A beautiful ballroom in an historic building
As I go on my dance travels I come across some beautiful dance halls – the one inside the Spirella Building is one. This Grade II listed building was created for the famous Spirella corset company in 1920. The company eventually collapsed and the building fell in to disrepair. In 1996 the building and ballroom was beautifully restored to its former glory.
An impressive place to dance but where was everybody?
When I go to new freestyle venues I’m always a little anxious that I’ll find the place quickly. My sat nav took me straight to it, and the on site car parking meant I was in the ballroom bang on eight. My first impression was that this was an impressive place to dance – even with tables round the perimeter, this is a very large and beautifully sprung dance floor. Sadly the second thing I noticed was that it was empty, bar one other dancer and the DJ.
This was a great night of dancing
Now before you cross Letchworth off your list of places to dance at, let me say that it eventually filled up and I had a wonderful night of dancing. There are few places that are busy at eight, but even at eight thirty I was a little worried that the night might be a disappointment.
It was a similar case at the Ceroc Cambs freestyle at St Neots. There too it wasn’t until almost nine o’clock before the atmosphere felt right, yet that freestyle was one of the best I’ve ever attended. This night also turned out to one I thoroughly enjoyed – I guessed that there were eventually over one hundred and fifty people here, but I was surprised that it took so long to warm up.
A great night needs great music and friendly people
This freestyle had both. The music was in the hands of DJ David Hyam, and he served up some real treats for me. Here’s a new favourite from Robin Schulz, David Guetta and Cheat Codes. Shed a light is a wonderful piece of contemporary music, and like a lot of modern dance tracks, it slowly builds to a crescendo of full-on electro intensity. Released at the beginning of this year it was a smash in clubs around the world and it’s no wonder it’s become a modern jive favourite.
Another friendly Ceroc Cambs venue
Please excuse me if I keep making comparisons with the Ceroc Cambs freestyle at St Neots, but that event proved to be one of the friendliest I’d visited lately. This freestyle had the same friendly vibe and I’d particularly like to thank all the kind ladies who asked me to dance.
One of the advantages of staying local is that you get to know the friendly faces, and who the good dancers are. Dancing at the same place takes away any anxiety about who to ask to dance, however a lot of us enjoy visiting new places, so it’s really appreciated when you are made to feel welcome.
It’s so important that we accept offers of a dance with a smile
Half way through the evening DJ David played a track I hadn’t heard for some time. As the track opened up with its blistering funky intro, my dance brain quickly worked out that I had to dance to it. I sensed I would need an experienced dancer to get the most from it. As the vocalist countered down the intro, ‘One – Two -Three’, I looked around for a partner. People were already pairing up. I’d have to be quick. ‘Four – Five – Six’, I now knew what the track was and I didn’t want to miss out.
‘Seven, Eight’. Back on my home territory I’d know the dancers who would enjoy dancing to the track’s energy infused pace, but this night I’d only ever danced with any of the ladies once, and anyway my partner options were diminishing every moment I hesitated. ‘Nine, Ten’. It’s amazing how quickly our brains work. I saw a lady, thankfully still sitting out, who I remembered had shown a real connection with the music during our first dance together. ‘Would you like to dance please?’
I tell this story to illustrate how important it is that we accept offers to dance with a smile, and do our best to give each other a good dance. Here’s the track that had me anxiously searching the room for a partner – Vance Kelly’s version of Wall to Wall. In the end I had a fabulous dance, and I hope the lady, I invited on to the dance floor, enjoyed it as much as I did.
DJ David serves up everyone’s favourites
Wall to Wall wasn’t the only favourite track that David played for me (more of these later), but I have to judge whether he served up dance delights for everyone else too. It’s impossible to please all of the people all the time, but it helps if DJs mix it up. I thought David did just that. His playlist included a whole stack of modern jive favourites – Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines, Jess Glynne’s Are you ready for this, Years and Years King, and everybody’s favourites Cake by the ocean from DNCE and Justin Timberlake’s Can’t stop the feeling.
I love it when DJs play requests
I know some DJs don’t encourage requests. I can understand why. Our favourite track might not actually be suited to modern jive. However there is no excuse when DJs fail to play requests for modern jive classics. While I was on stage, chatting with David, a lady came on to request a Madonna track. She didn’t know the title but knew it was a modern jive favourite.
I was impressed that David tracked it down on his computer. It turned out to be a track I remember fondly, as it was played constantly as I struggled to get to grips with the beginners moves all that time ago. I danced with the lady in question towards the end of the evening, and she was quick to tell me she’d had a great night. Here’s her Madonna request Give it to me. I’m sure it helped make her night.
I hadn’t realised until now that the male voice you hear in the middle talking section is Pharrell Williams, who eight years later would conquer the world with Happy.
David serves up a new classic
Give it to me is a true modern jive classic and David served up a whole load more sprinkled across his set, including Jace Everett’s I’m wanna do bad things with you, Tina Arena’s Now I can dance, Jennifer Lopez’s Let’s get loud. and You got it (Make the dance floor hot) by Lucas Grabeel from 2008.
Of course DJs have to spot the tracks that have the quality to stick around, long after they’ve dropped out of the charts, to become the classics of the future. David played a track from 2015 that I think has what it takes to become a modern jive classic. The Felix Jaehn remix of Ed Sheeran’s Photograph has turned this gentle ballad in to a thumping electro dance track – the catchy sympathised rift makes this a track I want to keep dancing to.
David gets this month’s Soul Boy Award
As I said above, if you are going to stand any chance of pleasing everyone, DJs need to mix it up, and it was good to see David include a few Motown tracks for the Soul Boys and Girls on the floor. Motown Nights are experiencing great popularity in disco-land and its great that DJs are now mixing more of these retro tracks in to their modern jive playlists.
David played four Motown tracks, and so good were his picks that he gets this month’s ‘Soul Boy Award’. He played everyone’s Motown favourite – The Isley Brothers This old heart of mine, and another Motown track that’s becoming a bit of a modern jive classic Marvin Gaye’s Little darlin’ (I need you).
Right at the end he slipped in a real favourite of mine – Barbara Randolph’s I got a feeling, but the track that clinched the award was a Motown track I’ve never heard before. My Love is your Love (Forever) is an Isley Brothers track that never really saw the light of day until it was picked up by the ever growing Northern Soul scene. I loved every second dancing to it.
Now for something completely different
I love it when DJs visit different musical genres to mix up their playlists, and I love it even more when I’m reminded that there is so much dance music waiting to be plucked out of the music vaults. I’m not sure how to describe this next track. I suppose Totally by Joe Stilgoe is best described as Swing. The track is quite recent (2015) but it has all the flavour of the ’40s. It has a great dance beat and I just love the muted trumpet.
Another St Neots Plug
As mentioned above, I had a great time at my last visit to a Ceroc Cambs freestyle, when I danced to DJ Sue Astle’s top drawer playlist at St Neots. That night Sue played a track that had somehow passed me by. Suddenly I’m hearing it everywhere. It was played in the SILC Zone at Southport and was a featured track in the Double Trouble class I participated in.
Pleasingly David gave it a spin too. I always wonder who gives these great tracks their debut on the modern jive dance floor. What really pleases me is that these great tracks get shared around. I know some DJs are very protective of their exclusive finds, and occasionally I will respect this by not including them in my reviews. I’m just pleased that I can use my blog to give Shaggy’s Good times roll a big plug. I can’t wait to dance to its funky beat again.
I hope to get back to another Ceroc Cambs freestyle
The friendliness of the dancers at Letchworth meant I was rarely off the dance floor. No wonder then, that I will try to find time in my diary to visit another Ceroc Cambs freestyle. However I must remember one thing – there is no point getting there before 8.30!
To read my review of the Ceroc Camb’s St Neots freestyle please click the link