A Fourth listing of tracks we love

Back in 2018, I made a list of ten classic Ceroc and Modern Jive tracks.  It proved very popular and I followed it up with a second and third volume.  These articles remain very popular and readers of the blog often dip into them.  I can only assume the popularity of these articles is because we all want to know the names of the tracks we love dancing to.  I’ve included links to the previous three volumes below.

I’ve now put together a fourth listing.  I had so many tracks to choose from and now have the beginnings of a fifth list!  As before, my criteria are simple.  The track must be at least five years old and I must have heard the track in at least three different venues.  Amazingly some of the tracks have been filling the dance floor ever since Ceroc and Modern Jive were created.

These are Main Room anthems

Since I made my first list ten years ago I’ve become a great fan of chill-out music.  I should say here that all the tracks in this series are main room ones but if you’re wondering about classic chill-out tunes, I’ve also put links below to three volumes of people’s favourites for SILC and Smooth Jive dancing.

As before I’ve embedded YouTube videos of all the tracks and I also give some background to each of them.  Every dance music track has a back story, whether it be about its origins or the artists and record producers who put it together.  I’ve also added in some personal notes as to why I love dancing to the tracks.

Ceroc Heaven DJs Mark O’Reilly and Ashley Davis always mix classic tracks into their playlists.

They are classics for a reason

It’s no easy gig being a main room DJ as you have to please most of the people most of the time.  DJs also have to be careful not to play the same old, same old.  The trick is to mix up the playlist with plenty of modern favourites and not overdo the classics.  The best DJs get this mix right and I’m not surprised to hear five or six of the tracks I’ve featured in my four volumes of classics in any given evening when I’m out and about.

There’s a simple reason why these tracks are so well-loved – they are so easy to dance to.  They all have a beat that is easy to connect with and all have great melodies and instrumentation.  For that reason, many of them are used on class nights and that’s when we first get to enjoy them.  Not surprisingly most get an airing in the Thunderball Room at The Southport and Camber Ceroc weekenders and I’ve enjoyed many fabulous dances to them there.

1: Disco inferno – The Trammps (1976)

The disco music of the ’70s provides a wealth of music for Ceroc and Modern Jive DJs.  It’s understandable, as this genre of music is associated with the coming of age of discos and even fifty years on there is a thriving retro-disco scene that people of all ages flock to.  The list of disco classics that find their way into DJ playlists includes Love train by The O’Jays, Don’t leave me this way by Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes and my all-time favourite Young hearts run free by Candi Staton.

I’ve chosen Disco inferno by The Trammps because it is considered by many to be the greatest of all the disco anthems.  It’s interesting to note that when it was first released in 1976 the song failed to make much of an impression.  All that was to change when an eleven-minute version was included on the soundtrack album of Saturday night fever, the blockbuster film starring John Travolta a year later.

The track was recorded in the Sigma Sound Studios, the home of The Sound of Philadelphia label.  It features many of the musicians that saw this label dominate disco playlists and has the distinction of being mixed by Tom Moulton who is credited with creating the 12-inch record when he created extended versions of many disco classics.

2: For your entertainment – Adam Lambert (2009)

Adam Lambert rose to fame as runner-up in the eighth series of American Idol.  This hi-energy track came from his debut album of the same name and instantly propelled him to stardom.  He was soon asked to be the voice of rock band Queen and has toured with them since 2011.  Listening to the dynamic delivery of For your entertainment you can see why he was asked to join Queen.

This is not the kind of track that gets played at the beginning of the evening but one that DJs pulls out when they are ratcheting up the excitement out on the dance floor.  I have a memory of DJ Hayley Epps setting the floor alight with this track in one of her Thunderball Room sets at a Ceroc Southport Weekender.  Needless to say, I was out on the floor loving every second as I connected with its thumping hi-energy beat.

3: Fuego en el fuego – Eros Ramazzotti (2000)

You may not recognise the name of this track but I guarantee you’ll know its Latin-inspired music.  There is a strong tradition of Latin-sounding tracks in Ceroc and Modern Jive dance halls.  In Classic Tracks Volume 1, I featured Italian singer-songwriter Zucchero’s Bacco Perbacco, and his Baila morena also gets lots of plays.  This highly recognisable track is by Eros Ramazzotti, an Italian musician very popular across Europe but who has made little impression in The UK.  I couldn’t help noticing that every comment under the song on YouTube is in some European language.

So how did this track make its way onto Ceroc and Modern Jive DJ playlists, considering that not one of his multitude of hits made the British charts?  There must be a DJ out there who first played this.  Perhaps other DJs saw the positive reaction and picked it up.  Let’s just say it’s one of the mysteries surrounding the music we dance to, but it’s one I’ll do my best to solve.

David got in touch to tell me that some DJs are playing a version from 2007 where Eros Ramazzotti is joined by rock guitarist Carlos Santana.

4: Let there be love – Nat King Cole (1961)

Let there be love is one of three classic mid-tempo tracks that main room DJs use when they want to take the gas off the pedal for a while.  The other two are The Temptations Lady Soul (featured in Classic Tracks vol 1)  and Tone Damli’s 40 Years (Vol 2).  I’m amazed at the following these three tracks have and do wonder why they are more popular than any other relaxed track in main room settings.

It also begs the question why a track from 1961 became so entrenched in DJs’ minds?  It is a beautiful song and its beat is perfect for less experienced dances to cope with – there is no danger of it ever clearing the floor.  Perhaps that is why it is used so much.  When I first started dancing thirteen years ago it was played almost every night at my Ceroc class.  It’s in our beginner classes that we fell in love with those tracks we found easy to dance to.

5: Club Savoy – Rockin’ Louie & The Mamma Jammers (1980)

As I go round I find that some tracks are favourites of Modern Jive DJs but not of Ceroc ones.  Club Savoy is one such track.  It’s a pity really because it’s a cracker and has the most wonderful swinging tempo.  This tempo, no doubt, has Rock ‘n’ Roll influences and again this is a genre that Ceroc DJs seemed to have moved away from in the past few years.

This track is actually from a genre of music I knew little about – Carolina Beach Music.  This music has its roots in the 1950s and ’60s Rock ‘n’ Roll and Pop Music and is closely associated with the style of dance known as The Shag, or Carolina Shag, which is the official dance of North and South Carolina.  Another popular Beach Music track that Modern Jive DJs sometimes play is On the beach by The Chairman of The Board, which I also love.

So what is Carolina Shag Dancing?

I thought I’d just take a break to show you just what the Carolina Shag dance looks like.  Prepare to be blown away.  The video below features Brennar Goree and Autumn Jones a pair of Shag dancers who come up whenever you put ‘Carolina Shag’ into YouTube.  Their dancing blew me away.  You first notice their rapid footwork and then you get a sense it’s a bit like West Coast Swing on steroids.  Interestingly they were doing this demo at The Australian Open West Coast Swing Champs.

What you also see are moves that could be adapted for Ceroc and Modern Jive.  Like I’ve said many times, our dancing is a fusion of many dance styles.  I wonder if anyone has actually pinched a few moves from The Carolina Shag.  The track they are dancing to is Pink Cadillac by Jerry Lee Lewis which shows the roots of this dance style in Rock ‘n’ Roll.

6: Mustang Sally – Commitments (1991)

This has to be one of my Top 5 must-find-a-partner-for dance tracks.  The reason is simple.  I have to see if I can hit the breaks, freeze the action, and smile at my partner.  I only smile if I actually succeed in hitting the breaks – I don’t do it every time.  The thing is I know the break is coming, so I have to choose a move that I will finish just as the band holds the beat.

I always thought the original of Mustang Sally was by Wilson Pickett, but it was actually written and recorded by Mack Rice in 1965.  Pickett would bring it to the world’s attention a year later on his 1966 Album Wicked  Pickett.  This reworking was made for the 1991 film The Commitments with then-unknown Irish singer Andrew Strong.  I have to say I’m impressed that a modern reworking can beat the Pickett version.

Having said that I wondered why we never get to dance to the Wilson Pickett’s version.  I had a listen to his 1966 version, and while it has all the soul and earthy funk of the Commitments reworking the beat is just a little too slow.  It still has those fabulous breaks but I’m sure DJs will stick with The Commitments version.

7: Fever Sarah Vaughan (Adam Freeland remix) (2005)

I suspect this remix has been on DJs’ playlists since it was created seventeen years ago.  I certainly remember hearing it at my early Ceroc classes.  As I said above, I think tracks we danced to when we were first getting to grips with our dancing find a special place in our dance music memory.  This remix is loaded with danceability.  Its funked-up beat and modern instrumentation are all so easy to connect with.

The best way to illustrate just how much work Adam Freeland put into his remix is to compare it with the original, so after you’ve had a listen to his version, please listen to Sarah Vaughan’s original.  The difference will hit your dance brain instantly.

Compare with the Sarah Vaughan Original

Before you listen to Sarah Vaughan’s original, let me give you a little background to the track.  It was first recorded in 1956 by Little Willie John but it came to prominence two years later when Peggy Lee did a stripped-down Blues version with just an upright bass and drum backing.  This version is considered by many to be the best though Sarah Vaughan’s 1965 version has many supporters too.

There is one other version of Fever that is in itself a Ceroc and Modern Jive classic – The 2003 version by Michael Bublé.  This actually came out two years before Adam Freeland started work on his reworking and you do wonder if Bublés version prompted him to dig out the Sarah Vaughan one.

8: Fireball – Pitbull (2014)

Now, I’m not one to do line dances.  They look great fun, but for some reason, I just can’t get the routine right.  Having said that, line dances are now a big part of Ceroc and Modern Jive freestyles, and the line dance devised by Ceroc’s Tim Sant in 2015 for Fireball is, without doubt, the most popular.  Even though each year Tim comes up with a new line dance, everybody is still doing the Fireball one and that’s the reason this track has become a Ceroc and Modern Jive classic.

Rather than embed the video to Pitbull’s track, I’ve used the official Ceroc instruction one just in case there is anyone out there who still wants to learn it.  Perhaps I’ll have one more attempt.  The song features Pitbull’s characteristic rapping but the melodic chorus is sung by American singer and producer John Ryan.  Even if this track wasn’t such a popular call to line dancers, its party atmosphere alone would still have given the track its longevity on DJ playlists.

9: On a night like this – Caro Emerald 2009

Whenever I’m asked about what makes a great DJ playlist, I always say the same thing – ‘A variety of musical genres’.  Most DJ playlists are dominated by contemporary tracks but it’s important that these are broken up with tracks from the dance vaults and that means mixing in some of these classics and particularly the ones that are a little different like On a night like this.

Caro Emerald, with her retro-swing offerings, has provided quite a few tracks that are different.  On a night like this is probably the most popular but DJs also give spins to Tangled up the Tango-inspired ditty and the comical Coming back as a man.

10: Hero (Metro Mix) – Enrique Iglesias (2001)

I’ll finish this listing with what I consider is a real belter and one that’s sure to set the floor on fire if placed after a run of tracks where the DJ is slowly building the atmosphere out on the floor.  This hi-energy track is not the original.  Iglesias’ first version of the song was as a slow ballad.  You get a hint of this when you listen to the opening few bars.  It was then remixed with a driving beat behind the emotive lyric.

The result is a hi-energy track that never fails to give me a full-on dance in my best rotational style – no messing about on the slot with this track.  So good is this track that I’m sure it was picked up very quickly by DJs and twenty-one years on it still has plenty of shelf life left in it.  Yes, it’s a real belter and a great way to finish this listing.

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 also find whole sections dedicated to the joy that is Ceroc 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.

More posts in the Classics Collection

10 Classic Ceroc & Modern Jive Tracks Volume 1

10 Classic Ceroc & Modern Jive Tracks Volume 2

Classic Tracks Volume 3: The Thunderball Room Mix

Chillout Room Collections

Smooth Jive: Contemporary Chill-out Tracks Volume 1

Smooth Jive: Contemporary Chill-out Tracks Volume 2

Smooth Jive: Classic Chill-out Volume 1