A blog born out of a passion for dancing

In late 2016 I got the idea of writing a blog born out of my passion for Ceroc and Modern Jive dancing.  As I wrote my first ever posting, about the need for DJs to keep the music we dance to fresh and varied, I had no idea whether anyone would be interested in the articles I hoped to write.  To my surprise, in the eighteen months since I published my first article, the blog has grown beyond even my most optimistic expectations.

A wonderful dance community

The world of Ceroc and Modern Jive is a wonderful community, and I feel very lucky to have been introduced to it back in 2009.  I am forever grateful to the person who took me along to my first lesson, and I often wonder if I would ever have come across this form of dancing, if this particular person hadn’t introduced me to it back then.

Since my first stuttering start, in that first ever class, I have been on a dance journey that I would wish for everyone with a passion for dancing.

A best kept secret? I hope not

I remember having a conversation with a new beginner, who described Modern Jive as the best kept secret.  He may have had a point which is a shame, because this dance community needs lots of new entrants to sustain the numbers at class nights and weekend freestyles.  The last thing it needs to be is a secret, best kept or otherwise.

An Advocacy for Ceroc & Modern Jive

I have long been an advocate of Modern Jive as a place for people to meet new friends and have a great time.  One of my hopes when I started my blog was that it would add to the on-line presence of Modern Jive, and so support the marketing of this fun filled leisure activity.  I was determined that my reviews and articles would only ever highlight the positive side of the Modern Jive lifestyle.

A significant presence on Google

Is this blog achieving its goal of promoting modern jive? The increasing number of people who read it suggests it might be. The blog now has a significant presence in the results of Google searches. Hopefully amongst this regular on-line traffic are people who have yet to experience the joys of Modern Jive dancing.

Supporting Beginners

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I have long realised that without a constant influx of new beginners, this wonderful dance scene is not sustainable. Sadly even when people start a course of lessons few remain at the end of it. For that reason I have made it one of the aims of this blog to promote the need to support beginners through their first tentative steps on to the dance floor. 

I try to encourage beginners not to give up

I try to get to class nights early to join in the beginners’ lesson, so I can help as best I can. As well as helping with the moves I try to give as much encouragement as I can. I will often say, ‘this is the best fun you’ll ever have, so don’t give up on it’. Sadly few of the beginners become committed dancers, and even fewer start attending weekend freestyles on a regular basis. Of course partner dancing isn’t for everyone, but its a shame to see so many beginners fall by the wayside. This, then, is the foremost reason for writing this blog. I hope it will portray the dancing lifestyle, we all love so much, in a positive light so that more people will be motivated to join us and not give up too easily.

It is hard starting a dance class

Starting any dance class is not easy. At least Modern Jive is a lot easier than ballroom dancing, but the pressures on beginners is understandable. Hopefully we can all remember the stress we felt, as we were guided through our first ever moves. For this reason I would ask intermediate dancers to try to make it to the beginners’ lessons. Your experience is invaluable in the lines, and your patience is priceless.

Could I also ask that experienced dancers ask those they see sitting out during the freestyle sessions to partner them on to the dance floor. Not being asked to dance is one of the main reasons people stop coming to dance lessons. Its relatively easy for an experienced man to take a lady beginner on the floor, as they can lead them through the moves. I realise it’s not so easy for experienced women to help the beginner men – simply because they have to try to lead the lady.

Memories of my first lessons

I remember being asked by a woman to dance, on what must have been my third or fourth class night. I hurriedly explained that I only knew a few moves. She was thankfully not put off. So I danced the three moves from that night’s lesson, over and over again, occasionally mixing in any move I could remember from my previous lessons (not many I might add). It couldn’t have been a particularly easy dance for her. At the end I apologised for the repetition of my moves and the clumsy execution of many of them. She was extremely kind to me, ‘You did Okay.’ So intermediate dancers, every week, please tell a beginner they did alright. The more beginners dance, however clumsily, the more chance they get to improve.

Tell the world about your passion

As we go through our lives we perhaps have a duty as human beings to be passionate about something. I don’t care what it is. Be passionate about cooking, about gardening or poetry perhaps. Just be passionate about something. Be as passionate as the people who follow their football team to every away game win or lose, and when you’ve found your passion tell the world about it. It will enrich the human experience.

A passion for dance music

That’s how I felt about dance music, and this blog gives me the opportunity to shout about all the great music we dance to. As a teenager dancing to Motown and Soul I got bitten by the dance music bug. Understandably the stuff of life took me away from dance music, but my passion for it was reignited at that first modern jive lesson. I couldn’t believe the sounds I was hearing, and I felt sad that I had missed out on decades of  great dance music. I quickly got up to speed, constantly asking DJs about the tracks they were playing. I sought out the remixes that were played, became addicted to YouTube, and spent a fortune at the iTunes Store.

Love a dance track, but don’t know what it is?

One of the main aims of this blog is to share the wonderful music we dance to. There’s rarely a freestyle that goes by, where I’m not on the stage asking the DJ ‘What was that track?’ In my reviews I am able to embed YouTube videos so that readers can get a flavour of the music we dance to. Most of us love the music we hear at class nights and at freestyles, but many of us have little idea what the tracks are. My blog is littered with YouTube videos of these tracks.

One of the first pieces of feedback I received, was when people kept telling me, that they read my blog simply to learn the names of the songs they loved dancing to. One reader tells me that she goes through my reviews on a device connected to a speaker, clicks the play button and then dances round the kitchen. I know I can’t feature every track, but the blog has a considerable catalogue of tracks spread across its postings.

Here’s one of the most played tracks over the past twelve months. I’m sure another track will come along to match the success of DNCE’s Cake by the ocean, and when it does you can be sure I’ll feature it on the blog.

We live in an age of reviews and feedback

Back in the 1970’s you’d go on holiday to Fuengirola. If your hotel was complete you would be lucky, however there was a chance the holiday brochure had made no reference to the night club next door, that kept you awake all night. All you could do then was complain to the tour operator, and you were not guaranteed a response. Now complaining is a whole lot easier. You simply go on Trip Advisor and warn everyone else about your ruined holiday. The internet is awash with places you can review products and activities. So much so that some people will not buy anything from a waterproof tent to a Caribbean Cruise without checking its star rating. Even buying a steam iron for £30 can involve a whole day of research on line to find out if it leaked on anybody (I know, because sadly I’ve done it!).

Reviewing Class Nights and Freestyles

When we pay our money to attend a dance class night, or weekend freestyle there is, as far as I am aware, no website you can visit to rate the facilities, the music or even the level of fun you had. This blog is not designed to offer that facility either, but I have set myself up to offer reviews of the classes and freestyles I attend. Now that sounds a clever way to quickly make myself unpopular or worse taken off the guest list, so let me explain the parameters I use in my reviews.

I don’t want to particularly rubbish the events I attend. I want to enhance the appeal of modern jive. If a class is badly run or a freestyle is poorly attended, I’d rather not publish a review if there isn’t anything else good to say about it. If the music is a little same old same old, I’ll try to make reference to some of the great music that’s played. I once went to a class night that was embarrassingly poorly attended, however the teacher was getting a throughput of new beginners and giving them plenty of one to one help. Beginners are the life blood of the dance scene and it would have been churlish to criticise the attendance figures.

What value do the reviews have?

You might think that my stated aim to avoid being critical, means my reviews have little value. Thankfully there has only been a handful of venues that have not warranted a positive review. It seems that the reviews are meet with a great deal of enthusiasm, and the comments I’ve had left on the blog or on Facebook are only ever positive. Several dance organisations have realised the potential these reviews offer them in terms of marketing their venues, and links to the reviews have been shared many times on Facebook.

The blog goes ‘almost’ viral

The greatest success of any on-line commentary is that it goes viral – may be one day. Earlier in the year I did have one week when traffic to the blog was almost double the normal traffic levels. It was the week I published my diary of the Ceroc Southport Weekender Diary. It seems that links to the blog were shared by many of the people at this great celebration of dancing, and the article – My Southport Diary: The Directors Cut, remains one of the most read postings of the blog’s short history.

Thanks for reading my blog

I have always wanted to write, and I apparently have at least two novels in me, but sadly wanna-be novelists are two a penny. The joy of writing a blog is that it gets read instantly, and when the readership is confirmed by Google Analytics, it gives me a great deal of satisfaction. So before I go any further, I’d like to thank everyone who has taken time to read my commentary on the wonderful world that is Modern Jive. I’d also like to express a particular appreciation for the people, who have contributed to the blog by leaving comments, and for those who have shared the links on Facebook.

Plenty of New Ideas

Read any book on blogging, and it will tell you to just get started. Don’t worry whether anyone is actually reading it, just go with the flow and hopefully you’ll find your own niche in the on-line world that is the blogosphere. That is what I did, and I’ve been surprised at some of the areas I now find myself commenting on. I have just started a major posting about the marketing of modern jive, and I have lots of new ideas I want to develop. Hopefully I’ll find enough time. Thank you again for visiting.

Use the Quick Links below to read more

A Dancer’s Blog Part 2: How the blog developed in the first three months

My Southport Diary: One of the blogs biggest ever postings