This is one of the best

In September of last year I published a list of my Top 5 Freestyles from the previous twelve months (see link below).  A LeRoc Surrey Freestyle held in February 2017 at Tylney Hall, Leatherhead topped the list.  That night the freestyle ticked just about every box, and it was the same on last Saturday night.  However there was one big difference between this last Saturday and the freestyle in February – the DJ.

Back in February regular DJ Colin Shaul had been joined behind the decks by two guest DJs  – Cliff and Amanda from Ener Jive.  I love the idea of having several DJs on duty.  It guarantees a great mix of music, and that night the playlist had been one of the reasons that this freestyle was voted No 1.  I couldn’t help wonder how Colin would fair without the support act.

Here come the boys

My best friend Neil and one of my daughters live within thirty minutes of Leatherhead, and I often come down from Nottingham to visit them.  Occasionally my visit will co-inside with a Tylney Hall freestyle, and it’s the reason myself and Neil have been a few times to this venue.  This time I made the trip down from Nottingham with my dance buddy Tel and so it was the three of us who strutted our stuff up to the desk, to be greeted by Ev.

Perhaps the description of three guys strutting their stuff, is me using a little poetic license, but you can’t beat going to a dance with a group of friends.  It conjures up memories of dance halls long since demolished, where youthful bravado was quickly dashed as girls refused our offers to dance.

Thankfully the Modern Jive etiquette of never refusing an offer of a dance makes for a more enjoyable night, and all three of us had lots of wonderful dances on Saturday night.

Tel brings along his camera

I’d asked my friend Tel along, because he is an accomplished dance photographer, and I thought he might like to put an album together for LeRoc Surrey:

How do you fancy a road trip this weekend?  I’ve lined up a freestyle on both Friday and Saturday night.  If you’d like to bring your camera along, Colin said he would give permission to take photographs at the LeRoc Surrey freestyle on Saturday.  We’ll meet up with my mate Neil.  It’s always a good night and I’m sure we’ll have a great time.

I was so pleased that Colin had given Tel permission to take the photos, and the album he has put together is a wonderful record of a great night of dancing.  Tel loves capturing the action at freestyles as much as I like reviewing them.  I’ve used some of his photos in the review and put a link at the bottom of the page so you can view the whole album.

This freestyle is always busy

I’ve never been to a LeRoc Surrey freestyle at Tylney Hall that wasn’t busy.  In his promotional material Colin states that the venue attracts over two hundred dancers.  So it was again on Saturday and this gives the venue a great atmosphere.

The main room is a fair size with plenty of chairs around the perimeter, but what helps is the large seating area adjacent to the dance floor, where people can relax between dances and chat with friends.  On Saturday every seat was taken in this area.

The dance floor was full right up to midnight, and there were still plenty of people dancing to the end at one in the morning

The dance floor remains full all night

By quarter to nine the dance floor was very busy and it remained so right through to midnight.  Even during the last hour, to one in the morning, there were enough people dancing to keep the atmosphere going.

So what makes this venue so popular?  Lots of things – the venue itself, with its superb floor and facilities for a start.  The people themselves – their friendliness and dancing ability.  And then there is the music.

Five hours of fabulous music

I’m a great fan of DJ Colin Shaul’s music, but on Saturday night he surpassed himself.  What I ask of DJs is that their playlist offers plenty of variety in the hope that it pleases as many people as possible.  On Saturday the variety of musical styles was all encompassing.

There were Modern Jive classics along with more contemporary tracks.  There were all the current favourites as well as trips in to Rock ‘n’ Roll, Blues, Latin and some unashamed pop items.  There were tracks from every decade and every one was a floor filler.

Lots of current favourites we all love

Four pages of my note book are filled with tracks I want to tell you about, it’s difficult to know where to start.  I’ll start with a bunch of current favourites.  All DJs play them, and why not – we love dancing to them.

DNCE’s Cake by the ocean has long been a favourite, but it still fills the floor.  Its the same with Colin’s other current picks – Clean Bandit’s Symphony, Sigala’s Came here for love and Walk the Moon’s Shut up and dance – they all still fill the floor.

Colin spins some Modern Jive classics

I also ask that DJs play plenty of Modern Jive classics.  These songs are classics for a reason.  Number one, because they are so easy to dance to, and secondly because they fill the floor.

Colin gave a spin to one that I consider to be a perfect Modern Jive track – 3T’s version of Lionel Ritchie’s Stuck on you.  This track has a straight forward beat that’s easy to connect with.  It has a catchy melody, and its instrumentation and production makes this track a joy to dance to.

Occasionally that’s all that’s required.  No need to do anything complicated guys.  Just concentrate on making your moves flow smoothly, and giving your partner an easy time by making your lead as clear as possible.  3T’s version of Stuck on you has long been a favourite of mine and on Saturday night I was reminded just what a lovely dance track this is.

DJs should take time to freshen up their playlists

Several years ago I went to a well respected freestyle in The Midlands.  The music was so fresh to my ears.  I was truly impressed.  It wasn’t long before I returned.  Once again I was impressed by the music, but I sensed that many of the tracks were the same as I had danced to on my previous visit.

The more I went, the more I realised that I was dancing to many of the same tracks.  I still enjoyed dancing to them – familiarity is sometimes a good thing, but I couldn’t help thinking that perhaps the DJ should have been freshening up the playlist a little more frequently.

I get to dance to DJ Colin’s freestyle music probably only four times a year.  If he played the same tracks each time would I really notice? Could I really remember what he’d played the time before?  Since I’ve started my blog, I listen to DJ’s playlist with a much more concentrated ear, and I do sometimes spot when the DJ’s play their favourite tracks over and over again.

There’s nothing wrong with this.  What is wrong though, is when the list of favourite tracks is a little limited and that’s when we end up dancing to the same old, same old songs.  I couldn’t help but look back over my notes of Colin’s previous playlist.

No same old, same old with DJ Colin

Apart from current favourites, I could only remember one track that I knew for certain had been played the last time I came to Leatherhead.  That’s pretty impressive, and just shows how deep Colin’s record collection is, and how much time he must spend seeking out new tracks.

The track I remember being played on my last visit, and on Saturday night, is one of my all time favourites – so that’s OK Colin.  It’s a great piece of rockin’ blues, with some wonderful instrumental solos, that lift this track above so many others.  The track is Kansas City, a classic R & B song given new life by blues pianist Johnnie Johnson.  I don’t care if you play it every time I visit Colin.

The smiles on the dance floor tell a story

I was lovin’ Colin’s music, and I was lovin’ the dancing just as much.  In fact everybody seemed to be having a great time, and the smiles on the faces in Tel’s photographs tell their own story. Here’s one of my favourites.

It just shows how joyous dancing can be, and I feel so lucky to have found this wonderful dance scene when I did.

Colin takes us on a tour of the dance music vaults

What always impresses me, is just how varied the music genres on some DJ’s playlists are.  Colin visited so many different parts of the dance music vaults.  Here are a few of the different music genres Colin treated us to.

Rock was represented by The Bodyrockers I like the way, and Rock ‘n’ Roll itself had plenty of outings, with my favourite being Gonna move across the river by Bill Pinkney & The Original Drifters.  Motown was represented by The Isley Brothers This old heart of mine and an exclusive remix of I can’t help myself (Sugar pie honey bunch). 

From the ’70s Disco era came a thumping version of Chaka Khan’s I’m every woman.  The ’80s had It’s a Miracle from Culture Club, and The ’90s had Prince with Cream.  I’ve never had Prince down as someone I would dance to, but Cream is, if you’ll pardon the pun, a delicious track.  (Please ignore the video content, but it was the only short version of the track I could find on YouTube.)

More diversity with pop and Latin jazz

Colin is never frightened to play some good old fashioned pop music.  He picked out two tracks by Boy bands that I just loved – Sacred Trust’s One True Voice and The Overtones’ Loving the sound.  Just like 3T Stuck on you, both these tracks provided a soundtrack to two straight forward lovely dances.

Colin made several trips in to the Latin part of the music vaults, including a real favourite of mine which I call the ‘Stamping Song’.  It’s a wonderful piece of flamenco guitar work that invites everyone to stamp their feet at the end of each musical verse.

Another standout Latin track was a beautiful piece called Hemosa Maria from jazz artist Shazz.  Colin was also in and out of the Blues music vaults and one track really stood out.

A rockin’ blues track sets the floor on fire

I will often use the phrase ‘the DJ set the floor on fire’.  I use it to describe those moments when at the end of a run of hi-energy tracks you feel a sense of euphoria on the dance floor.  As I went through my notes I saw that I’d written ‘Floor on fire’ next to one of Colin’s Blues/Rock tracks – It’s easy by J J Cale & Eric Clapton.

This track has a real rockin’ rhythm, though listening to it now doesn’t have the same effect, as it did on Saturday night.  Then Colin placed it at the end of a run of hi-energy tracks, and everyone around me was losing themselves in the music.  That’s why I labelled the track ‘Floor on fire.’

Perhaps I get carried away more than most

I do sometimes wonder if I’m alone in thinking that DJs set the floor on fire.  Perhaps I get carried away at times.  They say that activity releases endorphins in our bodies that make us feel exhilarated.  Dancing is one of the best forms of exercise, so perhaps I just overdo it now and again and the hormones do the rest.

I don’t make a habit of including pictures of myself, but I thought this picture, from Tel’s album, illustrates the effect Colin’s music was having on me.  I’d just had the most fantastic dance, and as soon as it finished, I rushed on to the stage, note book and pen in hand, to ask Colin what the track was.  Here Tel captured me on the way back to my seat – my endorphin level is obviously still quite high.

Beware excited Blogger on the Dance Floor

A real heart thumping track

It’s Colin’s thumping Club style tracks that really create a buzz for me.  His best for me was a Joey Negro remix of Christopher Cross’ Ride like the wind. 

This was a great song in its own right, but Joey Negro gives it a real club treatment bringing the strings to the fore and upping the bass to the max.  His treatment creates a dance track with more highs than is good for you.  Just listen to how the instrumental builds up before the vocal kicks in.

So, where do you find all these remixes Colin

Colin’s playlists contains lots of thumping remixes.  Another full on track was the Dimitri remix of Madonna’s great ’80s dance floor hit In to the groove.  This has all the feel of ’90s Acid House rave track.  So, Colin where do you find all these great club tracks and remixes?

A lot of my tracks and remixes go my back to my night club DJ days, but nowadays I just trawl until I find one I like. I start with a track I like, then hunt for remixes. I play them over and over again, and if I still like them, they go in my collection.

It’s nice to think that all that Club DJ-ing experience can find an expression on the Modern Jive dance floor.  I suspect that many of the DJs on the scene cut their teeth in Clubs across the land.  Colin also gave credit to some of his fellow DJs.

Some of my DJ friends will share tracks with me , and I reciprocate by giving them tracks.  Myself and Cliff share a lot between us.

Cliff of course had been one of the DJs, who had shared the duties behind the decks on the night I voted Tylney Hall as the Best Freestyle of The Year.  Cliff was actually in attendance on Saturday night, and I was able to have an interesting chat with him about the different approaches to DJ playlists.

DJ Colin in the foreground with DJ pal Cliff behind him

This playlist had chill out tracks too

I’d hate you to think that Colin’s playlist was all boom, boom, boom, for it had some lovely chilled out sessions.  One of the tracks that Colin featured in these gentler periods was a contemporary remix of an Aretha Franklin song Struggle by Tinush.  It’s a beautiful piece of music that surely will be picked up by other Blues and Chill out DJs.

A real Blues and Chill out Zone favourite

Colin played another gorgeous chill out track that has already made a name for itself in Blues and Chill out zones.  Its inclusion in Saturday night’s playlist showed how Colin had tried to catered for everyone’s taste with his journey around the musical genres.  Here then isn the superbly named Daddy was a milkman with Breathe in.

Please share Tel’s wonderful photos

It was great having Tel record the joy the dancers were experiencing out on a packed dance floor.  I have no doubt that his pictures will get shared across Facebook.

Posting these photos on your Facebook page is a great way to spread the word about how much fun this dance scene is.  Your friends will see you having a great time and will want to come and join in.  So please follow the link below, and show everyone what a great time we had on Saturday night.

One last great dance to an ’80s Disco anthem

Near the end of the night I was asked to dance by a lady towards the very end of a song.  We had barely started dancing when the music came to an end; and she asked if we could dance the next track.  I of course was happy to accept her offer.  At this point neither of us knew what the next track would be.

The new track soon started up and I instantly recognised it – I’d danced to it only a couple of months back, at Colin’s Dorking Halls class night, on my last visit down.  The song was a full on disco anthem from the early ’80s.  It was an invitation to use up the last remaining bits of energy and to really go for it.

Give your lady partner the dance they want

Of course I had no idea if my partner could, or indeed would want to dance in a heart thumping manner.  I was tempted to just go for it, and she if she could keep up, but I remembered something I’ve been writing about recently.

I’m currently writing an article about dance floor etiquette, and have been discussing the idea that it is the duty of the male lead to give his lady follower the dance that they want, not the dance that they, the man, wants.

Adhering to my new found rule I started to dance in a careful manner, while willing my partner to show signs of wanting to really connect with the highly charged beat.  The dance was going well, and the lady in question was proving to be a very proficient dancer.

I slowly upped the ante and she duly followed, and it wasn’t long before we were both completely connected to the thumping beat.  What followed was an exceptional dance and I was so pleased that I’d shown the patience in the early stages.

The song that provided the hi-energy music for our dance was Keep the fire burning by Gwen McCree (wife of George).  Now with Colin being Mr Remix I’m not sure if he played the original or one of the great remixes.  I’ve embedded the Joey Negro remix because it has all the energy that I remember from Saturday night.  It was a great way to end a fabulous night of dancing.

Colin v The Guest DJs

This venue had topped my list of Freestyles last year, when Colin had been joined on stage by Guest DJs Amanda and Cliff.   So how did he do on his own?

Tel had little doubt that, after seeing all his photos on his computer screen, the evidence suggested people had loved it.  My friend Neil struggles with the more contemporary playlists, and was happy to declare Colin’s music his best playlist of the past few months – not that he’s been to many mind.

It’s too early to say if Tylney Hall will once again appear in my list of top freestyles, but I will say that Colin has set the bar very high.  It now just leaves me to thank all the LeRoc Surrey crew for putting on a great night of dancing, and of course all the ladies for all the wonderful dances.

To see the full album of photo please follow the link 

The album may not be able to be viewed on some devices so please visit the Modern Jive Dancer Facebook Page and view from there

To read how Tylney Hall topped my list of Freestyles click here