A freestyle with a difference

Ceroc South Birmingham hold classes every Wednesday at Arden Hall, Castle Bromwich and freestyles there every month. I’d been to a class night here back in January and had a thoroughly enjoyable night (see link at the bottom of the page). The reason I chose this particular freestyle to dance at on Saturday night was the promise of a Second Room devoted to ’70s music.

My ’70s Music Freestyle idea

Some time ago I was dancing at Kelham Hall, near Newark, when the DJ put on Sylvester’s 1978 hit You make me feel (Mighty real). I had the most fabulous dance, and it triggered an idea that there must be enough great dance music from that decade to put on a ’70s themed freestyle. I immediately started putting together a ’70s playlist and posting it to my blog (see link at the bottom of the page).

As I was working on Part 6 of the playlist Andrew Bragg, who runs Ceroc South Birmingham, got in touch to say that the Second Room at their freestyles was now dedicated to ’70s music. I felt compelled to visit. Not only would I possibly be able to pinch a couple of tracks for my own playlist, it would also give me a chance to see whether I would find one ’70s track after another a little bit boring.

Arden Hall is a very friendly venue

Castle Bromwich is a long way from my East Midlands patch and not surprisingly I only recognised a couple of faces. It’s never easy to go on your own to a new venue, but I remembered it being very friendly from my visit to the class night, and I really had no need to be apprehensive. I soon relaxed and was up on the dance floor in the main room.

DJ Lou serves up, some great music again

As last time I loved DJ Lou’s mix of current, classic and exclusive finds. I’ll start by showcasing a track Lou introduced to me back in January, and served up again on Saturday. 100 Degrees (Its still disco to me) by Kylie & Danni Minogue is, for me, one of the best tracks I’ve come across this this year.

Everyone’s favourites including a Top Ten Track

Like all good DJs Lou mixed in some favourites from the last couple of years – DNCE’s Cake by the ocean, Justin Timberlake’s Can’t stop the feeling and You don’t know love from Olly Murs. Included in these ‘Everybody’s Favourite Tracks’ was one I consider to be in the all time Modern Jive Top Ten. It’s a track we all know and love dancing to, but few know what it is. So here is Sunchyme by Dario G.

My dance music education continues apace

Just like at my last visit, Lou served up some great music that was new to me. I am amazed that no matter how many new venues I visit I’m still presented with fresh sounds to dance to. One standout track was Candy by Paolo Nutini. It seems this Scottish singer/song writer has had three top selling albums (two made No 1 in the U.K.) yet I’ve never heard of him. Like I said, my dance music education is far from complete. Candy is deliciously mellow with a solid rhythm that makes it a lovely track to dance to.

Familiarity that doesn’t breed contempt

When we are dancing we want a certain amount of familiarity. Knowing the nuances of a song – when the pace might change or even pause – helps with our musicality. Of course some songs get over played and that’s when they can be a turn off. This is why I love it when DJs play remixes and find new versions of familiar tracks. Lou treated us to a great reworking of Nina Simone’s modern jive classic My baby just cares for me.

Jools Holland always bring some extra excitement to the songs he records, and his version of My baby just cares for me with Florence Welsh (of Florence and The Machine) on vocals is no exception. Holland gives the song a hi-energy swing treatment that makes a refreshing change to the more bluesy original, and Florence’s vocal is equal in its own way to Simone’s.

I manage to break away from Lou’s great music to check out the ’70s

I could have danced to Lou’s music all night, but the ’70s were calling in the Second Room. Andrew had put together a playlist on his iPad with the help of Apple Music. Andrew explained that this avoided the danger of having a list of just disco tracks. He had a point and it was just what I needed to hear. Having said that the first track I danced to was Boogie Oogie Oogie by A Taste of Honey. This track is classic disco and one that gets a few plays on the modern jive circuit. Needless to say I loved dancing to it. Here’s the 12″ version to enjoy.

A big thanks to the ladies who joined me

Unfortunately there was no one in the second room, as everyone was happily dancing in the main room. I now had to ask ladies if they would come through to the second room, with neither of us knowing what track would be playing. This is where I once again say how friendly this venue is, as the ladies I asked willingly accompanied me through to the other room.

Each time I walked in to the room I was a little apprehensive as to what might be playing. Luckily the song playing on my first trip was the afore mentioned Boogie Oogie Oogie, and myself and my partner both enjoyed dancing to it.

More great tracks, more enjoyable dancing

The next track, The best of my love from The Emotions, was equally enjoyable to dance to. This 1977 song has a interesting back story. It was co-written and produced by Maurice White, the creator of Earth Wind & Fire. Play the video and you could easily mistake this for an EW&F track.

So successful was the collaboration between Maurice White and The Emotions, that White used them for the backing vocals on Boogie Wonderland, the EW&F 1979 track that is so loved by disco and modern jive dancers alike.

I continue to ride my luck

Every time I asked a lady to join me in the ’70s room I got lucky with the music. My next visit started with Barry White’s modern jive favourite My first, my last, my everything, followed by Sugar Hill’s Rapper Delight. This track famously helped launch Rap as a major music genre. However it is also infamous as it stole the backing track from Chic’s Good Times without Niles Roger’s permission.

My luck continued with The Real Things You to me are everything. I’d considered this track for my own list but thought it a little too slow. Instead I chose the follow up track Can’t get by without you. But here’s Andrew’s choice, which actually provided myself and my partner with a lovely gentle dance.

My luck had to run out at some point

My luck continued with Chairman of The Board’s Motown-like Give me just a little more time, but then it ran out. As I entered the room again with my next partner my heart sank. The next track had just started – we would have to dance the full three minutes. It certainly wasn’t disco. I’m sure Knock three times by Tony Orlando and Dawn had been a big hit on the dance floor in 1970, when it topped the charts all over the world, but some songs just don’t travel well.

Here’s where I pay a warm tribute to the lady who danced this track with me. We actually both enjoyed ourselves. The song has a solid, if gentle, beat and was very danceable. We just smiled at each other and got on with it. Perhaps the next track would be better? Sadly it wasn’t, but Hey-Ho life’s for living and we should always be grateful that we can dance.

Status Quo’s Caroline will not make my ’70s playlist, even though the long haired student version of myself loved it back in 1973. Once again my partner understood my need to research the ’70s first hand, and we gleefully danced the whole three minutes forty seconds. A big thanks to this lady and more proof, if it was needed, of how friendly this group is.

Back to the Main Room with a track inspired by the ’70s

Back in the Main Room Lou played a real favourite of mine – Love on my mind by The Freemason featuring Amanda Wilson. This 2005 track is a great piece of modern dance music. Its hi-energy pace is just perfect for a full on modern jive dance, and I love the way the horn section fades in and out lifting the song to new highs.

Interestingly the song is built round a sample from the 1979 disco track This time baby by Jackie Moore. This time baby is a cracking track in its own right, so thanks to Lou for triggering my memory about it – I’ll include it in my own ’70s Freestyle playlist.

One last visit to the ’70s Room

At the end of the evening a lady asked me for a dance. She kindly offered me the option of going to the ’70s Room, which I gratefully accepted. Hopefully we wouldn’t walk in to Tony Orlando and Dawn singing Tie a yellow ribbon round the old oak tree. The song that greeted us was Al Green’s Let’s stay together. I had been a great fan of Al Green’s mellow and relaxed sound, but I had wondered if it was all a little too slow for modern jive. After having a lovely dance to it, I realised that this track would be perfect when there was a need to slow the pace down, if my ’70s freestyle does ever take off.

So would a ’70s Freestyle really work?

I had come to Arden Hall to see get some idea of whether a ’70s freestyle might really work. I know that when DJs mix in ’70s tracks, like Barry White’s My first, my last, my everything or my favourite Sylvester’s You make me feel (Mighty real), they go down very well. But would a night full of these tracks just get a bit boring? In the ’70s room I danced to about fifteen tracks, and apart from the Status Quo one I loved them all. I know I have a lot more work to do on my playlist, but the my experience on Saturday night gave me a positive feeling that I will be able to put together a workable playlist.

Thanks again for all the dances

I had a lovely time at Arden Hall, and considering I didn’t really know anyone, had a lot of lovely dances. So a big thanks to the ladies who accepted my offers of a dance. I’d also like to extend a special thanks to the ladies who accompanied me in to the second room – without you I wouldn’t have been able to write my review of the ’70s music.

One last thumping Track from Lou

Once again I loved Lou’s selection of music, and I’m going to feature one more that I really enjoyed. I love instrumental tracks – no vocals to distract from the beat and instrumentation. Its one of the reasons that both Safri Duo’s Played alive (The bongo song) and Ramsey Lewis’s Wade in the water are in my all time Modern Jive Top Ten. So I was pleased to get a chance to dance to a modern synthesized instrumental during Lou’s set. Some people might find Pjanoo by Eric Prydz a little repetitive, but I love the trance like feel and the way the thumping bass periodically kicks in.

Use the Quick Links below to read more

Class Night: Review of Ceroc South Birmingham class night

’70s Playlist Part 1: My idea for a ’70s themed freestyle and the first ten tracks.

’70’s Song List: I’m constantly adding to the song list as I dig around the dance music vaults