter admiration as one-by-one the dancers produced astounding acrobatic feats – some more B-Boy, others more balletic.
Even after being forced to watch Dirty Dancing at least a dozen times as a kid (the perils of having two older sisters in a one-TV house), next to these guys I was less Johnny Castle, more Johnny Vegas.
But spurred on by my kind-hearted cohorts, I bounced into the middle of the circle and began busting out some of my best moves. Fuelled by sheer adrenalin and the genuine encouragement I was receiving, I began to let loose again and far from disgrace myself, I actually felt as though I was in my element.
Okay, I might have resembled the notorious Happy Mondays “percussionist” Bez, but as the beat reverberated through my body, the memories of my halcyon days at the Ilford Island nightclub came flooding back.
If I could have bottled that moment, I would have. Even the disappointment of discovering I hadn't made the final cut couldn't take the edge off my euphoria.
But the real winner on the day was IMG, which now has a wealth of talented, precocious and massively amiable performers to entertain its guests. To that lovely bunch I'd just like to say: I had one of the times of my life.
IMG Worlds of Adventure is set to open later this year. City of Arabia, Dubailand, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Road, www.imgwoa.ae/en (600 500 962).
Four to try
Attractions to look forward to at IMG Worlds Of Adventure
There will be 69 state-of-the-art dinosaurs – some standing as high as 16 metres – used in a variety of ways, from rides to live entertainment, around the Lost Valley zone. Japanese animatronics and robotics company Kokoro, which has worked on the iconic installations at London's Natural History Museum, is behind the dinos.
If you take a stroll down to the Lost Valley, keep an eye out for The Velociraptor. It’s described as a “mega launch coaster” and will propel visitors to an exhilarating 100kph in 2.5 seconds. There will be four inversions and a highest loop of 105ft – just high enough to keep you out of reach of any escaped dinos...
It’s not just about thrilling roller-coasters at IMG. The theme park will also be home to a 12-screen multiplex featuring both IMAX and VIP cinemas. It will show the latest blockbusters and general release films, as well as special screenings in line with the other areas of the park. Spider-Man and Hulk on repeat, anyone?
With Marvel and Cartoon Network official partners and playing an active role in how the park will look, expect to see real familiar scenes and faces from the likes of The Avengers, Iron Man, Thor, Ben 10, The Powerpuff Girls, The Amazing World of Gumball and more. Plenty to keep the entire family entertained.