Good dance shoes make all the difference

I must have been dancing over two years before I bought my first proper pair of dance shoes, and what a difference it made. I’d recommend that all the guys think about investing in a really good pair. Most quality dance shoes have a suede sole that makes turning and gliding so much easier.

Every year I treat myself to a new pair of Werner Kerns. They are made from the finest Italian Leather and fit like a glove. I was due a new pair so I visited my favourite dance shoe shop last Friday. I know a lot of people buy off the internet, but I just love going to Dance-Rite in Ilkeston, Derbyshire.

It’s run by Susan Loades, and we always find time to chat about dancing. Susan is a keen Northern Soul dancer and often visits the monthly Gold Soul ‘Motown and Northern Soul Nights’ at Rolls Royce in Derby, of which I’m a great fan. Once again I’ve been enthusing about Modern Jive and I’m hoping Susan will come along to a lesson soon.

As I drove away from the shop I thought I might write a more detailed article about the importance of dance shoes and the different styles available. I might need a little help when it comes to the woman’s side of things, but I’m sure that Susan will be happy to give me some help. I’ll put it on my list of things to research. (Posted Friday 11 August)

POSTSCRIPT: I wore my new dance shoes for the first time on Saturday night at The Jive+ Motown Mega Mix Freestyle in Oxford. After four hours of non-stop dancing my new shoes still felt very comfortable – proof of the quality and craftsmanship of Werner Kern dance shoes. I thoroughly enjoyed the Motown Freestyle and I’ll be posting a review on the blog by Thursday.

DJ Martin pitches it just right for beginners

Last night I was at the Ceroc Heaven class night at Tapton Hall in Sheffield with DJ Martin Ward on the decks. I’ve had the pleasure of dancing to Martin’s musical picks before and have been very impressed – last night was no exception.  What struck me was how well Martin pitched the music for a class night. Nothing too complicated. It’s important to remember that the majority of people at class nights are not experienced dancers wanting to pit their musicality skills against changing rhythms and complex musical passages.

There are people in the lines who may be at their first few lessons. There will be people who are finally gaining in confidence, but who still need to dance to a simple four-four beat. Sure some of the paying customers will want something a little more challenging, but how about we leave those tracks until the end of the evening – lets not scare the beginners off.

Martin played two standout tracks that I thought were perfect for a class night, but are surprisingly seldom played. Craig David’s Signed, sealed, delivered has been getting a lot of plays lately, but it was great to hear One more lie from the same Motown influenced album. This track is built round The Four Tops Standing in the shadows of love and is just so easy to dance to.

A version of Dancing Queen that better than Abba’s

Martin then played a track I haven’t heard for an age, and again I can’t understand why it doesn’t get more plays at class nights. Abba’s Dancing Queen is an iconic dance track, but sadly its a little slow for Modern Jive. However Martin dug out a version by Abbacadabra that’s got the perfect tempo. I smiled all the way through it – great pick Martin (Posted Wednesday 9 August)

I’m trying to think of tips for ladies considering their first freestyle

One of the most popular posts on The Blog over the last two weeks, has been my two articles giving tips to men who are making the leap from class nights to freestyles. I’ve now received a request to think about any tips I might have for ladies who are thinking of doing the same.

As a man this is going to be something of a challenge, but I thought I’d explore the idea. I soon realised that I don’t really know what anxieties women may have about going to their first freestyle, so I thought I’d conduct a little market research. For the past week I’ve been asking some of the women I regularly dance with if they can remember what worries they had prior to going to their first freestyle. I’ve also been talking to ladies who have yet to make the leap to freestyles, and for whom the anxieties are very real.

The initial answers have been very informative, some have been quite surprising, and a few have brought a smile to my face. One thing it has proved is that the women were no less anxious than the men about going through the door of their first freestyle. It also proved that I was right to listen to the ladies before I started dispensing advice. I’ll continue my research for a little longer, and I’ll let you know when I’ve got a better understanding of what the issues are surrounding this subject.

In the meantime if any ladies would like to share their own thoughts about making the leap from class nights to freestyle please get in touch. The easiest way is to email me at paul@modernjivedancer.co.uk  The information you supply will be added to the general  research and no individual details will be given. (Posted Tuesday 8 August)

DJ Mark slips in Fontella Bass at The Grange

A cracking DJ set from Mark O’Reilly last night at another fab Ceroc Heaven Freestyle at The Grange, in Radcliffe on Trent. Mark mixed in a few of the tracks that went down so well in The Motown and Soul slot at the Summer Prom. I got another chance to dance to Thelma Houston’s Don’t leave me this way, and Edwin Starr’s disco classic Contact provided the best dance of the night.

Mark also slipped in Rescue me by Fontella Bass. This was, I think, the first time we’ve had a chance to dance to this iconic track at The Grange, and I’m pleased to say it proved to be a floor filler. Soul Boy Trivia – the distinctive bass line was created by Louis Satterfield, who went on to play trombone in Earth Wind and Fire, and later formed the Phenix Horns who featured on several Phil Collins albums. (Posted Sunday 6 August)

Your chance to win Ceroc Heaven Freestyle tickets

When I was going through Tel Jenkins’ photos of last weekend’s Ceroc Heaven Summer Prom, I couldn’t help think that one of the images would make a great Caption Competition. Ceroc Heaven have embraced the idea, and in conjunction with Tel and the blog, are running a competition to win 2 tickets to one of their great freestyles.

The picture actually captures the moment when DJ Ashley Davis interrupted the Main Room dancing to surprise fellow DJ Mark O’Reilly with a birthday cake, but by adding the speech and thought bubbles it makes a great picture for a caption competition. The idea is to fill the blanks with a dance related dialogue that’s guaranteed to make us laugh out load. Here’ s one I prepared earlier to give you an idea of what we are looking for.

To enter simply email your entries to me at paul@modernjivedancer.co.uk in the following format
Ashley says – “Your caption”
Mark thinks – “Your caption”
The closing date is Friday 25 August. Only one entry is allowed per email address. The prize is two tickets for any Ceroc Heaven Freestyle up to Christmas 2017. The entries will be judged by Mark and Sue O’Reilly of Ceroc Heaven and the winner will be announced on the blog with a special posting on Thursday 31 August. (Posted Friday 4 August)

Ain’t no stopping the dancers at Tapton Hall

Tel Jenkins has just posted this video of the freestyle last Friday at Tapton Hall in Sheffield. Not only does it show a very busy dance floor (I understand it was there busiest yet), it shows some very smooth dancing. Tel puts together edited clips from different parts of the evening, then over dubs one song track – loved that it was Ain’t no stopping us now. What’s amazing is that it looks, for the most part, like the people  were actually dancing to the over dubbed track.

These videos are a great way to promote freestyles, and I suspect Tel’s previous video of Tapton Hall has helped this venue grow its attendance. Ceroc Heaven are very lucky to have Tel, who is not a professional by the way, on their crew. I suspect there may be other keen amateur photographers out there, who would love the opportunity to take dance photographs and have a crack at doing a video. (Posted Tuesday 1 August)

To see the full range of Tel’s Ceroc Heaven Videos please follow the link

DJ Ashley gets all funky at The Prom

After Mark’s fantastic Motown and Soul set at the Ceroc Heaven Summer Prom (see post below) DJ Ash took to the decks in The Second Room. Here he provided some smooth tracks for those wanting a more relaxed style of dancing, but every so often Ash span some real funky grooves.

I’ll be writing a full review of Ash’s set later in the week, but for now here’s one of the funky highlights. The Commitments version of Mustang Sally has been a firm favourite of modern jive DJs for many years but Ash dug out an even funkier version. This outing by Buddy Guy is a little slower than the Commitments one, and has funk levels that come with a safety warning – love it! (Posted Sunday 30 July)

Sandiacre rocks to the sound of Marvin Gaye

I’d been looking forward to Ceroc Heaven’s Summer Prom at the Friesland school in Sandiacre for weeks, after it was announced that there’d be a two hour Motown and Soul opener in the Second Room. I’ve long been an advocate of dancing to more Motown at Modern Jive events, and this event was a real test to see if my passion for this great dance music back catalogue was shared by anyone else.

Well it seems it we all love Motown, and DJ Mark soon had the Second Room rocking to a great mix of ’60s Motown and ’70s Disco. Can we do it all again. perhaps for a full freestyle? The warm round of applause at the end of the set suggests there might be a lot of support for this idea.

I’ll be posting a full revue of Mark’s outstanding set in a couple of days, but in the meantime here’s the track that Mark played at about 9:30. The floor was packed and it seemed everyone was loving Marvin Gaye, as he sang what is fast becoming a modern jive classic, Little darling (I need you). (Posted Sunday 30 July)

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’. (Posted Friday 28 July) 

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.