Confident of a good night out

Saturday night saw me heading down the M69 towards the iDance Freestyle at the Co-operative Club in Nuneaton. Freestyles had only started at this venue in September last year, but I was quietly confident that this would be a busy venue. The reason for my confidence was that back in January I had attended an iDance class night at Wythall Hall (see link below). It had been very well attended and I was particularly impressed how late everyone stayed considering it was mid-week and pretty cold outside.

A great network of classes and freestyles

I have said many times that without a network of classes the freestyle scene will wither. It needs a constant supply of new people to maintain the vibrancy of this wonderful dance scene. Ian Selby, who runs iDance, is doing more than his fair share to sustain freestyles by running four classes across The West Midlands.

I’m not sure if Ian teaches at all the lessons, but if he does he must be a very busy man. Monday sees lessons at Leamington Spa, Tuesdays is The Wythall Park class night, and on Wednesdays Ian runs classes at Evesham. Thursdays was a day off, but he now runs classes at Nuneaton! If that isn’t a big enough work load Ian runs Freestyles at all four venues. Ian’s commitment to modern jive doesn’t stop there as his Evesham freestyles – at the rowing club overlooking a particularly beautiful spot on the River Avon (see pic below) – takes place on Sundays. No rest day then!

A commitment that is rewarded with loyalty

Ian’s commitment, quite rightly, has been rewarded with loyalty, and he has built quite a following in The West Midlands. I’m increasingly interested in how modern jive businesses promote themselves, and can’t help but look at their Facebook activity. Ian has an iDance Facebook Group in which he communicates constantly with his customers. What particularly impresses me is the positive feedback he gets back.

Here are some of the comments from just the last two weeks:

  • Usual top night at Wythall tonight. Gonna be a great weekend with Nuneaton on Saturday and Evesham on Sunday
  • Great music all night at Leamington & wonderful dancing – thanks to all involved
  • Thanks Ian and all the lovely people at Nuneaton tonight. You have lifted my spirit and made me smile  so much
  • I’m coming home today. I’ve really missed dancing with everyone on Monday evenings at Leamington Spa

Facebook is a wonderful thing when it allows us to be part of a shared activity. Not everyone feels comfortable to write comments, but those four postings received 41 Likes too. That’s a lot off interaction, and it sends a very positive vibe to people who might be considering coming to a lesson or a freestyle. One of the reasons I was so confident about Saturday night was that I had read these comments for myself.

A suggestion if I may

The impressive Facebook interaction is a mark of the goodwill Ian has built up, but I’m going to dare to make a suggestion. People love seeing pictures of themselves having fun. We all have cameras on our phones, and I wonder if Ian might encourage people to post photographs of the dance nights. Some organisations actually have designated people taking pictures. These images get tagged and shared on Facebook, and have a real promotional valuable . People see their friends having fun dancing on Facebook and then want to join a class themselves.

This is a sizeable venue

The dance floor at the Co-operative Club is an impressive size and it also has plenty of seating round the perimeter that provides for good social interaction. This Freestyle also had a second room which was set up for Blues and Chill Out Music. Quite a sizeable venue then, and one that needed a large number of dancers to give it an atmosphere.

It’s only my own guess, but I estimated there must have been over 120 people there – more than enough to create a warm vibe. Not bad considering this was only the fourth freestyle held here since September. I suspect people had travelled from all Ian’s West Midlands venues, but I also recognised a whole bunch of people from Leicester.

A great night needs some great music

I knew from my visit to Wythall Park that the music was going to be good, and it was. Ian shared the DJing with Lilley Duffield and they served up a mixture of music from different genres. They played some of the current chart tracks, like Calvin Harris’s This Is What You Came For, but pleasingly there wasn’t too much reliance on these type of tracks. This gave the two DJs plenty of time to treat us to some different styles of music.

One standout track was Jack Savoretti’s Back where I belong. I love this track and I’m surprised that it’s not heard more extensively. The track has a strong beat, overlaid with some great guitar work, which gives a real funky feel – smile on my face time.

Classics we love hearing time and time again

There is a list of classic tracks that are guaranteed to please the dance floor, and Ian and Lilly dipped in to these throughout the night. The up-tempo remix of Kenny G’s Havana, Agnes’ Release me, Michael Nantel’s Tango and Zucchero ‘s Bacco Perbacco are personal favourites (I featured the thumping Zucchero track in my review of Tadcaster the night before if you want to hear it).

One track that is becoming a bit of a modern jive classic is the Craig David version of Stevie Wonder’s Signed, sealed, delivered. In 2010 Craig David made an album of mainly Motown covers. Seven years on Signed, sealed, delivered is getting a lot of plays, and I love its hi-energy production.

Ian’s own finds impress me

Those of us who dance regularly will never be satisfied with the same old same old. Its no easy gig for a DJ when the room is packed with dancers who know their music, and I recognised quite a few modern jive junkies out on the floor. Nobody was moaning as Ian and Lilly served up loads of great new music.

Justin Timberlakes Can’t stop the feeling has been a great favourite on the modern jive scene for a while now, but Ian found a remix by Boge that really impressed me. The original version has had nearly half a Billion YouTube hits – the remix Ian played has had only three thousand, but it’s just wonderful to dance to – just love the chilled out intro and the altogether funkier production.

Friendly faces make a great night of dancing

Recognising a whole lot of people from Leicester, meant I could quickly relax and enjoy my dancing, but you can’t spend the whole night dancing with only people you know. No problem, because there were lot of friendly faces, and everybody was asking everybody else to dance. I use every opportunity to ask people what they think of a venue, and the feedback was very positive. One of my dance friends from Derby was particularly complimentary and I noticed he got more than his fair share of dances.

The room is rocking to some great music

DJs have to keep trying out new things and sometimes they don’t work as well as they hope. I have to say that I don’t remember having any difficult tracks to dance to, and I suspect that everyone was pleased with the music selection, as the dance floor was full until quite late. That Ian is a dance teacher as well as a DJ helps has obviously helped him build a reputation for his music choice. There are lots of great tracks I’d love to feature, but I’ve chosen two that show the great music variety on offer.

Slipping in a slightly faster track is never a bad thing, but some tracks can be a little too fast for modern jive. Testify by Hifi Sean featuring Crystal Waters is just perfect for a more energised dance and I loved it.

Mellow tracks rock the main room too

Boom Boom Ba by Metisse is a much mellower track, but it’s this contrast in musical tempos that keep the dancers interested out on the floor. I don’t remember hearing this before, but I was able to quickly connect to its wonderful laid back beat. Lovely track – great find Ian.

Apologies to Morris in The Blues Room

As I mentioned earlier, this freestyle also had a Blues Room, where Morris Rodham was playing the tracks. I’m not that comfortable in a Blues Room setting, so I only really popped my head round the corner. Apologies then to Morris for not reviewing his music. I understand that this was the first time Nuneaton had featured a Blues room and from my brief visit to this room I sensed that it had the right ambience for chilled out music and I suspect that it will steadily attract a growing number of Blues dancers.

Having fun in the Main Room

I suppose one of the reasons I didn’t spend anytime real in the Blues Room, was because I was having too much fun in the Main Room. The music really was top drawer, and I’ll illustrate that by featuring another track that lent itself to some real fun dancing. Katy Perry has given us lots of pleasure on the dance floor over recent years, and Chained to the rhythm featuring Skip Marley is one of the best. This Kue remix has a thumping bass, that when it kicked in, put an extra big smile on my face. Lots of ‘Big Smile’ moments make a freestyle for me.

Best dance of the night

I’ve got into the habit of declaring my ‘Best Dance of The Night’. They are usually hi-energy tracks from my favourites list, but they also owe a lot to whether my dance partner shares my joy of the track. Only last week I posted an article on Dario G’s Sunchyme (see link below). This is a well loved modern jive track that lends itself to joyous dancing, and my partner seemed to make the same uplifting connection with the music as myself. A great moment in a great night of dancing.

This venue’s reputation will grow

The Co-operative Club, with its two rooms, can probably hold two hundred people comfortably. I have no doubt that its reputation will grow and that it could possibly reach those kind of numbers quite quickly. I shall have no problem recommending it to my Nottingham dance friends, and hopefully if there is nothing on locally, a whole bunch of us will make the trip down in the future.

On behalf of a lot of happy people can I extend a warm thank you to Ian and Lilly for the great music. This was a very friendly venue and I shouldn’t forget to thank the ladies for all the lovely dances.

For more info please follow the links below:

Wythall Park: My review of the Wythall Park Class Night

Sunchyme: My posting about Dario G’s Sunchyme – the track that gave me my best dance of the night.