Ceroc Escape Weekenders are the best dance fun ever

Dance weekenders are the greatest fun, and Ceroc hold these three day dance fests at three venues across the country. Southport is without doubt the biggest and in many peoples opinion the best. I’ve been attending Southport for several years and in the run up to the June Scorch event I started writing a diary. I added to the diary every couple of days and increased the frequency of my postings as the big day approached.

Hopefully my diary gave a flavour of this mega dance weekend

With so much going on over the three days it was never going to be possible to record everything that was going on – my aim was only ever to give a flavour of the fun everyone was having. My diary was centred around the activities of my dance gang friends, a small group who travelled up from Nottingham to be part of the one hundred strong Ceroc Heaven contingent from The East Midlands and South Yorkshire. We shared three adjacent apartments and met up to share our dance floor stories after each night of freestyle dancing.

I live blog from the dance floor

Some readers, not present at the event, followed the diary in real time and to make them feel part of the weekender experience I live blogged on the Sunday night/Monday morning directly from the dance floor. While my friends drank copious amounts of Prosecco at each nights after-party, I sat in the corner of the chalet punching at my computer keyboard to keep my readers up to date.

The Directors Cut makes it an easier read

Reading the diary now, you would be actually reading it in reverse order, as the most recent comments were posted at the top of the diary. This Directors Cut starts at the moment on Friday afternoon when I and my friends set off and records the events in chronological order until we depart on the Monday morning. The diary was written very quickly to keep it up to date, so writing this less rushed version, has given me a chance to correct some of the typos and make the whole thing a much better read. I’ve also been able to gather and include some additional items that broaden the diary’s appeal.

The Ceroc Scorch Facebook Page

Ceroc ran an Official Scorch Facebook page throughout the weekend, and the postings on it were full of great pictures and comments. In this Directors Cut I’ve used a couple of these posting to fill out some of the gaps in my own diary of the weekends events.

First timers will get a real idea of what lies in store

It’s not long now until the September Weekender at Southport. I know that there will be many people going for the first time. I hope this record of the last gathering in June, will give these people a better idea of what fun lies ahead for them. Here then is my diary from June 2017.

Friday 9 June

2:00 pm Southport here we come

The car is packed and the level of anticipation is sky high. The journey will take about three and a half hours from Nottingham. For a lot of people the journey will be a lot longer, as people travel from as far afield as Cornwall, Kent and even Scotland. Many will be well on their way already. Sadly some of my dance friends couldn’t take the day off work, and so they won’t arrive until after the dancing has started. I know that people will be arriving right up to midnight – its not a problem – the dancing in the main room goes on until 4:30 in the morning.

4:30 pm There’s no stopping us now

Well the traffic on the M1 is doing its best to slow progress down, but our spirits are lifted by DJ Silly Boy Steve Wright on Serious Jockin’ (no g). First track is McFadden and Whitehead’s Ain’t no stopping us now. 

I’m a great fan of Serious Jockin’. It always puts me in the mood for dancing (wasn’t that the title of a Nolan Sisters song). The great tracks just keep coming – Get ready by The Temptations, Jump to the beat Stacy Lattishaw, and as I type this, in the passenger seat, Edwin Starr is singing H.A.P.P.Y Radio.

Perhaps I should email Steve right now. ‘Lovin the great dance tracks. Off to a dance weekender at Southport. There’ll be some Serious Ceroc-ing (no G)’ In the meantime here’s Edwin Starr.

 

6:27 pm People are coming from all points N, S, E & W

While we were in sight of Southport, hundred’s of people were still setting off from all corners of country. The Ceroc Scorch Facebook page had this wonderful posting by Lyndsey Bennett as she started her journey from Barry in South Wales.

Lyndsey is one of the fantastic group of teachers involved in the comprehensive programme of lessons, that run across the entire weekend. Lyndsey ran two classes to prepare people for The Swingers Hour and ran the Double Trouble class that I had so much fun in on Sunday afternoon (see item below).

7:00 pm The Dance Gang settle in

Traffic on the A1, M1 and M62 did its best to delay us, but we have all arrived. Now its time to unload the cars and get settled in. Everywhere there are familiar faces – friends from The East Midlands and friends we’ve made at previous weekenders. As we walked to the main entrance to check in, there were people already dancing on the terrace outside The Queen Victoria bar.

Our first date on the dance floor is at 9.00 with the Motown and Northern Soul Freestyle in the Cyclone Room. Hopefully we’ll have time for a bite to eat and do some catching up, before the fun starts in earnest.

9:00 pm Motown & Northern Soul Freestyle

The dancing kicks off, for me and my dance friends with a Motown and Northern Soul Fest in the Cyclone Room. Last year Chris Uren had spun the discs for the first ever Southport Motown Freestyle. This year it was the turn of DJ John Baker who mixed in a wonderful collection of Northern Soul tracks. The event attracted quite a few authentic Northern Soul dancers, and it was also nice to see some good old fashioned Disco dancing.

So good was John’s set, that I feel compelled to a write a full review when I return home next week (see link below). I’ll also attempt to explain the origins of Northern Soul, and how a select group of DJs trawled through American second-hand record stores, to find the tracks that would become Northern Soul classics. In the meantime here’s one of John’s Motown selections. Marvin Gaye’s Little darling (I need you) actually finds its way regularly in to main stream modern jive playlists.

10:45 pm We enter the main Thunderball Room

After John Baker’s warm up in the Cyclone Room its time to  get where the main action is – The Thunderball Room. The sight that greets us is the main reason that I love Southport. In this large hall as many as four hundred people are dancing or watching the action from the perimeter. Ceroc Heaven’s own Mark O’Reilly is on the decks and the dance floor is warming up nicely.

Saturday 10 June

12:00 pm DJ Hayley Rocks the Thunderball Room

DJ Mark O’Reilly first shift sets things up nicely for DJ Hayley Epps. Come 12:00 and the floor is absolutely rockin’. The picture below tells its own story – the dance floor is packed and everyone is connecting with Hayley’s great tracks.

Anyone who has read my reviews of Hayley’s set at February’s Southport and Daventry will know I’m a real fan. Hayley’s set is always packed with contemporary tracks, but the track that sets the floor alight for me is a classic that has been a modern jive favourite for over a decade. The up-tempo remix of Kenny G’s Havana features in my own top ten list of modern jive tracks. From the reaction tonight it must be everyone’s favourite too.

1.00 am Tony Riccardi sets the floor on fire

Following Hayley Epps is no easy gig, but the next DJ on the stage – Tony Riccardi, really set the floor on fire. This was the first time I’d come across Tony, and I have to say I was very impressed with a set that just never let up. I’ll write a full review of Tony’s fantastic set next week (see link below), but in the meantime I’ll showcase one of the hi-energy tracks from his selections.

I first really connected with this track at St Neots last months when DJ Sue Astle gave it a spin. Dizzy by DIMMI is a great piece of dance music. I loved dancing to it at St Neots, but it sounded even better in a packed Thunderball Room with the bass full on.

1:45 am Caroline Houlton plays one of the best tracks ever

I remember featuring some of Caroline’s great tracks last time round, and again this time, Caroline played a song that I just have to feature. I consider Edwin Starr’s Stop her on sight (SOS) one of the best dance tracks to come out of the ’60s. I’d just been for a try out session in The SILC Zone, and when I re-entered the main Thunderball Room Edwin was in full flow. I quickly got on the dance floor and had a big smile on my face throughout this top favourite track.

3:00 Back in the chalet for the cheese fest

The dance gang are back at the chalet tucking in to some great tasting cheese on freshly baked bread. It’s all being washed down with Prosecco and red wine. Yours truly is trying to get some blogging done, but the very best Cropwell Bishop Beauvale (it’s a superior Cambozola apparently) is a bit of a distraction. By 4:00 am the diary is updated and I can try to get some sleep. The alarm is set for 8:30 so I can get to the Beginners’ Lesson by 9:30. I’m already feeling that, like most people, I’m trying to do too much and something is going to have to give.

9:25 Great weather for ducks

I some how wake up and get ready to go to the beginners’ class. I look out the window and it’s throwing it down. Great weather for ducks then! As I make my way past the chalets on the way to the main buildings I take this photo. Zoom in – you’ll see the ducks

9.30 Beginners lesson in the Thunderball Room

When I realised that there were four beginners’ classes this weekend it got me wondering. I had made very slow progress through my dance journey. I didn’t go to my first freestyle until after a whole year of dance classes, and I was well in to my third year before I did my very first Weekender. I was interested to know who these people were, who obviously had more courage than I had, by attending this wonderful dance fest as beginners. I also have a great interest in how dance classes support their beginners, because with out a steady stream of newcomers, this wonderful dance scene would soon loose its vitality. I was very impressed that Ceroc had found space and time for these lessons in a very crowded schedule.

Considering it was the first class of the day, I was impressed by the turnout with nearly thirty people in the lines. I was even more impressed by teacher Natalie Baker and her assistant Terry, who showed a level of professional enthusiasm that suggested they had had a full nights sleep. I suspect that this wasn’t the case, and that like everyone else it was a struggle to get out of bed after a late night on the dance floor. That’s the trouble with Southport – the music and dancing is just so good, that it’s a wonder any of us get any sleep. To cap all that Natalie’s lesson was scheduled for an hour – not the normal thirty minutes you get at a class night, and she taught four moves. I should say that Natalie was also ably supported in the lines by four taxi dancers, who probably got less sleep than myself. You all deserve a Blue Peter Badge – I’ll talk to the boss.

The beginners were actually quite a mix. It seems that the real beginners (less than six lessons) had come to Southport with groups of friends. What a great idea. Southport is a wonderful social event, and I’m sure there’s still a lot of fun to have even if you might struggle a bit with the dancing. Another group were people, who only ever came to Weekenders, again with friends, and they were using the lessons as refreshers. There were also a few experienced dancers in the lines, and I suspect these were supporting their friends and of course the other beginners. I’m always pleased to see intermediate dancers in the lines of the beginners class. So well done to these people for struggling out of bed this morning.

The lesson itself ran very smoothly, and because Natalie had extra time, she was able to teach at a much slower pace, which must have been a real help to the inexperienced dancers. Natalie also used the extra time to give tips on how to make the moves flow smoothly. By the end of the hour everybody seemed to have grasped the moves, and I’m sure they’ll have a little more confidence when it comes to dancing at the freestyle tonight. A big thanks to Natalie and Terry, and their crew of taxis for their being so enthusiastic so early in the day.

Also a thanks to all those people, that have brought their beginner friends along to this wonderful dance event. Southport is the best advert for this wonderful dance scene, and I’m sure that they will really appreciate that a full course of lessons were provided for them

10.45 am At last a lesson that helps me with The Slot

Regular readers of the ‘Quick Steps’ section will know of my battle with The Slot. It seems that I’m a bit last century by dancing in The Round, so I was really looking forward to a lesson entitled ‘Simply Slotted’, which was billed as an introduction to slotting for Ceroc. I have tried dancing in this linear way, but I sensed that my repertoire of moves just weren’t suited to this modern style of dancing. Hopefully this lesson would give me the moves I needed.

The lesson was run by Caine and Danni, and I have to say right away that this was one of the best intermediate lessons I’ve ever participated in. As soon as I saw them perform the sequence of moves I knew that this was exactly what I needed. So good was this class that I’ve decided to write a much fuller review next week, but in the meantime I’ll mention a couple of interesting points.

I’ve always thought that this form of dancing was more suited to dancing to gentler paced music. Each Southport I’ve watched enviously at couples dancing in the SILC Zone, to some wonderful slower grooves. Throughout the lesson Caine used this slower music to accompany the moves, and here is one of the wonderful tracks he played. We all know the Temptations original version of Lady Soul, but here is a slightly slower version by Johnnie Taylor.

 

By the end of the lesson I could do the moves quite fluently, and I realised that at last, I might be able to dance more confidently in the SILC Zone. I’ll be there tonight – I’ll let you know how I get on. Caine and Danni are a wonderful team of teachers, and I look forward to writing in a bit more detail about this excellent lesson next week (see link below).

12:00 I have to give up on the Ceildh (The Kay-lee)

Writing my blog until 4 in the morning, and then having to get up for the Beginners lesson was not easy. By the end of Caine and Danni’s lesson I was in need of a catch up sleep. In my previous posts I’d said how I was looking forward to the Ceildh (Kay-lee) but I just didn’t have any energy left – it’s a curse of weekenders that we sometimes just do too much. So I went off to bed, but my friends tell me Ceildh was a great success. Apparently the Thunderball Room was packed and a whole lot of fun. Perhaps I’ll get there next time.

1:30 pm Beautiful Rock ‘n’ Roll dresses light up Swingers Hour

One of the joys of Southport is dancing outside, and I have wonderful memories of dancing Rock ‘n’ Roll on the verandah outside the Queen Vic Pub. Sadly the sky was grey and the outside area was partially flooded. However as always the place was lit up by the ladies dressed in retro ’50s style Rock ‘n’ Roll dresses. Each year there seems to be more and more and its a wonderful sight. Swingers Hour is one of the most popular sessions at Southport, and all three areas of the SILC Zone was packed with dancers. The photo below also shows some of the men who added even more colour by dressing up in World War Two American uniforms.

The tracks for Swingers Hour were provided by DJ Tiggerbabe, and they were a fantastic mix of ’40s Swing tracks and authentic Rock ‘n’ Roll from the ’50s. I’ll just feature one track from Big Joe Turner, who in many ways was the father of Rock ‘n’ Roll. Corrine Corrina is just a great bundle of joy. I’m a great fan of Big Joe Turner and this is one of his best.

 

Towards the end of the hour a whole group of people did a stroll. These strolls were the fore-runners of the modern line dances, and they are a tradition of Rock ‘n’ Roll dances. The photo below shows just what fun these strolls are. The picture also shows more of the beautiful Rock ‘n’ Roll dresses.

2:30 pm Funkin’ with The Grand Master

In February one of my Southport highlights was the ‘Funk Hour’ with Vince Silva. Once again Vince followed The ‘Swingers Hour’ and he performed another standout set, playing Funk and Disco from the ’70s and ’80s. He kicked off with The Average White Band’s Let’s go round again. This is a real modern jive favourite and it set the tone for some great disco memories. Vince soon played possibly the best disco track ever – McFadden and Whiteheads Ain’t no stopping us now. Interestingly this track was featured on Serious Jockin’ as we made our slow progress along The M62.

I’m a great James Brown fan and Vince indulged me with one of his best – Get up offa that thing. I was lucky that I asked a lady to dance who really connected with its funky beat. Great track, great dance, great choice Vince. I’ve embed the long version, which I’ve had blasting out of my head phones as I’ve been writing this post. I often wonder if we would have had Uptown Funk if James Brown hadn’t pioneered this great dance genre.

3:25 The SILC classes are the busiest of the weekend

Ceroc are trying really hard to establish SILC and their classes are proving the most popular of the weekend. As I popped my head through the door on my way out, I estimated that there must have been almost two hundred and fifty people in Tim Sant’s second SILC lesson. It’s not an easy technique, and it’s great to see so many people trying to master it.

4:00 pm Don’t Blog just Sleep

The lack of sleep, the early start, the Rock ‘n’ Rollin’ and Funkin’ was really taking it’s toll, so it was time for a lie down. Sadly I have a mild addiction to Blogging (its healthier than an addiction to Prosecco, but it takes its toll just as much), so I updated this diary for a good hour before my head hit the pillow.

7.30 pm The Chalet Parties are in full swing

I could have done with several more hours of sleep, but my dance friends had agreed to meet up at 7:30 for a pre-dance meal of Higgerty Pies. I’ve said before that one of the great thing about Southport is the social gatherings of friends old and new. While we sat round our table tucking in to quiche, politely chatting about our dance experiences and drinking tea, less civilised chalet parties were taking place elsewhere.

It seems that everything gets posted to Facebook these days, so we got constant photographic updates on gathering where large quantities of alcohol was being consumed, while usually sedate people played adult games, that thankfully they will have little recollection of come next week. Sadly the antics will probably go viral on Facebook.

9.30 pm Back on a surprisingly quiet dance floor

We all arrived in the main Thunderball Room about 9:30 to find the dance floor virtually empty. I suspect I wasn’t the only one who’d been catching up on sleep, or perhaps the chalet parties had taken their toll more than I realised. I felt a little sorry for DJ Caroline Houlton – it can’t be much fun spinning your best tracks for a half empty dance floor. Caroline is one of the best, and as the room filled up her tracks soon got people on the dance floor.

One track that had me rushing on to the dance floor was a track that I’m noticing is a bit of a Southport favourite – Tony Riccardi also played it in his fabulous set on Friday night. I picked up on Living by Bakermat featuring Alex Clare last year, but it seemed to disappear for a while. Its a great piece of club music that has different tempo passages. I love it as you sense it’s building up to a climax and it explodes in to an instrumental break with the bass pumped to the max. I hope it gets another spin on Sunday night.

10:25 pm It’s the Nu-Line dance without yours truly

Regular readers of the blog will know that I was determined to do the NU-Line dance to Justin Timberlake’s Can’t stop the feeling this time. I’d spent the last two weeks carefully following the instructions from Tim Sant’s very instructive video, and I was confident I could at least muddle through.

Sadly on Thursday night at my dance class I had been useless and so I decided to opt out again. When you watch from the side it all looks so do-able. However I can  assure you its not as easy as it looks, so well done to those who got it – an even bigger well done to the people who tried their best. May be next year it will be a little easier and slower.

10:30 It’s Cabaret Time

By 10:30 everybody had arrived and Caroline had a packed dance floor rockin’. Now it was time for The Cabaret. The programme varies each year, but always starts with a dance competition open to all. About fifty couples got on to the floor, and three judges were selected from the audience. To the sounds of John Gibbons’ P.Y.T. (Pretty young thing) – what a great track this is – all the couples gave us their best moves. Each judge then picked a couple for the grand final (see picture below).

As a way of judging the final, the winner is decided on who gets the biggest applause. Nothing is left to chance and this is when Decibel Dave is introduced. Dave has a very hi-tech piece of kit that measures the volume of the applause. I have often wondered what Decibel Dave does when he’s not judging at Southport, and the other Ceroc Weekenders. Perhaps he works for the council and checks the noise coming out of night clubs. Dave’s announcing of the results always brings a smile to my face. We should all have a Decibel Dave moments in out lives.

There were then some fantastic performances from some of the Ceroc champs winners, and then for me the best bit of the entertainment. Tim Sant gave a demonstration of what is meant by ‘Dance Diversity’. This was done with a lot of choreographed comedy, which involved Tim dancing with a series different partners including this rather over the top guy. Sorry I didn’t catch the guy’s name, but he and Tim were a great comedy double act, that drew a great response from the crowd. Sadly Decibel Dave had gone back to his day job at the council so I can’t tell you how big the applause was.

11:40 At last I’m dancing in the slot

Regular readers will know how I’ve set myself the challenge of dancing in the slot. Earlier in the day I’d attended the ‘Simply Slotted’ workshop, run by Caine and Danni, where I’d learnt a routine that I hoped would form a basis for this style of dancing. At 11:45 I ventured in to the SILC Zone to put my new found skills to the test.

Toni Sails in on the decks, and the track that’s playing is Unstoppable by Sia. Now this a lovely piece of music, but it’s the kind of track that I would normally struggle to dance to. This would be a proper test. I thought of the routine Caine and Danni had taught so fluently. I pictured the first move – The Reoccurring Sling Shot. Yes I can do this – without further hesitation I pulled the trigger, and my dance partner travelled down the slot. At last I’d cracked it. I’ll need a little more practice and a few more moves, but this was a great start.

Sunday 11 June

12.30 am Time for an East Midlands Jock I know very well

I’m slowly getting familiar with the DJs that play the big gigs, but I have no real idea where they ply their trade, and whether they actually do Ceroc class nights. I can’t help suspect a lot are from London, but I was pleased to see a local East Midlands lad on the DJ roster. I’ve been a fan of Roy Blewitt, who spins the discs at Ceroc Passion’s Braunston class nights in Leicester, for a while. I understand Roy’s done Southport before, but it was the first time I’d seen him here.

Roy played a great set, and he gave me one of the dance highlights of the night with a track that stood out from the all the normal chart and club tracks.  AC/DC’s You Shook Me All Night Long is a thumping piece of ’80s rock music. It’s rock guitar heartbeat makes it so easy to connect with. I have to say I love the club inspired tracks on most DJs playlist, but its great to hear something a little different now and again. Great choice Roy.

2.30 am Back in the chalet for more cheese & wine

It’s been another great night on the dance floor and we are all back at the chalet for another cheese and wine after-party. These late night get-togethers with friends are one of the most enduring features of our Southport weekend breaks. Over red wine, prosecco and cider we talk about our adventurers on the dance floor, and make our plans for the next day. There’s Swingers Hour again, but we are all looking forward to the Double Trouble class. Even though I’m getting behind I decide against updating my Southport diary and at 3:30 go straight to bed. I’ll try to catch up in the morning.

10:30 am It’s a late, late breakfast

It’s a late breakfast but at least we all got a decent night’s sleep, and just as important the sun is shining. Yesterday it had not been possible to dance outside until the night time, so Swingers hour was a little cramped. Hopefully today we will be able to dance on the verandah. Here’s the view this morning from my chalet. The holiday park is right up against the sand dunes.

1:15 pm They’ve sacked the DJ in The SILC Zone

After making some significant progress on updating my blog, I’m fifteen minutes early for Swingers Hour. It’s a chance to listen to some chilled music in The SILC Zone, but sadly they’ve sacked the DJ! Perhaps I should explain. Ceroc gives budding DJs a chance to do a guest slot during the quieter hours in The SILC Zone. These slots are affectionately labelled in the programme as ‘Sack The DJ’.

Suddenly I recognised the opening strains to a very funky track, I’d first heard during Sue Astle’s superb set at St Neots last month. I had to dance to it – luckily my regular dance partner was at hand, and I had another opportunity  to try out my dancing on the slot. Now I have the moves from Caine and Danni’s lesson as a basis for my routine, I can concentrate expanding my repertoire. Now I’m not known for my modesty, but lets just say my slot dancing is coming on quite nicely.

The track that inspired me to get on the dance floor is Shaggy’s Good times roll. Sadly I don’t know the full name of the DJ – on the ‘Sack the DJ’ rota it merely said Ross. Perhaps someone could give me more info on Ross. It would be nice to give him the the credit for playing this fabulous piece of funk.

1:30 pm The ladies do us proud again at Swingers Hour

Am I right that every year there are more and more ladies wearing those beautiful Rock ‘n’ Roll dresses? They certainly bring a lot of colour to Swingers Hour. As a result I think the guys are trying a lot harder too – I don’t think I’ve seen so many military uniforms on show before. All this makes Swingers Hour such an iconic part of the Southport experience. As hoped for the sun came out too and the whole jamboree was able to spread out on to the verandah of The Queen Vic.

Of course it wouldn’t be Swingers Hour without the great Swing and Rock ‘n’ Roll music. As is the tradition on Sunday the DJ behind the decks was Mike Ellard, Mr Ceroc himself, fresh from his gig with Decibel Dave during the Cabaret last night. Just like DJ Tiggerbabe yesterday Mike’s playlist was packed with Swing and Rock ‘n’ Roll classics, and it was great to see the father of Rock ‘n’ Roll, Big Joe Turner, get another outing with his original version of Flip Flop and Fly. 

The track I’ll feature is a classic from 1955 by Ella Mae Morse. Razzle Dazzle is a real mix of Swing and Rock ‘n’ Roll. Ella Mae Morse was a pin up singer who had her first solo success during the war. Her first songs were typical of the Big Band swing tracks of the early ’40s, but you can see how the emergence of Rock ‘n’ Roll had influenced her style by the time she recorded Razzle Dazzle.

Once again the Strollers came out. There are quite a few of these Rock ‘n’ Roll line dance strolls and almost the whole of the Boudoir area was taken by people doing another version. I’m amazed just how many people know these Strolls. They are great fun to watch and even better fun to take part in.

3:45 pm I’m in Big Trouble now

Yes I’m in trouble – Double Trouble. 3:45 saw myself, and two lady friends, take our place in the lines of the ‘Double Trouble’ class in the main Thunderball Hall. We weren’t the only ones in trouble, as there must have been over a hundred people eager to learn this One Man – Two Ladies dance technique.

This lesson, led by Lyndsey Bennett and her two assistants Matt and Chloe, was the best fun I’ve ever had in a Southport class. I try not to do too many lessons as you can get danced out, but this is a class I would recommend everyone to try, if they get the chance. This lesson was so much fun, that I’ve decided to give it its own write up next week, and I’ll be including a video of our final attempt at what was a quite challenging set of moves (see link below).

In the meantime see if you can spot me doing the second move with my two friends. On stage you can see Matt leading his two ladies Lyndsey and Chloe – sadly we appear to be either one beat ahead or more likely two beats behind them.

7:30 pm We are going to need some energy – it’s time for pizza

It’s the last night. We are all suffering a little due to a lack of sleep the two previous nights. Most of us have had a quick nap, but we are going to need some energy. Time to get the pizzas in the oven. Our get togethers before the evening sessions have been one of the joys of our Southport dance experience. There is a sense that tonight going to be the best of the three. The floor will be busy much earlier than the previous two nights, as people will want an earlier night as they have to be out of their chalets by ten. Also there is no Cabaret to interrupt the build up in the atmosphere. Can’t wait.

10:10 Live blogging from the dance floor

We arrive in the dance hall just after 10:00. The Thunderball Room is already buzzing. It’s going to be a great night, and I’m going to attempt to live blog from the dance floor. I’ll embed any photos and tracks later, but I hope to give you a flavour of this amazing place on the final night.

I’m in my Scout fancy dress (no laughing at the legs please) and I’m up for a fun packed night. The Ceroc Heaven Gang, dressed in their Cubs, Brownies, Scouts and Girl Guides outfits have just started a conga.  They’ll be in the male toilets anytime soon, and then we’ll be having the group photo.

DJ Mark O’Reilly was first on the decks and he played one of my all time disco tracks – Sylvester’s you make me feel (Mighty real). This is the track that sparked the idea of a ’70s themed freestyle, so it’s great to see the main room lovin’ it.

10:45 pm This is what a Rockin’ Dance Floor looks like

Next up is DJ Roy Blewitt, and this is the view from his decks – three hundred people having the time of their life. Roy’s is currently rockin’ the floor with Planet Funk’s Chase the sun. What a thumping beat – I’m out on the dance floor right now!

11:00 Dyb, Dyb, Dyb. We’ll Dob, Dob, Dob

The Boy Scouts and Girl Guide motto translates to Do Your Best. We’ll Do Our Best. At eleven o’clock it’s time for The Ceroc Heaven fancy dress group photo. It’s another great turn out, and for once I’ve joined in too (a big thanks to Sharon for the loan of my neckerchief). So boys and girls, are we ready – after three. Dyb, Dyb, Dyb. We’ll Dob, Dob, Dob.

Sunday night is traditionally fancy dress at Southport, and there were several other groups getting in the dressing-up spirit. Southport is more than just a dance fest – its also an opportunity to let yourself go and bring out the inner kid.

11.15 pm I avoid getting arrested by a police woman

Just had a fun filled dance with a fancy dressed Police Woman. It seems The Wirral crowd have come as Cops and Robbers – lots of inappropriate uniforms. I’m sure police women don’t wear stockings and suspenders while on duty these days. My Police lady dance partner tells me that her nick name is ‘Jane The Runaway Train’, because she’s a bit wild on the dance floor. I managed to control her – just, and more importantly avoided getting arrested.

11.30 pm Tim Sant picks up where Roy leaves off

DJ Roy has the floor absolutely rockin’. Now it’s up to Tim Sant to keep the pumped up atmosphere going. 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.

11:45 pm More fun in fancy dress

I have a dance with another police women. This time I do get arrested – seems I tied my neckerchief incorrectly. Oh for goodness sake! The guys and gals from The Wirral have as much fun as The Ceroc Heaven Gang when it comes to fancy dress, but can I just say being arrested on the dance floor is not doing my squeaky clean Boy Scout reputation any good.

Of course it’s all done in the best possible taste. Here a Wirral Policeman gets to grips with a Girl Guide from Nottingham, as the end of the conga heads for the Blues Lounge. It just goes to prove how much fun Southport is. No wonder it’s considered the best of The Ceroc Escape Weekenders.

11:59 pm Keeping the floor rockin’ is no problem for Tim

Half way through Tim’s set, and I’ve had some of the best dances of the weekend. I’d looked forward to Tim’s set ever since I read the running order. I knew his set would be cracking, and so it proved. I’ll be writing a full review next week (see link below).

0:30 Now it’s Hayley Epps turn to rock the floor

This shot of the dance floor shows the change over from Tim to Hayley Epps. Tim had played a quite outstanding set, but Hayley had no problem in rockin’ the floor to the same level.

Favourite tracks from her set so far are the thumping classic Cuba from The Gibson Brothers, and the rock anthem Dude (Looks like a lady) from Aerosmith.

Monday 12 June

1:10 am Time for a bit of Chillin’

After all the excitement of the main room DJs, it’s off to the Blues Room for some chillin’ with Marc Forster and Rachel Pears. Marc and Rachel are stars of the Blues Room circuit and they were given exclusivity in the Blues Lounge, spinning the tracks on all three nights. As we walked in you could tell the dancers were lovin’ the music.

I never feel comfortable in the Blues Room – I just never got the close hold thing. When I walk in most people are in close hold, and I’m wondering if the Slot Thing is going to look right. I have a great dance – my Slot moves are developing nicely, but I feel I’m in the wrong place. Still the track I dance to is one of Rachel’s gems, and it was proof, if it was needed, that she knows where to find some amazing bluesy sounds. The fabulous track was Howlin’ Wolf’s How many more years. Just love the harmonica solo section.

 

We then wander in to the SILC Zone. I wonder what the difference will be. Tim Sant is on the decks (busy man) and the track he plays illustrates that there is a big difference between SILC and Blues music. Cut your teeth (Kygo remix) by Kyla La Grange is a great piece of contemporary music. I’m sure you could Blues to it, but it’s surely more suited to SILC. See what you think.

2:00 am Back in the main room and Tiggerbabe is on fire

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.

 

Was that the best track of the night? It must be one of them. The great tracks keep coming, so I excuse myself to update my blog. That done I’m back out on the dance floor again. Let’s see what you’ve got for me Sheena?

Of course top tracks don’t have to necessarily be hi-energy, and Tiggerbabe played a very chilled track, that I loved just as much her full on stuff. The Beautiful South’s cover of Livin’ thing is a beautiful piece of music that is just perfect for modern jive. I thought my dance to Atomic was good but this beat it. What a way to end a fabulous weekend.

2:30 am The Dance Gang have left the building

We are all in one of the chalets, the sweet potato chips are in the oven and four bottles of Prosecco are lined up on the table. Its time to put my computer away and enjoy the party. I’ll tweek tonight’s live blog tomorrow. Now can I have a cup of tea please.

6:30 am The Traditional Survivors Group Photograph

Over the years many traditions have grown up at Southport. Chalet Parties and Fancy dress are obvious ones, but looking on the Ceroc Scorch Facebook page I came across another less well known one. 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. There were surprisingly a lot of survivors this time round! Not me though, sadly I was fast asleep in bed!

That’s all folks

That was the last entry for June 2017’s Southport Diary. I had great fun writing the diary, and I hope it gave anyone, who has yet to do a Southport Weekender, an idea of what’s in store for them. For those people who were there I hope my own recollections mirror some of your own memories of what is one of the highlight of the modern jive calendar.

The Featured Reviews

Over the following three weeks I published a series of reviews featuring some of the classes I attended and the DJ Playlists that gave me so much pleasure. Please follow the links to read about the highlights of my own dance experience in more detail.

The Motown & Soul Freestyle: DJ John Baker’s Friday night opener

DJ Tony Ricardi: Tony sets the Thunderball Room on fire on Friday night

Simply Slotted: Caine and Danni’s exceptional class taught be how to dance in The Slot

DJ Tim Sant: Tim provides a superb playlist on Sunday night

Double Trouble: Lyndsey Bennett teaches a fun packed Double Trouble class

Angels at Play: The Ceroc Heaven Faithful have a great time

My Top Ten Tracks: I list my ten favourite dance tracks from across the weekend