8:30 and already the dance floor is buzzing

I didn’t arrive at Grange Hall until eight thirty, but already the dance floor was buzzing.  Grange Hall has long been one of the premier freestyle venues in the East Midlands, and yet again it was packed out.  I quickly sensed that this was going to be fabulous night,  I wasn’t wrong and it turned out to be one of the best nights of dancing anywhere for a long time.

Getting as much feedback as possible

I’ve reviewed The Grange many times before for my blog, so I thought I’d try to do things a little different this time, and so I’ve also included quotes from my fellow dancers.  Thanks then to all the people who took time to give me their comments, or posted them on The Ceroc Heaven Facebook Page like this great endorsement.

Fabulous music tonight at Grange Hall . . . Thank you Ashley.  Sue on Facebook 

DJ Ashley Davis creates an amazing vibe on the dance floor

It’s a lot easier to create an atmosphere on the dance floor when it’s as busy as it was on Friday night, but there is no doubt that Ashley’s choice of tracks was a major factor in creating an amazing vibe out on the dance floor.  Sue’s comment, posted on The Ceroc Heaven Group Facebook Page, reflected the thoughts of many of the people I spoke to, and in this review I’ll try to put my finger on how Ashley created such a great vibe on the dance floor.

Ashley selecting another great track.  Image courtesy of Tel Jenkins

Tel captures the great atmosphere in his images

I just love that image of DJ Ashley with the special effects created by Tel Jenkins.  It seems we all love Tel’s photos, and he tells me that the album of The Grange will probably get over five hundred views by the end of the week.  Tel’s photographs create a lasting memory of Ceroc Heaven’s fabulous freestyles and he managed to capture some wonderful moments from Friday night, a few of which with his permission, I’ve included in this review.

Why is The Grange such a popular freestyle?

I’ve visited a lot of very busy freestyles over the past year, and you can’t help wondering what makes them so popular.  There is no doubt that the organisations that run classes are able to build up a very loyal following.  While I know there were people who had come some distance, the majority of people I recognised from the network of classes across Nottingham and Lincoln.

In fact, I’d go as far as saying that most of the people on Friday night learned their moves in the lines of these beginners classes and were helped and supported by Ceroc Heaven’s large team of Taxi Dancers.  This connection with class nights also helps create a friendly atmosphere.

The Grange is always my favourite venue, and its the friendliest too.  I’ve had an amazing night, I’ve hardly sat down.  Janet, who learned her moves at The Grange 

I had a great time, friendly people, great fun and some great tunes.  Kerry, who also started her dance journey at The Grange

So how did DJ Ashley do it?

I’ve been reviewing DJ’s playlists for some time now, and all of them play some cracking tunes, but that on it’s own doesn’t guarantee a great vibe out on the floor.  When I walked in I sensed Ashley had already warmed the dance floor up.  The track that was playing was The Disciples On my mind.  Released this year, this is a popular track with a thumping beat.

As I started to settle in and put my dance shoes on, Ashley followed On my mind with another track with an even stronger pulse – the modern remake of  Leo Sayer’s Thunder in my heart by Meck.  I couldn’t get my shoes on fast enough, and I rushed on to the dance floor half way through the track not wanting to miss out.  As the thumping beat died down, I wondered how Ash would follow up on these two energised tracks.  He did it with a classic Ceroc floor filler.

This is a fantastic song.  Ash is setting the floor on fire.  Jo, my dance partner 

Agnes’ Release me is one hell of a track.  It’s been around a while now – but who cares, because it’s a top dance track.  It’s full of energy and has a strong beat that is easy to connect with.  The three tracks all had the same easy-to-dance-to feel, and when put together gave the dancers nine minutes of full on music to lose themselves completely in.  My dance partner was right, even at 8:45 Ashley had set the dance floor on fire.

Ashley mixes up the decades

This fantastic triple was certainly loved by the people out on the dance floor, and I’ll suggest why.  The three tracks spread themselves across three decades, with the Leo Sayer track having its origins in The late ’70s.  Dance music junkies like myself love all the different types of music, but many of us, myself included, have a special place in our heart for the dance music of our youth.

Many of the people out on the dance floor were still at senior school when Leo Sayer rocked the discos with his 1979 dance anthem, and that’s something that Ashley played to.  I really appreciate it when the DJs take us back to our younger days.  Ashley didn’t forget the people who grew up in the eighties either, and gave them a nostalgic ride with a rockin remix of Duran Duran’s iconic Rio.

I doubt that Ashley was even a twinkle is his parents eyes when Leo Sayer was a big star, so its a credit to him that he played a set that included dance favourites from the ’60s (Fontella Bass’ Rescue Me) through the ’70s and ’80s to the ’90s (Gala’s Freed from desire).

Ashley mixes up the music styles too

It can’t be easy to please all of the people out on the dance floor all of the time, when we all have our favourite tracks and some that we’d rather sit out.  The trick is to mix up the music styles and that’s exactly what Ashley did.

I loved the different styles of music that Ashley played.  I particularly loved the ones with a Latin beat.  Sarah who learned her moves at The Ceroc Heaven West Bridgford class 

I loved the American Foxtrot numbers.  Victor, another who learned his moves at Ceroc Heaven class nights

Now I wasn’t sure what Victor meant, but he went on to explain that it was the style of music that Frank Sinatra had popularised in the ’40s and ’50s.  I know them as Swing tracks, and Ashley played a few of these.  Here’s two of them: Robbie Williams version of Ain’t that a kick in the head, and one of my favourites – Maroon 5’s version of Sinatra’s The way you look tonight.

The ‘Thank God it’s Friday’ Feeling

Dancing is fun.  It gives us all a great sense of well being, and what better way to spend a Friday night after a hard week at work.  As I travel around the country doing my reviews I can’t help but notice the fun everyone is having, and the smiles across the faces of the people as they dance the night away.

It was the same on Friday night at The Grange.  Everyone I spoke to was having a fabulous time and Tel’s photograph’s capture the joy of dancing to great music with the friendliest of people.

Tel’s images capture the fun everyone was having

The tempo never seemed to let up

A DJ can’t play full on tracks all night, and Ashley did slow the pace to give the dancers a break, but somehow he kept the tempo going all night, and it’s this that created the great atmosphere out on the dance floor.

Ashley kept the tempo flowing all night.  I loved the way he intertwined the fast and the slightly slower tracks.  Anne, a dance music junkie like myself

There were so many great tracks, and this leads me to suggest another reason why everyone wanted to be on the dance floor.  Everyone of Ashley’s tracks was a floor filler.  There just weren’t any duds.  Here’s a great example, Love on me by Galantis & Sling n Hook.  This track has a thumping beat and I can’t imagine anyone not wanting to dance to it.

. . . but what does every one else think?

When I’m doing my reviews there’s a danger that I might end up judging the evening from my own subjective perspective, that’s why I was so pleased that people were happy to see their own views included.  Here’s John talking about what made the night for him:

The Grange is always a good night, and once again the atmosphere was fabulous.  John, who is a regular at The Grange class nights 

John’s right, Grange Hall freestyles are always good nights, and I want to feature a track that shows just how much everyone was lovin’ their dancing on Friday.

Ashley plays the stamping song

At times on Friday the night had a party feel, and Ashley played what I consider to be a dance party anthem.  No not Agadoo, but The Stamping Song.  Well its not called the Stamping Song of course, in fact it’s quite a serious piece of flamenco guitar work.  The song is called La Galleguita and you’ll instantly recognise it.  It’s the one where everybody stamps their feet at the end of each musical phrase.

What was so great about Friday is that just about everybody joined in, so much so, that at one time Ashey turned the music down and all you could hear was the stamping.  Great fun and proof if it was needed that everyone was in party mood.

Memories of strutting like a wannabe John Travolta

’70s Disco music is some of the most well loved dance music ever recorded.  It’s always going to go down with those of us who strutted our stuff like a wannabe John Travoltas back in the day,  but these songs also have a universal appeal, so Ashley unashamedly served up a couple of crackers.  The first was the Drifters You’re more than a number in my little red book.  What’s so wonderful about this song is that, as well as it’s easy to dance to tempo, you can sing along to the chorus.

Is this one of the most loved ’70s dance tracks?

The second of Ashley’s ’70s picks was the song that, in my book, got the best reaction of the night out on the dance floor.  I asked Ashley if he was aware of just how well this track went down:

It was amazing.  From the stage I could see the whole dance floor, and when the chorus kicked in everyone was singing along.  It was such an uplifting sight.

Young hearts run free is a song that has touched a lot of people lives.  It’s message is both sad and yet inspirational, and has been a clarion call for many a broken heart.  It’s no wonder that so many of us know the words.  It’s also a great dance track with a gentle paced rhythm that’s so easy to dance to.

From time to time it’s nice to have a simple dance, nothing too complicated, no need to worry about expressing your musicality, just dance and sing along to the lyrics and feel a warm glow in side.

So many great tracks we loved

Ashley’s playlist was packed with great tracks that we all know.  DNCE’s Cake by the ocean, Robin Thicke’s Blurred lines, Clean Bandit and Jess Glynne’s Rather be, and the thumping mash up of Moves like Jagger and Jumping Jack Flash by the Glee Cast, were just a few of the well loved floor fillers in Ashley’s playlist.  Oh, and not forgetting the biggest dance track of the year Justin Timberlake’s Can’t stop the feeling.

As well as treating the dance floor to tracks they love, you can always depend on Ashley to play something fresh.  Two new-to-me tracks were Instruction from Jax Jones, and a great new club anthem style reworking of Whitney Houston’s I wanna dance with somebody.  Both these full on tracks tracks kept the energy levels up on the dance floor.  Here’s The Heat (I wanna dance with somebody) by Ralph Felix and SDJM.

Time to slow it down with Fiona’s favourite

After all that talk about hi-energy songs it’s time to slow it down a little.  I’d made a decision to get as much feedback from my fellow dancers as possible. so I’ll let one of them choose the next featured track.

The music was really good tonight, and my favourite track was ‘Take me to the river’.  Fiona, a regular at Ceroc Heaven class nights

As I mentioned above Ashley occasionally slipped in a few slower tracks to give the dancers a break before he turned the energy levels back up to the max.  Fiona picked out a track that is getting a lot of plays on the Ceroc circuit and you can see why.  It has a lovely relaxed tempo, and while its suited to close-hold blues and SILC, it’s popularity is down to the fact you can still modern jive to it by simply smoothing out your regular moves.

Another favourite, but what is it?

One of the things people seem to really appreciate about my blog is that I identify the tracks that they love dancing to.  It involves spending a lot of time on YouTube, constant Shazaming and a lot of trips to the stage asking the DJs ‘What was that track?’.  I was pleased then on Friday night when I was able to identify a fellow dancer’s favourite track of the night.

Motown has enjoyed a strong revival in the past few years and, as an ageing Soul Boy, I always appreciate it when DJs give a spin to one of their great back catalogue.  Ashley knows how much Motown is loved, but puts his own stamp on proceedings by finding modern reworkings of these classic tracks.

Ashley was one of the first DJs to dip in to the Craig David Album of Motown covers and on Friday treated us to his version of Marvin Gaye’s I heard it through the grapevine.  He also played a cracking new version of a Motown favourite someone loved as much as I did.

Ashley’s music was fabulous tonight.  He played a great new version of Ain’t no mountain high enough.  I loved it, any idea who it was by Paul?  Anne a Motown lover

The track is a 2016 reworking by Freischwimmer featuring the voice of Dionne Bromfield. It has a much stronger beat and a thumping drum and bass backing that makes it as good as, if not better, than the original.  I do sometimes wonder where DJs like Ashley find these gems.  Where ever you guys find them, please don’t stop, as we all appreciate dancing to new music.

Great music equals great dancing

There’s a reason why we all appreciate it when DJs create a great vibe on the dance floor.  It helps relax our inhibitions and ensure we dance as if no one’s watching – a surefire way to really enjoy yourself out on the dance floor.  Tel’s photos show the great fun everybody had on the dance floor.  Here’s Tel’s own take on his night behind the camera.

I love taking the pictures at The Grange, as there’s always a great vibe on the dance floor.  There’s little inhibitions either and I get to capture some wonderful moments.  People love the idea that they’ll be featured in the Ceroc Heaven Albums.

When I sit down to select the best images I’m always amazed at the smiles on peoples faces.  As I went round with my camera on Friday night I saw so much joy on the dance floor, and I hope the photo album shows this.

You can view Tel’s complete album by following the link to The Ceroc Heaven Facebook Page.  In the meantime here’s one of Tel’s images from Friday night’ showing two dancers seemingly lost in the music.

It seemed no one wanted to go home

So great was the music that it seemed that no one wanted to go home.  At 10:45 I checked my watch – the dance floor was as busy as it had been all night.  Surely it would thin out soon, but even at 11:30 the floor was still very busy and Ashley’s tunes were still rockin’ the floor.

In fact Ashley never let the tempo drop even at this late hour.  Here’s one of the great full on tracks from the last part of the night.  It’s a thumping new version of Gabrielle’s Dreams by Alex Ross and it’s a real favourite of mine.

Ashley finally slows it down

It was only right that in the last twenty minutes Ashley slowed the pace down so that people could dance in a more relaxed manner – a chance to do a little SILC or Blues maybe.  Ashley played my current favourite SILC track – Daecolm’s beautifully slow rendition of Abba’s Dancing queen.

Rather than feature the Daecolm track, I’m going to let one of my fellow dancers choose one of these late night tracks for you to listen to:

I had a fab time on Friday and loved the music.  One of my favourites was Max Milner’s ‘Free fallin’.  Josie

Ashley is building up quite a following

So many people loved Ashley’s music.  It seems he is building up quite a following.  Maria is a fan of Ashley’s music and came on Friday night because he was on the decks:

The music tonight was so easy to dance to.  I loved the variety which included some wonderful Blues, Funk and Jazz.  It was all quite uplifting.  Maria, who learnt her moves with Ceroc Heaven

Thanks to all the people who like Maria gave me soundbites to include with my own thoughts about the night.  I’d like to think that they give an added authenticity to the review.  I hope that when editing their words I still maintained the essence of their comments.

Congratulations to all the Ceroc Heaven Crew

Ashley rightly deserves a lot of credit for the success of Friday nights freestyle, but equal credit must go to Mark, Sue and Kali for running the network of classes where most of the people on Friday night learnt their moves.  In these lessons they have created, with the help of great team of taxis, a friendly vibe that extends to their freestyles.  A friendliness that was so much in evidence on Friday night.

I should also give a mention to Caroline and Tracy who helped with the setting up on Friday night itself, and along with Mark, Sue and Terry were still loading the van at one o’clock.  On behalf of all of us, a big thank you for providing a great night out.