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How An All Female Team In Essex Revamped The Dreamboys

Heard the one about the all-female team running a raunchy male dancing group with its roots in Essex? Alice Woods, managing director of The Dreamboys, tells Mark Kebble more

I don’t consider myself to be a prude, but even I was left a little speechless when Alice Woods, managing director of The Dreamboys, discusses why their candles shaped like the male genitalia are sure fire hits for anyone looking for a Secret Santa present with a difference. However raunchy the subject, Woods doesn’t seem to bat an eyelid or even respond to my nervy chuckles, but then again she is the woman who has run The Dreamboys for the last two and a half years.

How she got there is slightly surprising. “I trained as a classical musician,” she says. “That was my first career shall we say, gigging regularly and doing what musicians do. I also went to art school, so I was combining both careers – artists and musician – and I had an art gallery in London, which did quite well on the business side of things. It was the same with music, I ended up dealing with a lot of the business side, booking out gigs, being a promoter and representing other people. Then I decided because I did always gravitate to the commercial side of the music industry, I went back and I studied finance and accounting at the London School of Economics and I did my masters. After I graduated, I worked as an investment analyst in the city.”

Alice Woods Img
Alice Woods is the MD of The Dreamboys

Although none of this directly points to evolving an all-male dance/strip group, it actually makes sense when Woods goes into the reason for getting involved with The Dreamboys. “When I was working in finance, what I wanted to do initially in my head was to buy a venue and turn it into a cabaret club,” she explains. “I was researching and raising investment for that, and then one of the brokers I was working with mentioned The Dreamboys brand [was up for sale]. It just made total sense to me. I like being behind the scenes, I don’t like being on stage – I want to be an auditorium with a thousand people watching the boys perform and seeing all these happy faces. I don’t want to be up there myself, I want to create it and stand back and watch it all happen. Also,” she adds with a smile, “I am a woman, there’s never been a woman in charge of so many men and that appealed to me.”

In preparation for this Christmas issue, I asked my colleagues what they thought about The Dreamboys – a couple of the female team were a little too quick in saying they knew them, whereas a couple of others looked a little perplexed by the idea of me featuring them. “My friends thought it was the perfect culmination of my life so far,” Woods says on how her own circle reacted to her business plans. “They thought ‘this is so Alice’. Some of my family were a bit sceptical, it’s a bit of an unusual career move! It took a while to get some of them on board, but now for instance my parents are in charge of the merchandise department! It’s turned into a real family business.”

The Dreamboys were first launched in 1987 and have roots in Essex – today, their HQ is based in Wickford, with Woods name-checking Thorndon Country Park as a particular favourite – so for over 30 years they have been turning heads. What did Woods see in the opportunity to take over? “Because we are so dominant in the market, it was very easy for the previous owners to leave as it was because it was still doing very well, but I felt it needed to be brought into the 21st century,” she answers. “One of the first things I did was take away any gender specific marketing, so none of the girls’ night out stuff, to make it much more inclusive. Although we were still seeing 100,000 plus tickets sold every year, it was falling a little bit behind. It needed somebody younger and it needed a woman, just to bring it up-to-date and become more inclusive and diverse.”

She also got to work on the stage show itself. “Before, all the shows had been choreographed and designed by men exclusively, so now we have an all-female head office team. So, the show was created not just necessarily from a female gaze, but from the gaze of everybody as opposed to created and performed by men. I also made it a bit raunchier,” she laughs. “There were great dance routines, with a bit of stripping at the end. In the cast, there would be some doing the full monty and others who would focus on dancing, but I thought that was silly. You want to get to know every cast member and character, you don’t want some getting everything off and others just dancing, so I merged the two. All the dancers have to get their kit off, and all the people who get their kit off have to learn to dance. It works much better, the fans engage with the personalities much better. It’s more of a tease.”

Physique and empathy go hand in hand with The Dreamboys today

I slightly stumble over the question, but bar the obvious, what does she look for in the cast? “It’s not easy,” she laughs. “You have to have an incredible physique – the guys are going to the gym every day, so there’s a lot of maintenance. You also have to be full of empathy. One of the most important things of our shows is the meet and greet with the fans after the show. The fans love that, they always want to meet the boys, so you have to enjoy talking to people. You have to be a great dancer, you have to be comfortable taking all your clothes off… There’s quite a lot of elements that go into it.”

After the nightmare of lockdown – “It was heart-breaking, the worse experience of my life,” Woods says – The Dreamboys have returned with a bang and are set to liven up Christmas for many this month. “No,” she says simply when I ask if she will have much time off in December. “We have our touring theatre and arena show, which goes all around the country, and that’s about 100 dates a year. Then we have another 500 shows which are weekly nightclub residences, so we have 15 different teams of Dreamboys. In the first two weeks of December we have all our regional shows happening, and we have two special shows in London, so perfect for some naughty elf vibes.” Fancy something a little different this Christmas?

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