Teacher Ashley does it differently

At Ceroc Heaven’s West Bridgford Class, teacher Ashley Davis tried something different for The Intermediate Class.  Instead of doing the normal three move routine he did just one moveThe Basket, but with almost twenty variations.

The Basket is one of the old time Ceroc Beginners moves that is widely used in freestyles, because it’s easy to lead and has a nice flowing action.  It’s also a good move to slow down when dancing to chill-out tracks.

What Ashley did was to explore all the variations of this move, and even I was surprised how many different ones he found.  In each variation the move starts in the same way by bringing the lady to the man’s side.  It’s the exit where the variations are.

So instead of turning the lady out once, keep you hand high and the lady is encouraged to turn for a second time.  Sometimes keep the hands low, sometimes high.  Keep hold of both hands, or let go of one hand.  Do an inside turn out rather than the usual outside one.  There are so many possibilities.

What Ashley did was to explain to the men that they could simply experiment with this one move and add to their repertoire. For the ladies it was about realising that men may vary this move and to learn to recognise the signals.

Ashley gave one great tip.

Remember if the move goes wrong, you’ve probably found another variation.  That’s how dance moves evolve, so just keep experimenting.

I would add this tip:

Remember guys that your lady follower doesn’t necessarily know your new variation, so always think about how you can lead it clearly.

I understand that Ashley did the same Basket Variation class at Ceroc Heaven’s Lincoln class and it went down just as well.  I thoroughly enjoyed it and thought it very useful.  Hopefully more classes will take up this idea. (Posted Friday 15 June)

I live blog at Southport using my Facebook Page

Over the Southport Weekender I lived blogged by using my Modern Jive Dancer Facebook page.  I’d simply take a photo, add a little text and pressed the Post button.  It’s a great way of live blogging.

Hopefully the posts gave a flavour of this wonderful dance fest.  To see the full list of posts please search for Modern Jive Dancer on Facebook.  Here’s just one example.

I get an over dose of Funk

I’m currently updating my Southport Boudoir Taster article (hopefully it will be published on Wednesday next week).  As always I’m writing with my headphones on, as I listen to You Tube.  I’m updating the section on Vince Silva’s Funk Hour when by coincidence YouTube selects a funk track to play.

I recognise the heavy bass line immediately, and turn up the volume as high as I dare.  What follows up is a remix, very reminiscent of ’80s Chicago House, when jocks extended a disco classic by layering samples of other ’70s dance hits over it.

In this Liebrand remix the base track is People’s Choice ’70s blast of funk Do it any way you want.  I didn’t recognise all the samples but The Gap Bands Oops up side your head and Indeep’s, equally infectious Last night a DJ saved my life, were easily identified.  The result was a mash up of Funk that came close to overdose levels.

How about it for the Funk Hour Vince?  In fact why I’m at it, how about Last night a DJ saved my life please. (Posted Sunday 3 June)

What a great idea on The Southern Jive Facebook Page

The Southern Jive Facebook Page is a very vibrant place to keep in touch with what’s going on in the south of the country.  I now post links there to my articles and it generates a lot of readership.  So firstly, thanks to all who take an interest in my blog.

I was really pleased to get this notification on Wednesday.  It’s a free Learn to Dance Ceroc day being run by Ceroc Fever at their Horndean venue in Waterlooville, Hampshire.

I’ve always said that this wonderful dance community is dependent on getting new people to join it.  Here seems to be a great way to get family, friends and work colleagues to give it a try.  Hopefully they’ll get the dance bug and join us.  What I loved about this promo was these words:

Remember how it changed your life?  Spread the love of Dance..

So often, when I go dancing, I meet people who tell me how much Ceroc and Modern Jive dancing have changed their lives for the better.  This dance community is very welcoming and offers people so much, not least the fun of dancing with a partner to great music.  (Posted Wednesday 30 May)

DJ Ashley sets the floor on fire with an ’80s classic

Last night I was at Ceroc Heaven’s Neon Freestyle at The John Godber Centre in Hucknall.  Ashley Davis was the DJ on duty and he created a fun vibe on the floor with his playlist.  One of the best tracks was Lionel Ritchie’s Dancing on the ceiling.  This track seems to have had a bit of a resurgence lately, and every time DJs have used it for that Set the dance floor on fire moment.

I remember dancing to this track back in The ’80s, and even got to see Ritchie perform it live at Birmingham’s NEC.  It was a sure fire floor filler then, and it’s great to see modern DJs using it joyous vibe to great effect now.

The song first made an impact on me as Tony Riccardi used it to close his Southport Thunderball Room set in February.  Such was the impact of the track that night, that it made the short list for inclusion in my Top Ten Track Listing I bring out every September.

It’s just two weeks now to Southport.  I can’t help thinking what other monster tracks the DJs have lined up for us.  I’m sure quite a few tracks will make an impact on me like Dancing on the ceiling.  Can’t wait.  (Posted Saturday 26 May)

Thanks to all my readers- you helped the blog get in The Top 10

My Modern Jive and Ceroc blog just made in to the List of the Top 10 Dance Blogs to follow.  Considering I’ve been writing for less than two years I feel quite proud, but it’s all down to the growing number of readers who visit my site.

So a big thanks to you all, and a special thanks to those who have posted supportive comments on Facebook and on the blog itself.  My thanks also to Tel Jenkins whose photo’s have given real life to many of my reviews, and to those people who have helped me out with the postings themselves.

When you look at the other blogs in the list (see link below), it seems between the readers and myself, we’ve managed to put Modern Jive and Ceroc on the national dance map.  The next goal is to tell even more people just how wonderful this dance community is.

I’ll be writing a little more about the credibility the award gives the blog and the wider Modern Jive and Ceroc community in a later posting.  Right now I have a bit of a backlog of reviews.  Next up the Motown and Soul night at Aldershot.  (Posted Wednesday 23 May)

Visit blog.feedspot.com for more info about the Top 10 Dance Blogs

My First Tea Dance of the summer

The two articles I wrote about Sunday Tea Dances have proved very popular, and I’ve now started looking at my diary to see if I can visit some of the ones I featured over the summer.  Last weekend I was in Surrey visiting my daughter, and so got a chance to call in at The Ceroc Surrey Tea Dance at Byfleet Village Hall.

I was accompanied by my dance pal Tel Jenkins, who was kindly given permission to take photographs during the dance.  Here he captures me chatting with DJ Kevin Hill about one of his fabulous chilled tracks.

I hope to have a review of this delightful Tea Dance on the blog by the end of the week.  In the meantime here’s the track that Kevin was happy to give me the details of.

There has been a few chilled covers of the Backstreet Boys I want it that way and Kevin picked out one of the best – a 2017 tropical house version by Manuel Costa, that was just perfect for a nice SILC style slotted dance.  (Posted Monday 21 May)

A recruitment push for men, that might just work

Looking around Facebook today I came across an idea that might have some mileage.  One of the Ceroc franchises recently did a survey to try and find out what reasons people had for not coming regularly to their classes.

One of the main reasons the ladies gave was that there were never enough men.  This meant that the ladies had to stand out at times in the lesson, and due to the lack of men never got enough dances in the freestyle sessions.

It’s a common problem, and I know that when ladies go to a freestyle the first thing they quickly calculate is the gender balance.  They will always comment when there are too many other women.  I’ve often wondered what could be done about this issue, and so I was interested in what this particular Ceroc franchise was doing to recruit more men.  Here’s what they came up with.

It’s simple . . for the duration of May – bring a brand new man along to a class night and you BOTH get in for FREE!

Sounds like a really good idea.  I’ll be interested to see how they get on.  (Posted Wednesday 16 May)

I chat with DJ John Baker about his music

This weekend there were no local freestyles so I travelled down to Strictly Ceroc Coventry Freestyle on Friday night.  As I reviewed the venue in March I decided to just have a night off and simply dance.  I’ve also got a bit of a backlog of reviews and articles to write, so this was another reason to just enjoy myself.

Needless to say the night was as good as my first visit in March – in fact this was one of the reasons I chose it from the list I found on UK Jive.  I did however get a chance to chat with John Baker about his music policy for Switch the freestyle in Bristol that switches to chill-out music at midnight.

I had noted that John’s playlist that night had been very modern, with seemingly few pre-millennium tracks.  I asked John if that had been a deliberate policy:

I always base my playlist on the age group I find on the floor.  The age at Switch does vary, but on the night you visited there was definitely a younger audience, so my music choice did reflect this.

John did however add a caveat:

Even though I did play relatively modern tracks, I still had to be careful to make sure the playlist was not too samey.  Even within contemporary music there are lots of different styles and I made sure that I mixed it up.

The age spread at Coventry was older than at Switch, and John’s music did reflect this, but what I love about John is that he always mixes in contemporary tracks what ever the age of his dancers.  I have this saying that ‘you are only as old as the music you dance to’, so I was pleased that John treated us all to They don’t know the 2014 track from the Disciples, with its full on bass, last night. (Posted Saturday 12 May)

Ashley’s Head Shave raises £1600 for Cancer Research

I just want to add my appreciation and support for DJ Ashley Davis’ headshave, which took place at The Ceroc Heaven Grange Hall freestyle last night.  Ashley raised over a £1600 for Cancer Research, as Kali shaved off all his flowing locks inbetween his DJing duties.

Ashley’s act of kindness was prompted by his auntie under going treatment for breast cancer.  It was wonderful to see the support he was given by the local modern jive community.

I know from all the updates I receive that many dance organisations raise money for charity and it’s another worthy feature of this wonderful dance community.  (Posted Saturday 5 May)

Great Dancing at Ceroc Perth’s Fresh Weekender

Just back from Perth where I attended the first ever Ceroc Perth Fresh Weekender at The Salutation Hotel in the centre of Perth.  This was a fabulous weekender and I’ll be writing a series of reviews for the blog.  For the moment let me leave you with Tel Jenkin’s fabulous video of the great dancing in the main room.

The video may open with the sound muted – just click the un-mute icon.  The track is Niall Horan’s On the loose – just one of the great contemporary tracks from the weekend, but more of that in future postings.  (Posted Tuesday 1 May)

It's Party time in Perth!

It's party time on the first ever Ceroc Perth weekender at the Salutation Hotel in Perth.

Posted by Modern Jive Dancer on Sunday, 29 April 2018

A thumping memory from Sue’s playlist

Whenever I check out the statistics on readership figures I’m always surprised how many of my old reviews still get read.  One of these reviews from 2017 has had amazing readership.  My review of Ceroc Evokes Fire freestyle at St Neots is on the way to having it’s one thousandths read.

It’s readership has been helped by the fact that I voted it one of the best freestyles of last year, and included Sue Astle’s playlist for that night in my Top 5 DJ List from the same year.  One of the tracks I absolutely adored dancing to that night was a thumping remix of Shaggy and Chaka Khan’s Get my party on.

For some reason I found myself searching for it while I was writing my review of Hayley Epps playlist at Kettering last weekend.  As soon as I hit the play button I knew why this track had made such an impression.  Just love that moment the heavy bass kicks in.  (Posted Thursday 26 April)

A Weekender to look forward to

This weekend it’s the MJRoc Weekender in The Isle of Wight.  If it’s anything like the MJRoc Weekender at Warmwell last November it’s going to be a blast.  Sadly I shan’t be going, but I have my own weekender to look forward to the following week in Scotland.

Next Friday 27 April Ceroc Perth take over the fabulous Salutation Hotel in Perth for a three day dance fest of freestyles and classes they are calling ‘Fresh’.  This is the first time they have put on such a venue and it was great to hear that it’s already a sell-out.

I wish Nicola Di Folco and her team the best of luck, and I’m hoping to bring you some of the highlights in a series of reviews over the proceeding weeks.  I’m travelling up with my good friend Tel Jenkins and we hope to bring you a photo album of some of the best bits.  (Posted Friday 20 April)

Coming Soon – Last night a DJ saved my life

I’m currently working on a new writing project about life behind the decks.  With the help of some DJ friends I’m putting together a new column that lifts the lid on what it’s like to be a Modern Jive DJ.  I’ve long thought that we take the DJs for granted sometimes, and it was about time I shone the spotlight on their craft.

I’ve just finished the second article, and once I have a couple more in the bank I’ll start releasing them in a weekly column I’m calling ‘Last night a DJ saved my life’.  The column is open to any Modern Jive and Ceroc DJ to contribute, and I hope it proves popular with both the DJ community, and the dancers who are as passionate about the music as they are.

A new track breaks through instantly

It sometimes takes a while for a new track to break through, but last night at Ceroc Heaven’s West Bridgford class, I heard a track that I connected with even before the intro was finished.  Niall Horan’s On the loose is one of those tracks that has an uncomplicated rhythm that makes it perfect for a Beginners’ class night.

But it’s more than that.  I recognised a freshness to it production, and loved the standout guitar lick of the introduction and the catchy chorus.  Add in a Country & Western feel and something tells me we are going to hear a lot of this track.  My thanks to DJ Mark O’Reilly for passing me the details.  (Posted Friday 13 April)

Sunday, a chance to take it easy – not this week!

Wow, that was a great afternoon and evening.  Yesterday I got a chance to visit ‘Te Amo’ Sunday.  This is Ceroc Beds & Bucks monthly Sunday afternoon workshop and tea dance in Newton Longville, near Milton Keynes.  I join in the Smooth Slotted class with Joe Collins.  But there was more.

Next door Ashley Davis was running a class where the ladies led the men!  After the lessons I got to speak to lots of people about what they got from their classes.  A big thanks to all of them.  I’ve now got lots of material to write about.

Then it was in to freestyle and a chance to practice the moves and techniques I’d learnt.  The place was absolutely packed, and it’s Sunday afternoon!

Ceroc Beds & Bucks have built quite a reputation for these ‘Te Amo’ Workshop/Freestyle combinations and I’ll be doing 3 reviews in an attempt to portray just how good this event was – better get writing then!  (Posted Monday 9 April)

DJ Mark sends me to Remix Heaven

Ain’t no mountain high enough, written by husband and wife song writing team of Nick Ashford and Valerie Simpson, is one of Motown’s greatest anthems.  Originally recorded by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell it became an instant dance floor hit.

In 1970 Diana Ross recorded the most commercially successful version, but her gentle and somewhat slushy rendition killed it as a dance floor anthem.  Fortunately many upbeat modern reworkings of the song have restored its dance-ability reputation.

The recent version by Freischwimmer featuring vocals from Dionne Bromfield has been picked up by Modern Jive DJs and has become a firm dance floor favourite.

Last night I was at a Ceroc Heaven freestyle with DJ Mark O’Reilly on the decks.  He played a remix of the track that was overlaid with trance inducing club vibes.

This morning I was searching through YouTube trying to find it, when I came across a brand new remix of The Diana Ross version by American record producer Eric Kupper.  It’s got an unashamed club beat perfect for Modern Jive, and I love it.

YouTube is Remix Heaven.  Just type in your favourite song and add the word remix.  You’ll be amazed at some of the great dance-able versions that come up.  Must go.  Time to indulge myself with Ashford and Simpson’s timeless classic courtesy of Eric Kupper.  (Posted Sunday 8 April)

Last night a DJ saved my life

With the completion of my article about First-timers at Southport I’ve now cleared a backlog of reviews.  Time to take it a bit easy on the writing front and a chance to start to work on a couple of projects that have been in my head for a while.

The first is to start a column I’m calling ‘Last night a DJ saved my life – comments from behind the decks’.  I’ve always liked that my reviews are an opportunity to recognise the craft of the DJ.  Such recognition is long overdue.

I hope to use the column in two ways.  The first is to give any Ceroc or Modern Jive DJ a platform to express their passion for dance music.  The second is to ask the DJs questions, on behalf of their dancing public, about life on the other side of the decks.

Many of us have a passion for dance music

The dancers themselves are often very passionate and knowledgeable about the music they dance to.  I’m hoping that they will find any background to the way the DJs put their playlists together very interesting.

Over the next few weeks I’ll be talking to some of the DJs I’ve got to know over the last eighteen months and as a result I hope I can put together some interesting background to life behind the decks.

If any DJ would like to write a short piece about any aspect of their craft, then please message me and I’ll share some of the ideas I have.

The column header features Mark O’Reilly and Ashley Davis of Ceroc Heaven

A cheesy ’80s track gives me the idea

When I was looking for a title for my DJ Column I found myself thinking of the 198 hit Last night a DJ saved my life.  This track was the only hit for American band Indeep, and sadly demoted them to the one-hit-wonder category.

The funky backing track has the feel of a Chic track.  The guitar lick has Nile Rodgers written all over it, and the bass line could have been been the work of Bernie Edwards, the co-writer with Rodgers of the Chic hits.

The DJ rap itself was one of the first examples of rap to make the charts.  It seems very cheesy now compared to the grittier ghetto rap style that followed it.  (Posted Thursday 5 April)

I’m determined to dance at Utopia

Regular readers will know of my determination to learn to properly dance in The Slot to Chill-out music.  I’d love to be able to go to an event like Utopia – the original chill-out freestyle held at The Winning Post in Twickenham.

I’m kind of half way there, but still not confidence enough to ask a stranger on to the dance floor.  I know its going to take a lot of lessons, workshops, and being brave on the dance when ever a chill-out track comes on at my local freestyles.

Last night I took a big step by joining my regular dance partner Jo in her private lesson with Ashley Davis.  Ash is a fully qualified SILC teacher and yesterday he watched as I danced with Jo in a slotted SILC style.

I did quite well I thought, but Ash still found lots of areas for improvement.  Hopefully I’ll remember this tips.

At the end of April I’m off to a weekender in Perth Scotland run by Nicola Di Folco.  Nicola is another teacher of the smooth jive dance technique and I’ve promised myself I’ll go to every lesson that will help me over the weekend.

I’ll keep you posted with my progress.  In the meantime here’s one of the tracks I danced to in my lesson with Ash.  It’s the delicious smooth Pink Champagne by Nick Lopez.

Great to see The Yo-Yo being taught

Last night I was at a Ceroc Heaven class night in Nottingham, and it was great to see Kali Fraser teach The Yo-Yo as the first move in the Intermediate lesson.  This move is an old favourite, beloved by many people who remember it when it was a Beginners’ move.

Though it’s now reclassified as a Classic Move it doesn’t get as much teaching as it used to do.  Which is a pity really because it’s a lovely move to execute for both the lead and the follower, and it also gives the ladies an opportunity to create the lovely arc movement of The Ronde.

I find myself using it a lot, particularly when I find I’m in a man’s right to lady’s right hand-hold.

When I was a Beginner I wrote all the moves down, and divided them up based on their hand-hold.  A lot of moves were doubled handed, like The Basket, or modern day version The Cradle.   Some were man’s left to ladies right – like The First Move, now re-titled as The High First.

I was always worried about what move to do when I ended up, say after a Man Spin, with my right hand to my partner’s right.  The Ceroc Spin was always useful, but it was The Yo-Yo that got me out of trouble more often than not.

These hand-holds are the key to selecting the right move to do next.  Ashley Davis, one of Ceroc Heaven’s teachers, calls the right to right hand-hold the hand shake position, or for short the Shaky, Shaky hold.  I always love when a bit of comedy comes from the stage to relax the beginners.  (Posted Friday 30 March)

Phil kicks off a YouTube discovery trip

After reading my review of Switch, and how I had talked about John Baker’s contemporary playlist attracting younger dancers, my dance friend Phil Cliffe sent me a list of tracks for me to check out:

Here are a few ‘modern’ tracks, which you have probably heard, but I think will attract the younger dancer.

In his list were the very popular New rules by Dua Lipa and one I really rate – 17 by MK.  There were a few I didn’t recognise, so I loaded up YouTube and put in one of Phil’ssuggestions – The Middle by Zedd featuring Maren Morris and Grey – a song that is currently in the Top Ten Singles Chart.

Now I’ve listened to it a couple of times, and I’m not sure, but it kicked off a YouTube discovery trip that proved very informative.  First though, here’s Zedd.  See what you think.

The next track is going to prove very popular

After The Middle stopped playing, YouTube brought up a track, that I did like.  These Days by Rudimental, featuring the vocals of Jess Glynne, Dan Caplen and American rapper Maclemore, is also in the current Top Ten Chart.

Now I’m sure I’ve danced to this already, and it’s going to prove very popular.  Jesse Glynne has a wonderful voice, and she always goes down well on the Modern Jive dance floor.

Wikipedia aids my discovery trip

I’m sure any DJ worth his salt knows The English band Rudimental, but they had sadly passed me by, so I quickly put their name in to Wikipedia.  How they passed me by I feel quite ashamed about, because they’ve had quite a few hits since they broke out in 2012 with their UK No 1 hit Feel the love.

Scrolling down their list of hits, I came across a song I have definitely danced to before, and really loved – Lay it all on me, from 2015, featuring the vocals of Ed Sheeran.  It’s amazing how one track can lead to another when you can click on YouTube so effortlessly.  (Posted Tuesday 27 March) 

I want to dance to this again

I’ve just published my review of Diana’s Bath’s fabulous DJ playlist at Nailsea LeRoc.  Diana packed her set with one great Swing or Rock ‘n’ Roll track after another.  Now I couldn’t feature them all, so I thought I’d use my Quick Steps section to showcase one I sadly had to leave out.

Let the back door hit you by Angela Brown is a thumping piece of bluesy rock that blew me away on Friday night.  I could only find a live version on YouTube, but it has even more energy for being live.  There is some serious blues playing in this video, and it takes no prisoners.  I’m going out dancing tonight and I just wish I could be guaranteed to dance to something like this track.  (Posted Friday 23 March)

A track from my own beginner’s days

I’m in London for a couple of days visiting my daughters and my best mate Neil.  So Thursday night saw me with Neil at Ceroc Surrey’s Byfleet class night.  In the first freestyle session DJ Kevin Hill played a track that took me back to my own class nights, when I struggled to get to grips with the moves.

It was one of those tracks that was played in the Beginners lesson itself, but rarely in the freestyle sessions.  I always thought it a great track to play, as its well defined beat made it so easy to dance to – particularly for the beginners like myself.

I sometimes think that the tracks, for the freestyle session immediately after the Beginners lesson, should all have a simple beat.  More challenging tracks can be played in the second longer freestyle session when most of the early stage beginners have left.

The track, that triggered these thoughts about the music for class nights, was Elton John’s Are you ready for love.

The track has an interesting history, being recorded in the Sound of Philadelphia studios in 1979.  It was produced by Thom Bell who also produced the Stylistics, and you can hear its disco pedigree.  The track that was played at my lessons, and which Kevin gave a spin to, is actually a 2003 remix.  (Posted Friday 17 March)

This is the joy of dancing

Tel Jenkins has just published his album of photos from The Ceroc Heaven Freestyle at Hucknall, last weekend.  Flicking through them I came across this image, that simply took my breathe away.  It shows two people completely given up to the moment, and surely represents the sheer joy of their dancing.

I’m sure that moments like this happened across all the modern jive events of the weekend, and perhaps some were captured on camera too.  It doesn’t really matter whether they are captured.  What matters is that we all have the chance to experience this joy every time we step on to the dance floor.  We are very lucky people.

Blues delight from Charlie via Mark

The other night Ceroc Heaven DJ Mark O’Reilly played a delicious piece of slow blues perfect for a little bit of SILC down the slot.  I was struck by it’s funky vibe, but listening to it now on headphones, it’s got so much going on.  Guitar work straight from Blues Central, wonderful horn sections reminiscent of the good old Stax days, and a funky Hammond organ underpinning it all.

I was just about to award Mark a Blues Master Star, when he owned up to the fact that Charlie, one of the regular dances at the class, had passed it on.  Great to see people sharing music they love.  Having found the the artist Delbert McClinton on YouTube, it seems he has quite a back catalogue of work, and I suspect that the Blues DJs have already dipped in to his work.  (Posted Wednesday 14 March)

I couldn’t find room for a classic chill-out track

I’m just putting together my Ceroc Southport Blush Top Ten Tracks, and realised I’d got two tracks that I wanted to feature from DJ Vince Silva.  Sadly I’d set the rule of only one track per DJ.  The track I have to discard is one from his Midnight Saturday SILC Zone set which is billed as SILC GOLD.

Here Vince plays some of the classic Chill-out tracks from the past.  I popped in right at the end, as I was reviewing Nicola Di Folco, who was on next.  Vince played possibly my favourite Chill-out track of all time.  What I love about it is that you don’t have to an expert at SILC or Smooth Jive to enjoy a lovely dance to it.

You can simply slow down your normal Ceroc moves – it’s this that makes it so popular with Main Room DJs, and why I was so pleased to see it feature in Vince’ s set.  So here is Tone Damli’s gorgeous 40 Years.  (Posted Monday 12 March) 

I’m star struck – I get to chat with JLS

The more I get known for my blog the more interesting people I get to chat to.  Last night I was at Strictly Ceroc’s Coventry freestyle and got to chat with JLS.  You know JLS – Jill, Lynn and Sandra, three girls who tell me they live in the posher part of North West Leicestershire (our little joke).

The three of them have started to branch out and visit new venues in The East and West Midlands – it was there first time at Coventry.  I asked them what brought them there.  Here’s what they had to say:

We went on The UK Jive website, and saw that there were two freestyles on tonight.  Our other choice was The Ceroc Heaven freestyle at Hucknall, in Nottingham.  We didn’t really know anything about either so we randomly chose Coventry.

It’s interesting that I had the same choice.  I decided on the Strictly Ceroc venue because I’d never been there and thought it might be interesting to review.  The UK Jive website is the place that many of us go to find out where to dance, and last year I wrote a review of what is an excellent site (see link below).

So what did JLS think of Coventry?  Well, they were happy to give me some quotes for my review, which should be on the blog by the end of next week.  (Posted Saturday 10 March)

Read my article on The UK Jive Website

Can we call time on The Short Neck-break

When Tim Sant took over as Head of Dance at Ceroc he quickly rationalised the Beginners Moves.  Some he renamed, so The First Move became The High First.  Some were modified, so The Hand Jive was shortened and called The Spot Turn.  

New moves were introduced.  One of the best is The Sling Shot.  It’s not an easy one to master – it’s difficult for the men to lead, and if you don’t get the timing right it just looks dreadful.  Understandingly my lady dance friends tell me that it doesn’t get used much in freestyling.  However it’s a great building block move, and intermediate routines sometimes end with the instruction, ‘Now slingshot your lady out’.

Some moves were dropped or moved in to the Intermediate sylabus.  I do wonder though why The Yoyo had to go, because I think it’s very widely used, and it doesn’t often get taught in Intermediate lessons.  Having said all that, I think Tim did a good job, but I wonder if its time to look at the list again.

I feel for the First-time men sometimes

If so, can we please call time on The Short Neck-break.  I attend a lot of Ceroc beginners classes, and perhaps due to my own struggles as a beginner, I feel for the new men at times.  Last night I was at a Ceroc Heaven class night in West Bridgford, Nottingham.  The sequence was listed as Basic Travelling ReturnShort Neck-break and Ceroc Spin.  

From a technical point of view it’s a good routine with a nice mix of difficulty, and I might add that Kali as always did a great job of teaching the moves.  The Basic Travelling Return is an easy move to start with, and the Ceroc Spin gave Kali an opportunity to teach the important skill of spinning to the ladies.  However I could see that as usual The Short Neck-break upped the stress levels for the men.

This move is also difficult for the women to grasp, and this makes it even more difficult for the men to lead.  The common problem is that the women start turning before they get to the man’s side.  This results in the ladies effectively leading the move and it really throws the men.  Is it any wonder that by the time the routine is linked together, and the men have to lead it twice, that they end up in a tangle of arms and a sickening feeling in their stomachs.

I know that dancing is always going to be a challenge, but I wonder if there isn’t another move that could take The Short Neck-break’s place – The Shoulder Sway for example.  Remember that all Modern Jive classes need to hold on to the men, and reducing their stress levels in the early stages is really important, if we are ever to address the gender imbalance.  (Posted Friday 9 March)

Diana gives me a bit of pain relief

I’m the first to suggest that dancing is a lot more fun way to burn calories than working out in a gym, but I have to admit that in my own battle to get the balance right between calories in and calories out, I have taken to use the services of a personal trainer.  So once a week I’m in Rebecca’s mini gym at the end of her garden.

Rebecca is a Motown and Northern Soul fan, and so we work out to her favourite dance tracks.  Every so often we have to stop the exercise (always appreciated) to check out the details of a song that’s playing.  Last week I was distracted by a more contemporary track while doing some tortuous ab exercises.

Ok Becky, can we stop for a moment.  What is that track, and who’s singing it?  It sounds a bit Janet Jackson.

It turned out to be Diana Ross.  The track was a remix of a track off her 1999 Album Every day is a new day.  Apparently the remixed version was a UK Top Ten Hit.  So, Not over yet (Metro Radio Edit) is another fabulous dance track that passed me by!

I’ll send you the link, but now lets get back on the exercise mat.  So its twenty crunches slow, then ten real fast.

You’d think that all the dancing I did would be enough to keep my weight in check, but apparently I still need the torture of gym work.  Thank God then for the occasional relief when a great dance track comes on!  (Posted Wednesday 7 March)

A great recommendation from my daughter

It’s difficult to impress your kids sometimes, particularly when it comes to music and dancing.  The phrase ‘Dad Dancing’ says it all, but hopefully my two wonderful daughters are proud of their dance mad dad.  So I was really pleased when I received this message the other day:

Heard this and thought of you . . . do you know it?

Attached was a link to Kill the lights by Alex Newell & DJ Cassidy (with Nile Rodgers).  I hit the play button and instantly connected with its thumping beat.  This is good, this surely would make a great floor filler.  Then I realise I’ve danced to it.   Then another realisation- I’ve not danced to this for sometime.

In fact I want to know why this hasn’t become a Modern Jive classic.  It has everything – a thumping beat, catchy lyrics and a production and instrumentation that takes you higher and higher.

The track has a wonderful pedigree too.  Its produced by DJ Cassidy the man behind Jessie J and Robin Thicke’s Calling all hearts.  The vocal is by one of the artists who got their big break in Glee, and just in case you hadn’t noticed the Disco God Nile Rodgers also has some input.

So, someone please help me out and give it a spin – you don’t need me to tell you what a guaranteed floor filler it is.

A remix with even more energy

It gets better.  I just found an even better mix of Kill the lights.  I did my normal trick – I put the song in to YouTube adding the word ‘Extended’ and this is what came up.  It’s got added vocals from Jess Glynne and has been remixed by Dimitri from Paris (I keep coming across him – I must look up more of his remixes).

It’s got a bongo intro that reminds me of Edwin Starr’s Contact, and you can really hear the Nile Rodgers guitar lick.  There’s longer instrumental sections, filled with disco style horns and strings, that take the track to a higher plane.  I’ve got it blasting out of my headphones, and I don’t know how I’m still on my seat.

Please, someone edit this down to four minutes and get it on the decks ASAP.   (Posted Saturday 3 March)

Sadly the Snow takes it toll of everyone’s dancing

The Arctic weather has started to effect dancing across the country.  Here in the East Midlands we seemed to have got off fairly lightly, but a heavy fall of snow on Wednesday night has caused Ceroc Heaven to cancel their class nights at Bentley and West Bridgford, and very sadly the Friday Freestyle at The Grange in Radcliffe on Trent.

The reason I mention this is because of the hilarious and very effective way Mark O’Reilly got the message out through Facebook.  Impressively the Ceroc Heaven faithful shared the Facebook posting 12 times in just the first hour.  I know some people are critical of Facebook, but it serves the Modern Jive Community very well, and what better way to tell the world that Penguins have been spotted in The East Midlands.  (Posted Thursday 1 March)

To read the previous edition of Quick Steps: Quick Notes please click here