Paul, don’t forget The Boudoir

I guarantee you that, when it comes to picking my Top Ten Southport highlights the Thunderball Room is going to dominate.  There’ll be references to the intense club like vibe on the floor, and try and stop me using the phrase ‘The DJ set the floor on fire’.   There’ll be plugs for all my favourite DJs and the massive tracks they play, but there’s more to Ceroc Southport Weekender than The Thunderball Room.

For a start there’s the Boudoir (Queen Vic) areas – AKA The SILC Zone.  If the Thunderball Room will feature some of the hottest main room DJs, then the much smaller Boudoir, with its more cosy feel, will showcase the talents of some of the best from the Smooth, SILC and Blues Circuit.

More importantly The Boudoir has a massive following, and there are people who spend their entire weekend dipping in and out of here to dance to their favourite music.

The Programme is packed with variety

I’ve had a detailed look through the programme, and there is in fact a lot more than just smooth tunes suited to SILC, West Coast Swing and Blues.  There is of course the not to be missed Swingers Hour on both Saturday and Sunday afternoons, and Funk fans will not want to miss Vince Silva’s legendary Funk Hour.   I also spotted another session that might achieve its own legendary status – a Motown and Soul Hour.

With so much on offer I thought I’d pick out a few things that caught my eye, and embed some music, in the hope that it will give you a taster of the dancing delights in store for everyone in this more intimate area.

It kicks off at 3:00 but they’ve sacked the DJ!

Only joking – it’s just my way of introducing the first dance session of the weekend.  The whole thing kicks off at three on Friday afternoon with the DJ version of ‘Open Mike’ slots (dubbed Sack The DJ), where budding DJs get a chance to showcase their own playlists.  I suspect there may be a few professional DJs who get a slot hoping to impress, but who ever these people are, they are good.

These sessions also fill Saturday and Sunday mornings and it’s difficult sometimes to tell the difference between the listed DJs and the people who book the thirty minute ‘Open Deck’ slots.  I remember turning up early for Swingers Hour in September, and caught the end of one of these sets.  The DJ played one of my favourite laid back tunes of last year – Shaggy’s Good times roll.

Dancing in the slot to chilled music

I remember coming to my first ever Southport and watching in awe at the dancers in The Boudoir.  On show was a type of dancing I’d never really seen before.  Here were people dancing in what I know now as The Slot – straight up and down the floor.  This was long before the SILC technique had been created, and I suspect that what I was watching a lot of the time was West Coast Swing.

What made it seem more alien to me was that it was danced to slower paced music with moves I had no knowledge of, and I could do no more than watch opened mouthed.   Of course you don’t have to dance in this slotted style, but at the time my repertoire of mainly beginners made me feel a little inadequate to say the least.

To give you an idea of just what I mean by this smooth slotted style of dancing, dip in to this video of the Ceroc teachers showcasing their skills during a Southport Cabaret spot.  Fast forward to 11 minutes 30 seconds where Caine Langford and Danielle Moore perform a routine that I can only marvel at.

I work hard at my slotted style

In the past year I’ve worked really hard to adopt a more slotted style of dancing, and interestingly I got it for the first time after I attended one of Caine and Danielle’s lesson’s at Southport last June (see link below).  I followed this up by attending Ashley Davis’ SILC in Six course of lessons over the summer.

Now I’m no Caine Langford, but at least I can now enjoy dancing to the delicious chilled music played in this area.  Here’s Pink Champagne by Nick Lopez, a track that I would never have dared dance to back then, but now I can just about get away dancing to it’s lovely chilled vibe.

Prepare to hear an amazing array of new music

Main Room addicts like myself will always hear a whole stack of exciting new music in a chill-out zone like The Boudoir, but what about the aficionados of the chill-out scene.  What of those people who spend every weekend in the second room at Modern Jive Freestyles, the types who spend seven hours  devouring Marc Forsters and Rachel Pears Chill-out playlist at Daventry, or the people who tour the country to venues where it’s chill-out music only all night.

These people know their Smooth and Blues tracks, but still they want to hear fresh new sounds over the Southport Weekend, and that’s the challenge for the roster of DJs that have the late night slots.  I was talking to one DJ that explained that he spent months preparing his Weekender playlist, and would be constantly testing the tracks in the run up to the big day.

A Boudoir slot is a big gig for these DJs and many come with a following.  They will be well prepared, and that’s why everyone can expect to go away having heard some amazing new tunes.  Of course I have no idea what tracks will be unveiled this time round, but here’s a track that got a lot of plays on the Chill-out circuit last year.  It’s Daddy was a Milk man with Breathe in.

I suspect Vince Silva’s SILC GOLD is one not to miss

I have to admit that I’m not qualified enough to pick out any of the late night slots as being the one’s not to miss, however every time I look at each new Southport programme for the Boudoir,  one slot gets extra billing – Vince Silva’s Saturday Midnight SILC GOLD slot.  I’ve no real idea why this slot gets its extra billing, but I suspect it has something to do with the fact Vince has built up quite a following over the years for playing the smooth tunes suited to SILC.

I was interested to find several complimentary comments on the Official Southport Weekender Facebook Page after September’s dance fest.  Here’s one from Denise that tells its own story:

For me the most epic set was Vince’s SILC GOLD set on Saturday night – awesome 

Perhaps it’s time I took a look, so I’ll pop in to the Boudoir on Saturday night.

Funk Hour is definitely one not to miss

I might not be qualified to pick out chilled sessions, but there is one Boudoir slot I will shout about from the roof tops.  Again its Vince Silva, but this time he has his Funkmaster hat on with sixty minutes of ’70s style funk.  Think James Brown’s Get up I feel like being a sex machine and then some, or Stevie Wonder finding his inner funk genius with Superstition and Higher Ground.  Vince mixes in some hard core funk with some of the more well known funk anthems.

So, if you’ll pardon the ’70s puns, it’s time to get down, and in the words of K C & The Sunshine Band, Shake your booty.  Here’s a remix by Funkstar Deluxe of James Brown’s Too funky in here to get you in the mood.  Be warned this track is seriously funky.

Vince mixes in some Classic ’70s Disco

What makes The Funk Hour so compelling is that Vince takes every body back to a time when dance music and dance clubs really came of age.  This is the time of the Philadelphia International record label that is often credited as creating the Disco Sound.  Tracks by The O’Jays, The Three Degrees and Harold Melvin and The Blue Notes dominated the charts and left a dance music legacy that modern day record producers still pay homage to.

Back in June of last year (see link below) Vince finished his set with the a classic disco track from that era – Van McCoy’s The hustle.  It was a joyous end to a wonderful journey back in time, and as the track faded out, the dancers burst in to a spontaneous round of applause.  I loved that track in the ’70s, and I loved it back in June, and as I write this preview, I’m lovin’ it all over again, as it plays through my head phones.

Immerse yourself in the Tropical House vibe

I’m always a little weary when it comes to describing modern dance music genres least I get it completely wrong, so bear with me while I make an attempt to describe a style of music that most Boudoir DJs dip in to.

Last summer DJ Ashley Davis kept playing a chilled out track at the Ceroc Heaven class night in Nottingham.  It took a while for it to register, but when it did I couldn’t help research the background to it on Wikipedia.  It was here that I came across the music genre Tropical House.  For those who might be less familiar with the genre, here’s what Wikipedia has to say about it – it’s a bit technical but I found it interesting:

Tropical House is a sub-genre of Deep House, which is itself a sub-genre of House Music.  Thus Tropical House possesses typical House Music characteristics, including synthesizer instrumentation, and a 4/4 kick drum pattern. Tropical House . . . can be described as having an uplifting and relaxing sound. 

The tempo of Tropical House songs is a little slower than Deep House at 110-115 bpm. Tropical house does not use the pumping compression effect of ‘big room’ Electronic House.  It usually includes tropical instruments such as steel drums, marimba, guitar, saxophone or even pan flute. . .

Hopefully you are still with me!  Here’s the track that sent me on my journey of discovery in Wikipedia.  Hopefully listening to the track with this background info will enhance your understanding of this very popular genre of chilled music, that will find its way in to many of the Boudoir sessions.

Late night Blues in the afternoon

For those who like their music soulful and bluesy, the late night Blues Lounge is the place to be.  Here Marc Forster and Rachel Pears indulge their audience in the very best of music suited to Modern Blues dancing.  But knowing that some people can’t wait until midnight to get their fix of blues music, the afternoon Boudoir DJs slip the odd blues track in to their mix.

Here’s one of my favourite blues tracks from last year – Undercover agent for the blues by Tina Turner.  I heard it at one of Marc and Rachel’s Daventry Chill Room sets.  As soon as you hear Tony Joe White’s lazy guitar intro you know you are in for a real blues ride.  I have no doubt that there’ll be plenty of equally soulfu tracks played in the afternoon sessions.

Bluesy Rock has its place too

Of course there are so many genres of Blues music.  Some tracks have more of a rock feel, with a slightly faster beat.  Here’s a track that has a lot more energy but would still find a place in The Boudoir.  I first heard this at The Engine Shed in Wetherby with DJ Kerry Bayley behind the decks.  Kerry played this track in the after midnight portion of her fabulous set.

Start it up by Robben Ford has more of a rock feel, and Robben’s blues guitar playing is a lot heavier than Tony Joe White’s in the Tina Turner track.  Listen out for the Hammond organ riff that gives the track its bluesy feel, and then loose yourself as Robben improvises on his guitar.  Listening to this track on headphones as I write makes me want to fast forward the clock to Friday afternoon.  It’s going to be wonderful.

A real Soul Boy Treat

When I first looked at The Boudoir programme, this time round, one slot leapt of the page.   There on Sunday at 2:30, after Swinger’s Hour, is the wording ‘Motown/Soul Tim Sant’.   Perhaps I should explain, for those that don’t know me, a little about my dance history.  The first time I went on to a dance floor Motown, or Tamla Motown as we knew it then, dominated the DJs playlists.

The first time I had my Soul Boy heart broken I tried to console it with The Isley Brothers This old heart of mine.  Don’t get me wrong I love contemporary dance music, but I hold a special place in my heart for the the soulful voices of the Motown dance hits.  Levi Stubbs, of the Four Tops, was in my opinion the greatest of these voices, and when I finally pass through the gates of the great disco in the sky I want to be greeted by the second greatest voice – Edwin Starr.

Motown and Soul are worth their place

I was particularly pleased to see Motown feature in the Boudoir programme, because I was so disappointed that there was no slot for it in September.  Prior to that I thought Chris Uren and John Baker had done really well with their Motown and Soul slots the previous February and June, considering they were hidden away in The Cyclone Room on Friday evening before the place filled up.

Having a Motown & Soul slot on Sunday afternoon, directly after Swingers Hour, gives Tim Sant a real opportunity to show just how popular this genre of dance music is.  So before I go any further, a big thank you to the Ceroc Top Brass for giving it another chance.

Tim Sant shows his Soul Boy credentials

Tim Sant is one hell of a main room DJ, and during previous Thunderball sets he’s proved his Soul Boy credentials.  In June last year I suddenly heard the distinctive intro to a track that had me back at The Nottingham Palais in the early ’70s.  This was a track that filled the dance floor in clubs across the Midlands and Northern England.

I doubt this track ever got a spin in London, where I suspect Tim got his own dance music induction, so I was very impressed that he gave it a spin.  The track was Billy Butler’s The Right Track.  Here’s hoping it gets another spin.

Can I have a couple of requests please?

I have no doubt that Tim will be able to put together a great set of Motown and Soul tracks but I’m still going to dare to request two top Motown tracks.  The first is one that already gets a lot of plays on the Ceroc Freestyle circuit, but just in case Tim’s not penciled it in can I please ask for Marvin Gaye’s Little darling (I need you).

The second is a track that is a dead cert on The Motown retro circuit, but surprisingly has yet to break through to main room Ceroc DJ playlists.  It was written by the great Motown song writing team of Holland, Dozier and Holland (they also wrote This old heart of mine) and originally recorded by The Four Tops, but it was the Barbara Randolph version that goes down a storm at Motown nights.

The Boudoir is remix Heaven

Since I’ve been reviewing DJ playlists it’s really come to my attention how many remixes are featured, and The Boudoir is a place to hear some wonderful new versions of well loved tracks.

Last year one of the big chill out tracks was Cut your teeth by Kyla La Grange, but the original seemed to get left behind once Kygo made his Tropical House remix of it.   Conversely Charlie Pugh’s Attention was a monster Ceroc track, but the version I really loved was an acoustic remix that I enjoyed in September when DJ Ashley Davis was on the decks.

I remember dancing to it outside on the veranda at somewhere around two in the morning.  Which reminds me – no Southport is complete unless you have to dance outside at two in the morning.  In the meantime here’s the acoustic version of Attention.

Recognition for Big Joe Turner

I can’t finish this taster article without mentioning Swingers Hour – the sixty minutes of ’40s Swing and ’50s Rock ‘n’ Roll.  There are two session – the Saturday afternoon one has Tiggerbabe on the decks and the Sunday one has Mike Ellard spinning the tracks.

Both DJs will set the floor on fire with their playlists and hopefully in amongst the rockin’ tracks will be some by Big Joe Turner.

Many people think that Bill Hayley or Elvis Presley created Rock ‘n’ Roll.  Nothing is further from the truth.  The beginnings of Rock ‘n’ Roll owes their origins to a series of black African-American R&B singers, who were sadly not deemed marketable for a white audience, and so their songs were covered by the likes of Hayley and Presley.

One such artist was Big Joe Turner, considered now, to be one of the fathers of Rock ‘n’ Roll.  It was Big Joe who sang the original version of Shake, rattle and roll.  Bill Hayley and The Comets hurriedly made a cleaned up version – they were advised to change the lyrics from ‘get out of bed’ to ‘get out of the kitchen’ – that soon out sold the Turner version.

What I love about Swingers Hour is that Tiggerbabe and Mike play the originals.  So here is the man himself singing the original and best version of Shake, rattle and roll.

That’s the taster – now for the real thing

That’s the taster sorted.  I hope it’s given you a flavour of the musical delights in store for you in The Boudoir area at this weekend’s Southport dance fest.  Having played all these tracks while I’ve been writing, I can’t wait for it all to get going on Friday.

If you want to say hello, I’ll be the guy losing himself to Marvin Gaye’s Little darling (I need you).  Though that depends on Tim playing it of course!

Related reviews

Your Top Ten Southport Must-do List

Swingers Hours February 2017

Motown & Soul February 2017

Motown and Northern Soul June 2017

SILC Zone February 2017