I found a great source of chill-out music

I’ve often wondered where DJs find all the wonderful new music that they serve up for us.  No doubt they spend a lot of time on Spotify, and the other music streaming services, and of course my favourite source YouTube.  Main room DJs may have it a little easier than the chill-room guys, because even Radio 2 will quickly pick up on the latest dance tracks.  I sometimes find myself wondering if there is a radio station that serves up contemporary music with smooth dance grooves.

Well I found one the other day.  I love listening to music when I’m writing.  If I’m doing a review of a main room freestyle I love a musical background that has the same uptempo vibe.  I seem to spend more time nowadays writing about chill-out venues, so again I love to hear much slower and funkier tunes coming through my headphones.   The other day I came across an on-line radio station on YouTube that gives me just that.

It’s called Chill Your Mind Radio and it advertises its playlist as Deep House, Tropical House, Chill Music and Relax EDM (that’s Electronic Dance Music).

So, as I tap away on my computer writing, I might suddenly hear something that interests me.  I unplug the headphones and use the Shazam App on my phone and up come the track.  The other day one of these stand out tracks was a Tropical House version of the Portugal The Man favourite  – Feel It Still by Revelries & Henri Purnell.

Just click the play button on the video below and hopefully it will take you straight there.  (Posted Wednesday 12 December)

My Three day Dance Road Trip

DAY 1: TFIF in Oxford

I’m on a three day road trip travelling out each time from a Premier Inn in Swindon.  It’s tough being a blogger sometimes.  My first visit is to Jive+’s Thank Friday it’s Freestyle (TFIF).  When I reviewed a Motown night there last year I promised Jive+’s Carolie that I would return for TFIF.

The reason it took so long, if I’m honest, was because I didn’t think I was ready to enjoy the expressive music that is served up at this event.  In the last year though, I’ve made a lot of progress in dancing to slower music so I thought I’d take myself out of my comfort zone and jump in to the deep end.

So how did I get on?  I’ll let you know when I publish my full review, hopefully at the end of the week.  In the meantime l’ll just say that there were over two hundred people in attendance and many of them had travelled a long way.  That’s saying something!  (Posted Saturday 8 December)

 

DAY 2: SWITCH in Bristol

Day two of my weekend road trip based in Swindon and I’m back at Strictly Ceroc Bristol’s Switch.  This was one of the freestyles that made it in to my 2017-18 Top 5 List.  Not surprising then that it was very busy again.  Just as when I visited the first time Caine Langford and Andrea Twamley did a smooth class, and I’ve actually picked up and remembered one of the moves – a nice variation on the Ceroc High First.

Interestingly the floor started to noticeably thin out 11:30, but after DJ John Baker switched the music to a more chill-out vibe at midnight, it was suddenly very busy again.

I suspect some people might just come out for the last two hours.  John’s chill-out music is fabulous and contains lots of exclusive tracks, but I’ve chosen to feature one that quite a few DJs other have picked up on.  It’s the Deepend remix of Catch & Release by Matt Simons.  A combination of a bass and piano chord creates a wonderful mellow beat, that you find yourself easily connecting with.  (Posted Sunday 9 December)

DAY 3: Tea Dance in Chippenham

Day three of my weekend Road Trip and I’m off to a Tea Dance in Chippenham run by Ceroc Live.  My plan was to just go and have a nice afternoon off and enjoy some chill-out dancing.  No reviewing.  Perhaps just put a brief review in this Quick Steps section.  Talk about the best-laid plans of mice and men.

After about an hour I realised that I was in the middle of something rather special.  Firstly the place was packed out, and secondly the music was providing a wonderful chill-out vibe out on the dance floor.  DJ Kevin Hyde was on the decks and I, along with everyone else, was lovin’ his music.

But there was something else.  The dances I was having were some of the best I’ve ever had at a Tea Dance. This was due in part to Kevin’s fabulous music, but mainly to the way my lady partners were responding to and playing with the music.  My resolve crumbled.  I would have to give this venue a full review.

Now I’ve a bit of a writing back log building, so it might be a while before I post the review on the blog, but I’m already looking forward to working on it.  My thanks also to all the people who gave up their dance time to tell me about their love of this venue.  (Posted Sunday 9 December) 

The dance floor is packed for the Christmas Tea Dance at Chippenham

I think I’m getting this Blues thing at last

Regular readers of the blog will know that I’m not comfortable in a Blues Room.  You see I’ve got it in to my head that Blues is all about Close-hold dancing.  It seems I’ve got it wrong.  On Thursday I found time to visit a Crossroads Blues class in Derby.  The class is run by Paul Ray and his partner Sarah Lovatt.  These two have a very different approach to Blues dancing.  Firstly they have a passion for the origins of Blues dancing.  Here’s what they say on their Facebook Page:

We are a small part of a giant movement to keep blues music and blues dance traditions alive.  We are here to explore the roots and traditions so that we may fully appreciate the history of blues music and dance.

Paul and Sarah’s passion for the history of Blues dancing came over very quickly and I learnt something quite significant.  It appears that Blues dancing was very much an individual dance style that expressed the lives and music of the black slaves in the cotton fields of the American South.  It was only later people started to get in to a hold, and even then it was a very open one.

I’ll be writing a full article about Crossroads Blues and their approach to Blues dancing in the New Year, but for the moment I’ll feature a video which shows a much looser form of Blues dancing.  This is the type of dancing that I think I could get in to, and my first visit to Paul and Sarah’s class I was given some simple techniques that will help me.  (Posted Saturday 8 December)

Great to see a Ceroc class busy again

On Wednesday I decided to pay a visit to the Ceroc class night at The Braunstone Civic Centre in Leicester.  This was a venue that I used to dance at quite regularly a few years back and it was always packed out.  Sadly the vitality of venues sometimes goes up and down – how often have I said that we must not take this wonderful dance scene for granted – and when I visited a few months back the numbers were markedly down.

The venue has now been taken over by Lynn Galiszewski, and as soon as I walked in and spotted the number of people in the lines of the Beginners’ class I knew that Lynn and her team had started to turn it around.  In fact, come the main freestyle session after the Intermediate lesson, I’d say the numbers weren’t far off from the busy days I remember.

Lynn has a good team around her including my old mate DJ Mark Taylor, of whom more about later.  The teaching is now in the capable hands of in Lynn Freestone, and I was very impressed how she delivered the Beginners lesson.  Lynn’s very clear instructions were delivered with lots of useful tips, and this can only help boost the numbers of newbies who stay the course and progress to the Intermediate lesson.

We are dependent on retaining new people

The vitality of this whole dance scene depends on new people coming to classes and staying long enough to get the dance bug.  There is no better indicator of the health of this dance community than the numbers in Beginners classes and I have no doubt that Lynn and Lynn (that could get confusing) will do their bit for the cause in Leicester.

The other vital ingredient to any class night is good music and it was great to get to dance to DJ Mark’s music again.  When I first started out Mark DJed at two of my favourite Ceroc class nights – Rolls Royce at Derby and West Bridgford in Nottingham.  This was the days before I could Shazam everything and I was constantly on the stage asking Mark what the last fabulous track was.

On Wednesday night Mark gave me my first dance to a new track, that I’m sure we’ll all be dancing to soon.  It’s Nothing Breaks Like a Heart from Mark Ronson (he of Uptown funk fame) featuring the vocals of Miley Cyrus.  This track has a lovely beat that’s so easy to connect to – perfect for a beginners lesson.  As with any Ronson track it has a lot going on and I loved the Country & Western feel of the backing track.

I hope to get back to Lynn and Lynn’s Christmas fun class and write a full review, of what I suspect is going to be a great night.  See you then guys.  (Posted Friday 7 December)

I’m back at my Spiritual Home

Monday night and my normal Ceroc class night at The Grange in Nottingham was closed due to the Am Dram Club putting on their annual pantomime.  This gave me an opportunity to drive over to the Rolls Royce Pavilion in Derby, and revisit the class night where I first braved the lines of the Beginners Class all those years ago.

Along with Ceroc Heaven’s The Grange, this has to be one of the most successful class nights in the East Midlands, and it was great to see it as busy as I remember it.  Dan Akers is the teacher here and he delivered a wonderful Beginners lesson.  Dan’s classes brings a lot of dancers through to the level where they venture out to freestyles, and the vitality of the East Midlands dance scene owes a lot to the continued success of this class night.

When ever I go to busy freestyles, I can’t help thinking that we owe a lot to class nights like the one at Rolls Royce and The Grange.  So much so that I’d like to think that freestyle regulars make sure that they still support these classes.  Their input is invaluable in helping the beginners get through those first often terrifying lessons.  Remember we were all beginners once.  (Posted Wednesday 5 December)

The dance floor was packed for Dan’s Intermediate Lesson

A Sunday Chill-out with Stokie’s

While I was writing my first West Coast Swing article I was thinking that there wasn’t that many places in the East Midlands where you could find the music to practice it at.  So I did a little research on Facebook to check what was out there, and I came across a Sunday Tea Dance run by Stokies that suggested it catered for all styles of dancing.  Here’s how it was described:

With DJs E.J and Stokie at the decks, you just know we’ll only play prime cuts of Blues, Funk, Jazz, Latin, Motown, R & B, Soul and Swing with an occasional side order of Country and Rock.

Perhaps I could get an opportunity to try out my new found West Coast moves.  As I looked in to the description a little more I was intrigued by this further comment:

A heady mix of the finest music for dancing, whatever your style or level of experience.  We have lots of people ‘dipping their toes’ into expressive, interesting and playful styles of dance and music and absolutely loving it.

This really sounded like the type of place I should take my Tea Dance Tour.  So last Sunday I trundled down to Kegworth and enjoyed a wonderful social afternoon of chatter and dancing.  I’ll be writing a full review for my blog, but in the meantime here’s one of DJ Stokie’s fabulous Sunday afternoon tracks.

It’s Paris by The Chainsmokers.  This is a lovely track, typical of the many contemporary chill-out ones that I’ve danced to on my Tea Dance Tour (Posted Tuesday 4 December)

I love dancing with Maja

On Saturday night I was at Ceroc Addiction’s freestyle at Perton near Wolverhampton.  This is a fabulous venue and I had a lovely night.  One of my highlights was having a dance with franchise holder Maja Kocanova.  Maja is an amazing dancer, and I was lucky enough to dance with her last time I visited Perton, and wrote about what was an uplifting dance in my review of that night (see link below).

Maja of course is a teacher and is often featured in the Ceroc Weekender class programme.  Like all the best teachers she has the ability to make you feel like you are a better dancer than you really are.

On Saturday night I was really pleased to see Maja dancing with all her male guests and I was lucky again to get another dance.  Once again Maja made me look and feel good.  It made me think back to my time as a beginner at Ceroc at Rolls Royce in Derby.  I remember how slow my progress was and it took a long time before I dared asked the teacher to dance.  Looking back it was a significant stepping stone in my dancing history.

I suspect that Maja makes a point of dancing with all her newbies from the word go.  That must really help boost their confidence, and on behalf of all the men and ladies who braved the beginners line with much trepidation, can I thank all the teachers who take time to dance with them.  (Posted Monday 3 December)

Read my review of Ceroc Addiction’s Perton Freestyle

No reviewing, just dance Paul

With plenty of material to work on from my visit to the Warmwell Weekender the last thing I needed was more freestyles to review, so this weekend I’m dancing Friday and Saturday night for the sheer fun of it – no reviewing, just dancing.

Friday night saw me at the iDance freestyle in Nuneaton.  I’ve visited this venue twice before and had a wonderful night each time.  iDance’s Ian Selby has now established this venue as one of the Midland’s premier venues and regularly gets over one hundred and fifty dancers.  The result is a packed dance floor with a great atmosphere.

One of the reasons that iDance has done so well is because of Ian’s wonderful mix of music.  He plays all the favourites we love but always finds plenty of new tracks to freshen up his playlist.

Last night he mixed in a bluesy rock infused track that gave me one of the best dances of the night, and had me on the stage asking for the details.  The track was Don’t ever let nobody drag your spirit down by The Blues Heritage Orchestra – just loved the bluesy guitar solo over a rockin’ beat.  (Posted Saturday 1 December)

I loved every minute of my first Warmwell

Back from the MJRoc Warmwell Weekender in Dorset.  This was my first time and I can see why it is so well loved.  I loved every minute of it and I gathered lots of material for a whole series of reviews.  My first article will be 20 Things we ❤️ about Warmwell and I hope to get it on the blog by the end of the week.

There was so much fabulous dancing to be had at Warmwell and in recognition of the great team of DJs I’ll be writing a second article based round 10 Dance Tracks that hopefully will give you some sense of The Spirit of Warmwell.  Over the coming weeks I’ll be posting other articles based around the wonderful photographs and videos posted on Facebook.

Throughout the weekend I would use my Modern Jive Dancer Facebook Page to update my followers on what my Nottingham Dance Gang friends were up to.  Here’s one of my posts from Sunday Night when DJ Colin Shaul revved up the party atmosphere.  (Posted Tuesday 27 November)

The Nottingham Dance Gang are off to Warmwell

This weekend sees the Nottingham Dance Gang off on another dance adventure.  Ten of us are going to the MJRoc Warmwell Dance Weekender in Dorset.  It’s our first time at a non Ceroc Weekender and we are all really looking forward to it.  I’m told it’s one of the most loved weekenders in the south of the country and it sells out every year.

There is a very impressive programme of lessons and freestyles lined up and we are hoping to throw ourselves in to as much as possible.  I’ll be live blogging on my Modern Jive Dancer Facebook Page so can get a flavour of what is a sell out dance fest.  I’ve also lined up several interesting reviews which I’ll be publishing over the coming weeks.

Just need to finish ironing a few more dance shirts and then we are off.  Should take about five hours including a stop for lunch.  So Warmwell here we come!  (Posted Friday 23 November)

My Top Picks of the Year: Part 5 Photographic Moments

As part of my review of the year September 17 – August 18, I had hoped to publish an article based around ten photographic moments from my tour of venues with Photographer Tel Jenkins.  Sadly a bit of a backlog has built up again and I’ve now pushed this photographic project back to January 2019.

Tel has taken thousands of photos on our joint trips to freestyles around the country and it was always going to be difficult to pick just ten.  However I think we’ve just about done it now, but it’s the writing part that is holding everything up.

Below is one of my favourite pictures that sadly didn’t make the cut.  It shows Ceroc Heaven DJs Mark O’Reilly and Ashley Davis making the switch over during The New Years Eve freestyle last January.  I love the way Tel superimposed the DJs over the backdrop of one of their playlists as displayed on their computer screen.  (Posted Wednesday 21 November)

Sawley on Sunday is now fully established

Back in October, when I visited this venue as part of my Tea Dance Tour, I wondered whether it could establish itself as a permanent Sunday afternoon chill-out session for Nottingham.  After going to the third successive one yesterday, I have to say that The Ceroc Heaven Team and DJ and teacher Ashley Davis have done a great job, and I have no doubt that this venue has now found a permanent place in The East Midlands chill-out calendar.

The venue’s success is based around a two hour SILC workshop that proceeds the freestyle session.  For the third Sunday in a row there were over thirty people in a perfectly gender balanced class.  PLEASE NOTE:  Due to its popularity you must pre-book this class.  What really pleased me was that there was a significant number of people who also came for the freestyle session.  I understand the next date will be in January.

DJ Ashley played a gorgeous set of chilled tunes – interestingly there were less main room tracks, a sign perhaps that the regular dancers are getting more adapt at dancing to the slower chill-out tracks.

Dancing in the smoother SILC style is not easy for either the leads or the followers, but I sensed that people are slowly picking up the techniques and moves and there were a few more people dancing in the smoother slotted style.  But the real joy of this afternoon is the relaxed feel it has – everything a Tea Dance should be.

In amongst DJ Ashley’s chilled tracks was a rockin’ bluesy track, that I knew I would have to share with my readers as soon as I heard it’s classic 12 bar blues pattern.

It’s Joe Bonamassa’s I gave up everything for you ‘cept the blues.  This is a classic Tea Dance track as you can dance to it in what ever style you prefer, but it works as a SILC track with so many opportunities to play with its bouncy rhythm and rock guitar led bluesy vibe.  (Posted Monday 19 November)

Could this iconic venue be on the way back?

When I first started going to freestyles one of my must-go places was the four times a year Fresh 3 freestyles held at Burton upon Trent Town Hall.  These were very popular nights and attracted about three hundred dancers.  The main room would go on until two in the morning and there was an additional Blues Room and a separate Tango Room.

At 8:30 Marc Forster and Rachel Pears would do an Intro to Tango class and it would be over subscribed every time.  Of course the world changes and sadly the venue declined.

I heard that the venue was under new management and I decided to go along to see if there was a chance it might have a second lease of life.  The answer was a resounding yes!  A Black & White themed night attracted almost a hundred dancers, and while this might be a far cry from its heyday the dance floor was busy and give the night a wonderful vibe.

The music was provided by one of my favourite DJs – Rob Ambridge, who played a cracking set, mixing in lots of Ceroc favourites and contemporary tracks.  Everyone I spoke to had a great time and there was a general feeling that this venue is at last on the way back.  In the New Year I hope to visit again with some of my Nottingham Dance Gang friends and write a full review.  Something to look forward to.  (Posted Sunday 18 November) 

I’m back on the road again

After taking time off from reviewing classes and freestyles to catch up on a backlog of articles, I’m putting myself back on the road again.  Sunday sees me at my first West Coast Swing Workshop since I gave it up as a bad job five years ago.

Ever since I decided to learn to dance in a more  smoother slotted style I knew that I would eventually have to revisit West Coast, which was the dance format that popularised the slotted style of dancing.

On Saturday I’m at freestyle with a difference.  In recognition of Remembrance Sunday, Ceroc Groove are putting on a Vintage themed Freestyle at the Archdales 73 Club in Worcester.  There is a war-time fancy dress theme and the doors are going to open early so people can decorate their tables  ’40s style.

While the table decorating is going on DJ Tony Riccardi is going to play a set using his vinyl collection.  I’m a great fan of Tony’s Southport slots but this will be the first time I’ve danced to his music at a freestyle.

Organiser Debbie Attwood has also asked everyone to bake or bring a cake to sell for everyone’s enjoyment, with all the proceeds going to The Royal British Legion.

The dancing goes on until one on the morning.  I’m sure it will be a memorable night with lots of material for a review with a difference.  Can’t wait.  Posted Thursday 8 November

A Bee Gees Track makes a comeback

I’m currently working on an article about ’90s Club music with one of the readers of the blog.  When you start looking, it’s amazing how many tracks from this Club era have found there way on to Ceroc and Modern Jive DJs playlists.  My idea is to produce a 30 minute ’90s playlist that can be slotted in to a regular freestyle night.

One of the tracks we’ve included is a fabulous ’90s rap version of the Bee Gees’ Staying alive.  In doing some research on this track I remembered that I’d bought another rap version of this track myself.

In the ’90s the Bee Gees, along with the way we dressed in The ’70s (who can forget John Travolta’s white suit in the film Saturday Night Fever) was all thought a little naff, and a bit like Abba, the Bee Gees fell from grace.

Of course great dance tracks never die, they just wait to be remixed and N-Trance’s version of Staying alive made you realise just how wonderful this track is.  It’s great to have a chance to feature it.  Perhaps I’ll ask one of my DJ friends to give it a spin.

Get ready to party at Camber

Over the last few weeks I’ve had great fun previewing and reviewing a School Reunion themed Chalet Party at Breeze.  Now it’s the turn of Camber Sands to host another round of fancy dress hilarity.

Now it’s the turn of Ceroc Evolution

One Chalet Party caught my eye – The Ceroc Evolution ’60s & ’70s themed Party with a twist.  I’ll let Nardiya explain

Dig out your bell bottoms and get ready to throw some peace signs as Ceroc Evolution are throwing a 60s and 70s chalet party at Camber.  Expect an epic playlist and more rum punch then you’ve ever seen before.

Now as a non spirit drinker I was pleased to see that the music playlist got top billing, but I suspect that it’s the Rum Punch that will cause the most fun.  When I previewed the School Reunion themed Chalet Party, I noted that the invite came with an instruction to bring a drink for the teacher.

Needless to say there was plenty of drink to go round, and Lynda and her friends had more fun than was good for them,  Not surprising the pictures that emerged on Facebook the following day gave me some great opportunities for comedic writing.  It seems that Nardiya is not leaving anything to chance either.

To ensure there is ‘more rum punch then you’ve ever seen before’ Nardiya has asked everyone to bring some rum along.

It seems that Ceroc Evolution have history when it comes to Chalet Parties.  Back in June they hosted a Heroes v Villains themed party.  I actually used a photo of Super Girl and Cat Woman from that party in my Breeze Chalet Party article (see link below).

The roll call at June’s Chalet Party showing some of the fabulous costumes

There should be some fabulous costumes

Looking back at all the costumes from The Heroes and Villains party, I don’t think the Ceroc Evolution faithful will have much trouble coming up with some great costumes this time round, but just in case anyone is still wondering what to wear, Nardiya has posted this picture on Facebook which might give you some ideas.

I was there in the ’70s but I don’t remember looking that cool

I’ll write a review for the blog

Sadly I won’t be there – I’m off on another leg of my Tea Dance Tour – but Nardiya has promised to send me lots of pictures.  I have no doubt that everyone will have a great time and the postings on Facebook, in the days after, will provide me with enough material to write an amusing article.  Have fun guys.  I look forward to writing all about it.  Posted Thursday 1 November

Read my review of Lynda and Terry Hill’s School Reunion Chalet Party at Breeze

The Scottish Champs close the competition season

The World Modern Jive Championships opened the competition season at the spectacular Blackpool Tower Ballroom in March – an opportunity to dance on the same dance floor as The Strictly Come Dancing Celebrities.

These were followed by The Ceroc London Champs at The Watford Colosseum in May and The Ceroc Northern Champs at Hyde Town Hall near Manchester in June.  After a summer break Ceroc South Wales hosted The South Wales Champs in Barry at the end of  September.

On the weekend of 26-28 October The Ceroc Scottish Champs were hosted by Ceroc Edinburgh.  That’s five major competitions and there were some people who did all of them!  Now that’s a serious commitment to dancing that I can’t get anywhere near matching.  The best I could manage was the Lucky Dip competition at Southport.

The Scottish Champs were held in the spectacular ballroom at George Watson’s College in Edinburgh

Next Year’s Competition Challenges

Next year I have said that I will enter at least one category at The Ceroc London Champs.  Being a big fan of Strictly Come Dancing I’m inspired to enter The Modern Jive World Championships at Blackpool next year too.  I doubt that I’ll make a mark, but it would be a great experience to dance on such an iconic dance floor.

Having said that it would be nice to think I could up my game for The World Champs.  Time for a bit of inspiration then.  I’ve watched in awe several times at Matt Blain’s dancing over the past year, and I found this video of him dancing at The World Modern Jive Championships with his dance partner Victoria.

Readers of my blog will know that this year I’ve worked hard at developing a more modern slotted style of dancing.  In Matt and Victoria two competition dancers you see this technique taken to the very top level.  As you watch them dancing you get no sense of where they are, until the camera pans out and you see the Blackpool Tower Ballroom in all its glory.  Now, that’s the kind of inspiration I can respond to.  Posted Sunday 28 October

Ceroc dominates my Top Class Night list

When I was just about to publish my Top 5 Classes, a thought occurred to me.  Everyone of the Top 5 places were taken by a Ceroc Venue – no independent organisations had made my list.  Before I pressed the ‘Publish’ button I checked through my reviews and found that I’d not actually written a review in the past twelve months of any independent run classes.

Weekenders are a great source of lessons, but all four of the ones I’d attended had been Ceroc ones.  I don’t want to take  anything away from the Ceroc lessons I chose for my Top 5 Classes, but I realise that for fairness I need to ensure that I get round to independent run Classes, Workshops and Weekenders this next year.

I will visit more Independent Class Venues

I’ve already made plans to address this issue.  In November I’m booked in to a beginners’ West Coast Swing Workshop, and I’m all set to go to MJRoc’s Warmwell Weekender, at the end of the same month.  On Tuesday night I got myself to a LeRoc Surrey class night at Ashtead, near Leatherhead.

This Tuesday night class night has recently re-located from Dorking Halls.  While I was not looking to do a review (I still have a backlog of articles to write), I was so impressed with the teaching of the two lessons, that I thought I’d write this Quick Note about what was an impressive run Class Night.

Guest Teacher Matt Cox impresses

Colin Shaul, who runs LeRoc Surrey, has put together a programme of classes that features a number of top flight guest teachers.  On the night I visited the teacher was Matt Cox.  Along with partner Jo Mortimer, Matt runs Serene Dance, based in Maidenhead.  Matt and Jo now run Monday Class nights, Weekend Freestyles and Sunday Tea Dances.

Matt and his demo Lauren delivered a fabulous Beginners’ Lesson, but it was his Intermediate Class that really impressed.

I sometimes think that Intermediate lessons can be a little too complicated, and as a result the moves can be difficult to lead and so they rarely get included in my repertoire.

Though Matt’s three moves were relatively simple, or rather he made them look simple, I’d not been taught any of them before.  What’s more I found them easy to lead and included two of them in my routine in the freestyle section.  I have no doubt I’ll retain them for this coming weekend’s freestyle.

This class will soon get established

Of course the class nights are also about the dancing in the freestyle session, and DJ Colin played some cracking tracks.  But what impressed even more was the standard of dancing of my lady partners.  I had some fabulous dancers to Colin’s equally fabulous music.  Colin always serves up a couple of dance-able Rock ‘n’ Roll tracks.  Below is a real favourite of mine Club Savoy by Rockin Louie & The Mamma Jammers

Ashtead Memorial Hall is a lovely class venue with a wonderful sprung dance floor (Colin tells me that the bad state of the floor at Dorking Halls was one of the reasons for leaving).  The turnout for what was the first night since the class transferred from Dorking Halls was very impressive and I have no doubt that this class will establish itself very quickly.  Posted Wednesday 25 October

Nicola builds the vibe at a Class Nights too

In my review of Nicola Di Folco’s Thunderball Room debut I mentioned how she worked the dance floor and then set it a light with The 3 Jays Feeling it too (see link below).  It seems she does it at class nights too!

I’ve often wondered if other people experience the same sense of euphoria as a DJ builds the vibe up on the dance floor.  Amanda, who actually dances on Nicola’s home patch, got in touch to tell me about a recent joyous experience on the dance floor:

I was lucky to be at one of Nicola’s class nights recently, and she played three absolutely stonking tracks in a row including a personal favourite ‘I Like it Like That’.

I was in Dance Heaven!! 😍

I do wonder if I sometimes get over excited on the dance floor, so it was nice to hear that Amanda had visited Dance Heaven.  We all connect and respond to dance music in our own individual way, but there is no doubt that there are a lot of people like Amanda and myself out there, who love to let the music take them to a place where the dance vibe is everything.

It also goes without saying that we all have different tracks that build the vibe for us.  Here’s the track that Amanda picked out from Nicola’s fabulous Triple.  It’s Pete Rodriguez 1967 Latin inspired smash I Like it Like That.  Posted Sunday 21 October

Ashley looks after The Beginners at the Brean Sands Weekender

Everyone is just about recovered from The Ceroc Breeze Weekender at Brean Sands in Somerset.  Now they’ve all caught up with sleep, people are now posting their memories of the weekend on Facebook.  One particular posting caught my eye.  It was posted by Ashley Davis who had the responsibility of doing the Beginners Classes at Breeze.

I’m always impressed that Ceroc always ensure there is a full programme of lessons for Beginners at their Weekenders, and that so many turn up for hem.  It just goes to show how quickly some people make the leap from their Class Nights to a full blown Weekender.  It took me over a year and a half before I went to my first one.

Ashley always delivers a fun filled lesson

Ashley is of course one of The Ceroc Heaven teachers who has helped me so much with my SILC journey.  At Brean he was assisted by demo Tracey, one of the Taxi crew from Ceroc Heaven’s Nottingham Classes.  I saw Tracey last night at the Grange Hall class and she told me how much she enjoyed working with Ashley.

As is a tradition now, Ashley took a selfie at the end of one of the classes (I used the one he took at the end of his SILC lesson in my SILC at Southport article).

Ashley has developed a fun-filled style of teaching and it seems everyone had a great time.  No wonder Tracey enjoyed being up on the teaching stage with him.

I’m sure the lessons helped the Beginners ease in to Breeze.  Weekenders  can be a little intimidating sometime, but I’m sure Ashley and Tracey’s lessons acted as Ice-breakers and new friendships blossomed in the lines of the class.  Hopefully all these people will now have The Weekender Bug and will tell other Newbie’s just how welcoming and inclusive these weekenders are.  Posted Tuesday 16 October

Looks like Ashley and Tracey’s class went down well again

A wonderful intro to Blues Dancing

When I was writing my review of Devon Velvet, the much loved Modern Blues venue near Exeter, I searched on YouTube for a video that would explain this form of chill-out dancing.  It’s here that I found the Sara White Boot-camp videos that I used in the article.  However the first video that came up was something labelled as UK Blues and Smooth 2016. Jack and Jill part 1.

Now I’m not sure whether this was some kind of competition, and I have no idea what Jack and Jill refers to, but the videos shows a procession of people dancing to a bluesy Ray Charles track.   Each couple dance in a slightly different style, but they all have a common connection with the bluesy pulse of the music.

So if you still are unsure what Blues dancing is, then please watch this video.  I have to say that after watching the video I’m feeling that until I conqueror Blues dancing I’m a long way from being the dancer I want to be.  I can see how elements of this style of dancing would enhance my current passion of dancing  in a smooth slotted way.  So much to learn hey.  Posted Thursday 11 October

The backing track is Night time is the right time by Ray Charles

DJ Mark sends me in to the dance music vaults

Last night I was back on home territory at the Ceroc Heaven Grange Hall Freestyle.  This is one of the East Midlands top freestyle venues and as always it was packed.  Mark O’Reilly was on the decks and he played a top main room set.  It was great dancing full on to some great club anthems.  My favourite had to be the Freemason’s Love on my Mind.  This fabulous track has an interesting pedigree, that had me delving in to the dance music vaults.

Back in 1979 Jackie Moore set the dance floors alight with a disco track called This time baby.  The track was driven along by a beat that owed much to the Motown sound of the late ’60s and The Sound of Philadelphia of the early ’70s.

No wonder it became a floor filler on the Northern Soul club scene.

The Freemasons track sampled the best bits of This time baby, including it’s soaring instrumental backing, and took it’s title from the opening lyric of the Jackie Moore track.  The Freemasons upped the bass to the max and gave it a trance inducing club vibe.  The result is a soaring dance track, that I’ve seen DJs use to set The Thunderball Room at Southport on fire.

Pay homage to Jackie’s original

I have no problem with record producers sampling the best bits of classic disco hits, but I like to think that the original artists get some credit.  So before you listen to The Freemasons modern reworking, please take time to listen to Jackie Moore’s original.

The track was actually originally recorded by the O’Jays for their 1978 Album So full of love.  Their version was quickly eclipsed by Moore’s disco orientated 1979 version.

Now enjoy a Club Classic

So many of the great tunes we dance to owe their existence to tracks from the ’70s and ’80s.  It’s one of the reasons that Nile Rodgers (he of Chic) is in so much demand for his distinctive guitar licks.  In 1982 Chic recorded Soup for One, which featured a Rogers guitar lick that reemerged in Modjo’s 2000 monster club anthem Lady (Hear me tonight).

Okay, now I’ve made the case for paying homage to the tracks and musicians that inspired so much of the great music we dance to, here’s The Freemasons.  It’s a fabulous track that last night had me in Dance Heaven.  Thanks Mark.  Posted Saturday 6 October

The Madonna – Abba – Cher Link

I’ve said many times, that the great contemporary music we dance to owes much to the songwriters, musicians and record producers who created music in The ’60s and ’70s.  There would be no modern funk without James Brown, and Nile Rodgers, whose distinctive rhythm guitar playing underpinned the hits of Chic, now collaborates with modern record producers and is never out of the dance charts.

I’d never thought of Abba’s Benny and Björn influencing modern dance music, but a freestyle visit last weekend had me enjoying a track that featured a sample from one of their greatest hits.  The track was Madonna’s Hung up from 2005, which was played at Ceroc Devon’s Marldon Freestyle near Torquay.

As you listen to the thumping intro, you suddenly become aware that you are listening to an energised version of the intro from Abba’s Gimme, gimme, gimme (a man after midnight).  The Abba sample is re-introduced throughout the song and it makes this track a hi-energy burst of dance joy.

Cher takes the track to another level

Gimme, gimme, gimme was featured in the original Mama Mia film sound track.  Coincidentally I’d watched the film in the open air cinema during my recent holiday in Skiathos, where many of the scenes were filmed.  Watching Mama Mia in a packed open air cinema, where everyone is in party mood, is one good reason for considering a holiday on this beautiful Greek island.

Of course we now have Mama Mia 2, and it’s as Abba magic loaded as the original.  One of the highlights is to hear Cher’s version of Gimme, gimme, gimme.  I know that many Modern Jive DJs are now giving this new version a spin in their playlists.  I suspect that the way the instrumental section was revitalised was down to the Madonna version.  See what you think.  Posted Friday 28 September

I pay my respects to a Dance Music Legend

Regular readers of my blog will know that I consider Edwin Starr one of the greatest voices to ever grace a dance floor classic.  Starr first found found fame as one of a stable of artists at Ric-Tic Records in Detroit in the ’60s.  It it here that he sang what many think is his greatest hit – Stop her on sight (SOS).

The Ric-Tic label was considered by Berry Gordy, to be a thorn in the side of his own larger Motown label, so he took it over, and that’s how Edwin Starr became a Motown act.  It’s here that he recorded 25 miles – the first Motown record I ever bought.  At Motown he would go on to record his biggest ever selling hit War.

Like many of his fellow Motown acts, the succession of hits eventually dried up and he left to join 20th Century Fox.  Here he would record the two tracks that would eventually become Modern Jive classics – H.A.P.P.Y. Radio and (Eye to eye) Contact.

Edwin Starr moves to Nottingham

At some point, after these two tracks became disco hits Starr moved to England, and he eventually settled in Bramcote a suburb of my home town Nottingham.  No doubt the attraction of England was that Starr was welcomed in to the fold of Northern Soul where his Motown hits became well loved floor fillers.

It’s during his time in Nottingham that Starr developed a connection with The Shed, a dance hall in Beeston another suburb of Nottingham close to his home.  The Shed would eventually become the home of Pirate Jive, where DJ Ian McLeod would build an enviable reputation for his Saturday night freestyles.  Ian would eventually pass the baton to Gary Wharton and The Shed remains one of The East Midland’s premier Modern Jive venues.

Edwin rests his dance shoes at Wilford Hill

Edwin Starr sadly died at the age of 61 from a heart attack, and is laid to rest in Wilford Hill Cemetery overlooking Nottingham and The Trent Valley.  Yesterday I visited the Cemetery with my sisters to pay respects to our own wonderful father, and after visiting the spot where we spread his ashes, we duly searched out Edwin’s headstone.

It’s of a modest size but it is still a fitting tribute to this greatest of soul singers.  How fitting that the words on the headstone feature the words ‘Keep The Faith’ the anthem of Northern Soul.

If you look carefully in the reflection you will see that someone has left a hat with a Northern Soul badge on it.  It is fifteen years sine Edwin left us for the big disco in the sky, yet his grave is lovingly cared for.

I have no doubt that I and my sisters won’t be the last to make a pilgrimage to Edwin’s resting place.  He brought so much joy to dance floors across the world, and every single weekend many Modern Jive DJ will play one of his monster dance hits.  The floor will light up, smiles will spread across people’s faces and his soulful tones will once again bring joy to those of us who are compelled to dance to his wonderful music.  Right on, Soul Brother.  Posted Tuesday 25 September

‘Agent Double O Soul’ is a reference to one of Starr’s first Ric-Tic Hits

A new world record?

In March I made a six hundred round trip for one night of dancing with Ceroc Glasgow.  I thought it would be a record that would stand for a long time.  Remember dance holidays like Medfest don’t count, as they involve more than one night of dancing.  Anyway it seems that my dance friend Barbara has beaten me by going seventeen thousand miles for a Ceroc Class night.

Barbara is currently on holiday in Australia and got an opportunity to go to a Ceroc Class night in Willoughby a suburb of Syndey.

Barbara gave me a few details and I was able to track down their website.  It seems that Ceroc down under offers the same lifestyle opportunities as here in the UK.  The group photo looks like it was taken at a Ceroc Weekender.  Seems they have as much fun as we do, but then dancing always brings out the best in people.

Interestingly they identify themselves as both a Ceroc and Modern Jive organisation, and there’s also a link up with West Coast Swing.  A little research on Wikipedia told me that the Ceroc Australia clubs are completely independent from the Ceroc organisation we know in The UK.  This probably explains why they seem to have evolved differently to include other formats of social dancing.

The class format is similar to The UK one

Barbara tells me that the class format is similar to that in the UK, in so far as there is a Beginners Class to start the evening off.  This is followed by twenty five minutes of social dancing, but then there is a slightly different approach to the follow up lessons.

The follow up Beginners Class is called a ‘Progression’ one.  This sounds like they do more than just go over the moves from the Beginners lesson.  Perhaps this helps prepare them for the jump up to the Intermediate level.

The Intermediate lesson has an interesting difference

While this takes place there is an Intermediate Class with a difference.  There is one line in the class made up of Intermediate/Advanced dancers.  Barbara tells me that to be in that line you had to have a Blue Card, which you get from the teacher, to denote you are experienced enough to go in to join it.

I suppose it’s a way of allowing more experienced dancers to learn from each other.  It must also help people coming up from the Beginners Class to mix with dancers that are of a similar, or just slightly better level.  Sounds interesting.  Barbara joined in the Intermediate level class and had this to say:

It was an excellent lesson but fancier than the intermediate class back home. There was a heavy emphasis on technique re arms, frame, footwork for lead and follow, plus more styling options.

Barbara tells me that Nicky, the teacher, had taught Ceroc back in England, before bring the dance style over to Australia some some twenty years ago.  It seems that Barbara had a great time and will be travelling another five hundred and fifty miles for another class night.

The crowd were friendly and the dancing was of a high standard.  I might try and find another class when I’m in Melbourne next week, if time allows.

Taking a look at the Sydney Facebook page they look a friendly bunch, but then I suppose they would be.  I suspect the social values that underpin Ceroc are the same worldwide.  Now when am I going to get over there to do a review.   How many miles was it Barbara?  Posted Friday 21 September

Tel gets his Big Break

My mate Tel, who does all the photos and visuals for the blog, just got his big break.  Surprisingly not on the photography front but in front of the decks as a DJ.  Wow Tel, I’m jealous.  I’ve always dreamed of the idea of getting an hour Guest DJ slot, but Tel has beaten me to it, and he did a whole three hours!

Last night Ceroc Heaven were short of a DJ, due to Ashley Davis being away enjoying himself teaching and DJing at Medfest.  So Kali asked Tel if he would like to try his hand spinning the tracks, at the Ceroc Heaven class night at Friesland School in Sandiacre.   This was a first for Tel and he tells me that he only just had time to sort some software out for his laptop.

Tel takes a selfie during his DJing duties at Friesland School

Tel’s Top Tracks

I asked Tel for three of his favourite tracks.

Hmm, let’s see……Have you met Miss Jones – Robbie Williams, for that cool swing feel.

Don’t be cruel – Elvis.  This one was requested by Bill Henry, I really enjoyed the upbeat Rock ‘n’ roll-ness of it!

Celebration – Kool & The Gang, because….well, I was celebrating a new found skill!

I think it’s always great to celebrate getting an opportunity, and realising that you have a skill that can bring pleasure to people.  Which gives me a chance to feature Celebration.  In the ’80s Kool & The Gang’s music was a major feature of DJ’s playlists.  Most people would go for Celebration or Ladies night, but my favourite was Get down on it.  Here’s Tel’s Kool & The Gang’s pick from last night.  Look out for Kool himself on bass.  Posted Thursday 20 September

The Tea Dance Tour gets back on the road

I’m back from my wonderful holiday in Skiathos, and now ready to get back on the dance floor again.  As there was no local dancing on Saturday, I thought I’d get back on the road again and visit another Tea Dance venue.  After writing my second Tea Dance article (see link below) Toby Cross sent me a Facebook invite to his FunkyLush Tea Dance in Slough.  Here’s my chance to follow up on the invite.

I’m really excited about this one, because the way Toby markets his monthly venue has has made quite an impression.  Toby uses some fabulous paintings in his Facebook posts that suggest that this is going to be something quite different.  The music sounds good too.  Having a venue with the word Funky in it is always going to appeal to a Funk Freak like myself.

Here’s Toby’s most recent Facebook posting.  I just love the character of it.  Seems that Toby is very excited.  Me too!  I’ll let you know how I get on by the end of the week with a full review.  Oh and one last thought.  Carrot Cake or Lemon Drizzle?  Life is so full of choices these days.  (Posted Sunday 16 September)

aaaaa

Writing about Southport on The Mama Mia Island

After one of the best Southports it’s time to take a break from dancing, but not from writing. Below is my writing desk for the next 10 days overlooking the blues seas of Skiathos, where many of the scenes of the original Mama Mia were filmed.

Southport has given me lots of material to work with, and the first thing I’m working on is another ‘Spirit of Southport’ album.  I’ve just finished editing an initial list of tracks down to ten, and I hope each will give a flavour of the weekend, and capture the essence of what it is to throw yourself in to this particular weekender.

I also plan to write about the new Lucky Dip competition, which I forced myself to enter. My major article will about SILC at Southport.  SILC features very highly in the programme, and I’m trying to work out how best to approach the subject.

I’d promised myself to write only three posts about Southport, giving myself plenty of time to enjoy the sights of this beautiful island, but I’ve another topic I want to play with.  On the Sunday night, the dancing was pretty special and I’ve an idea for an article based round the playlists of two of the DJs that night – Nicola Di Folco and Caroline Houlton.  (Posted Friday 7 September)

The balcony of my room at Cape Kanapitsa Hotel in Skiathos

Southport – Follow the action on Facebook

It’s less than 24 hours before the latest Southport Weekender and everybody’s getting very excited.  All week people have been taking to Facebook to count down the days, or more child like – the sleeps.  Here’s my Dance Gang friend Anne getting excited on Tuesday

Tomorrow, Friday, as everybody sets off, you can bet people will be posting on the Ceroc Splash Facebook Page about their journeys.  There’ll be selfies galore mixed in with tales about traffic hold ups on The M6 and M62.

Once it’s all over on Monday, the Facebook page will be flooded with memories of a great weekend and people counting the days until the next one in February – unless of course they are going to Camber Sands in November.  (Posted Thursday 30 August)

Follow all the action by clicking on the Official Ceroc Splash Southport 2018  Facebook Page link

Dance music is constantly changing

I’m currently working on my review of the Strictly Ceroc – Bristol SILC on Sunday freestyle I visited a couple of weeks ago.  As I always do before I start writing, I’m listening to some of the music to get me in the right mind set.  Caine Langford was the DJ on duty and he served up a delicious mix of contemporary chill-out music perfect for the smoother slotted style of dancing.

One of his tracks was Paris in the rain by American singer-songwriter Lauv.  I was listening to it on YouTube.  When it finished another Lauv track automatically followed on – I Like Me Better.  Seems that this track is one of Lauv’s better known tracks, and I have to say that I loved its contemporary vibe.  It made me think, and reinforced the thoughts I’m having about the future of Ceroc and Modern Jive.

Music is always changing and each generation wants to have it’s own music identity.  There is still plenty of modern dance music which has an uptempo beat that we can all dance to, but I sense that there is a wave of modern music that may sweep some of this more upbeat music away.

Food for thought.  In the meantime see what you think to the Lauv track.  (Posted Monday 27 August)

More than three and a half minutes is not OK sometimes

Back in The ’70s a record mixer called Tom Moulton invented the 12″ single.  This allowed him and other record producers to put longer tracks on vinyl discs and maintain the quality.  Apparently heavier drum and bass sounds need wider grooves.  This meant that singles that were designed for three minutes of radio play, could now be extended for the dance floor, up to ten minutes if necessary.

What Tom Moulton, and the people that followed him, basically did was to use more instrumental sections before and after the vocals.  Moulton would also get rid of any bits of the track that didn’t work on the dance floor.  This meant that you could really get in to the track and lose yourself in the instrumentation.

Remember Modern Jive is a Partner Dance

Now this is OK when you’re disco dancing on your own.  You can interact with the music in your own individual style and if you want to connect with the same track for ten minutes there’s no one going to stop you.  But Modern Jive is of course a partner dance and dancing to an extended track has it’s down side.

When someone asks us to dance the answer should always be yes.  However we may find ourselves having a bit of a nightmare.

There are a whole host of reasons for this, that I don’t need to go in to, but what ever the reason we find ourselves willing the track to finish.

So how many of us have been willing the dance to end (OK I’ll put my hand up here), and we realise that the DJ has put the long version on.  One of my all time favourite tracks is Contact by Edwin Starr.  It’s three minutes thirty seconds long.  Long enough.

Here’s a version that’s seven minutes thirteen.  Great for me when I’m disco dancing in the kitchen, or sat writing at my computer, but not OK on the Modern Jive dance floor.  Modern Jive is a partner dance after all, and few of us want to dance for that long sometimes.  (Posted Saturday 25 August)

My new dance shoes last six hours of SILC

On Sunday myself and my regular dance partner Jo went to the Strictly Ceroc Bristol’s SILC Sunday.   The programme started with a two hour SILC lesson run by with Caine Langford and Danielle Moore.  Then Caine provided four hours of contemporary tracks to dance to.

I took my new Werner Kern dance shoes.  In my Quick Notes posting of Friday 10 August I mentioned how my new shoes would probably last for two hours the first time I wore them.  Well, they lasted the full six hours and quite honestly I’d forgotten they were a new pair.  A great recommendation for a quality pair of dance shoes.

I’ll be starting my review of SILC Sunday and what was a wonderful lesson and afternoon’s dancing, as soon as I’ve finished my Ceroc Evolution Cutty Sark review.  I hope to have the SILC Sunday review on by Saturday.  (Posted Tuesday 14 August) 

 

My Caption Competition Entry

When Tori’s fabulous album of Ceroc Evolution’s Cutty Sark freestyle was published, the photos rightly received a lot of applause.  One photo of DJs Steve Thomas and Ashley Davis caught my eye, and I couldn’t help thinking that it would make a great Caption Competition.  Here’s my entry.

I duly posted the photo on the Ceroc Evolution Facebook Page and it received lots of joyous feed back, including a few other entries.  The response has prompted myself and photographer Tel, who often accompanies me on my travels to make this a regular feature of the blog.

This Friday we are both at the Ceroc Heaven freestyle at Sandiacre in Nottingham.  When Tel goes through his pictures he’ll be looking for the photo that has Caption Competition potential.  But please don’t worry, we will always ask for permission if the photo includes any dancers.  In the meantime here’s Steve bemoaning Ashley’s choice of The Birdie Song. (Posted Sunday 12 August)

Easy mistake Ashley.  Photo courtesy of Tori Hallett.  Additional artwork by Tel Jenkins

Time for some new Dance Shoes

The one advice I’d give to any guy just starting out on their Modern Jive Dance Journey would be to buy a decent pair of dance shoes.  Not only will they be comfortable to wear but they are designed with dancing in mind and give wonderful support.

They have one other great advantage that will improve your dancing.  Their suede or leather soles will help you spin more smoothly.  In fact they’ll help you generally glide across the floor.  I remember getting my first pair and couldn’t believe the difference they made to my dancing.

I do get through a lot of dance shoes – but remember I’m dancing a minimum of three times a week, and I’m rarely off the floor at freestyles so they do get a hammering.  My preferred choice is a Werner Kern shoe.  Made in Italy, out of the softest of leather, they need little breaking in.  The first night I’ll probably put my old pair on after a couple of hours, but that’s it.  The next time the new ones will go all night.

You can buy all the men’s and ladies’ Werner Kern shoes on line, but I like to support a local dance shop in Ilkeston, between Nottingham and Derby called DanceRite.  Not only can I get to try them on but I get a chance to talk about dancing.

Sue, the owner, is a great Northern Soul Fan and it’s great to compare notes about our times on the dance floor.

He’s my latest pair (Style No: 28012).  They come with a shoe horn – always useful the first few times they go on  –  some spare laces and a nice bag.  The thing is I never use the bag, I just sling the shoes in my sports bag along with my deodorant and five spare shirts.  Something tells me the guys at Werner Kern don’t want to hear that Paul.  These shoes deserve more love and respect!  OK I’ll use the nice bag.  (Posted Friday 10 August)

My beautiful new dance shoes.  Promise I’ll use the bag to look after them

An amazing experience at The Cutty Sark

Below I posted about the Nottingham Dance Gang’s forthcoming trip to Ceroc Evolution’s Cutty Sark freestyle in Greenwich, London.  I wrote that I suspected it would be some night, and so it proved.  So much of an experience, that I gathered enough material to fill out two reviews.  I hope to have the first on the blog by Thursday.

In the first review I’ll be talking about how myself and my Dance Gang friends turned the visit to Greenwich in to a whole weekend of wonderful social activities.  I’ll also attempt to describe the unique atmosphere that surrounded the whole night.

To give you a flavour here’s a live post I made from my Modern Jive Dancer Facebook Page.  The pictures not the best quality.  Fortunately there were some professional photographers on the boat and I’ll be using their photos to bring my reviews to life.

Music, Dancing and Feedback

In the first review I’ll be concentrating on the music and dancing up to 11:30 when DJs Ashley Davis and Steve Thomas played their main room sets.  In the second review I’ll be commentating on the more chilled music that Steve offered for the final ninety minutes.

In this second review I’ll also be looking at some of the feedback that found itself on to Facebook, and allowing space for my Dance Gang friends to give you their perspective on what was a wonderful and quite unique night of dancing.

Here’s another taster from my Modern Jive Dancer Facebook postings.  It shows people dancing below the hull of The Cutty Sark.  This was a magical space to dance in, and it left a lasting impression with my dance friends.  Again apologies for the quality of the image, but I’ll use the professional photos for the review itself.  (Posted Monday 6 August)

The Dance Gang is off to London

Big excitement here.  Tomorrow the Nottingham Dance Gang sets off for a weekend in London, the highlight of which is dancing at Ceroc Evolution’s Cutty Sark Summer Ball.  This has been a sell-out event for some time and it seems excitement is starting to build across the land as it’s drawing people from some distance.

As well as enjoying the dancing until one in the morning, I’ll be making notes for a full review to be published next week.  I’ve got lots if ideas about how to do the review.  This is going to be some night, and I think there could be enough material for a Part 1 & Part 2.   I’ll keep you posted.  (Posted Thursday 2 August)

DJ Colin shares a great piece of funk

I’ve just been chatting with my good friend DJ Colin Shaul from LeRoc Surrey about the sharing of music.  I know that DJs spend a lot of time searching through the dance music vaults for fresh tracks.  Occasionally DJs have asked me not to share their exclusive finds, and I’ve always respected this.  Colin has found some great tracks himself and he’s always been happy to share them with me, and indeed with other DJs too.

With the advent of the phone App Shazam it’s a lot harder for DJs to keep their great finds secret.  I’m sure it must be galling for DJs sometimes to know that a track they spent hours finding can be so easily stolen.  It’s something I’ve thought about many times, but I’ve now come down on the side of those that feel it’s better to share wonderful dance music.

The best creative people will always rise to the top

Plagiarism is a problem in lots of walks of life, but I’ve always thought that really creative people will always be one step ahead of those people that just copy their work.  I’m constantly waiting for someone to launch a blog like my own, and even to copy some of my ideas, but should that happen I have so many more ideas of things I can do with the blog.

Competition is healthy for business, and it’s healthy for creative people like myself and the many DJs who bring us wonderful new music to dance to.  This blog celebrates the craft of the DJs and I can tell you that the very best don’t need to worry for a moment that someone will pinch their music.  Talent is talent, and cream always rises to the top.

Having said all that, Colin finished our conversation about sharing music by sending me this raw version of a Quincy Jones track from the ’70s.  Featuring amongst others the voices of Chaka Khan and Ray Charles, it is a lot funkier than the version that was eventually released.  Love it Colin, and thanks as always for sharing.  (Posted Tuesday 31 July)

POSTSCRIPT: Colin got back to me to add that Robert West should get credit for finding this funky version of the Quincy Jones track.  Nice one Colin – Credit where credit’s due hey.

Classic Tracks: Volume 2 on the way

My posting featuring ten Classic Modern Jive Tracks has proved to be one of the most successful of my recent posts and generated a lot of interest on Facebook.  So great was the interest that I’ve been asked to put a second list together.  This I’m now working on.

One of the tracks I’ll be including is Ace of Bases’s Always have, always will. This is a track very dear to my heart, as it was played as I struggled to get to grips with the beginners moves, in my Ceroc class at Rolls Royce in Derby.

In doing some background work on Ace of Base I came across another of their tracks.  Life is a flower, is just as innocent as Always have, always will and has the same strong beat.  Life is a flower was the most successful of the two, and listening to it now, I’m surprised that I’ve never had the chance to dance to it.  Funny how some tracks from an artist get on to DJ playlists and others  just gather dust in the dance music vaults.  (Posted Thursday 26 July)

Coming Soon: The Modern Jive Dancer YouTube Channel

My good friend Tel and I are doing an increasing number of dance road trips.  When ever we select a new venue we get in touch with the organisers and ask permission for Tel to take photos of the dancing.  Tel also takes clips of video and edits them in to one sequence.

A link to these videos is then posted to the Facebook Page of the relevant  dance organisation.  They prove to be very popular.  Tel’s recent Video of Ceroc Surrey’s Woking freestyle received over 500 views in just three days.

We’ve now decided to put all Tel’s videos on to a YouTube Channel, so that they are more easily accessible to the whole Modern Jive and Ceroc dance community.  Creating this channel also opens up lots of other opportunities to promote this wonderful dance scene.  I’ll keep you posted about the launch date.  (Posted Monday 23 July)

I take a break from The Tea Dance Tour

Over the past couple of months I’ve been hitting the road to visit a number of Sunday dancing venues as part of my Tea Dance Tour.  As well as reviewing the venues, I’ve also included a progress report on my attempts to dance in the more contemporary smooth slotted style of dancing.

I’ve made significant progress, but having reviewed six venues I’ve decided to take a break and concentrate on main room freestyles.  So last Saturday I visited Ceroc Surrey’s Woking freestyle and last night I was at Ceroc Addiction’s Wolverhampton venue.

I hope to restart the Tea Dance Tour at the end of September, and get round to some more of the venues I listed in my first two Tea Dance articles.  Hopefully I’ll still get a chance to practice my slotted style of dancing, in the main room freestyles, so that I maintain the progress I’ve made.  (Posted Sunday 22 July)

When the funk is all that matters

I’ve just published my review of Ceroc Evolution’s River boat cruise from Greenwich to Westminster pier in the centre of London.  The DJ on duty was Steve Thomas.  As always I had problems cutting down the tracks that I wanted to feature.

One track that missed the cut was Jesto Funk’s Say it again from 2000.  This is a raw piece of funk that has a very hypnotic beat.  The thing is I love it.  I’ve been playing it through my head phones all afternoon as I write, and I’m wondering if I’ll ever get to dance to it again.  You see it’s not really a main room kind of track.

It got me thinking.  Lets suppose it was played.  It’s the type of track that would easily get me in to the zone – that rather hedonistic place where you lose yourself.  Here’s the problem.  Modern Jive is a partner dance, and it only works if you and your partner are in the same zone.

What are the chances that my partner will be a funk freak like myself?  Slim at the best.  Perhaps there are some tracks that are best played at home, and I just dad dance in the kitchen to them.  That’s a bit of a waste sadly.  (Posted Thursday 19 July)

Two great versions of a Ceroc Classic

I’ve recently published a list of Ceroc and Modern Jive Classics.  Number 7 is Real love by Drizabone.  Some time ago I heard a wonderful remix that I struggled to find on YouTube.  It had been played by Amanda from EnerJive at one of LeRoc Surrey’s great Tylney Hall freestyles.

I met up with Amanda at one of the stops on my Tea Dance Tour a few weeks back, and she kindly gave me a little more information about the track, and I managed to find it.  It’s simply called a Jazzy mix and it’s essentially an instrumental version, with few vocals and a beautiful jazz saxophone laid over the backing track.

There is no rap section either, so you can lose yourself in the beautiful instrumentation – no wonder it made such an impression on me that night.  (Saturday 14 July)

I find a great mash up version too

While trying to find Amanda’s Jazzy Mix I came across this fabulous mash up, where it is blended in to a ’70s disco hit by British band Delegation called Where is the love.

That Real love works well with this disco track shows it’s ’70s dance credentials and danceability.  The whole thing is nearly twelve minutes long, which is of course too long to modern jive to, but may be some DJ will make a four minute version.

In the meantime I’m currently using it as a backing track through my head phones when I’m writing.  Tracks like this help me to get in to a dance groove even though I’m sat at a desk in front of my PC.  (Posted Tuesday 10 July)

Live blogging from The Thames

On Sunday I spent a wonderful afternoon with Ceroc Evolution on a party dance boat on The River Thames.  We set out from Greenwich North Pier next to The O2 and cruised up to Westminster Pier and back taking in all the sights along the way.

To give a flavour of this wonderful afternoon of dancing and socialising I used my Modern Jive Dancer Facebook Page to post photos and comments as the boat cruised very smoothly along the river.  I’ve included three of these postings in this mini review, but you can see the full set by visiting my Modern Jive Dancer Facebook Page (see link below).

It was a very hot day, but a gentle breeze off the river offered some welcome relief, and I suspect this was the place to be rather than sat sweltering in the baking sun all afternoon.

No sooner had I posted the first photo Nikki got in touch with this comment:

What a wonderful way to spend a Sunday. Is the Sunday dance suitable for all levels?

This was without doubt a wonderful way to spend a Sunday afternoon, and the boat offered some relief from the soaring temperatures outside.  Nikki also asked about the level of dancing.  There is no doubt that there were some very good dancers on board, but there was the usual mix of ability levels you’d find at any freestyle.  I would certainly encourage everyone, what ever their dance experience, to enjoy the wonderful laid back atmosphere that this boat trip offers.

As the boat approached Tower Bridge I got a little philosophical.  Either side of the river were moored two very expensive yachts.  I couldn’t help comment that being on this small boat with a bunch of very friendly like minded people was a better place to be than on a rich man’s boat.

One of the joys of this trip was to see all the famous landmarks, and approaching and going under Tower Bridge is always an uplifting experience.

As well as the dance floor the boat offered plenty of space for people to enjoy their picnics and just sit and chat with friends.  This mix of dancing, socialising and seeing all the famous sites made this boat trip a perfect way to spend a summer Sunday afternoon.

I’m certainly pleased that I made the effort to get up early and catch a train from Nottingham.  Steve announced that Ceroc Evolution will be doing it all again at the end of September, and I’d certainly recommend you act quickly and get a ticket.

I’ll be posting a full review of this afternoon of dancing and sight and as always I’ll be embedding some of the fabulous music.  DJ Steve Thomas played an impressive set of funky and chill-out tracks.  Hopefully I’ll have the review on the blog by the middle of next week.  (Posted Monday 9 July)

To see all the postings and comments please follow the link to my Modern Jive Dancer Facebook Page

So that’s what that song is!

On Sunday I got to spend a wonderful afternoon and evening with a group of dancers at a charity fund raiser in East Sussex.  I’ll be writing a full review of this special day, as part of my Tea Dance Tour, but in the meantime here’s one of the tracks that was played, while people were enjoying their picnics and catching up with friends.

It’s Find a way by Bayje from 2009.  It’s one of those delicious songs that I’ve danced to, but just don’t know what it’s called.  This is where Shazam is such a wonderful tool, however I know when I’m dancing to a great piece track, I can hardly stop in full flight, and get my phone out and Shazam the tune.

But occasionally I’m sat out, and I get a chance to do just that.  So it was on Sunday afternoon, and I was able to discover just what this lovely mid-tempo track was.  It proved to be a taster for an afternoon of wonderful chill-out music with the same mellow vibe.  I’m hoping to have the review published in a couple of weeks.  (Posted Wednesday 4 July)

World Cup 0 LeRoc Freestyle 5 (Stars)

So the knock out stages of the World Cup are on the TV, it’s another sweltering day ideal for spending the evening sat outside the pub, and The Ceroc Camber Weekender is on.  Will anybody want to dance locally?  Well they certainly did at Ashstead in Surrey – the LeRoc Surrey freestyle at Ashstead was packed out.

I’m on a three day dance road trip – the previous night I’d called in at the Ceroc Beds & Bucks fabulous freestyle in Bedford, and tomorrow I’m at another Tea Dance Tour venue near East Grinstead in Sussex.  The freestyle at Ashstead was deserving of a full glowing review, but due to a backlog of Tea Dance Tour reviews I’ve chosen instead just to write this mini review.

Because of my friend Neil, and one of my daughters, living in this part of South West London I’ve been to many LeRoc Surrey and Ceroc Surrey venues over the years and it was nice to meet up with lots of familiar friendly faces on the dance floor.

Colin and Evelyn have built up a loyal following

There is no doubt that, the fact so many people turned out to dance at Ashstead last night, was because of the very loyal following that Colin Shaul and his partner Evelyn have built up in the Surrey area.

Evelyn is a wonderful welcoming venue host, and Colin is a DJ I have an immense respect for.  Once again Colin span a wonderful mix of contemporary sounds, Modern Jive classics and Rock ‘n’Roll gems.  As always Colin also served up some Latin favourites to give people an opportunity to do a bit of Tango and Cha Cha Cha.

Keep Calm and drink plenty of fluids

Before I mention a few of Colin’s great tracks I want to commend him for reminding everyone about the need to keep hydrated.  It was a very warm night for dancing – not that that stopped the dance floor being very busy to the very end – and I was impressed to hear Colin constantly reminding people to keep drinking plenty of the water provided.

Colin has a Club DJing pedigree, and it often shows through when he plays a run of full-on tracks that set the floor on fire.  What also impressed last night was that due to the high temperatures, Colin kept his hi-energy tracks to a minimum and played a lot more mid tempo tracks than normal.  Something I for one really appreciated.

The perfect mid tempo track

Half way through the night Colin played a track that in the past I’ve suggested might be one of the easiest Modern Jive classics to dance to   It has a perfect well defined, if not too hurried beat, and it was ideal for a night where it was important to manage the energy levels out on the dance floor.

The track is 3T’s delightful version of Lionel Ritchie’s Stuck on you.  It’s been a favourite for ten years now, and yet it has a freshness that makes it a guaranteed floor filler, and as always it gave me a wonderful dance.

A great mix of contemporary and classics tracks

I think one of the reasons that Colin has built a sizeable following is that he gets the mix between contemporary and older classic tracks just right.  Last week I was writing about One Kiss, the Calvin Harris track that features the voice of Dua Lipa.  I dared to suggest that this fabulous club style track is so  popular that you are guaranteed to hear it every time you visit a main room venue.  Sure enough Colin gave it a spin – another fabulous dance.

Colin treats me to a gem from the vaults

Because this is a mini review I’m going to restrict myself to just three tracks from Colin’s fabulous playlist.  What I love is when DJs show that they have been searching around the music vaults for something to bring a smile to our faces.  On one of his visits to the dance music vaults Colin found this gem from The Chairman of The Board.

This group were put together by song writers Holland-Dozier-Holland after they left Motown.  They had a great list of hits including Give me just a little more time.  Colin introduced On the beach, a later track that actually pasted me by at the time, as one to celebrate the wonderful summer weather we are enjoying.

Once again the rhythm was perfect for the warm conditions, and one hundred people showed the joy of being on the dance floor instead of just watching the football or drinking too much lager.

Lets record the football and dance

I might add that I do enjoy a nice cold beer, and I think it’s important that we do occasionally chill-out with friends on these warm evenings over a few long cool drinks.   I love football too, and I was quick to watch the highlights of the Portugal v Uruguay match on the internet when I got home, but I hope that dancing attendances don’t suffer too much over the next couple of weeks.

As Colin pointed out.  We can record the football for later.  Dancing however is something for the moment, and when wonderful music is served up as Colin did so well on Saturday night, it would be a shame to miss out on the joy that it can bring.

DJ Joe and Tracey hold the fort for Marc & Rachel

The Bedford Corn Exchange is a fabulous venue

On Friday night I called in at Ceroc Beds & Bucks Bedford Corn Exchange freestyle on my way down for a weekend of dancing with my friend Neil.  Marc Forster and Rachel Pears were on duty at The Ceroc Camber Weekender, so they left Tracey to manage the door and Joe Collins was on DJing duties.

Joe tells me that it was the first time he actually entered the Corn Exchange, and was quite taken back just how big the venue was, which meant that this was his debut here.  That I found a little surprising, because Joe read the floor like someone who had been DJing this venue for years.

The first think to say is that Joe’s sound system was perfectly balanced.  This is a large hall to fill with sound, and the vibe coming out of the speakers was perfect, particularly for those tracks with the bass line pumping to the max.

The second thing to say is how impressive the turn out was.  I know that the hot weather has had a negative effect on numbers this week, and it should be remembered that the Camber Weekender draws a lot of people from the Beds & Bucks area, but still the dance floor was nicely full and there were plenty of people to dance with.

Once again it shows the support that Marc and Rachel have built up for their franchise, and not forgetting Traceys warm welcome on the door.

But I have to finish by congratulating Joe on his playlist.  As I said above, Joe read the dance floor perfectly and his pick of tracks kept the dance floor busy all night.  As always I was listening out for some fabulous music that was new to me.  Two tracks stood out.

The first was the Smoma 2004 version of the Steely Dan ’70s classic Do it again.  This is a lovely chilled track with some jazzy instrumentation that really made me take notice.

 

The second was the Chromeo remix of Maroon 5’s Wait.  I listened to the original which had little going for it, but the remix that Joe played was another story.  Chromeo has given Wait a retro ’90s house treatment, based around a Nile Rodgers style guitar lick.  I connected with it’s beat instantly.   Loved it.  (Posted Saturday 30 June)

A wonderful Forum for Social Dancing

I’ve just spent twenty minutes on a wonderful Facebook Page called The Dancers Forum.  It’s open to all types of social dancing, but there are a lot of contributors from the Modern Jive and Blues scene.  You’ll see from their Facebook banner that they do not allow any advertising, so its purely chat about issues around dancing.

Here’s an example of one of the posts that started a discussion about close-hold dancing.

I love close hold. I love body connection all the way down, including facial contact if and when it happens naturally.

A dance is just a dance, for three minutes or so, and it stays on the dancefloor.

We all know that. BUT – are there any ethical lines here? I deliberately resist very close hold and especially facial connection if I know my partner is not single.

I know that, in theory, it shouldn’t make any difference.  And of course, you often have no idea whether your dance partner is single, or not.

If you are in a relationship, how do you feel about seeing your partner in close hold/facial connection with someone else?  I don’t think I’m particularly insecure or jealous, but I don’t think I would be too keen.  Is it just me?

The post generated eighteen comments from dancers from a wide range of dance styles including Ceroc, Modern Jive, Tango, Blues, Zouk, and West Coast Swing.  What’s really interesting is that people bare their souls and there were some very open comments, that I think everyone in the Modern Jive community would enjoy reading.

I hope to find time to write a full article on this fabulous Facebook Page, but in the meantime please follow the link and enjoy reading some very honest thoughts about all aspects of social dancing.  (Posted Friday 29 June)

Dancers Forum Facebook Page

DJ Mark gets me back in the groove with a funky remix

Since Southport I’ve taken a bit of break from dancing and writing, but after returning from a trip to Rome, I was raring to go again.  Lucky for me that one of my favourite venues was on last night.  As always Ceroc Heaven’s Kelham Hall was very busy and DJ Mark O’Reilly didn’t disappoint.

One of my favourite tracks was Albin Lee Meldau’s The weight is gone.  This contemporary track has a laid back funky feel that’s is so easy to dance to.  I think I may have heard it before, but now it’s registered with my dance brain I hope to be able to dance to it a lot more in the future.

But the track I want to shout about is another remix of Gregory Porters Liquid Spirit.  The original was released in 2013, but it was the 2015 remix by Claptone, with its thumping bass line and hypnotic piano riff that brought it to the attention of the Modern Jive jocks.

Seems that Mark found another remix from 2014, that gave me one of the best dances of the night, and consequently had me rushing to the stage as soon as it had faded out.  ‘What remix was that please?’  Seems it was by Knuckle G.

There is actually very little of the Gregory Porter original.  Indeed the brief interludes of Gregory’s singing seem to be there only to split up the instrumental sections.  These instrumental passages are so funky, and have elements of ’70s and ’80s disco, with a catchy Nile Rogers style guitar lick, that had me in Dance Heaven.

Loved it Mark.  Great to be back.  Now just need to get back to the writing – the next instalment of the Tea Dance Road Trip should be published on Monday.  (Posted Saturday 23 June)

Teacher Ashley does it differently

At Ceroc Heaven’s West Bridgford Class, teacher Ashley Davis tried something different for The Intermediate Class.  Instead of doing the normal three move routine he did just one moveThe Basket, but with almost twenty variations.

The Basket is one of the old time Ceroc Beginners moves that is widely used in freestyles, because it’s easy to lead and has a nice flowing action.  It’s also a good move to slow down when dancing to chill-out tracks.

What Ashley did was to explore all the variations of this move, and even I was surprised how many different ones he found.  In each variation the move starts in the same way by bringing the lady to the man’s side.  It’s the exit where the variations are.

So instead of turning the lady out once, keep you hand high and the lady is encouraged to turn for a second time.  Sometimes keep the hands low, sometimes high.  Keep hold of both hands, or let go of one hand.  Do an inside turn out rather than the usual outside one.  There are so many possibilities.

What Ashley did was to explain to the men that they could simply experiment with this one move and add to their repertoire. For the ladies it was about realising that men may vary this move and to learn to recognise the signals.

Ashley gave one great tip.

Remember if the move goes wrong, you’ve probably found another variation.  That’s how dance moves evolve, so just keep experimenting.

I would add this tip:

Remember guys that your lady follower doesn’t necessarily know your new variation, so always think about how you can lead it clearly.

I understand that Ashley did the same Basket Variation class at Ceroc Heaven’s Lincoln class and it went down just as well.  I thoroughly enjoyed it and thought it very useful.  Hopefully more classes will take up this idea. (Posted Friday 15 June)

I live blog at Southport using my Facebook Page

Over the Southport Weekender I lived blogged by using my Modern Jive Dancer Facebook page.  I’d simply take a photo, add a little text and pressed the Post button.  It’s a great way of live blogging.

Hopefully the posts gave a flavour of this wonderful dance fest.  To see the full list of posts please search for Modern Jive Dancer on Facebook.  Here’s just one example.

I get an over dose of Funk

I’m currently updating my Southport Boudoir Taster article (hopefully it will be published on Wednesday next week).  As always I’m writing with my headphones on, as I listen to You Tube.  I’m updating the section on Vince Silva’s Funk Hour when by coincidence YouTube selects a funk track to play.

I recognise the heavy bass line immediately, and turn up the volume as high as I dare.  What follows up is a remix, very reminiscent of ’80s Chicago House, when jocks extended a disco classic by layering samples of other ’70s dance hits over it.

In this Liebrand remix the base track is People’s Choice ’70s blast of funk Do it any way you want.  I didn’t recognise all the samples but The Gap Bands Oops up side your head and Indeep’s, equally infectious Last night a DJ saved my life, were easily identified.  The result was a mash up of Funk that came close to overdose levels.

How about it for the Funk Hour Vince?  In fact why I’m at it, how about Last night a DJ saved my life please. (Posted Sunday 3 June)

To read the previous edition of Quick Steps: Quick Notes please click here