Let’s get it on at The Summer Prom

Tomorrow it’s the Ceroc Heaven Sumer Prom. 6 hours of dancing with a choice of 12 hours of music. I’ll be starting out in the School Hall (The second room) to indulge myself in two hours of Motown and Soul. Then its in to the School gym for four hours of the very Best Rooms tunes from DJ Mark O’Reilly. From time to time I’ll be slipping back to the second room, where DJ Ash will be spinning chill out tracks, to try out my newly acquired SILC moves.

No need to worry about tickets. As I understand it there will be plenty on the door. I have no doubt its going to be one of the best nights of the summer. Hopefully see you there – so in the words of Motown legend Marvin Gaye ‘Let’s get in on’.

I’ve completed the SILC in SIX course

Sunday saw the last of the six SILC classes run by Ashley Davis of Ceroc Heaven. So the big question is ‘Can I know do it now?’ Well the answer is a ‘Yes’ and a ‘No’. I think I’ve mastered the basic technique – opposition and dancing in a slotted way, but I struggled remembering many of the moves – most of them actually! However I am quite proud of it the fact I can SILC for a complete track without too much repetition, and it means I don’t have to sit out anymore when the slow tracks come on.

Getting this far has been quite a challenge, and I’ve decided to write a series of articles about my SILC adventure over the last year. I hope it will inspire anyone still struggling to keep going, but I think it might also be of help to the teachers. I get the impression SILC is still very much an evolving dance style and the people behind SILC haven’t quite worked out the best way to roll the syllabus out.

I hope to have my first article on the blog in a couple of weeks. In the meantime I’d like to thank Ashley for his patience in teaching us, what is a very difficult technique. I’d also like to thank the ladies who also came to the classes for putting up with the guys, who at times lost the plot somewhat. You were all very patient and did your very best to encourage us.

A Modern Jive classic I’d not heard for a while

I was at the Jag Jive freestyle at Great Bookham on Saturday night (look for the full review at the end of next week). DJ John treated the Main Room to some classic modern jive tracks including one I’d not heard in a while. As good as it gets is a great showcase for the talents of saxophonist Mindi Abair. I remember this track being very popular a few years back and it was great to get a chance to dance to it again. (Posted Sunday 23 July)

The South Coast has a vibrant Modern Jive scene

I went to a fabulous Freestyle run by Dance Infinity at The King Alfred Leisure Centre in Hove last night, and I should have a full review on the blog by Thursday. I also got to chat with some of the locals about the Modern Jive scene centred on Brighton. It appears that this is a very strong area for Independent Modern Jive Organisations.

I was told about a very well established freestyle venue in Worthing run by Diamond Dance, and I was invited to their event tonight (Saturday). Sadly I have other plans, but it sounded like it was going to be very busy. I also got to dance with Wendy Barton who runs Adrenaline Jive with freestyle venues at Burgess Hill and Eastbourne. I know Danceaholics also run freestyles at Shoreham.

It seemed that everyone I spoke to was very enthusiastic about the organisations that run modern jive events along this stretch of the South Coast, and I sensed a real pride that the venues were all highly successful. I’ve decided to revisit the area in the not too distant further and see for myself just how vibrant this area is. (Posted Saturday 22 July)

Great Version of Gabrielle’s Dreams

DJ Ashley was on the decks at the Ceroc Heaven class last night, and he treated us to some great new sounds. Pick of the bunch was Alex Ross’ modern version of Gabrielle 1993 hit Dreams. The original version was a little too slow to modern jive to, but this latest version is just perfect.

Kelham Hall rocks to Motown and Soul

Back on the dance floor again after to my trip to Sorrento, with a trip to one of the best freestyle venues – Ceroc Heaven’s Kelham Hall. DJ Mark O’Reilly was on the decks and he played a Motown and Soul mix that rocked the floor. I suspect Mark was trying out a few tracks prior to the Prom Night Freestyle in a couple of weeks, when he’ll be spinning Motown and Soul tracks in the second room for the first two hours.

The mix started with The Velvelettes’ He was really saying something and finished with Sister Sledge’s Lost in music. I was so impressed that Mark gave the Velvelettes track a spin. Surprisingly I’d not danced to it before as it has a perfect tempo for modern jive. I can’t remember dancing to the Sister Sledge track either. It was written and produced by Nile Rodgers and Bernie Edwards, the creators of Chic.

I’ll be posting a preview of the School Prom Freestyle in the next few days. Two rooms, a 2am finish – it promises to be the biggest freestyle event in the East Midlands this summer. Tickets are available from the Ceroc Heaven Website. In the meantime here’s the Sister Sledge track – listen out for the distinctive Niles Rogers guitar lick in the chorus.

Surely this Phil Collins track will work

I can’t help but be constantly on the lookout for tracks that will be great to Modern Jive to – it’s probably the fantasy DJ in me. On Sunday night I was back at the Sorrento Lemon Jazz Festival. As on previous nights, there was music playing through the speakers to entertain the audience before the band appeared on stage.

Suddenly I recognise the introduction to a Phil Collins track. When Collins worked on his first solo album Face value, he called on the services of the Phenix horns, a four piece section (saxophone, trombone and two trumpets) that also provided the distinctive backing for Maurice White’s Earth Wind & Fire. The collaboration was very successful and they also worked on Collins’ most successful album …But seriously. 

What caught my ear was the Phenix Horn’s thumping introduction to one of the hits from that album Something happened on the way to heaven. I found myself listening intently and could feel the urge to get up and dance, however five minutes before the band is due on stage is not the time to indulge yourself!

Surely this track, with its overload of horns, would make a great Modern Jive track – so why can’t I ever remember dancing to it? It’s surprisingly on the slow side, but I’m sure it still has enough pace to work. I imagine it being played as a last track of a hi-octane triple – The Trammps Disco Inferno, then Earth Wind and Fire’s own horn fest Boogie Wonderland, with Something happened on the way to heaven to finish it off.

In my DJ dreams hey! Here it is horn section and all. (Posted Wednesday 12 July)

Beat the Monday Blues by watching this video

So its Monday, and that means its a long time until you get your next freestyle dancing fix. So here’s a video that might just bring a smile to your face. Peanut Jelly Butter by Swedish duo Galantis was a big hit on the dance floor last year, but the video is a great piece of entertainment in own right. I won’t spoil it for you, but my favourite bit is where the guy dances by the banana display. Visiting Sainsburys will never be the same again. (Posted Monday 10 July)

The Romans didn’t Modern Jive but…

I went to Pompeii yesterday, and looked everywhere for any evidence of The Romans Modern Jiving. If there were any sprung wooden dance floors they were destroyed by the ash. However there were many very well preserved mosaic floors depicting all manner of Roman life, but sadly nothing suggesting Friday night fun on the dance floor.

There were also many preserved frescos, but while they showed pictures of The Gods, there was nothing that looked like a DJ with their headphones on. There were, of course, plenty of pictures of beautiful maidens in flowing gowns, but non in floaty rock ‘n’ roll  dresses. To think the Romans conquered the whole of Western Europe, but never whooped it up at a modern jive freestyle.

… they know how to Rock in Sorrento

However the modern day Romans know how to let themselves go, and they did it to a Modern Jive classic! Last night we went to our nightly offering of live music at The Sorrento Lemon Jazz festival (it seems that everything to do with Sorrento has lemons in the title).

The act was The James Taylor Quartet, an acid jazz group based around Taylor’s Hammond Organ playing. I thought to myself they were like Booker T and The MGs with attitude – a lot funkier with no restraints.

Suddenly I recognised the opening strains of Booker T’s Green onions. Released in 1962, it is doubtful if any members of the audience would have danced to it in their youth. However the most extraordinary thing happened.

Taylor turned the mic round and asked the audience to sing the notes – remember this is an instrumental, so no words. Suddenly the whole audience is on its feet singing every note in tune. It just proves how universal this track is. Not surprisingly it is ranked No. 181 in Rolling Stone’s 500 greatest songs of all time, and is the only instrumental in the list.

It’s a track DJ’s occasionally play at modern jive freestyles, and its great that they pay homage to a track that deserves its revered place in dance music culture. It’s worth remembering that tracks like this, though they are quite simplistic compared to modern music productions, laid the foundations for the amazing music we dance to every single weekend.

Here then is the original with the Steve Cropper on guitar, along side Booker T Jones on Hammond Organ. Perhaps back in Memphis, the home of Stax Records there is a mosaic floor depicting Steve playing his Fender Telecaster guitar. There should be for he is one of the Gods of modern guitar playing. (Posted Sunday 9 July)

Great musicality track from Etta James

I love Blues music, but I struggle with the really slow stuff, so my ears pricked up when I came across this Etta James track, while wandering around YouTube a few weeks back. I just want to make love to you has got enough pace to be suited to regular modern jive, but it has a little something extra that invites you to experiment with your musicality – should you so wish.

I think I may have danced to it before, but it would be great to get a chance to dance to it again. I think it would be perfect when DJs need to slow the pace down. See what you think. (Posted Thursday 6 July)

A great bluesy offering at Arden Hall

I’m a great advocate of dance organisations posting pictures and videos from their freestyles on their Facebook Pages, so I was pleased when I got notification of a video posted by a group member of Ceroc South Birmingham. The video showed a still busy dance floor at 11:30 at their recent freestyle at Arden Hall.

There was a really interesting piece of blues music playing, that had just the right pace for modern jive. I couldn’t help but hold my phone up to my laptop screen and press the Shazam button. The track turned out to be – It Don’t Matter by Donavon Frankenreiter from 2004.

 

I can only guess that the DJ who served up this delightful track was Lou. I’ve been to a couple of events DJ-ed by Lou and she always digs a few real dance gems out of the music vaults. Great pick Lou. (Posted Tuesday 4 July) 

Did the Roman’s Modern Jive?

Well I’m off to find out. Its time for a break from dancing and blogging, so I’m of to Sorrento in Italy for some R & R. I’m hoping to take in a trip to Pompeii. It will be interesting to see if there were any sprung wooden dance floors preserved under the volcanic ash.

For those readers who regularly visit the blog for a modern jive fix, I’ve written four posts that will automatically publish themselves over the next two weeks. They include my Southport Weekender ‘Top Ten Tracks’. I got to dance to some great music that weekend and it was great fun putting a Top Ten together. I hope you find my selections interesting.

I’ll also be adding a few short posts to this ‘Quick Steps’ section. Look out next Monday for a video that I hope will bring a smile to your face. Should there be any modern jive in Sorrento you’ll be the first to know. That reminds me – did I pack my Roman toga! (Posted Monday 3 July)

DJ Ash plays two cracking Safri Duo tracks

Another packed freestyle at Ceroc Heaven’s Grange Hall Freestyle last night. DJ Ash treated the floor to two cracking Safri Duo tracks. I’m sure everyone will know Played alive (The Bongo song). Regular readers must be fed up of hearing about the great dances I’ve had to this iconic track, but Ash also played the lesser known Rise (Leave me alone) featuring Clark Anderson

 

Rise has all the same ingredients of The Bongo Song, including a cleverly phased build up to the trance instrumental section. It’s packed with the same thumping percussion and a great bongo solo in the middle section. Like the Bongo song it has the gentler sections where you can take a bit of a breather, then explodes in to the hi-energy climax. Dance of the night! (Posted Sunday 2 July)

A Blog for Motown Junkies

When ever I feature a song in my postings I will search the internet for some interesting background. One of the best sites is Wikipedia, but I have recently found a blog that has a mine of information on Motown (see link below). The aim of the blog was to write a detailed review of every Motown track ever released, starting from 1959 – I hadn’t realised that Motown went back that far.

Having found this quite amazing blog, I’ll write a separate posting next week to give you more details of the fascinating information it contains. In the meantime click the link to have a look yourself. (Posted Thursday 30 June)

Whipping it up at the SILC Class

I went to the Ceroc Heaven’s second SILC class on Sunday, and I feel I’m starting to make real progress. What pleases me is that I’m slowly starting to build up a portfolio of moves. On Sunday we went through the three moves from the week before, and were introduced to another three, including a whip. By the end of the lesson I could remember all six moves, though my whip wasn’t very smooth.

That might not sound a lot, but progress is progress no matter how slow. Six moves, when mixed up, is just about enough to get through a track. Remember at the lesson I’m dancing with people off a similar standard – we all feel the same sense of achievement when we get to the end of a track.

I remember being a beginner and it taking months before I could put together a routine, without too many repetitions. Again, when I moved up to intermediate lessons I probably only added a move a week. I’m there again next week. I’ll be pleased if I can add another couple of moves, and hopefully my technique will improve a little too.

One of the joys of these SILC classes is being able to dance to music I would normally have to sit out. Here’s one we danced to yesterday. Take me to the river by Kaleida is a beautiful piece of music that’s often played at the end of freestyles. Perhaps now I’ll be able to do it justice. (Posted Monday 26 June)

Another Successful Night at Tapton Hall

I understand that the second Ceroc Heaven freestyle at Tapton Hall was another success, and I have no doubt that it will go on to establish itself as a premier venue in South Yorkshire. As always now, Tel Jenkin’s produced a wonderful video of the evening’s dancing, and posted it on the Ceroc Heaven Facebook Page.

Watching the video, I was struck at how smooth the dancing looked. This video, packed with smiling faces, is a great advert for modern jive dancing, and I hope that people will go on the Ceroc Heaven Facebook page and share it with their friends.

Tel takes snippets of video throughout the evening, and then edits them together to the soundtrack of one song. The track that accompanies this video is the 2011 hit Happiness by Alexis Jordan. What amazes me is that the people are dancing to different songs , with different rhythms, in all the different clips, yet some how they all appear in time with the soundtrack. So how do you do that Tel? (Posted Sunday 25 June)

Breaking News: 2 Hour Motown & Soul Slot

Ceroc Heaven have just announced the programme for their Summer Prom Ball at The Friesland School, Sandiacre, near Nottingham. To my great delight it features a two hour Motown and Soul Slot. The Prom will be a Two Room affair, along the lines of the very successful New Years Eve Party.

The second room will be given over to Motown and Soul for the first two hours with DJ Mark O’Reilly. At ten DJ Ashley Davis takes over, and he’ll be playing tracks you can SILC and Smooth Jive to. At midnight Ash will slow it down further, as the second room changes in to a Blues Lounge until the close at two.

This event, which is ticket only, looks like being a sell-out. It’s going to be a fabulous night, with the Ceroc Heaven following in real party mood. Tickets are available at all the Ceroc Heaven Venues and on the Ceroc Heaven Website. I’ll be writing a more detailed preview in the run up to the event, but in the meantime can I ask for two requests. Both were popular floor fillers at recent Motown and Soul nights I attended – Rescue me by Fontella Bass and McFadden & Whiteheads disco classic Ain’t no stopping us now. (Posted Wednesday 21 June)

Back at SILC Classes

The SILC classes at Southport where some of the most popular. Even though it’s a hard technique to grasp, it seems a lot of people want to give it a go. It is hard, and being an experienced modern jive dancer doesn’t make it any easier, because the basics are the opposite of what I’ve spent years learning. In modern jive the man leads by pushing and pulling (as gently as possible of course) his partner. In SILC you get your partner to move by releasing compression. It’s hard to explain in words, and it’s even harder to do.

I have tried quite a few classes over the past year, but I’m still struggling. When I hear a really slow piece of music, I’d love to be able to say to a lady, “Shall we SILC it?’ but I’ve yet to make that leap. Yesterday I went to another basic SILC class. It was the first in what is being called ‘SILC in Six’ – six lessons over the next six weeks. Unfortunately two of them fall in my annual holiday, but I’m sure I’ll get something out of the four I hope to get to.

I’ll write a full review after I’ve done the last class, but in the meantime I’ll mention one highlight from the class. The reason I, and I suspect a lot of people, want to learn SILC, is so we can dance to slower paced music in an appropriate way – slowing down your modern jive moves just doesn’t hack it. The last part of the class was treated as a freestyle session where we could practice our technique.

Teacher Ashley Davis played a gorgeous track I normally would have to sit out. Using the simple routine Ash had taught, and slipping in a couple of other moves, I could remember from other SILC lessons, I actually managed to dance the whole way through Attention by Charlie Puth. Myself and my partner couldn’t help smiling at the end. We’ll get there I’m sure. (Posted Monday 19 June)

Lots of new faces at Kelham Hall Freestyle

 

Fabulous freestyle last night at Kelham Hall with DJ Mark O’Reilly on the decks. Tel’s video captures the great atmosphere in this iconic venue. I was really pleased to see a lot of new faces. A whole gang of girls from the Ceroc Heaven Grange Hall class made it over for the first time – all were agreed what a wonderful venue Kelham is, and I’m sure they’ll be back. I also met a few guys who’d travelled quite a distance to Kelham.

A few had come from as far as Leeds and it was great to chat about the regular freestyles they visited. All mentioned Tadcaster – the venue where I’d had such a fab time a couple of months ago. Another place that was spoken of enthusiastically was St Chads, in Leeds. This is one of the Ceroc Yorkshire venues, and it was a reminder for me to put it on my list. (Posted Saturday 17 June)

A Northern Soul track that’s worth a Modern Jive spin

I’ve just posted my review of John Baker’s Motown and Northern Soul freestyle at Southport (see link below). There were so many tracks I wanted to feature, but I have to limit the word count. There was one track I thought I’d give a special mention here, as I think its worth a spin at a Modern Jive freestyle.

Most of the Northern Soul tracks were discovered by DJs hunting through deleted tracks and old demos from the ’60s. Sometimes the production quality left a little to be desired. Ian Levine, often seen as one of the power houses behind the growth of Northern Soul, took it upon himself to rerecord some of these tracks with different singers and improved the overall sound.

The Elgin’s version of  Nothing worse than being alone is a good example of this. I’ve just listened to the original by The Ad Libs. I can see why it became a Northern Soul floor filler, but the sound is some what tinny. By comparison Ian Levine’s production is much fuller, and so suitable to spin at a modern jive freestyle. Here then is the updated Elgin’s version. (Posted Saturday 17 June)

To read my review of John Baker’s Motown and Northern Soul set please click the link

Southport Reviews are on the way

Now I’ve recovered from the Southport weekend, it’s time to get on with the more detailed reviews of the classes, DJ sets and music. Below are the reviews I’ll be working on over the next two weeks:

  • John Baker’s Motown & Northern Soul Freestyle
  • Tony Riccardi’s Friday night DJ set
  • Caine & Danni’s Simply Slotted Class
  • Lyndsey’s Double Trouble Class
  • Tim Sant’s Sunday night DJ set
  • My Top Ten Southport tracks

I still hope to find time to do some of my regular postings. As always I’ll be updating this Quick Steps section, and I hope to add some more thoughts to my ‘Marketing Modern Jive’ post. (Posted Friday 18 June)

Me, The Slot and dancing ‘so last century’

So I’m determined to dance in ‘The Slot’. Apparently I’m very last century as I dance in the round. As I mentioned in my last ‘Quick Steps’ posting below, I was at Grange Hall in Radcliffe on Trent on Saturday night, and I was determined to give this ‘Slot Thing’ a real good try. Before I tell you how I got on, I did have a quick look around the dance floor to see if anyone else was getting all ‘Slotty’, and sadly I have to report that it seems the whole of Nottingham is also very last century too. Perhaps I’m being a little hard on Nottingham, as it was pointed out to me that there were a couple of guys and their partners doing it.

When it had quietened down a little, I asked my regular dance partner to join me in front of the stage – where we found a suitable slot. Now I have to say that I did a little better than I thought I might, but it was still so alien to me. The trouble is that few of the standard moves seem suited to this Slot style of dancing, so I feel like I’ve got to start all over again. Quite honestly I feel like a beginner again, and it’s a little bit terrifying.

Fortunately the lady I’m dancing with understands that I’m trying to reinvent myself, and is both patient and kind. ‘I thought you did really well.’ My partner means well, but in my head it was all a bit boring. I’d worked out about 4 moves that I could adapt and I threw in a couple of moves I’d remembered from my SILC classes. Well we have to start somewhere, but don’t expect me to be setting The SILC Zone alive at Southport this weekend (see my Southport Diary for my next thoughts on this topic). (Posted Tuesday 6 June)

I’ve got to learn to dance like this

I’ve got to learn to dance in The Slot. It looks really cool, but I struggle with it – seems that I dance the old fashion way – in the round. Every time I go to Southport I realised I’ve made little progress with The Slot thing – and I’m going again next week. As always I’ll be standing on the edge of The SILC Zone wishing I could join in. So I’m determined to give it a proper go – starting right now!

So not wasting any time I go on YouTube and put ‘Slot dancing’ in to the search bar. Be careful what you put in search bars, as a whole list of slot machines came up with pictures of erotic dancers where the cherries should be. I then added the word Ceroc in to my search – ‘Ceroc Slot dancing’. Now the people at Ceroc HQ are not going to like this, because up came a fantastic video of a West Coast Swing flash mob in Sydney, Australia.

Two things surprised me about this video. The first was the fact it had obviously just rained – I thought the sun perpetually shone over Sydney – and the second thing was that I couldn’t take my eyes off it. I’ll say it again – I’ve got to learn to dance like this. Now I’ve tried West Coast Swing and its bloody hard work, so I was quite excited when Ceroc developed the SILC dance syllabus. I know there is a difference but this street dancing looked like SILC to me. It was only when I checked the video title that I realised I’d been watching West Coast Swing.

As a preparation for the upcoming Southport Weekender I’m going to experiment doing my modern jive moves in the slot. Now I know that a lot of modern jive moves work well when danced in the slot, but I also know a lot don’t – The Octopus is one. I’m going to have to really think about which moves will suit The Slot. Tonight I’m going to a Ceroc Heaven freestyle at The Grange in Ratcliffe on Trent. It will be busy – hopefully there’ll be a slot for me at the side of the dance floor. I’ll let you know how I got on. In the meantime here’s the video of some really cool dancing in a rather damp Sydney. (Posted Saturday 3 June)

A full-on track from 2004 gives me the best dance of the night

DJ Ashley Davis was on the decks last night at The Ceroc Heaven class in West Bridgford last night. You can always rely on Ash to play some great dance music, and not surprisingly I had one of those ‘ What was that track’ moments. The track in question had a thumping funky bass line that gave me the best dance of the night. Released in 2004, Filthy/Gorgeous by The Scissor Sisters is a full-on track, that I must have danced to before, but last night it really broke through. Great choice Ash. (Posted Friday 2 June)

Another Modern Jive blog with a different perspective

There are a few other Modern Jive blogs on the internet, but this is the best. What about dance written by Emma T, is a blog with a very different perspective to my own. The articles Emma posts often deal with the social side of dancing, an area I try to stay away from. Of course partner dancing is always going to throw a spotlight on human behaviour, and with many of the participants being single, it’s quite entertaining sometimes watching the goings-on on the dancefloor. ‘That guy had two in a row with me – does it mean anything?’ ‘That guy has asked me to dance five times now. Does he want to get engaged?’

I’ve never really felt comfortable about commenting on the social interactions that go off on the dance floor, but Emma is not so cautious. Being a woman probably helps. A man’s perspective is probably best kept to the private man-talk sessions on the periphery of the dance floor. One of Emma’s postings deals with the awkward moments at the end of a dance. Reading this from a woman’s perspective was particularly interesting and at times very amusing.

Emma is passionate about dancing, and her postings also cover some aspirational articles about dance. In my own writing I have often talked about Dance Heaven in relation to a dance where the connection between you, your partner and the music track is total. In an article entitled Aspiring to THAT dream dance’ Emma writes in more detail, than I’ve ever done, about achieving this same perfect connection.

Some of Emma’s posting have a useful practical angle too. As I now count down to Southport, by updating my Weekender Diary, I can’t help but suggest than any first-timer reads her recent article What really happens on a dance weekender. I couldn’t help smile when she describes the deliberations women go through when deciding on which outfit to wear. This probably explains why my lady dance friends, take three times the amount of clothes they are actually going to wear. (Posted 1 June)

You can find Emma’s Blog by following the link

Sheffield rocks to a thumping bass line

Last night DJ Mark O’Reilly had the floor rockin’ at the first ever freestyle at Ceroc Heaven’s new Sheffield venue – Tapton Hall. By the time I got there, at 9.15 the dance floor was full and even at midnight there were still over forty people on the dance floor. This was a fabulous night and I have no doubt that Tapton Hall will establish itself as a top drawer freestyle venue. I’ll have a full review on the blog by Wednesday.

Best dance of the night was without doubt to It’s love (Trippin’) by Goldtrix featuring Andrea Brown. This track has been around since 2006, so I know I’ve danced to it before, but last night I really connected with its full on bass line. Just love the way the bass is faded out and then kicks in with the THUMP factor turned up to the max. (Posted Saturday 27 May)

You are only as old as the music you dance to

One of the joys of dancing is that it makes you feel good. It can also make you feel a lot younger than you really are. When I’m dancing I’m twenty five again (okay – thirty five). What helps is the music you dance to. Dance to a thirty minute run of current chart tracks and you can be as young as your modesty will allow. Now if you are going to dance like a club goer, it might be helpful to have a little background knowledge to current dance music terminology. So I thought I’d offer some insight into ‘Tropical House’ Music.

Last night DJ Ashley Davis played a wonderful track at the end of the Intermediate lesson at Ceroc Heaven’s Sandiacre class night. It turned out to be Casanova by Palm Trees from 2015. I don’t think I’ve danced to this before, though the chilled out rhythm and instrumentation did sound familiar. This is probably because it’s from the ‘Tropical House’ genre of music that has become very popular over the last ten years.

Now according to Wikipedia ‘Tropical House’ is a subgenre of ‘Deep House’, which in turn is a subgenre of ‘House Music.’ Now I remember ‘House Music’ – memories of dancing to Pump up the volume and Theme from S’Express in the late ’80s. While House Music was still a dance form, it differed from Disco because it was more electronic and made a greater use of synthesizers. It also saw the introduction of sampling – using snippets of other songs mixed in to the production. The use of Rose Royce’s Is it love you’re after in the intro to S’Express is a perfect example.

Now ‘Tropical House’ music is likewise very synthesizer based, but gets its name from using so called tropical instruments like steel drums, marimbas (a wooden form of xylophone) and even pan flutes. This explains the genres chilled out characteristics. So now you are up to speed here’s Casanova. (Posted Thursday 25 May)

DJ Mark sends me off on a Swing Jazz journey

Another busy dance floor at Ceroc Heaven’s Grange Hall class night. At around 10.30 I had the ‘One more dance and then we’ll go moment’. The track that came on was something very different. I instantly recognised it as a Glenn Miller track, and thought it was In the mood. My dance partner was confident it was A string of pearls. DJ Mark O’Reilly confirmed my partner was correct. This is a great piece of dance music and reminded me that there is a lot of Swing Music that’s suited to Modern Jive.

 

While I was listening to A string of pearls on YouTube, I spotted a playlist entitled The Best of Swing Jazz. This set me off on a bit of a musical journey, and I soon realised I had wandered in to a part of the Dance Music vaults with a lot of riches. I’ll report on the music I found in a future posting, but in the meantime I hope you enjoy the Glenn Miller track.

First ever freestyle at Tapton Hall

Just loved this photo posted on the Ceroc Tapton Hall Facebook Page, showing DJ Martin’s music console. It shows some great music served up for the dancers at last Tuesday’s class night. Shed a light by Robin Schulz, David Guetta & Cheat Codes is a current Ceroc favourite and was one of the tracks used to accompany this year’s Ceroc X moves.

I couldn’t help wonder what the Duke Dumont track was, so I checked it out on YouTube. It’s fabulous. It seems that I got you reached number one back in 2014. Did I miss this – surely it got plays back then? Just shows you how much great music we get to dance to without realising just what it is.

 

This Friday 26 May is the first ever freestyle at Tapton Hall in Sheffield. Seems like we are going to get some fabulous music. In fact I’m sure it’s going to be a great night all round. Back in April I visited a class night there, just six weeks after Ceroc Heaven had relocated from the other side of the city, and was really impressed by the determination of Sue Gould and her team to make this a great Ceroc venue. The Tapton Hall venue itself is a beautifully facilitated wedding and conference centre and Ceroc Heaven have done well to get a series of dates for freestyles here.

I’m sure that Sue and her crew are working hard at the preparations, for what I’m sure will be a busy night. I know a whole lot of the Nottingham dance gang will be there, and we all look forward to meeting and dancing with the Ceroc Heaven Sheffield crowd. So can I request Shed a light and of course I got you by Duke Dumont. I look forward to a night of wonderful dancing. (Posted Monday 22 May)

To read my review of the Ceroc Heaven Tapton Hall class night please click the link

Just lovin’ this second Shaggy track

Last Friday I went to the Ceroc Cambs freestyle in St Neots and absolutely loved DJ Sue Astle’s playlist. In my review I featured Good times roll by Shaggy, which was one of the musical highlights. Sue also played another fantastic Shaggy track, but the need to keep the word count down meant this second track got edited out.

I may have danced to this thumping track before. It is so good that I hope it’s not too long, before I get the chance to dance to it again. In the meantime its regularly playing at full blast through my headphones when ever I write my blog. The track is Shaggy’s 2003 collaboration with Chaka Khan on Get my party on, though I’m not talking about the original cut. The version that’s got me constantly bouncing up and down on my chair is the Graham Stack remix.

This is a cracking track – the production is so full on and it’s funked up to the max. Add Chaka’s soulful vocals, and Shaggy’s joyfully delivered rap and I there’s only one place I want to be – at the party, man (I always wanted to say something with the word man at the end of it). Sadly I’m not going to get an invite so let me just click the play button again. (Posted Friday 19 May)

I’m in danger of becoming a Fitbit Bore

I’m lucky that I can now spend as much time as I like sat at my computer writing my blog. The danger is that I become some what sedentary, at least on those days that I’m not dancing. Someone suggested it might be a good idea to get a Fitbit, which counts your steps – so I did. Seems that a day of writing, with a few trips to the fridge only uses about one thousand steps. Not good when the recommendation is ten thousand. Suddenly I’m walking the long way round to the kettle and mowing the lawn has new purpose. I’m back out bird watching again and if I’m a little short on my steps I walk to the shops.

The Fitbit also tells you how many calories you burn – very useful when, like me, you have a constant battle with your weight. Sadly I have too much time on my hands, and I started to work out the number of calories burnt during a dance session. It seems that in a typical class night I can burn about 300 calories per 30 mins. Doesn’t sound a lot – that’s only the same as eating a baked potato. I thought dancing was supposed to keep you fit. It appears that Modern Jive is better than Ballroom Dancing at 266 calories per 30 mins, but pales against Disco Dancing at 488 calories for the same time – does this mean I have to switch to disco dancing now? I hope not!

Last Friday night I danced my heart out at a freestyle in St Neots. It was a fabulous night and I stood out very few dancers. Now I warn you this is going to get very boring. I did 14,748 steps (only a man would even work that out) and burned about 3,000 calories. WOW! I couldn’t wait to weigh myself in the morning.

Sadly the scales hadn’t moved one tiny bit. Now that could be due to the Greggs deep filled chicken mayonnaise baguette and crisps I eat on the way up the A1. Sadly I also called in to MacDonalds on the way home for a coffee – needed it to stay alert, but I had a moment of weakness by added a chocolate doughnut to my order. There is a lesson here, but I’ll leave it for another time. (Posted Wednesday 17 May)

DJ Sue Astle just edges it

Since I started my blog, I’ve been treated to some exceptional dance music, served up by some of the best DJs in the land. This past four weeks the music has been particularly exceptional. First up was Kerry B’s fabulous set at Tadcaster, a week later DJ Ian McLeod served up a stellar playlist for a packed Shed, in Nottingham. Last week at The Grange (Nottingham again) Chris Uren proved why he is one of my favourites, and last night DJ Sue Astle rocked the floor at St Neots.

So who was the best? It seems unfair to even try to choose between four DJs who have built considerable followings at their venues, but I think that Sue Astle just edged it with her set last night for Ceroc Cambs (previously Ceroc Central). I’ll try to explain why when I publish my full review of the freestyle next week. In the meantime here’s one of Sue’s great tracks. One I have to say I haven’t danced to before.

You may think it sounds like many other club style tracks, but that’s not to  take anything away from it. I just loved the way the thumping beat kept kicking in throughout the four minutes. Each time the bass exploded, it hit buttons in my dance brain that vote for the ‘Best Track of The Night. No wonder then that Dizzy by DIMMI won by a mile, and I had the most fabulous dance to it. (Posted Saturday 13 May)

More details on the Grantham ’70s Night

Regular readers will know that I’m slowly building up a ’70s playlist, for the day when a modern jive organisation asks me to provide the music for a ’70s themed freestyle. I know, in my dreams! But hey dreams make the world go round. Enough about my DJ fantasies because a real ’70s freestyle is happening next Saturday 20 May in Grantham.

It’s being run by the Rotary Clun of Grantham & Kesteven in conjunction with Electric Jive who runs classes in the area. Sally, of Electric Jive has kindly given me some more details. There will be a mix of modern jivers and non dancers, so Steve from Electric Jive will be running a beginners lesson first off. Then its in to the dancing, with Steve himself on the decks spinning great ’70s jiveable tracks.

This format of giving people who’ve never been to a class a taster lesson works really well, and where it’s been done in the past, it’s amazing how many give it a go. There will be plenty of people who can jive, and I’m hoping a lot of people will come over from Nottingham, as there’s nothing on locally on that night. I might also try out a bit of that disco dancing thing myself.

I know that Steve likes to play requests. so could I please ask for two of my ’70s favourites – Sylvester’s You make me feel (Mighty real) and Ain’t no stopping up now by McFadden and Whitehead. Thanks Steve.

For information about tickets please contact Electric Jive or Sally Picker through Facebook. (Posted Friday 12 May)

Beginners First Freestyle

On Saturday night I was at Ceroc Heaven’s Grange Hall freestyle (above). I hope to have the review on the blog by Tuesday. In the meantime I thought I’d make a quick comment about a couple I met, who were attending their first freestyle. I’ve often said that the freestyle scene needs a constant flow of new people to sustain it for the future – that’s why the provision of classes, and the support we give beginners is so important. Sadly the journey from the first lesson to the first freestyle is one that few people make, as the drop out rate seems to be very high.

You only have to see the nervous faces in the beginners lines, to understand why so few people make it to the end of their six week course of lessons. Hopefully people get the modern jive bug before the stress of learning the moves defeats them. The next test is to make the leap to the intermediate lesson, and once again some people find it too much of a challenge. It’s particularly hard for the men, who suddenly find themselves having to lead more experienced women through moves that at times are a step too far (excuse the pun) – a man’s ego can take quite a battering sometimes.

Then, like the two people I met on Saturday, they venture out to their first freestyle. There is no comfort zone of a beginners lessons, no taxi dancers to help out. As they walk in to the dance hall the room is buzzing. The dance floor is filled with people dancing with a fluency the new arrivals are some way from achieving. It all looks so easy – no wonder everyone is having a great time.

I recognised the lady from the previous week’s lesson and was soon introduced to her partner. Both were a little nervous, the man perhaps more so. I did my best to reassure them. I explained that we had all been beginners once, and we could all still remember taking the same big step to our first freestyle. For this reason I was sure that they would find everyone very friendly, and no one would worry if they went wrong. I’ll let you know how they got on in my review. (Posted Sunday 7 May)

The review is now on the blog click here to read

Looking forward to Southport again

Next month sees us all off to The Ceroc Southport Weekender again. My diary posting from Southport in February proved a milestone for the blog as I did my first ever live posting from an event. It was tough going having to update the blog in the early hours, but I was rewarded with the best visitor figures ever. I subsequently edited the diary and it still holds the record for the most read posting on the blog.

Just like last year I’ll be covering as many of the events as possible to give a flavour of what it’s like to fully immerse yourself in a Ceroc Weekender. Like in February, I’ll be reviewing the music in the Thunderball Room, but I’m hoping to cover some different events to last time, to ensure the diary has a fresh feel. I’m also hoping to do some interviews too. (Posted Wednesday 3 April) 

To read the diary of my visit to Southport in February please click the link

A Simple 12 Bar Blues does it for me

After the long Bank Holiday break its back to the old routine, so a dance music pick-me-up might help a little. This morning I came across a wonderful piece of blues music that transported me right back to the dance floor. Its wonderful bouncy rhythm soon put a smile on my face. Strange that Blues music was born out of man’s struggle to overcome the misery of their lives, because I sometimes find this type of music so uplifting.

Mr So and So by Smokehouse (if I was reborn as a Blues singer I’d want a name like that) is built round a simple 12 Bar chord progression. This basic cord pattern underpins a lot of great dance music. Shake rattle and roll, the Big Joe Turner track that helped launch Rock ‘n’ Roll had this same 12 bar pattern. Of course Rock ‘n’ Roll can be a little too fast for Modern Jive, so this is one of the reasons why the slower moodier bluesy tracks work so well.

I know we all have our favourite pick-me-up songs but this did it for me this morning – just loved the harmonica solo, and the mean boy lyrics – don’t try to jive an old swamp rat like me. See what you think. Of course if you have some other pick-me-up tracks, please get in touch and I’ll feature them. (Posted Tuesday 2 April)

Can a freestyle be too successful?

The Pirate Jive Freestyle at The Shed in Beeston, Nottingham, is probably established as the most successful in The East Midlands. On Saturday night there must have been over 200 dancers there – and they came from a long way too. I recognised quite a few faces from the Nuneaton Freestyle I’d attended last week, and I know some people had come from even further afield.

The success of this event is built on the fabulous dance playlists DJ Ian has put together – he knows his audience well, and he gives them exactly what they want – and they respond by wanting to be on the dance floor for every single track. Sadly the dance floor is now just not big enough for everyone.

This blog only ever expresses positive views about the modern jive scene, so it’s with careful consideration that I write my next comments. Everyone I spoke to was aware that there were perhaps too many people there – for most of the night there just wasn’t enough space on the dance floor. I think we all did our bit by dancing in a tighter space, but at times the lack of room impacted on the overall enjoyment .

It’s not an easy problem to solve. Going all ticket would be a brave step, but I know this would only mean a lot of people being disappointed. Perhaps the tables could be taken out. Like I’ve said, its a difficult one, and I’m sure that Ian will be doing his best to resolve the problem. What ever he decides to do, I’m sure he can count on all our support. (Posted Monday 1 May)

Thank you for all the Facebook Feedback

Last week I posted reviews of two of the best freestyles I’d been to for a while – Yorkshire Freestyle Nights at Tadcaster and the iDance freestyle at Nuneaton. The readership of these two reviews have been some of the best ever. Within 48 hours of the Tadcaster review being posted it was read 90 times. The Nuneaton review was read even faster. With in the first 48 hours it was read by over a 100 people.

The reason for this instant take up, actually says more about these two organisations than the readership of my blog. When I write a review I post a link to the dance organisations Group Facebook Page. Members of the group then get notifications that something has been posted and then hopefully click on the link. That the reviews were read so quickly, just shows how interactive the members of these two Facebook Groups are.

Facebook is a wonderful way of people with like minded interest interacting with each other. In a modern sometimes disconnected world we all have an innate desire to be part of something. These dance group Facebook pages offer their members a real sense of belonging and allow them to comment about the classes and freestyles they attend.

These pages are a great marketing tool. Anyone thinking about going to either venue for the first time may well look for positive comments before setting out. I know I do. Anyone in doubt about whether Tadcaster or Nuneaton will be a good night, will be reassured by the positive comments on these Facebook pages.

Many dance organisations have learnt to exploit the benefits of these Facebook Group Pages, but some surprisingly haven’t realised the full potential they have to promote their classes and freestyles. I’m currently working on an article that hopefully will show how Facebook can be used to the benefit of the whole modern jive scene. In the meantime thank you to everyone who Liked and Commented on my Facebook Links to the Tadcaster and Nuneaton reviews. A particular thank you to the people who shared the links, as it all helps build the traffic to my blog. (Posted Sunday 30 April)

HOT NEWS: The ’70s gets its own freestyle?

Last week I posted my 7th track list for ’70s Freestyle idea I have floating about in my head, when I get a notification through Facebook about something happening in May! It seems that Electric Jive are holding a Charity Freestyle in conjunction with the Grantham Rotary Club on Saturday 20 May. I’ll try and find out more details and keep you all posted. (Posted Saturday 29 April)

Impressive class and an impressive track

The numbers at last nights Ceroc Heaven were pretty impressive – three rows in the Beginners’ class, and the three rows in the Intermediate class were nearly out the door! The music from DJ Mark was pretty impressive too, and one track stood out that I don’t think I’ve ever danced to before. The track was Walking on broken glass by Annie Lennox. Not only does it have a beat you can connect with, its a track that gives you opportunities for some real musicality. Please play it again Mark. (Posted Tuesday 25 April)

YouTube springs a surprise

I’m currently working on my review of Yorkshire Freestyle Nights’ Tadcaster event from Friday. I was in YouTube to lift the video of one of the tracks I was featuring. If you don’t pause YouTube it will automatically play the next track. I’m writing away when I suddenly become aware of a great piece of music playing through my head phones.

I didn’t recognise it, but surely its been played at some freestyle. May be not. It’s had 89 million YouTube hits, so it has a good pedigree. It has a wonderful hypnotic beat that has me bouncing on my seat. Perhaps someone will pick it up. In the meantime he’s my YouTube surprise – The Kygo remix of Ed Sheeran & Passenger’s No Diggity. (Posted Monday 24 April)

Another standout playlist but very different

After a great night at Tadcaster on Friday I was on my travels again, but in a different direction, heading down the M69 to the iDance freestyle at Nuneaton. Another great night with a very pleasing playlist. As I drove back home, dosed up with strong coffee, I couldn’t help reflect on the differences between the two playlists.

Both DJ Kerry’s music at Tadcaster, and DJs Ian and Lilly’s at Nuneaton were standout playlists. Both differentiated themselves, quite rightly, from what we might call Ceroc Style track lists, but there was still a marked difference between the two. I couldn’t help but think what it was. By the time I was passing Leicester Forest East Services it came to me.

Kerry’s set up north had a Motown Triple and was sprinkled with ’70s Disco. Now Ian and Lilly’s had, from my recollection, none. No bad thing – its great to go out two days running and hear two very different wonderful sets. Interestingly my journey to Nuneaton took me past The Hinckley Knight Pub – a modern large scale Kitchen & Pub establishment. Back in the ’70s this had a dance hall which was a stronghold of Motown and Northern Soul.

Mentioning The Hinckley Knight’s glorious soul music past, gives me an excuse to feature Scrubboard a Northern Soul gem from 1972. You will know this track, because it is basically the instrumental backing track to the Trammps Hold back the night. Now one of the reasons for mentioning this is because Hold back the night gave me my best dance at Tadcaster. What was the best dance at Nuneaton? It will be in the review – hopefully out by Thursday. (Posted Sunday 23 April) 

Another iconic place to dance at

Last night it was the monthly Ceroc Heaven Freestyle at the iconic Kelham Hall, near Newark. This the most wonderful place to dance. Its tall arches and high dome give it the feel of a Roman Temple, and when its full of dancers (as it always is) it has a vibe that is unequalled anywhere else.

It takes a lot to miss a Kelham Freestyle, but last night I headed north to check out a venue, that I had received equally glowing comments about.  The venue was The Smith-Riley Memorial Hall in Tadcaster, like Newark an historic town on the old A1. The hall was built by William Riley Smith a Director of John Smith’s Brewery. The freestyle was being run by Yorkshire Freestyle Nights with music from DJ Kerry B.

When I walked in at 8.15 the floor was already busy and the dance hall itself took my breathe away. Later in the evening, with the dance floor absolutely rockin’, I did my best to take a photo with my phone. While you can’t see the dancers, you can hopefully get an idea of how stunning this dance hall is. The freestyle itself was one of the best (I should have a review posted by Tuesday night), and I recommend making the journey to experience this iconic venue, which is as uplifting as Kelham Hall. (Posted Saturday 22 April)

To read the previous Quick Notes please click here