I was born to dance in The Thunderball Room

When the programme for any Ceroc Southport Weekender is published on line, the first thing I look for is the DJ slots over the three night time sessions.  I was born to dance in the Thunderball Room at Southport, and I doubt I’ll ever experience a dance vibe like the one the DJs create here.

I’ve reviewed the music in The Thunderball Room at the last three Southports, and I’m beginning to know the regular names that appear in the listings.  I was particularly pleased to see Caroline Houlton listed, for she is one of my favourites, and her tracks have appeared regularly in my articles about Southport.

Caroline gave me some of my dance highlights

Caroline is obviously also well thought off by the Ceroc Top Team as, along with John Gammon and Hayley Epps, she has had the most slots over the last four Southport Weekenders.

Some billing perhaps, but let me tell you now that Caroline delivered.  She gave me some of my best dance highlights of the weekend, and played some tracks that are in pole position to be included in My Southport Blush 2018 Top Ten Tracks (see below).

Friday Night at 1:30 is some gig

Any DJ slot on Friday night at Southport is a tough gig – we have all been counting the sleeps up to the big day.  The anticipation has been slowly building, and now we just want to dance to the very best music.  But come 1:30 the gig gets a little harder, because the night birds have arrived.  These are the people who wait until midnight to leave their room, with the intention of staying up way past yours truly’s bedtime, and dare I say it they have a different taste in dance music.

Caroline mixes it up perfectly

DJs will always be aware of the age of the people out on the floor, and reflect this in their music.  Now all of us, whatever our age, love a good cross section of musical styles, but I think it is safe to say that the younger the people out on the dance floor, the more contemporary the music needs to be.  Not easy then to get the balance spot on, but I think that Caroline got the music mix about right.

In the picture above, you can just make out Caroline, to the right of the stage behind the decks, as the dance floor enjoys her great mix of music on Friday night.

A classic track that everyone loves

Michael Jackson’s Billy Jean was one of the biggest selling dance tracks of the ’80s, and is without doubt Micheal Jackson’s most successful solo performance.  From the moment of the first drum beat you more than likely know the track – you certainly know it when the bass line kicks in – and you can’t help but want to dance to it.

I sensed that everyone was lovin’ it, regardless of the fact that many of the people on the dance floor weren’t even a twinkle in their parents eyes when it was released in 1983.  It’s a timeless classic and rightly deserved its place on Friday night.

Not every track can be so universally appealing

Of course not every track can be as appealing to all the different ages out on the dance floor, and that’s when DJs have to be courageous and play tracks that might have a more limited appeal.  I thought that Caroline mixed some more contemporary tracks in really well, and two of the best were both from 2017 – Shawn Mendes’ There’s nothing holding me back and Feel it still from the duo Portugal The Man.

Caroline keeps me on my toes

Caroline has told me that she is a great fan of Dutch DJ and record producer Bakermat.  On Friday night she played what I consider to be his best ever track – Living –  in fact I consider it to be one of the best contemporary dance tracks from the past few years.  The track’s production is typical of club style tracks that build in stages to a trance inducing climax.

The track builds to this climax twice, and so high was I when it finished, that I had to run to the stage to give Caroline the thumbs up.  Immediately I got there I heard the opening strain of her next trance inducing track – so within a flash I was gone to look for a partner.  Caroline later told me that she had wondered why I had suddenly disappeared again.

This track has a great pedigree

The thing is, when you recognise a great track you can’t hang about.  You need to find a partner – someone who can do it justice, before someone else grabs them for a dance.  The track that I didn’t want to miss out on, was a track seemingly designed for a rockin’ Thunderball Room set – FR’s Love is the music.

This 2002 track has a great pedigree.  It features the voice of Jenny B, who is one of the great voices of ’90s dance music.  She famously sang the vocal to Corona’s 1993 club classic Rhythm of the night.  There are two well known mixes of Love is the music.  Caroline played the Club Mix, but there is also the equally thumping Gospel Mix.

The Club Mix is characterised by an hypnotic guitar riff backing track.  My research suggests that’s its actually a sample of the banjo lick from a disco classic from 1974 – Al Downing’s I’ll be holding on.  It just goes to prove how much modern dance music owes to the music that came before it.

A contemporary track just as hypnotic

As I said above, Caroline wasn’t frightened to include some very contemporary tracks.  Here’s one that really stood out.  It’s a remix of a 2017 song I know well, but this VIP Mix of James Hype’s More than friends, featuring the vocals of Keli-Leigh, is filled with fabulous contemporary production effects.

It features changes of pace and mood, but what made it stand out, was when the drum and bass dominated – time to give yourself up to its compelling rhythm.

Caroline sets the floor on fire, but first…

Any DJ worthy of a Thunderball Room set is going to set the floor on fire, and Caroline played a triple that did just that, but first let me tell you a little more about the tracks that gave her set a good mix of music styles.  Early on Caroline gave a spin to Michael Buble’s Everything, and half way through she found space for a Latin track – Mira Pa’ Dentro by Carlos Jean.  There was a well loved ’80s disco classic – The Detroit Spinners more dance-able version of The Four Seasons Working my way back to you, and the equally loved modern dance smash Sigala’s Came here for love. 

A Triple packed with dance energy

There are many dance tracks packed with energy that are proven floor fillers, but on their own they won’t necessarily set the floor on fire.  It’s where they are placed in the mix that’s important.  I often get a sense that DJs build the vibe out on the floor by playing a run of tracks that are individually packed with dance energy.  It can sometimes take four or five of these racks, but it can be sometimes be done with a triple.

Lets get started.  Play a floor filler that’s proved its worth over the last few years.  There’s surely no one who can’t feel the energy in Walk The Moon’s Shut up and dance.  Now follow it with one of Motown’s greatest dance hits – The Temptations’ Get ready.

There is so much love for Motown out on the dance floor (more of which when I review Tim Sant’s Motown and Soul Hour) and Get Ready has long been a Modern Jive favourite.  Written and produced by Motown legend Smokey Robinson (he also wrote their biggest hit My Girl) it never lets up from the very first beat.

Now set the floor on fire with one of the greatest Ceroc Classics

Now set the floor on fire with the final part of The Triple – a track that everybody knows and loves.  This track has a special place in my heart, as it was played at my very first lesson some eight years ago, and it seems to have been played just about every other week since.  It’s a track that I consider so special that I chose it as the first in my regular column – My Favourite Tracks (see link below).

The track has a wonderful pedigree, of which more in the aforementioned article, but it’s the sheer joy of its delivery that make it worthy of being labelled one of the best floor fillers in any DJ’s catalogue.  So get some head phones on and tune up the volume. . .

No wait a moment.  Let’s do this right.  Play two of your own favourite floor fillers at full volume first and get yourself in the zone.  Now hit the play button.  Then you’ll understand why I wrote in my note book ‘Caroline just set the floor on fire’.  Here is the track Caroline played to complete her Triple – Last Night by Chris Anderson featuring DJ Robbie.

 

To read the article on Last Night please follow the link

My Southport Blush 2018 Top Ten Tracks

I’ll compile my Top Ten Tracks for this years Blush Weekender when I’ve completed the final review in a couple of weeks time.