Come on, let’s go dancing

I was in Walton on Thames visiting my best mate, who had done some Modern Jive lessons about six years ago. ‘Come on, let’s go dancing,’ I suggested. ‘But I can’t remember what to do,’ he fretted. I tried to reassure him, ‘It’s like riding a bike. You’ll be fine once you’ve had your first dance.’ My friend had hoped for the mildest curry on the menu in his local Indian Resturant, but Friday Night is no time to be consuming calories when you could be burning them off, whilst having fun. I’d already been on the UK Jive Website and spotted a Leroc Surrey Freestyle at Leatherhead. We were never going out for a curry.

I’d been to Tylney Hall before and knew we were guaranteed a good night, but I was particularly interested in what the night might offer musically. The poster on the Leroc Surrey Facebook Page promised that every dance track would be a classic. This sounded promising. I was interested to know if these classic tracks were the same as the favourites I hear at my regular haunts in the East Midlands. Let me tell you now – what was served up by DJ Colin Shaul, was a dance mix with a lot of music new to me.

First Dance, First Classic

I’d barely got my dance shoes on and the part of my brain that has evolved to recognise great dance music suddenly lit up. The rest of my brain quickly calculated that myself and my mate (if I could get him on the floor) were going to have a great night. Here then is Chris Anderson and DJ Robbie with the classic track that set me off.

DJ Colin played a few more classic tracks that I knew from back home – A Night like this by Caro Emerald, Boogie Wonderland by Earth Wind & Fire, The Adam Freeland remix of Sarah Vaughan’s Fever, and I won’t Dance from Will Young. He also played a few of the best chart tracks from the past year including Jess Glynn’s Rather be Years & Years’ King,  and Justin Timberlake’s Can’t stop the feeling and a track I still love dancing to – Cake by the ocean by DNCE. I’ve picked out one of these classic tracks to feature. It’s a real favourite of mine and I’m sure a lot of others too – Real Love by Drizabone.

Gender Balanced and Plenty of People to dance with

When we go to a freestyle, we all judge it with different criteria. We all want to see plenty of other people in the room, and I suspect that the ladies also quickly check out the gender balance. On Friday it seemed just about perfect, and there were few people sitting out whatever the music track. I understand that the Friday Night Freestyles at Tylney Hall are not as busy as the Saturdays, but there were plenty of people to dance with and the dance floor was pleasantly full with enough room for expressive dancing.

Lots of Friendly Faces

When you go to your local freestyle, you want to see your friends and your favourite dancers – when you are a long way from home you want to know that the dancers are friendly. We had a warm welcome from Evelyn on the front desk, and I recognised a couple of faces from previous visits. We soon sensed that this was a friendly group. I was still, however, anxious about whether my friend would feel confident to ask for a dance. After one of my first dances, I asked my partner if she would invite my friend onto the dance floor – just to get him started. She was happy to oblige. That first dance was just what my friend needed and he quickly gained the confidence he needed to ask other ladies to dance. I’d like to extend a special thanks to that woman for her kindness, and to the others that made sure my friend didn’t sit out too much.

Great Music and Great Dancers

What we want of any Modern Jive DJ, is that they play music we love. Its not easy for the DJs when we all have our own favourites. That’s why the DJs need to play music from lots of different genres and that’s just what Colin did. I loved his playlist and the fact so few people were sitting out meant that the rest of the room was loving it too. I suspect that’s Colin’s varied mix of music styles attracts the more experienced dancers. Both myself and my friend commented on the high level of the dancing, from both the men and the ladies, we saw on the dance floor. This freestyle had all the ingredients of a great night out.

More Music Please Mr DJ

Dancing regularly in the East Midlands I probably recognise 90 percent of the tracks my local DJs play. Colin’s choice of music was so new to me that I probably hadn’t heard half the tracks he played. Before I go any further let me showcase one track he played that I’d love other DJs to pick up. I’d never have expected to hear Neil Diamond’s Sweet Caroline on the dance floor.  I know its a well-loved song, but for me it’s just a bit too slow. Colin played a fun version that put a smile on my face all through the dance. If dancing is about having fun then you need a bit of DJ Otzi now and again.

Great music deserves to be shared

Or does it? DJs spend a lot of time trawling through the archives to bring us great dance music. DJs build their reputations on the gems they uncover and I know that some of them are quite possessive of the great tracks they unearth. I’ve been reviewing Modern Jive dance music for a few months now. One of the things people tell me they like about the blog is the inclusion of the YouTube Videos. People often tell me that they love discovering the titles of the songs they enjoy dancing to, so they can download them for their own music files. Colin played so many tracks that I’d love to dance to again but I’ll restrict myself to highlighting just one more of his special finds.

Best Track of The Night

I write a section of the blog where I feature tracks that I think should get more exposure. A few weeks ago I wrote about a Johnnie Johnson blues track called Tanqueray. In the post I ask if DJs could please include some of this energetic bluesy music in their playlists (click here to read the full article). On Friday night Colin played just such a track. I was enjoying dancing to it, whilst wondering what it was. Then I heard a voice that I recognised as the aforementioned Johnnie Johnson. I tuned in to the piano playing and it confirmed that this was indeed Johnson. I tried to catch the lyric. I soon got it – Kansas City here I come. This is one hell of a dance track, and to my sheer delight it went on for over four minutes. WOW! Sorry Colin I’ve got to share Kansas City by Johnnie Johnson. Please, someone play it back home.

Time to slow it down

Some DJs will only slow the pace down at the end of the evening, but why not vary the pace throughout the evening? At about ten thirty Colin changed the pace and mood with two classic relaxed tracks. The first was 40 Years by Tone Damli. Released in 2010 this beautiful love song has long been a favourite of dancers across the country.

His second chill out track was Mighty Mo Rogers’ Black Coffee and Cigarettes. This is a West Coast Swing favourite and it was good to have a chance to watch some of the dancers showing off their cool moves.

Shake Rattle and Roll

My friend loves Rock ‘n’ Roll music. Unfortunately it tends to be a little fast, but Colin found several tracks that were very Modern Jive-able, including a slowed down version of Shake Rattle and Roll. If you want to know who it is by, you’ll have to ask Colin yourself. Needless to say my friend is suddenly very keen to go modern jive dancing again.

Well it is Christmas

There was one other genre of classic tracks that we were treated to. It explained the X in Friday’s X’lassixs and the baubles on the publicity poster at the top of this posting. X is for Xmas and Colin dug out a load of Christmassy versions of classic dance tracks. I have to mention two. Uptown Funk was one of the best new dance tracks of the past two years and I loved the line Julio get the stretch’. Hit the play button on the Christmas re-mix and smile when Rudolf is told to ‘get the sleigh, fly through Harlem, Hollywood, Jackson Mississippi’.

The second is a Christmas version of the Rock ‘n’ Roll inspired Boogie-Woogie Choo-Choo Train. Christmas on the dance floor is a wonderful place. Now there’s a lot of dancing to do over the festive period so get yourself in the mood with The Tractors reworking of their own Modern Jive classic.

Myself and my ‘I’ve forgotten how to dance, so let’s just go for a curry’ friend had a fabulous time at Tylney Hall. We both had some wonderful dances to some fantastic music. My friend has already enquired as to when the next Classics freestyle is – apparently it’s at the end of January, and I’m taking him! Unfortunately, I was hoping to get up north to review another freestyle so we will have to see.

Thank you Colin and Evelyn for a wonderful night of dancing, and I hope to get to the Saturday Night Freestyle in the not too distant future. I’ll finish by recommending this freestyle to any Modern Jivers who find themselves in South West London looking for a friendly place to dance. You’ll have a great night, I guarantee.