17 tracks give a flavour of the music

Back in October, I went on my first Dance Road Trip since Lockdown.  The trip was planned around an invite to visit the first Perth Party Night since dancing reopened in Scotland.  To make my trip worthwhile, I called in at a freestyle in Ormskirk on the way there and stayed on in Scotland to visit two class nights in Glasgow and Dundee.  You can read my article based on my trip by following the link below.

As I visited the four venues, I was struck by the differences in the music offerings.  I’ve long noted that every DJ has their own way of putting their playlists together.  They have their own favourite tracks but they are also tuned in to the tracks that their local dancers like and which consequently fill the dance floor.  This article aims to give a flavour of the different music I danced to and also provides a snapshot of the tracks DJs were playing at the time of my visit.

I know that many people read my blog to find out the names of the tracks they are dancing to.  Hopefully, the seventeen tracks I’ve picked out will do just that but at the same time give details of some of the new and different music out there.  I love delving into the history and production of the music we dance to, so I’ve dug around to find some details I hope you’ll find interesting.

DJ Andy kicks off my Road Trip

My Dance Road Trip kicks off at Jive Sensation’s Ormskirk Civic Hall freestyle, with DJ Andy Sutton on the decks.

1: Love again (Imanbek remix) Dua Lipa

Andy mixed in many of the current new releases in his playlist.  I’ve picked out Love again by Dua Lipa because I’ve yet to feature it in my blog and it has a link to my home town of Derby.  The track is a typical Dua dance track full of energy and so easy to connect with.  While this track might not have the longevity of some of her previous releases, eight weeks after Andy played it I’m still enjoying fabulous dances to it.

The track has a very distinguished instrumental sample that I instantly recognised but just couldn’t put my finger on.  After some digging around in the YouTube comments, I realised the sample is from White Town’s 1997 No 1 hit Your woman.  This track was recorded in White Town’s Jyoti Mishra’s home studio in a suburb of my home town Derby.

Further research on Wikipedia shows that Jyoti lifted the riff from the 1932 song My woman by Lew Stone and his Monseigneur Band.  When you listen to this track you realise the riff is a muted trumpet.  Just goes to show how modern-day record producers search through the music vaults to find these gems to sample.  I’m not sure which version Andy played but the Imanbek remix is, I think, the best dance version.

2: Rack ’em up – Jonny Lang

DJ Andy mixed a few hi-energy Rock ‘n’ Roll style tracks into his playlist.  I’ve picked out Rack ’em up by Jonny Lang because it’s a rock track that several DJs include in their playlists and I’ve enjoyed some wonderful energised dances to it in the past.  Having said that many DJ’s, especially those that concentrate on contemporary music, avoid using these Rock ‘n’ Roll inspired tracks.

I feel there is a place for tracks like Rack ’em up in any playlist as they help keep the music interesting for the dancers.  The best playlists pull from lots of different music genres and it’s worth remembering that the DJ has to try to please all the people out on the dance floor.  For all my enjoyment of chilled music, I love the opportunity to let rip with a full-on jive track like this once in a while.

3: Dancing in the moonlight – Jubel featuring NEIMY

This track by Swedish duo Jubel was first released in 2018 but failed to get noticed in the UK.  It was re-released in 2020 and made the British charts.  DJs must have been dying for the return of dancing to play it and that explains why it’s been one of the biggest new sounds since we returned to dancing.  This track works well because it has a more relaxed and danceable beat than the Toploader 2000 version we have all danced to in the past.  Add in a great modern production and instrumentation and I suspect this track will be filling the dance floors for some time.

I have always thought that Toploader’s worldwide hit was the original version but it seems theirs was a cover too.  The track was first released in 1970 by Boffalongo but only became a hit when it was recorded by French- American band King Harvest in 1972.  I’ll be featuring another fabulous Jubel reworking later in this article.

4: Fuoco Nel Fuoco – Eros Ramazzotti

We all know this track but I bet few people bar the DJ knows what it’s called.  This Latin style track, from 2000 by Italian musician, singer and songwriter Eros Ramazzotti, translates from the Italian as Fire on fire.  I do wonder how this track – not one of Ramazzotti’s most famous – came to be such a Modern Jive and Ceroc classic.  One of my future projects is to create a Ceroc & Modern Jive Classic Volume 3 and this track needs to be included.  I’ll try to find out who first played it.

I can’t say it’s one of my favourites but it seems lots of other people love it and that’s why it remains so popular.  It is one of a group of tracks in Italian that have become favourites on the Modern Jive & Ceroc dance floors.  Two others are Baila Morena and Bacco perbacco from fellow Italian Zucchero.  All these songs add to the richness of the music we dance to, a richness that never ceases to amaze me as it did throughout my road trip.

DJ Nicola delights in Perth

I’m a great fan of Ceroc Perth’s DJ Nicola Meechan di Folco, having reviewed her playlists many times.  They always create a great buzz on the dance floor and Nicola’s music did so again at the party night held at The Salutation Inn in Perth.

5: California dreaming – Freischwimmer

I first heard this reworking of The Mamas & The Papas classic when Nicola took to the decks in The Thunderball Room at Southport.  I thought then what a great fresh sound it was and I’m not surprised that Nicola has kept it in her set.  The song is a great example of the relaxed Tropical House genre of music that now provides so much material for both main room and chill-out room DJs.

So what is Tropical House? I hear you say.  I’ll keep the answer as simple as possible.  Firstly it’s a subgenre of House Music the style that grew out of Chicago in the ’80s where DJs started remixing classic disco songs to give them a more mechanical beat with deeper basslines.  This movement also started the sampling of drum beats and instrumental fills and layering in electronically synthesised effects.   The result was the flowering of EDM (Electronic Dance Music) which gave new life to dance music after the demise of disco.

The slightly slower Tropical House music, with its use of so-called tropical instruments – steel drums, marimba, saxophone and even pan pipes – was popularised in the mid-2010s by artists such as Kygo and Robin Schulz.  Think of Kygo’s 2013 remix of Ed Sheeran’s I see fire or Felix Jaehn’s 2015 remix of Sheeran’s Photograph.  Freischwimmer is a German DJ and record producer who also got the dance floor rocking with his Tropical House remix of the Motown classic Ain’t no mountain high enough featuring the vocals of Dionne Bromfield.  Another fabulous dance track that Nicola was quick to pick up on.

6: Money for nothing – CREW 7

One result of the House Music boom, with its electronic effects and pumped up basslines, was to create what I have termed Club Anthems.  Many of these hi-octane tracks have found their way onto the Ceroc & Modern Jive dance floor.  The most famous of these being Safri Duo’s Played alive AKA The Bongo song.  Nicola always finds room for these energised anthems in her playlist and one of her favourites and mine is Feeling it too by The 3 Jays.

To my great delight, Nicola served up a remix of a track that I had never thought of as a club classic.  But that was before it got remixed and layered with a thumping bass and synthesised instrumentation.  The track is a remix of Dire Straits Money for nothing by Crew 7 and as I write this I’m listening to it full blast on my headphones.  I remember recognising the intro and thinking I would give it a miss, but then as the bass dropped I knew I had to find a partner.  As so often is the case I got lucky with my partner and enjoyed the most fabulous energised dance.  Loved it, Nicola.

7: Feel it still – Revelries & Henri Purnell

One of the big dance hits before Lockdown was Feel it still by Portugal. The Man.  I thought this original version was a little too fast and was pleased that many of the DJs started playing a slightly slower remix by French DJ duo Ofenbach.  On a pre-lockdown visit to Perth, Nicola played this even smoother version.  It has all the hallmarks of a chilled Tropical House remix and I instantly took to it.

Nicola is of course both a main room and chill-out DJ.  The very first time I reviewed her music was a late-night session in the SILC Zone at Southport.  Ever since I’ve noted how she finds some super chill-out vibes and this version of Feel it still is a great example of how Nicola is always on the lookout for these delicious tracks suited to a smooth dance.

Because Nicola constantly finds space for these chilled tracks in her main room playlists, her dancers have adapted a smoother slotted style of dancing to do justice to them.  Needless to say, I enjoyed a lovely dance to this chilled version of a track that started life as something quite different.

8: On the beach – Jubel

On the beach is the second track by Swedish duo Jubel in this listing and I suspect we are going to hear a lot more of their Tropical House productions.  I have danced to the original version of this track by Chris Rea but it wasn’t until I heard this reworking that I realised that Rea’s version, lovely though it is, wasn’t quite suited to dancing.

There is no doubt that dance music as a genre is growing again and record producers are ensuring that their tracks find a dance audience.  It’s the reason that DJs have so much music to pick from.  What I like about Nicola’s music, though, is that she strikes the balance between the freshness of contemporary releases and the Ceroc classics and favourites that we also love dancing to.

9: Do me like a drug – Emmanuel Franco

During the long days of Lockdown, DJs like Nicola were still looking out for tracks that they knew their dancers would love dancing to.  Do me like a drug by Emmanuel was one such track that Nicola tells me she couldn’t wait to play.  I mentioned above that I first came across Nicola as a SILC Zone DJ and I suspected she would end her set with a chill-out vibe.  I wasn’t to be disappointed as she featured two very popular chill-out tracks, Tone Damli’s 40 years and Daddy was a Milkman’s Breathe in.

It was into the final twenty-minute chill-out session that Nicola slipped in Do me like a drug.  This track is a lot earthier than the previously mentioned tracks, which are by contrast rather pretty.  The beat is a lot funkier for a start and there are elements of blues to be detected in its structure.

The week after my trip to Scotland I was dancing in the chill-out room at Daventry.  My partner couldn’t help commenting on the gentle track we were dancing to.  ‘This is a bit of a dull track.’  ‘Oh?  ‘There’s nothing happening.  Nothing to work with.’

I saw what she meant.  The track had a lovely gentle beat but little change of tempo or feeling.  That’s what makes Do me like a drug such a standout track as it gives you something to connect with – something to work with!  Sadly Nicola wasn’t at Southport back in September.  I just hope she gets a chance to play the SILC Zone again in February and serve up more of her great chill-out finds.

DJ Billy rocks the floor in Glasgow

DJ Billy Cullen is the DJ who rocks the main hall at the much-loved Warmwell Weekender and he served up a great mix when I visited his class night at Pollokshaws’ Burgh Halls.

10: Cold heart – Elton John and Dua Lipa

As I travel around the country, I can’t help noticing a subtle difference between Ceroc and LeRoc playlists.  As a general rule, the Ceroc DJs have slowed the pace down a little and mixed in more of the contemporary chill-out tracks.  That was certainly the case when I compared Nicola’s set with Billy’s but that’s not to say that the dancers at Pollokshaws didn’t love Billy’s music.  The place was packed and Billy had the floor rocking right up to the last track.

The first of Billy’s tracks I’m going to feature was one that I heard at all the stops on my road trip.  It’s a track that seems perfect for Modern Jive and Ceroc dancing and though I hear it at every venue I dance at, I still find myself wanting to dance to it and wish it could go on a little longer.

The track is of course Cold heart by Elton John and Dua Lipa but credit should be given to the Australian production team of PNAU who mashed together four of Elton John’s hits Rocket manSacrificeKiss the bride and Where’s the Shoorah?  The joy of this track is the wonderfully gentle beat that PNAU so cleverly underpinned the vocals with.

11: Miss Grace – The Tymes

What I love about Billy is how he’ll visit every decade to give his playlists a richness that I love.  From the ’80s he dug out Modern Romance’s Best years of our lives, and from the ’90s the club anthem Sing hallelujah by Dr Alban.  He made several journeys into the ’70s digging out If you could read my mind by Stars on 54 but I’m going to feature a ’70s track that brought back great memories of my disco dancing days, The Tymes Miss Grace.

The disco classics from the ’70s offer DJs a rich vein of great dance music.  By the mid-seventies, the Motown Sound of Detroit had been overtaken by the Sound of Philadelphia.   So many of these so-called Philly Sound tracks, produced in the Sigma Sounds studio in Philadelphia, have found a permanent place on DJs’ playlists.  The O’Jay’s Love train, The Trammps Disco inferno and Hold Back the night and McFadden and Whitehead’s Ain’t no stopping up now are all played regularly.

I can’t confirm that Miss Grace was recorded in Philadelphia but it has all the hallmark sounds of the sound that came out of that great musical city.  Miss Grace has a lovely relaxed beat and it’s no surprise that it occasionally finds its way into DJs’ playlists and Billy used it to take the foot off the gas after a run of upbeat tracks.  Thanks for the memories, Billy.

12: What a wonderful world – Music Travel Love

There is no doubt that the general tempo of Billy’s music for his Glasgow class was more faithful to the tempo of the music that is associated with the flowering of Modern Jive back in the late ’80s.  I talked with Billy at the recent Warmwell Weekender about the changing tempo of the music we dance to.  He was very aware of the movement to slightly lower BPMs (beats per minute) but pointed out that Glasgow has a very strong Swing and Rock ‘n’ Roll culture.  There is even a very popular fusion of these two dance styles called Glasgow Jive which Billy needs to tap into with the occasional Rock ‘n’ Roll infused track.

Having said that, Billy found time for some more relaxed tracks and one that made a great impression on me was a simple acoustic version of Sam Cooke’s What a wonderful world by duo Music Love Travel.  This is one beautiful song and hat’s off to Billy for giving it a spin and allowing his dancers to enjoy a gentle chilled dance.  Billy also played Celene Dion’s gentler I’m alive which gave me one of the best dances of my road trip.  You can read about this and other dances on my road trip by reading the sister article (see link below).

13: Liquid spirit (Claptone Remix)  – Gregory Porter

To finish my selection of Billy’s music, I’ve got to feature a track I’ve loved from when it first hit the Modern Jive dance floor in 2015, the funked-up remix of Gregory Porter’s Liquid spirit.  This is a great example of how recorder producers can take a non-dance track and by changing the underlying beat make it perfect for the Modern Jive and Ceroc dance floor.

When you listen to the original you do wonder how anyone saw the potential in this song as a dance anthem.  The only thing that remains from the original mix, that I can detect, is the jazzed-up piano.  There’s non of the funked-up vibe and heavy bass line that gives this track its dance floor energy that is so easy to connect with.  Even though this track is six years old something tells me it’s going to be funking up the dance floor for some time.

Another wonderful mix of music in Dundee

DJ Sheena Assiph serves up another contrasting playlist at the Dundee Social Club Ceroc class night.

14: Waiting for tonight – Jennifer Lopez

Dancing at four different venues over just six days made me realise just how diverse DJ playlists are.  It shouldn’t be any other way as it offers dancers who travel around, like myself, a freshness that keeps us excited on the dance floor.  Sheena’s playlist at Dundee was as different again and mixed in were some real gems.  Like Nicola, Sheena is a veteran of the Thunderball Room and SILC Zone at Southport and I have reviewed her music many times and just before Lockdown, I voted her chill-out set at The Ceroc Aberdeen Weekender one of my best of the year.

Sheena’s playlist was, without doubt, the most contemporary of the four, packed with well-loved tracks from the last five years and all the current new favourites including Elton John & Dua Lipa’s Cold heart, The Weeknd’s Take my breath and Ed Sheeran’s Bad habits.  Mixed into these were some classic oldies including Waiting for tonight by Jennifer Lopez.

This is a track I knew but didn’t realise that it was Jennifer Lopez.  It comes from her 1999 debut album and was responsible for launching her into the heights of the pop-dance music genre.  Waiting for tonight has an energised Latin infused beat that drives the song along and many consider it her best dance recording to date.  Ceroc dancers, though, might vote instead for Let’s get loud from the same album which has become a massive Ceroc and Modern Jive favourite and featured in Billy Cullen’s Glasgow playlist.

15: The tears of a clown – Smokey Robinson and The Miracles

One of the joys of my previous travels around Scotland has been the Two-room party nights at the Albert Halls in Stirling.  Here the second room is used for an hour of Tango and then an hour of Motown & Soul, before switching to chill-out music.  Sheena has always DJed this room and during her middle set has shown a great knowledge of the Motown back catalogue. Not surprising then that she dropped a Motown classic into the freestyle session of the class.

In between her modern tracks, Sheena occasionally delved into the dance music archives and one of the tracks she picked out was Smokey Robinson’s Tears of a clown.  This is one of Motown’s biggest hits but it took a while to get recognised.  It was first released in 1967 but failed to make an impression in the US or UK, though club DJs picked up on it.  It was rereleased in The UK in 1970 and went to No 1.  This prompted it to be re-issued in The US where it also rose to the top of the charts.

While I’ve been a great fan of the song, even using it to try and mend my teenage broken heart, I never considered it worthy of inclusion into a Motown & Soul sets.  I always thought there were better songs.  How wrong had I been?  The track is so danceable and it provided me with a high point in my evening of dancing at Dundee.

16: Some Say – Nea

Sheena has wonderful chill-out credentials and I was interested to see if she would play a new-to-me track for a smooth slotted dance.  Sheena didn’t disappoint and served up Some say by Nea.  This is a delicious gentle track that is layered with contemporary production effects.  These are easily picked out when listening on headphones, as I do when I write, but I do wonder whether I appreciated them as I enjoyed a relaxed dance.  It’s the reason why it’s great when a track gets picked up by several DJs and you get to hear it regularly.

The track was only released before lockdown and it didn’t have a chance to gain any traction.  Hopefully, it will become one of those tracks that get plenty of plays in chill-out venues.  Listen out for the bridge between the verse and chorus.  You sense the vibe of the track is changing and it morphs into a lyrically gorgeous chorus.  Remember the lady I was dancing with at Daventry.  Something tells me she would appreciate the contrasting passages of this track.

17: Pantera – Anitta

This is one of those contemporary Latin tracks that I think I’ve danced to before but just can’t be certain.  It’s from the soundtrack of the 2019 Charlie’s Angels film and released in October 2019 as a promotion in the run-up to the film’s release.  The film was considered a flop but this track has some longevity.  Co-written and performed by Brazilian megastar Anitta, Pantera is one of those foreign language tracks that somehow crosses over to the Ceroc and Modern Jive dance floor.

I know when these Latin tracks come on, they can inspire some people to try a little tango.  Quite a number of dancers make the move from Ceroc to Tango.  Not surprising really when you think that Ceroc draws some of its moves and styling from Argentine Tango.  Having said that Pantera is easily danced to with the standard Ceroc moves and it provided a nice contrast to the music played before and after.  Proof once again as to how the best DJs mix their music up to keep us interested out on the floor.

The variety is what keeps us interested

The sheer variety of the music I danced to over these four nights is something that impressed me.  I have long thought that this mix of music genres is something that adds to the vitality of our wonderful dance scene and that the best DJs ensure that there is variety in their playlists whether they are main room or chill-out settings.

There are lots of dancers, like myself, who travel around between venues and they, like me, appreciate the variety – it keeps us interested and sometimes hearing something new or different can enhance our dancing enjoyment.  This was certainly the case on my road trip as I heard lots of fresh music and had so many fabulous dances.

Enjoy another dance fix with my novel

If you enjoy reading my dance blogs, I’m sure you’ll love reading my novel, Would you like to dance?.  It tells the story of how Ellie and her friends discover the joy that is partner dancing and finds the confidence to enter an amateur dance competition.  The story is full of the excitement and passion that I feel dancing and I’m sure many people will recognise themselves in the ten characters that make up Ellie’s Newbie Dance Gang.

Why not visit the website I’ve designed to support the novel.  It is packed with background information on how I came to write Ellie’s story and reviews from the people who have already enjoyed it.  You’ll also find whole sections dedicated to the joy that is Modern Jive dancing including photo galleries and videos showing the fun we all have on the dance floor.  Simply click on the image below and you’ll be taken straight there or click this link and go straight to the Amazon book store where you can download it.

Related Links

My Scottish Dance Road Trip