My dance friend spreads his wings

On Saturday my dance friend Tel, who supplies the blog with lots of his wonderful photographs, decided to spread his wings and try out a new freestyle venue.  A quick look through the listings on UK Jive threw up a new venue.  Tel asked what I thought:

I’ve spotted a freestyle at Tamworth run by Hi5Jive, apparently they normally just do Thursday freestyles.  This is their first on a Saturday night.  Have you been to the Thursday one?

Yes, and I had a great time.  I remember the music being particularly good, and Michael who runs it was very welcoming.  Give it a go.  I’ll be interested to see what you think.

Tel offers to write a Guest Review

It seems that Saturday night was quite amazing, so Tel asked if he could write a Guest Review.  No matter how often I get out and about, I’m always going to struggle to offer a comprehensive list of reviews that covers the country, and I really appreciate when people offer to do a review.

If you would like to write a Guest Review for the blog I’ve put a few details at the bottom of this review.  Here then is Tel’s piece on Saturday night.

An unassuming building gave no clue to what was in store

The Mile Oak Community Centre, on the outskirts of Tamworth is an unassuming building that gave no clue as to the amazing evening that lay ahead for those that stepped inside for the best dancing for miles around.

The atmosphere inside was electric.  When I walked in the music was in full swing, and the floor was buzzing.  There were enough dancers to assure me that this was going to be a fabulous evening’s dancing.

I was greeted like an old friend

This is a cosy, colourful and welcoming venue, with a top class sprung dance floor.  I was greeted like an old friend as soon as I stepped inside.  The venue is run by Michael Jeffries, and I was so impressed that he came over to my table several times during the evening to ask if I was having a good time.

This is a rare thing and I really felt he cared.  It goes some way to explain why the venue is so popular and why Michael has a large and loyal following.

A perfect mix of old and new tracks

The music served up by DJ Tom Bolton was a perfect mix of old and new tunes, from fast paced Rock ‘n’ Roll to laid back and sultry grooves.  Add in a wonderful mid-tempo selection of tracks, and it was a music mix that kept the dance floor filled all evening.

Here’s a couple of Tom’s tracks that show perfectly the great diversity of the music on offer.  The first is a bit of a rocker, though not too fast for Modern Jive – Shakin’ the shack by The Fantastic Shakers.  After listening to it, Paul couldn’t help but throw in a comment:

I remember I loved Tom’s rockin’ tracks when I visited the Thursday freestyle.  Apparently Shakin’ the shack is an example of Carolina Beach music, a musical genre that grew out of ’50s and ’60s rock and pop.

Carolina Beach music is closely associated with a dance format called ‘The Shag’, which developed out of ‘Swing’ dance.  Considering that Modern Jive itself is a development of ‘Swing’ dance and ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll’, I’m surprised we don’t hear more of this fabulous style of dance music.

Tom does chilled out grooves too

Tom mixed in lots of smooth jive tracks like the current favourite Havana by Camila Cabello, but I’m going to choose another chill-out track to illustrate Tom’s musical diversity.

My second track to feature is Randy Crawford’s Rio De Janeiro Blue.  This is a wonderful chill-out track that has proved to be a Modern Jive favourite that proved very popular on Saturday night.

Friendly dancers make it a night to remember

There were a few faces I recognised from my own dancing in Nottingham and Derby.  I got the feeling that most of the people knew each other, but there was no sense of a clique, and I was made to feel totally at home here.

The standard of the dancing was very good and I was never off the dance floor.  Just one of the reasons that this was a night to remember.

More great rockin’ tracks

Tom mixed in more great Rock ‘n’ Roll inspired tracks, but there was still plenty of room for all the Modern Jive favourites we love.  I’ll mention one other rockin’ track, because I know it’s a favourite of Paul’s – Club Savoy by Rockin’ Louie and The Mamma Jammers:

Great to hear that this track was played Tel.  I voted it one of my best tracks from last year.  Club Savoygets a lot of plays at Independent Modern Jive freestyles, but for some reason I’ve yet to hear it at a Ceroc venue.  Strange that, because its a rock solid floor filler.

I’m invited to do a line dance

Now I like Ceroc line dances and I’ve learnt all the recent Nu-Line Dances, and around halfway into the evening I was invited to join in a unfamiliar one by a dancer I had met before at a freestyle in Burton Town Hall:

Come on, it’s line dance time, I remember you like doing them!

The track was Uptown Funk by Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars.  To my surprise around a third of the dancers on the floor took part.  They all seemed to know the steps, but not having done it before I just had to wing it.  I think I did OK considering it was my first attempt.  It was great fun and I didn’t think I made too much of a fool of myself doing it.  Here’s Paul again:

These line dances are another great example of the fun that we all have at Modern Jive freestyles, though I’m hopeless at them!  You do wonder when and where all these people at Mile Oak learnt the moves.

I’ve looked on the internet, and I think I’ve found an example that looks like the one Tel did.  Either way I think it illustrates the fun that everyone obviously had with it on Saturday night.

Here then is Keema’s Kickin’ Crew.  The dance was choreographed by Keema and her Mum Nana J.  How cool to have a Mum who can shake it this good.

Postscript: Victoria gets in touch

Victoria Neale who runs ‘Want2Dance with Victoria’ got in touch to give some background to the line dance that Tel witnessed:

The majority of dancers doing the Uptown Funk line dance probably learnt the routine at my Ballroom Dance Class.  The others will have simply liked what they saw and picked it up.

I often teach a line dance as a warm up before my lessons.  What Tel saw is merely my re-working of a quintessential line dance called the Blackpool Belle.  The line dance took it’s name from the song it was originally danced to called Blackpool Belle. 

This song was first sung by The Houghton Weavers and tells the story of a train that picked up holiday makers to take them to Blackpool.

I decided to modernise the dance by using the Bruno Mars track Uptown Funk, and it has since become my signature line dance.  My Uptown Funk Line Dance now gets performed at some point at all my dance venues.

It was great to read that it made a lasting impression on Tel, and as you say it’s all part of the fun we have at dance events.    I’ve put a link to Victoria’s website below.

DJ Tom spins a modern Latin track

I know that when Paul does reviews he’s constantly writing the tracks down.  I was too busy having a great time out on the dance floor and for me every track was a winner.  However one track sticks in my mind as being great fun to dance to.

It’s the modern reworking of the Rosemary Clooney Latin classic Sway, done by a guy called Shaft and re-titled Mucho Mambo.  This wasn’t the only modern Latin track that Tom played.  He also gave a spin to No Me Digas Que No by Enrique Iglesias.

This track mixes in a bit of rapping with its Latin beat, and you can see its appeal to a younger audience.  I’ve not heard this before, but it just shows how fresh and diverse Tom’s set was.  Out of the two, my favourite was the Sway remix.

A welcome break from the dancing

The evening was whizzing by as one great dance track melded in to another.  I seemed to never be off the dance floor, so I was grateful for a break with a hot drink and as is the tradition at Hi5Jive’s Thursday freestyles, hot drinks and snacks are freely available all evening.

Tom slows it down at the end

DJ Tom finished off the evening with a track that’s become a real chill-out favourite since its release in 2015 – Kaleida’s silky Take me to the river.  This is a classic winding down track, perfect as we all came back down to earth at the end of a fantastic night’s dancing.

100% Dance Fun

In summing up, this was a night with everything that a dance night should be – great music, fabulous dancing and generous hosting – 100% dance fun.

I can now see why it was so well attended.  Hi5Jive have obviously built quite a reputation with their Thursday night freestyles, so that this first Saturday freestyle was always going to be a success.  (See the link to Paul’s review of the Thursday freestyle below.)

In summing up this was a night with 100% of everything that a dance night should be, great music, fabulous dances and generous hosting.  I’ve put a link to Victoria’s dance classes below.

A couple of Bonus Ballroom tracks

I thought that Take me to the river was the end of the evening, but Tom threw in a couple of bonus tracks that sounded like classic ballroom tunes.  Now I’m no ballroom expert, but I think one was a 3/4 time Waltz and the other a 4/4 time Foxtrot.

I was impressed to see most of the remaining dancers show off their ballroom dancing skills, as they gracefully made there way around the floor, in a scene that was reminiscent of a tea dance at the Blackpool Tower Ballroom.  All I could do was look on in awe. This was a really lovely way to finish off an evening of dance magic.

Review of Hi5Jive’s Thursday Night Freestyle

More info on Want2Dance with Victoria

I can only scratch the surface of this wonderful dance scene

No matter how often I get out and about, I’m always going to struggle to offer a comprehensive list of reviews that covers the country.  For this reason I’ve decided to offer the readers of the blog an opportunity to be Guest Reviewers.

If you are interested, please send me an email to paul@modernjivedancer.co.uk  I’ll then send you some helpful hints on how to write and layout your review.