A Merseyside couple have built their TikTok following over the last year, reaching 12.6 million views on a recent video.
Joan and Jimmy O’Shaughnessy created their TikTok account during the first lockdown after seeing a friend post a TikTok dancing video on Facebook.
After seeing the video, Joan believed herself and Jimmy could replicate the dance, so joined the platform to try it out.
Their first video went well so they decided to make another, and it carried on from there.
The couple, who have been together for 47 years, are no strangers to dancing, with over twenty years of dance lessons.
They saw TikTok as a way to carry on dancing throughout the first lockdown after their weekly dance lessons were cancelled due to Covid-19.
Joan and Jimmy, who have two sons and a grandson, currently have 353,000 followers on TikTok which has grown from 100,000 in October.
After their recent video went viral, they gained 36,000 followers in just a day.
Jimmy, 68, said: ‘‘We’ve been astonished by the amount of interest that there has been from all over the world, it’s been crazy.
‘‘We have followers from Nepal, Indonesia, Russia and Germany; just sort of all over the world.
‘‘It’s definitely about positivity; if we lighten a little bit of the lives of the people that follow us, then great, we’re thankful for it.’’
Joan, 67, said: ‘‘I go through the comments and try to reply to them all.
‘‘If someone asks a question, I’ll answer it, that’s one of the things I try to do – I think if people have been through the trouble of commenting then it’s only fair to try and read the comments
‘‘But when you get something like 25,000 comments like our recent video, I can’t reply to them all!
‘‘We are grateful for their support and encouragement, you get a lot of the same people who come on our videos and leave us a message and we are very grateful for that.’’
Dance has always had a special place in Joan and Jimmy’s life after they met in Liverpool in 1970, which is where they grew up.
They met in a nightclub, the Mardi Gras, when Joan was 16 and Jimmy was 17.
Joan said: ‘‘I liked the fact that he could dance you see; I could tell he had rhythm and that was one of the things that attracted me to him.’’
Jimmy said: ‘‘I tell you a bloke couldn’t cop off with a girl unless he could dance, a girl used to turn her shoulders away if he went on the floor and started dancing with her.
‘‘So me and my mate would practice some of the latest dances before we’d go out.’’
After marrying in 1973, Joan and Jimmy moved to Southport.
Joan worked in what was the Midland Bank Computer Centre in Bootle, whilst Jimmy as a British Aerospace senior manager in Preston.
The couple started dance lessons when they were in their 40s, as due to Jimmy’s job they used to get invited to Mayor’s Balls around the area.
Joan said: ‘‘We’d go and think ‘oh I wish we could dance’ because they were all doing quicksteps and waltzes kind of things.
‘‘We started ballroom dancing – I thought you know we’ll go for six weeks or so, but dance isn’t like that; you’re always learning so we carried on going.’’
Joan and Jimmy went on to learn sequence dance which they did every week until the first lockdown.
They ended up dancing in a formation team and even dancing at Blackpool in the Winter Gardens.
Although they began their TikTok account in the first lockdown, the dancing duo are still creating around three videos a week.
Jimmy said: ‘‘We thought it was just going to be during that first lockdown then I was ready to return to golf.
‘‘I actually did a video where I said I was going back to golf; I picked up a golf club and swung it thinking that’s me done, back to golf.
‘‘But then we’d get comments saying, ‘you’re not stopping dancing, are you?’ so we just carried on.’’
Each video takes the couple on average around two hours to learn and perfect.
Joan said: ‘‘We just keep practicing until we’re happy with it.
‘‘I quite like editing and messing about with things, but loads of people say ‘how do you do that?’ and ‘how do you edit it?’ so you’ve got to be able to do that side of it as well I suppose.’’
Joan and Jimmy’s growing TikTok platform has also resulted in many opportunities for the couple.
From an appearance on ITV News, to Jimmy and his son Jonathan appearing on the game show, Lingo, to being asked to dance to music by Tinie Tempah, Charlie Wilson and various other artists.
The couple are going to carry on making TikTok videos after lockdown to continue doing what they enjoy; dancing and spreading positivity.
Joan said: ‘‘I always use hashtag love and positivity. People say that the positivity comes through on our videos and that’s what we’re aiming for.
‘‘We’re grateful for their support and encouragement, you get a lot of the same people who come on our videos and leave us a message, we are very grateful for all that.’’
Jimmy added: ‘‘It’s humbling, here we are in our home in Southport doing something in whatever room we’re in, people like to say they know all the rooms in our house that we’ve danced in, and our garden.
‘‘It’s just absolutely astonishing the positivity that comes back, it encourages us to keep going whilst we’re getting that level of response, and people saying, ‘please don’t stop’ and ‘to protect us at all costs.’
‘‘It actually sort of gives you the opportunity to get your brain working, being active and having to think about things.
‘‘That’s what dance is good for – I would say that to a lot of people who have considered doing any dancing, no matter what age.’’
To follow Joan and Jimmy on their TikTok page click here.