Keeping to at least one New Year’s Resolution

It’s the second week of January and I’m still sticking to one of my New Year’ Resolutions. I failed on the eat less chocolate after three days, but for the second week on the trot I’ve visited a new dance class venue. Wednesday saw me heading down the A42 towards the Ceroc South Birmingham class night at Arden Hall, Castle Bromwich. Four hours later I was back on the A42 having had another enjoyable night, run by people who love what they do and who have a quite unique approach to their class nights.

More Fabulous Fresh Music

For the second week running I was treated to some fabulous music I hadn’t danced to before, and once again I’m faced with the dilemma of how much I should identify. Here’s one I’ve got to give a shout out to. DJ Lou has found a cracking dance track, with this Steve Anderson remix of Kylie and Dannii Minogue’s 100 degrees (Still Disco to me). Before you hit the play button there are some additional instructions. I could only find the extended version on YouTube, and it does take a little time to warm up, so move the slider to 3 minutes then let it play. The joy of the track soon kicks in.

A Family Franchise that’s uniquely different

All the Ceroc Class Nights across the country are run to a strict pattern, and this was no different. There was a Beginners’ Class where three moves were taught expertly. A brief freestyle session was followed by a beginners refresher class, while an intermediate class was taught in the main hall. There then followed an hour of freestyle dancing. But over this familiar pattern was stamped a very individual personality, which gave the evening a very warm and friendly feel.

The franchise is run by father and son Malcolm and Andy. Mum Betty is a Taxi and sister Lou the DJ. I also meet a very friendly lady called Cat, who I also think is part of the family. Andy, accompanied as always by his wonderful demo Lizzie, is a very experienced teacher and makes the lesson a whole lot of fun. Andy of course is the franchise owner and that explains the wonderful rapport he has with the dancers in the lines.

A Funky warm up routine

Andy puts his own individual stamp on the class by starting off with a warm up routine, that can best be described as a simple line dance. The routine was choreographed to fit a very funky track from Salt-N-Pepper, and involved a smooth ‘shooping’ action. It was great fun and when I finally got it I felt quite elated. Here’s Shoop. Now how did it go again?

Perfect music for the Beginners Class

When I visit a class night, I’m always interested to see how the beginners are catered for. I’ve already pointed out how Andy creates a relaxed atmosphere in his class and this must take away a little of the stress that beginners understandably experience. I’m also interested in the music that’s chosen to accompany the beginners’ moves. Lou pitched it perfectly. I loved her choice of the remixed version of Toni Braxton’s un-break my heart, which had just the right tempo for those learning the moves first time round. .

This is a gorgeous track and I don’t know why we don’t dance to it more often

Two standout tracks that made me smile

Wurzels 2     Wurzels 3

I’m not joking, but let me explain. As I said earlier this family organisation puts its own individual stamp on things. A new idea for this year, is that the music used to accompany the intermediate lesson is all from one year. The first song was Barry White’s See the trouble with me. I was a great Barry White fan and this was my favourite track of his, but I always wondered if it had the right tempo for modern jive. Well it does!

Seventies Surprises

Barry White and two tracks from the Wurzels (I can’t believe I did a complete intermediate routine to I am a cider drinker, but then life is better with surprises), meant the ‘Mystery Year’ was from the seventies. What a co-incidence. Early that day I had posted the first of ten articles on ’70s dance music. My challenge over the coming weeks is to come up with eighty jiveable ’70s track to fill a freestyle. I loved Lou’s next choice, and Bryan Ferry’s Let’s stick together will definitely make the list.

One track I’ve already put on the seventies list, that Lou played, is the Bee Gees You should be dancing. This is a great dance track, and I’m pleased to say it getting a fair few plays at the moment. So what was the year? Have a think and I’ll tell you later.

Freestyle Dancing

Class Nights are not just about learning some new moves, they are also a opportunity for some mid-week freestyle dancing. I ask only one thing from DJs, and that is that they play music from as many genres and decades as possible, in the hope that everyone will get an opportunity to dance to a track they really like. Lou has obviously spent a lot of time searching through the dance music archives, as her mix was truly excellent. She played modern jive classic like Sam Sparro’s Black and Gold, club classics like Room 5’s Make Luv and also included one of my current favourites – the 2006 remix of Leo Sayers Thunder in my heart. There were more recent tracks from Calvin Harris and Ed Sheeran. So diverse was the mix, that even DJ Otzi’s fun anthem Hey Baby (Ohh Ahh) got a play.

Something new that’s great to dance to

What made Lou’s set so impressive, was that she played great danceable tracks I’d never heard before. The song I featured at the top of the review by Kylie Minogue was one such fabulous track. Here’s another – All by myself by Whilk & Misky.

 This song from the summer of 2016 is something very different. It has so many elements, the main one being its funky, reggae-like tempo. I love the way the different layers of instrumentation intertwine throughout the song, giving you opportunities to showcase your musicality. One minute it is almost acoustic, then the bass line kicks in with layers of trumpets. Hearing tracks like this makes me realise just how much time, DJs like Lou must spend trawling through the music archives.

I love Blues you can Jive to

I love bluesy music but I’m not comfortable in The Blues room where the tempo is a little too slow. So please give me a blues tracks I can modern jive to. Lou ended the evening with one of the best jive-able blues tracks I’ve heard in a long time – Evil Man Blues by The Candy Shop Boys. The tempo was just right, and it had the feel of a smoke filled jazz club in Downtown New York. This track has so many layers of instrumentation. Click the play button and listen to the improvised playing of the sax, piano and violin. Add the gusty vocal and you have a track that you can connect with all the way to Dance Heaven.

A wonderful venue to learn to dance

This is a lovely modern venue. The dance hall is laid out with tables at one end that encourages sociability. What makes it a great place to learn to dance though, is the friendly people that run it, and the fun they have along the way. I thought the Mystery Year item was a great idea. Everybody wanted to guess it correctly. Most did. It was 1976. Did you? I understand freestyles are held here each month. I shall do my best to attend one, as I’ve not had enough of Lou’s fabulous music.