LATEST NEWS: What we loved about Southport is now on the blog

It’s time for Ceroc’s Splash Weekender

Its time again for another Ceroc Southport Weekender and I’ve decided to do things differently. The past two weekenders in February and June have seen me write a very detailed diary of the event. In it I described the build up and then wrote about the antics of The Ceroc Heaven faithful and my Dance Gang buddies at the actual event. The resulting diaries gave a real flavour of what it was like to attend one of these amazing dance fests.

This time I decided to do things differently and write a preview before the event kicks off. Each day for the last two weeks I’ve been adding new postings, previewing everything from the dancing and DJs through to classes and teachers. I hope this final version will add to the anticipation, and give those people who will be first timers an idea of just how much fun is waiting for them on the dance floor.

The Southport Splash Programme is on-line

When you arrive at Southport you are given a ‘Passport to Dance’ booklet in your welcome pack. This booklet lists all the Workshops and Dance Times across the three main rooms – The Main Thunderball Room, The Second Cyclone Room and The Boudoir (aka the Queen Vic Pub and The SILC Zone). There is also a programme of Master Classes in a small room called The Cube.

This booklet is available on line (please see the link below). The booklet is full of useful information that will help you make the best of the weekend and all it has to offer. The most popular parts of the booklet are the six pages at the end, which give information about the Workshops and Freestyle timings.

The dancing starts at 3:00 on Friday afternoon in The Boudoir (aka The SILC Zone) and doesn’t ever stop in this area until 6:30 on Monday morning. Dancing in the Main Thunderball Room starts on Friday night at 7:00, Saturday night at 8:30 and Sunday night at 8:00. Don’t think about going to bed early – the DJs in the Thunderball Room will rock the dance floor until 4:30 in the morning (3:30 on Monday morning).

I’ll previewing the workshop and dance schedule in more detail over the next two weeks. In the meantime here’s a view of the Main Thunderball Room early on Monday morning at the last get together in June. DJ Tim Sant is on the decks with DJ Hayley Epps waiting to take over. This Sunday night/Monday morning Freestyle was one of the best I’ve ever danced at, and I’ll be having more to say about it in a future posting. (Posted Sunday 20 August)

To download the Southport Splash Passport to Dance booklet please follow the link

Going to Pontins was never this much fun

The Southport Weekender is held at the Pontins Holiday Camp on the beach at Ainsdale near Southport. It was opened in 1969, and was part of Fred Pontins empire of thirty sites across the UK. Weekenders, of all varieties, take place here throughout the year, and play an important role in keeping this holiday destination open.

Aerial view 2

It goes without saying that the holiday camp has seen better days, and it can’t be much fun for the families who still come, when the weather turns rather wet and windswept. However come Friday afternoon it will take on a new lease of life and its faded glory will only add to its charm. There will be over two thousand people there, and believe me they’ll be having more fun than Fred Pontin could ever have dreamt of. (Posted Monday 21 August)

The DJs make Southport a dance fest

The first thing I look for when the Weekend Programme is published is the DJ line up. The DJs make Southport the dance fest it is. Whether they are setting the decks on fire in the Main Thunderball Room, or slowing it down in the SILC Zone or Blues Lounge, they can not miss a beat. The room is full of people who know their music and they know when a DJ is coasting. Also remember – this is not a normal four hour freestyle, where people go home at midnight. People have come to dance all night, and to have a dance experience they don’t necessarily get at their local venue.

Setting the floor on fire in The Thunderball Room

I’ll discuss the music in the SILC Zone and Blues Lounge in another posting, so for now I’ll concentrate on the DJs who spin the tracks in the Main Thunderball Room. In the most part the DJs have just one hour slots – that’s about twenty five tracks at the most. They need to hit the ground running and quickly create a vibe on the dance floor. Time for their very best floor fillers – but it’s a bit more than that. Which floor fillers and in what order? There is no point in just playing high octane tracks one after the other – the dancers need a break now and again, but somehow the DJs need to set the floor on fire. The trick is to control the energy out on the dance floor and make a connection with the dancers that has them wanting more.

There is an art to DJing at this level

As I have watched and danced to the best DJs, I’ve realised that there is quite an art to creating a playlist that will make such a connection with the dance floor. Their job is made harder by the fact that there is a whole mix of people out there. Southport attracts the same demographic as regular freestyles, but has an added younger audience. So where do the DJ’s pitch it? Because there are two other rooms playing Chilled and Blues music they can concentrate on more up tempo tracks, but that doesn’t mean its all the latest club hits. In June I remember Tim Sant launching in to his set with Gloria Gaynor’s Never can say goodbye. I don’t remember there being a single inch of space on the floor. What a way to start.

Southport is a dance crazed escape from reality

For many of us, dancing is not only the most joyous experience, it is an escape from the reality of our working lives. Back in the ’50s Rock ‘n’ Roll gave the youth an escape from the greyness of the post war world. In the ’70s Northern Soul gave working class people from the industrial wastelands a reason to look forward to the weekend, and saw the birth of the all nighter, that was a fore-runner to our own Ceroc Escape events.

Creating a rave style frenzy.

The ’80s saw the emergence of so called Rave Culture. I often wonder how many of the people out on the modern jive dance floor cut their teeth dancing to Pump up the volume and Theme to S-Express with its thumping opening of Rose Royce’s Is it love you’re after. I’ve sometime thought that there is an element of rave culture at times in the Thunderball Room.

I remember Mark O’Reilly ending his set with a thumping track that had rave running all the way through its DNA. I’ve been listening to Heaven by DJ Sammy very loud on my headphones while I’ve worked on this last paragraph – I’m a little high! Hey how many sleeps is it until this thing kicks off. (Posted Tuesday 22 August)

The Southport DJ line up features some top names

It goes without saying that DJ-ing in the Thunderball Room is one of the biggest modern jive gigs in the year, and it attracts some of the very best DJs in the country. Since I started my blog I’ve paid a lot more attention to the names that make the list, and it’s given me an idea as to who the top names are in the Ceroc DJ hierarchy.

In the three 2017 Ceroc weekenders, the DJs with the most slots are Hayley Epps, followed by Caroline Houlton and Jon Gammon. For some reason I’ve missed Jon’s sets at the two previous Southports (I’ll put that right, I promise) but both Hayley and Caroline have played cracking sets every time. I should also give a mention to Tony Ricardi and Tim Sant, who both set the dance floor on fire back in June, and will also be on the decks along with Hayley, Caroline and Jon this time.

Hayley Epps is the one not to miss

I have no idea how the DJs are selected for the Thunderball Room, but I suspect that there is a roster of about fifteen DJs and nine or ten are selected for each weekender. It would be interesting to know how the rota for September’s Weekender was put together, but I’m pleased to see that Hayley Epps has a slot on all three nights again.

I’m sure that a lot of people aren’t really aware of who the DJ’s are, but its worth keeping an eye on the programme to see when Hayley will be on the stage. Hayley is one of the best and I have no doubt that she will once again create a great vibe on the dance floor.

Hayley also DJs regularly at Ceroc Passion’s Daventry themed nights. This is no easy gig, but when I visited in June she and DJ Rob Ambridge had a massive sports hall rockin’ till the early hours. Here’s Boom boom from the Justice Crew, one of Hayley’s cracking tracks from that fantastic night. (Posted Wednesday 23 August)

To read my reviews of the Southport Main Room DJs please follow the links below

Hayley Epps: Southport Weekender in February

Tony Ricardi: Southport Weekender in June

Tim Sant: Southport Weekender in June

Hayley Epps: Daventry Red Hot & Sultry

And they’re off – Friday’s opening programme

Arriving on Friday, at anytime, and you’ll be greeted by people dancing outside (that’s if it’s not raining of course). Dancing kicks off inside and outside the Queen Vic Pub (aka The SILC Zone) at 3.00 pm, and believe me there’ll be people dancing from the off. Remember the dancing in this area never really stops until 6.30 on Monday morning. One of the joys of Southport is dancing outside at two in the morning, subject to the weather of course, and it’s one of the lasting memories people take away with them.

Oh dear they’ve sacked the DJ in the Queen Vic

This is your chance to be a DJ. Up until 7:00 pm on Friday night, the DJ decks are open to anyone who gets their name down on the rota (displayed on the wall inside). You’ve 30 minutes to make a name for yourself. There are so called ‘Sack the DJ’ Sessions on Saturday and Sunday mornings until 1:30 pm too.

The Main Room dancing starts at 7:00

No need to dash up the M6 to get there for 7:00 – the dancing in the main Thunderball Room goes on until 4:30 in the morning. There will be people dancing from 7:00 but the action in the main room won’t really get going until 9:00 when Tim Sant does an Ice-Breaker class suited to all levels. This is a great idea and it’s an opportunity to start making new friends straight away. There could be as many as two hundred people in the class. The picture below shows just what these lessons can be like.

Sadly there’s no Motown fix

For those that don’t want to do the lesson DJ Mark O’Reilly will be spinning Ceroc Classic tracks in the smaller Cyclone Room from 9:00 until 10:00. Interestingly for the previous two Southports, this slot has been given over to Motown and Northern Soul. While these sessions were not packed out (remember they had compete with the main room), I thought they had a great vibe. I’m a little sad that Motown and Soul junkies like myself won’t have the opportunity to relive our youth again.

I understand the need to keep changing things about, and I’ll choose to dance in The Cyclone Room rather than do the lesson in the main room. It will be interesting to see how the room fares with the Classics theme. Perhaps I should take this opportunity to make a cheeky request. I know Edwin Starr is seen as a Motown act but H.A.P.P.Y. Radio has established itself as a sure fire floor filler – surely that qualifies it as a Ceroc Classic!

DJ Tim Sant starts off six and a half hours of dancing joy

After his Ice-Breaker lesson finishes at 10:00, Tim is straight on to the Thunderball Room decks. It’s Tim’s job to launch the main event – six and a half hours of dancing joy. DJ Steve Thomas takes the first hour slot from 11:30, followed by Tony Riccardi, Caroline Houlton, Hayley Epps and Tiggerbabe (real name Sheena). That’s quite a line up – its going to be an awesome night. (Posted Thursday 24 August)

It can be quite overwhelming the first time

When you walk in to the Thunderball Room for the first time, and see almost four hundred people dancing their socks off, it can be a little overwhelming. It’s difficult not to feel some kind of euphoria, because nothing in your dance journey up to that point will have been anything like it. Your friends will have spoken with great excitement about the thrill of dancing in the Thunderball Room, but you can’t really appreciate what they have been going on about until you experience it for yourself.

What ever you do pace yourself

It’s so easy to over do it. There is so much on offer – day and night – that it’s not difficult to get a little bit danced out and very tired. Most people love the idea that they can dance to the early hours and the dance floor doesn’t start to thin out until after 2:00 in the morning. Say you dance until three, its doubtful if you’ll fall asleep until four – not a good idea to be wanting to do a challenging class after just a few hours sleep.

One of the problems is that the day time lessons sound so compelling. They have the most inviting titles – Funk ‘n’ Groove (Funk, style and musicality). Put my name down, but can I get my head in gear by 10:45? That’s another thing to remember – the lessons are designed to help everyone improve, what ever their level, and by definition they demand a high degree of concentration.

I think that two lessons a day is about right if you want to dance until the early hours. One of the lovely Southport traditions my dance gang friends have developed, is to have a light meal together on the Friday evening after we’ve all settled in. It’s a time to discuss what lessons we are going to do over the weekend. At times we’ll do our own thing, but its nice to think that we’ll do some of the lessons together. I’ll discuss some of the lessons we are hoping to do in a future posting.

It’s OK to sleep in the afternoon

In June I got up early to review a beginners lesson that started at 9:30 – I’d had four and a half hours of sleep! When it ended I had a 15 minute break before I joined the lines in an intermediate class. I should have gone back to bed, but this was the one class I didn’t want to miss. Entitled Simply Slotted it was run by Caine and Danni and proved to be the best class I’d ever taken at Southport. I do wonder where I got the concentration from, but thank god I did, because it advanced my dancing to slower music no end. (see the link below to read more about this fantastic class).

When that class finished I unashamedly went back to my chalet and crashed out. I’d have slept all afternoon, but unfortunately I couldn’t miss out on two of my Southport highlights. Swingers Hour, sixty minutes of Rock ‘n’ Roll heaven, followed by Vince Silva’s Funk Hour – always one of the best hours of music across the whole weekend. After two solid hours of rockin’ and funkin’ I surprisingly had a pulse strong enough to limp back to my chalet for another lie down. (Posted Friday 25 August)

The Saturday daytime programme proves just how wonderful Southport is

As I write this posting it’s now less than a week to go before Southport kicks off for real. Come Saturday morning please don’t bother me for breakfast before ten o’clock, but having said that I mustn’t lie in for too long because there’s a great programme lined up for everyone. Now one of the daytime highlight for me is Vince Silva’s Funk Hour in The Boudoir at 2:30. Packed with tracks from the ’70s and ’80s it’s a must for Funk Fanatics. (see below for my review of Vince’s outstanding funkafied hour from February’s weekender)

Now being a massive funk fan I’ve spotted a class at 10:45 entitled Funk ‘n’ Groove. This might mean I have to miss breakfast! Sadly there’ll be no sneaking back to the chalet for some Fruit n Fibre because at 12:00 there’s another lesson I can’t miss. I’ll explain why in a moment, but first I have to tell you about another great Southport tradition.

The best 60 minutes of day time dancing

Come 1:30 on Saturday afternoon you’re invited to what I think is the best sixty minutes of dance fun across the whole weekend – Swingers Hour in The Boudoir. A mix of ’40s Swing and ’50s Rock ‘n’ Roll, it’s an hour of sheer dance joy. The first thing, and possibly the best thing, is the fact the ladies come dressed up in their 1950s styled frocks. The dance floor is transformed in to a kaleidoscope of swirling bright colours – it’s a wonderful sight.

The guys do their bit too, and they’ll be plenty of Glenn Miller impersonators, and I’ll be in my full Rock ‘n’ Roll outfit complete with my thick crepe soled shoes. The second thing is, if we are lucky with the weather, we all get to dance outside. On Saturday the tracks will be spun by Tiggerbabe (aka Sheena) ready to carry on where she left on in June. It’s going to be a rocking good way to spend Saturday afternoon.

Getting Ready for Swingers Hour with Lyndsey Bennett

Now there is one problem about Swingers Hour, and that is that most Swing and Rock ‘n’ Roll music is a little too fast for Ceroc. Realising this, some time ago I went to Rock ‘n’ Roll classes with my regular dance partner. Learning rock ‘n’ roll is not easy and it took a fair few months to get the hang of it, but now I can dance to these faster tracks with out too much of a problem.

Realising that modern jive moves didn’t really work for the faster pace of some Swing and Rock ‘n’ Roll  tracks, Ceroc turned to Lyndsey Bennett to help out. I won’t steal Lyndsey’s thunder but her Get Ready for Swingers Hour class will give you some technique and moves to get through the faster paced tracks without raising your heart beat to danger levels. It’s this lesson at 12:00 I just don’t want to miss.

To finish off this posting here’s Corrine, Corrina by Big Joe Turner – one of the tracks from Tiggerbabe’s wonderful set in June – to get you in the mood (wasn’t that a Glenn Miller track?). (Posted Saturday am 26 August)

All kinds of friendships are made over the weekend

One of the most wonderful aspects of Southport is the social side. Over two thousand people are thrown together for three days and it makes for a wonderful social get-together. It is an experience to share with your friends and a great opportunity to meet and make new ones. You dance with someone on Friday night, and you meet them in a lesson on Saturday. You get the chance to dance with them again on the Saturday and Sunday night. You’ll bump in to them as you walk back and forth to your chalets. You can’t not make new friends.

I’m not just talking about the girl-meets-boy thing. All kinds of new friendships are made across the weekend, and some of the best are those that develop with people you only ever see at the three yearly Southport meet ups. Its little wonder really, for you are mixing with a whole load of like-minded people who all share the love of dancing.

The Dance Gang and the after-parties

For many people Southport is an opportunity to party. Throughout the weekend various get together happen at chalet parties across the holiday park. Some are quite reserved others are a little more boisterous – you pay your money you take your choice.

I’m lucky to be part of The Ceroc Heaven faithful who bring over a hundred people from Nottinghamshire, Lincolnshire and South Yorkshire. We all congregate around the bar area in the Thunderball Room and its nice to know that there is a whole bunch of people you dance with on a regular basis. On a smaller level my so called Dance Gang friends book four adjacent chalets and meet up before every evening session for a lite bite and then again for an after-party.

Though a lot of Prosecco is drunk at this post dancing soiree we are surprisingly sober, and have great fun recalling our individual tales from the dance floor. It’s in these parties that I’ve made myself a little unpopular, by sitting at my computer drinking tea and blogging about the nights events. However this time I’m a blog free zone, so I’ll be partaking in the drinking thing, though my favourite indulgence is a cup of tea and a cup cake. This probably explains why I never got invited to parties in the past. I’m making up for it now though. Oh and can I have the cup cake with the cherry on please. (Posted Saturday pm 26 August)

Saturday night and your chance to be a Ceroc star on the dance floor

Take my advice and get some sleep during the day because Saturday night is going to even better than Friday night. Dancing in the main Thunderball Room kicks off at 8:30 with DJ Roy Blewitt on the decks. At eleven there’s an hours interlude for a fabulous cabaret featuring all the dance teachers and a dance competition.

The dance competition has is one of the great Ceroc traditions and takes place at all the weekenders across the year. The prize is a cheap bottle of Fizz, but more importantly the winners get an automatic entry in to the annual Ceroc Championships. There is one other reward that has become part of this great Ceroc tradition and that is – in the words of Ceroc Top Man Mike Ellard – ‘Your chance to touch the cup’. You don’t get to take the gleaming gold trophy home, but you are allowed to touch it.

Anyone can enter, and the dance floor is soon filled with couples hoping for their big break (for the sake of entertainment I am hamming this up a little). Three judges are then picked from the audience and they wander between the dancers and choose a couple each for the grand final. The picture below shows the three finalists from June’s competition.

Enter Decibel Dave with his clapometer

The winner is decided by the audience using a clapometer – in reality a decibel meter brought on to the floor by Decibel Dave. Now I have no idea what Dave’s day job is, but he enjoys five minutes of fame every Ceroc Weekender. The winners then get to ‘Touch the cup’, are given the cheap fizz and the cabaret starts.

One of the main features of this cabaret is a dance demonstration by some of the teachers who are in attendance over the weekend. They only dance for about a minute and a half each, but its a wonderful display of the diversity of Ceroc, and its related dance genres. I found a fabulous video on YouTube of one of these cabaret demonstrations from 2014.

There is some inspirational dancing that includes moves that we can all aspire to. Fast forward to 11 minutes 30 seconds and watch Caine and Danni, who I wrote about previously in this preview, showcasing their wonderful slotted style of dancing.

Back to the dance floor until the sun comes up

At the stroke of midnight DJ Tim Sant will restart the dancing in the Thunderball Room. Expect Tim to quickly crank up the atmosphere on the dance floor, and don’t expect the energy levels to drop until it all comes to an end at four thirty in the morning.

Remember if you’ve still got some dancing left in you, the Blues Lounge is running until five in The Cyclone Room, and once that closes the DJs will be spinning smooth chill out tracks in the SILC Zone, for as long as there is anyone on the dance floor. (Posted Sunday am 27 August)

To read my full review of the Double Trouble lesson at the Southport June Weekender please follow the link

Take a break – take a beach walk

When I came to my very first Southport, some four years ago, I found myself dancing until late and then doing as many lessons as possible. I remember by Sunday lunch time being completely danced out. So frazzled was my dance brain that I went off site, and did some bird watching in the sand dunes. The beach, and sand dunes at Southport are quite beautiful, and I would recommend giving yourself a break by taking a walk along the beach, which is just two minutes from the main gate.

An alternative to the beach is to go in to Southport itself. The town has a lovely promenade style main street, that has kept much of its original Victorian character. There are plenty of cafes and tea rooms, with most having outside seating areas, which are wonderful places to relax and watch the world go by. (Posted Sunday pm 27 August)

Ceroc has organised a full wellbeing programme

As an alternative way of relaxing Ceroc have organised a team of professionally qualified practitioners, who will be offering a variety of wellbeing treatments throughout the weekend. Full details are in the Passport to Dance Booklet. The treatments include several types of massage, acupuncture and reflexology, all designed to revive aching limps and re-energize your dance mojo.

It’s also worth remembering that it might be an idea to have three or four hours of sleep on Sunday evening, because if previous Southports are anything to go by, this is going to be the best night’s dancing of the weekend. I’ll be discussing Sunday night in more detail later on in the week. For the moment I’ll just warn you again to pace yourself in the build up because, come Sunday night, you’ll need your dance mojo cranked up to the max. (Posted Sunday pm 27 August)

Be Cheeky and Smooth, but try to stay out of Trouble

After two solid nights of dancing, for those that can struggle out of bed, there’s a fantastic programme of classes on Sunday. Once again the names of these classes are quite tantalizing, and several caught my eye. In the Cyclone Room at 10:45 there’s a lesson entitled What a Cheek! Here you can apparently master the versatile Cheek move. Now, I’ve been dancing over eight years and I have to say The Cheek has passed me by. Perhaps it’s time I learnt it!

Any lesson with the word ‘Smooth’ in it sounds appealing, and in the Cyclone Room there are two on Sunday. The first at 1:15 is entitled Smooth and Simple Links to introduce the idea of ‘Seamless transitions’. It’s followed by Smooth it out at 3:45 which I suspect builds on the first lesson by teaching ‘Effortless links’.

If you speak to ladies the one thing they would ask of us men, is that we keep our moves and the transitions between them as smooth as possible. These sound like two classes that shouldn’t be missed. Sadly the second of these classes clashes with one in the main Thunderball Room that I just can’t miss.

Sorry, I just can’t stay out of Trouble

One of my own highlights from the June Weekender was the Double Trouble lesson run by Lyndsey Bennett. Double Trouble is where one leader (usually a man) dances with two followers (usually two ladies). I was joined on the dance floor by two of my Dance Gang friends and we had the greatest fun (see link to review below).

Though I say it myself, I think we did quite well last time, and in amongst all the laughter we managed to do the four moves with a reasonable degree of fluidity. I’m hoping that Lyndsey will have a couple of new moves this time, which we can add to the ones we learnt in June – by the end of the class we hopefully will have quite a routine to work with.

In June I got one of my friends to video the three of us. Now I should say its not pretty at times, but it does show that it is possible to get the basic idea in just one class. If you want to see a professional example of the Double Trouble technique, please watch the video I posted on Sunday morning of the cabaret. If you fast forward to 10 minutes 30 seconds you’ll see a wonderful Double Trouble routine to Knock on wood by Amii Stewart. Here though is the slightly less than professional attempt by my friends and I. (Posted Monday 28 August)

SILC Classes are some of the most popular

It’s just over a year ago now that Ceroc introduced its SILC dance syllabus. I have written many articles about my own struggle to get to grips with it, and I suspect I’m not the only one to have had the same difficulties. SILC is hard, but it seems that there is a great willingness amongst the Ceroc faithful to give it their best shot, and this is shown by the popularity of the SILC lessons at Southport – in June I counted about two hundred people in the Foundation class.

Once again there is a full set of SILC lessons this time round. On Saturday Steve Thomas takes over the teaching duties from Tim Sant, with a SILC Foundation class on Saturday afternoon and follows that with a Progressive level one on Saturday evening. Tim is back on stage teaching the Developmental advanced class himself on Sunday afternoon.

I’ve kind of got to grips with SILC – I can do about six moves now!  I would encourage everyone to give it a go. It’s a wonderful way to dance to slower paced music, giving you and your partner plenty of opportunities to express your musicality skills.

But a word of warning. The technique isn’t easy, so please don’t think that you can easily progress through the levels in one weekend. If you are new to SILC just be happy to do the Foundation class, and leave the more experienced dancers to the higher levels. I know that Tim asks that only experienced dancers take on the challenge of the Sunday Developmental class.

The Ceroc Teachers are the stars too

I make a big thing about the DJs and love giving them the credit they deserve in the reviews I do of freestyles, but the teachers are equally important to the sustainability of this wonderful dance scene, and the Ceroc weekenders attract the very best of them.

I noted above that Steve Thomas had taken over the SILC teaching duties from Tim on the Saturday. I was interested to know a little more about Steve, and what is commendable is that in the Passport to Dance Booklet, there are bio-pics of all the teachers. I won’t embarrass Steve by quoting his write up in full, but it’s interesting to see that Steve has been teaching in the South East Ceroc Franchises for over seventeen years.

Steve also runs one of the Master Classes that take place in the Cube over the weekend.  These lessons have to be pre-booked and are very popular. Steve’s Master Class is designed to help you master Whips. Sounds good – I’ll have to see if there’s any space left. (Posted Tuesday 29 August)

A Ceroc Facebook page you’ll find very interesting

 

Ceroc HQ create a Facebook page to support each of their Escape Weekenders, and the image above is from the current Ceroc Splash Southport 2017 Page (see link below). The page is full of information about the weekend and its open for anyone to join the discussion.

Right now some of the most popular postings are about the availability of wrist bands and accommodation that people have for sale. You’ll also see people asking for and offering lifts, as well as people advertising wellbeing activities.

This page is also a great place to show you excitement as the big day approaches. In June people were posting selfies of themselves starting their journeys, and were also helpfully posting traffic reports as they made their way along the network of motorways that lead to Southport.

The best thing about this page is that, come the weekend, you can post your own comments in real time about the great time you’re having, and when its all over there is a facility to review the event and add your own comments. In June the event got a 4.8 (out of 5) Star Rating with 136 people giving it a 5 Star review. Not surprising really because it was one of the best. (Posted Wednesday pm 30 August)

To see the very latest posting on the Ceroc Splash Page please follow the link

A new DJ in the SILC Zone

I have to say that because I haven’t really spent much time in the SILC Zone, I’m not over familiar with the DJs in the SILC Zone, but from reading feedback on various Facebook pages these guys, like their main room counterparts, are some of the best.

One DJ I am looking forward to is Ashley Davis, who has a set in The SILC Zone at 1:30 early on Monday morning. I know Ash well from his teaching and DJ-ing at Ceroc Heaven Workshops and Freestyles, but this is a real first for him. In fact it’s a real challenge as he’s following Tim Sant.

I have  no doubt that Ash will do very well, as he is a first rate teacher of the SILC Dance Syllabus, and so he knows the music that is perfectly suited to this chilled style of dancing. I also know that he can expect a lot of support from The Ceroc Heaven Faithful, and we all wish him well. Ash DJ-ed the SILC Zone at the recent Ceroc Heaven Summer Prom, and here’s one of his gorgeous tracks from that night – Daecolm’s contemporary and gentle interpretation of Abba’s Dancing Queen

Marc and Rachael make the Blues Lounge their own

One of the main attractions of Southport Weekenders was the so called ‘Blues Room’ that operated in The Boudoir/Queen Vic areas. Here the music was slow and chilled – suited to Smooth Jive, West Coast Swing and close hold Blues dancing. Since the beginning of 2017 this area has been rebranded The SILC Zone and music ideal for Blues dancing is now featured in late night sessions in the larger Cyclone Room – rebranded the Blues Lounge.

Music for these late night sessions is provided by DJs Marc Forster and Rachel Pears. Marc and Rachel are two of the biggest names on the Blues circuit, and as well as hosting the Blues Lounge at Southport and other Ceroc Escape Weekenders, they are also stars of the highly regarded Chill-out Room at Ceroc Passion’s Daventry freestyles. With so much demand for their services its hard to believe that they also find time to run the very successful Ceroc Beds & Bucks franchise.

Southport is no easy gig for Marc and Rachel. They not only look after the Blues Lounge for an average of four hours a night, but they also run a Tango Milonga for two hours each night before hand. Add in two tango lessons and two Blues lessons and this is one hell of a shift, but Marc’s not finished yet.

After the Blues Lounge closes at 3:30 on Monday morning Marc hops over to The SILC Zone to do the last two hours until it all finishes at 6:30 just before breakfast. No wonder that Marc and Rachel are so well regarded in the world of Ceroc. (Posted Wednesday am 30 August)

Sunday Night is Fancy Dress Night

Ceroc franchises have long had a tradition of putting on themed fancy dress freestyles at regular intervals, and so it’s not surprising that Sunday night at Southport is awash with fancy dress. Two organisations really go to town adding colour and hilarity to the proceedings. They are Jive Teddy from The Wirral and my own local Ceroc Heaven crowd from Nottingham, Lincs and South Yorkshire.

Jive Teddy’s theme’s have included characters from The film Grease, Hello Sailor and in June they were all dressed as Policemen and Policewomen. In my review of June’s fancy dress night I felt compelled to ask the question ‘Was there ever a time when Policewomen wore short skirts, fishnet stockings and suspenders?’

Ceroc Heaven’s themes have included Minions, Hill Billies and in June we all dressed as Cubs, Brownies, Scouts or Girl Guides. This coming Southport the theme is Morris Men. Now every video I’ve seen of Morris Men dancing involves sticks being hit. I’m trying to imagine a whole group of Morris Men dancing to Justin Timberlake’s Can’t stop the feeling with sticks being smashed against each other. I can just see them all getting arrested by sexy policewomen.

Here’s one of my favourite fancy dress images from June. The Ceroc Heaven gang formed a conga. As it wandered around the amusement arcade a straggler met up with Jive Teddy himself. (Posted Wednesday night 30 August)

A Ceroc Facebook page you’ll find very interesting

Ceroc HQ create a Facebook page to support each of their Escape Weekenders, and the image above is from the current Ceroc Splash Southport 2017 Page (see link below). The page is full of information about the weekend and its open for anyone to join the discussion.

Right now some of the most popular postings are about the availability of wrist bands and accommodation that people have for sale. You’ll also see people asking for and offering lifts, as well as people advertising wellbeing activities.

This page is also a great place to show you excitement as the big day approaches. In June people were posting selfies of themselves starting their journeys, and were also helpfully posting traffic reports as they made their way along the network of motorways that lead to Southport.

The best thing about this page is that, come the weekend, you can post your own comments in real time about the great time you’re having, and when its all over there is a facility to review the event and add your own comments. In June the event got a 4.8 (out of 5) Star Rating with 136 people giving it a 5 Star review. Not surprising really because it was one of the best. (Posted Wednesday pm 30 August)

Sunday night is going to be awesome again

Back in June, dancing on the Sunday night in the main Thunderball was one of the best Southport nights I can remember. Every night, at every Southport, the atmosphere in the Thunderball Room is amazing but this particular night it was something special.

For me Sunday night is always the best. It doesn’t have the slow build up of Friday night and there are no interruptions like on Saturday night, when the Cabaret quite rightly takes precedence. On Sunday the dancing kicks off at 8:00 and it doesn’t stop for seven and a half hours.

In June my dance pals and I hit the main room about ten, and it was already in full flow with DJ Mark O’Reilly on the decks. I quickly settled myself in and, with my iPad fully charged, set myself up to live blog from the dance floor. My first posting that night was a comment that the floor was lovin’ one of Mark’s selections – Sylvester’s You make me feel (Mighty real). 

Next up was Roy Blewitt and I remember sensing that the room was really starting to rock. I posted this view from behind Roy’s decks with the caption ‘This is what a rockin’ dance floor looks like’.

DJs Tim, Hayley and Tiggerbabe set the room on fire

DJ Roy Blewitt had set it up nicely for DJs Tim Sant, Hayley Epps and Tiggerbabe to each set the dance floor on fire. Tim’s first track had me posting another live comment ‘He kicks off with a thumping track I’ve wanted to modern jive to for years – Gloria Gaynor’s Never can say goodbye. Fabulous start Tim.’

The music for the next three hours was the best I have ever danced to. I can not remember being so absorbed by the sounds I was hearing. Track after track provided another great dance. Half way through Tiggerbabe’s cracking set I posted the following passage live on to my blog.

‘Can this night really keep getting better. The answer is yes. Tiggerbabe (real name Sheena) is next up, and I’m lovin’ every one of her picks. Top track is the second of Soul Brother Edwin Starr’s monster ’70s hits Contact. This track lights up the floor, and still it gets better with the follow up – Blondie’s thumping Atomic.’ 

By two thirty I’m danced out. I’ve had more than my money’s worth. I’m somewhat shattered but I’m a very happy bunny. As I walk past the stage I shout up to Tiggerbabe as she hands over to DJ Jon Gammon. ‘You were on fire’. I wonder if Sheena remembers me staggering past. I’m sure she’ll remember just how awesome she and her fellow DJs were that night, and right now I reckon they are all putting together more cracking playlists to ensure that Sunday’s finale is as awesome as it was in June. I can’t wait.

To read my review of Tim Sant’s awesome set from this night, please follow the link

6:30 am The Traditional Survivors Group Photograph

I’ll finish my preview of September’s Southport by featuring another of the great traditions that have woven themselves in to the fabric of this amazing weekender.

DJ Marc Forster always does the last session in the SILC Zone (previously known as The Blues Room), which ends at 6:30 on the Monday morning. It seems that after the last track is played a ‘Survivors’ Group Photo is taken. I found this photo of the June Survivors on the Ceroc Scorch Facebook Page.

I note from the programme, that this time, there will also be a photo taken of the survivors in the main Thunderball Room after Jon Gammon finishes his set at 3.30. Sadly I’ll be at the After Party with the Dance Gang back in one of the chalets. When the second Survivors photo is taken at 6.30 I’ll be fast asleep! (Posted Thursday 31 August)

To see the very latest posting on the Ceroc Splash Page please follow the link

To read my diary of the June Southport Weekender please follow the link