A very impressive London Ceroc Class Night with Steve Thomas

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On Wednesday I got a chance to visit the Ceroc Surrey dance class at Surbiton, and I was pleasantly surprised to see that the lesson was being run by guest teacher Steve Thomas and his assistant Nardiya.  Steve and Nardiya have made quite a name for themselves on the Ceroc teaching circuit, and at the last Southport Weekender I attended their ‘Whips’ Master Class.  Sadly Steve, I have only been able to put the basic one in to my routine.

Because of other writing commitments I wasn’t able to do a full review of the class, so I thought I’d put a mini review in to this Quick Steps section.

Steve prefers to teach the Beginners class in a large circle with himself and Nardiya included as one of the couples.  This allows Nardiya to move round the circle from time to time to help out the beginner men, and Steve gets to help the ladies.  It’s a method that works very well in a large hall like the one at the Surbiton venue.

Steve has a real gift as a teacher

Steve’s real gift is his delivery of the lesson.  Steve explains the moves in a very relaxed manner, yet holds the attention of the class extremely well.  It’s a style that works very well, particularly for beginners.  What really impressed me was the way Steve added in lots of tips for both the men and ladies that are often omitted by other teachers.

It’s hard being the man and having the extra problem of having to lead the lady.  I remember being petrified at times.  Steve essentially told the guys that it was understandable if they went wrong, and not to worry about it too much.  He had similar comforting advise for the ladies too.

This class night has added value

While Steve and Nardiya ran the intermediate class, Taxi Dancers Colin and Natalie did a Beginners Refresher Class, but what was really impressive was that an Advanced Class was also held in another room, run by David Addis. 

The standard of dancing was noticeably higher than normal

Impressively I counted about a dozen people doing the Advanced Lesson and that probably explains the general high quality of dancers at this venue.  There was the usual spread of dance abilities you would expect at any Ceroc class, but during the times I was sitting out and watching the other dancers, I sensed that the level of dancing was higher than at most Ceroc classes I visit.  I certainly enjoyed some wonderful dances.

This is a very successful class night

This is obviously a very successful class.  Colin, Natalie and David, and not forgetting Keith on the door, must also take their share of the credit along with Steve and Nardiya for what was an impressively run class night.  There must have been well over a hundred people in attendance and in the final dancing session it had the feel of a freestyle.  The evening went on until eleven and the floor was still packed as Steve played the last track.

Last word  – thanks for The Chairman of The Board

Steve was also on DJ-ing duties and he played a great mix of tracks, including some excellent contemporary ones.  One of my dance highlights was to the current favourite Havana by Camila Cabello.

It seems that Steve must have some Soul Boy DNA because he played a real gem from the ’70s.  Thanks then Steve, for playing a real favourite of mine – The Chairman of The Board’s Give me just a little more time. (Posted Friday 17 November)

 

Click here to read my other Ceroc Surrey review – the Class Night at Byfleet

Is the Strictly effect working?

On Friday night I was dancing with a Zoe who is a Zumba teacher.  She told me that she had had an uplift in interest that she put down to Strictly Come Dancing.  Of course Zumba is not partner dancing, but it is a form of dancing.

On Monday I was at a Ceroc Heaven class night and the place was heaving.  There was as many people as if it was a freestyle.  Perhaps this was the Strictly Come Dancing effect in action again.  Sue O’Reily, who runs the door at the class, was quick to admit to there being a Strictly Effect:

We  always get more beginners once Strictly Come Dancing has started

I can believe that it might encourage new people to start dance classes, and the beginners class was certainly very busy, but the intermediate class was even busier.  Does Strictly remind those intermediate dancers who may not have been for a while what great fun dancing is.

It was the same at LeRoc Surrey’s Dorking Halls’ class last night.  The place was packed and had the flavour of a freestyle.  Again had Strictly Come Dancing got people up and out of the house. (Posted Tuesday 14 November)

Click here to read my article Inspired to dance by Strictly Come Dancing

A Swing/Jazz standout track

I’ve just finished my review of DJ Gary Wharton’s set at The Shed in Nottingham, and as always there wasn’t enough time to feature all the standout tracks.  Gary is a great fan of Swing music and here’s one of the best from Saturday night – I love being here with you by Emerstine Anderson.

This track has a driving swing beat overlaid with some wonderful jazz piano playing.  It’s a perfect track to play with your moves and express your musicality.  When the guitar solo kicks in it’s very easy to lose yourself in the jazzy improvisation.  I’m sure this type of track will find a place in second room blues and chill out rooms, but I wish we could dance to more of this type of music when there’s just one room at  a freestyle. (Posted Saturday 11 November)

I can’t miss featuring this track

I’m currently writing my full review of Kerry Bayley’s freestyle at Wetherby.  Kerry’s playlist was full of dance music delights and sadly I haven’t got enough space to feature as many as I would like.  So please excuse me if I use the Quick Steps section to feature one that sadly missed the cut.

I love it when DJs play some new-to-me tracks and Kerry served up one that had me rushing on the stage asking ‘What was that track?’  I suspect that Fats Domino’s Home USA gets a few plays in Chill Out Zones and Blues rooms , but I’d like to think that this style of mid tempo bluesy music would get a lot more plays in freestyle main rooms. (Posted Tuesday 7 November)

DJ Gary spins my guilty track

Remember yesterday I admitted to lovin’ Wake me up by Helene Fischer, which DJ Kerry played at The Engine Shed (see post below), even though it didn’t do my street cred any good.  Well guess what?  DJ Gary Wharton played it at The Shed last night and it gave me one of the best dances of the night.

The thing is that this track is very Eurovision. It’s a long way down the schmaltzy track from Calvin Harris or Sigala, but hey I love it.  I’m tempted to start a campaign to get it played in The Thunderball Room at Southport.  Perhaps I can talk Caroline Houlton in to playing it!  To hear this great dance tune just scroll down to the next item.  Don’t feel guilty if you love it. (Posted Sunday 5 November)  

DJ Kerry does my street cred no good

At Kerry B’s Yorkshire Freestyle Nights Wetherby Freestyle last night and she plays a real favourite of mine.  The trouble is it won’t do my street cred any good.  It’s a piece of Euro pop that’s so pretty and sweet – think The Archies’ Sugar sugar and you get the idea – that I’m a little embarrassed to admit I love it.

But I do, and the crowd at The Engine Shed Wetherby loved it to.  So put your street cred to one side and just enjoy  Wake me up by Helene Fischer.

DJ Kerry does her own street cred a power of good

As always DJ Kerry B played an awesome set at the Engine Shed.  I’ll have a full review of the freestyle on the blog by Thursday next week.  However there was just too much fab music that I’ll have to sadly exclude some wonderful tracks, so I’ll take the opportunity to feature one track I’d have to discard now.

It’s a rockin’ piece of blues that has a simple beat that anybody can easily connect with, but its got that something extra for those more experienced dancers who want to express their musicality. (Posted Saturday 4 November)

Dance Taxi delivers a funky gem

I haven’t been on the Dance Taxi website for a while.  For those that don’t know this website, it’s a great source of Modern Jive music, and has a constantly updating Top Ten chart of tracks, based on its members votes.  At No 1 is Si Cranstoun’s Dance for everyone, but what caught my eye was the track at No2,  Some like it hot by Club Des Belugas.

I couldn’t say I was familiar with this, so I tracked it down on YouTube and I found myself listening to it over and over again. I’m thinking it might not be that easy to dance to, so it’s one for the last part of a freestyle.

Its got a real funky feel, but there are changes of tempo that might be a bit of a challenge for inexperienced dancers. However it offers so many opportunities for more experienced dancers to express their musicality. (Posted Monday 30 October)

Strictly’s Rev Richard enrols at a Ceroc Class

Friday night and I’m watching Strictly – it takes two with Zoe Ball.  The Reverend Richard Coles, who was the second person to leave the show is back on the panel with Ed Balls, commenting on how this weeks training sessions are going.  He reports with great enthusiasm that he has joined a dance class.

Zoe, somewhat surprised, asks what type of dancing.  I’m thinking ballroom maybe, or even tango.  He explains that the class is in Higham Ferrers and my ears prick up.  I reviewed a Ceroc Passion class there – surely not the same one? Well it is.  The Rev Coles has started doing Ceroc.  What a coup for Ceroc Passion.  Can I get an exclusive from one of the Taxi Dancers please.

It appears that his parish is just up the road in Finedon.  Here he is, with his strictly partner Dianne Buswell, trying out some moves in his church prior to the competition starting. (Posted Saturday 28 October)

A couple of chill-out tracks from Marc & Rachel’s Daventry set

Time to feature a little chill-out music.  Last Saturday was another Daventry 3 Room Freestyle with Mark and Rachel holding court in the Chill-out Lounge.  Sue, who is a regular contributor to the blog, was one of the people enjoying Marc and Rachel’s wonderful music.  Sue picked out two tracks that are worthy of a mention.

The first, Havana by Camila Cabello featuring Young Thug, is currently getting a lot of plays in both main room and chill-out second rooms.  In fact I first really took notice of this track at the Ceroc Beds & Bucks freestyle at The Bedford Corn Exchange a couple of months ago.  Not surprisingly it was Marc who was spinning the tracks that night too.

 

Camila Cabello is a Cuban born American and this explains the tracks laid back Cuban feel.  I was intrigued to know a little more about Young Thug who accompanies Cabello.  It turns out he is an American rapper who has been featured on other modern jive dance tracks.  He shares the vocal duties on Calvin Harris’ Heatstroke with Ariana Grande and Pharrel Williams. Seems his choice of name is not holding him back!

 

The second of Sue’s picks was Wild thoughts by DJ Khaled ft Rihanna and Bryson Tiller.  This track has had half a billion views on YouTube, but Marc and Rachel played the Mercmonk Reggeeton remix, which has had a mere eleven thousand.  They know their stuff as this version has that something extra that gives it real Chillout Lounge credibility. (Posted Tuesday 24 October)

DJ Mark plays a thumping Triple

I was at Kelham Hall last night with Ceroc Heaven, and DJ Mark set the floor on fire with a high energy disco triple.  It all kicked off with Craig David’s Signed, sealed, delivered. This is a great dance track and I was lucky that my regular dance partner Jo was free to do the track justice.

Something told me that Mark was going to follow this up with another full on track, and that’s exactly what he did.  Edwin Starr’s H.A.P.P.Y. Radio is my mine and Jo’s favourite track of the moment. This ’80s disco smash is a real floor filler and myself and Jo were going to give it everything – and we did, and so did everyone else on the floor.

The adrenalin was doing it’s stuff, my heart was having a great workout, and half way through the track, the enjoyment monitor hit the red MAX mark. As it ended I thought to myself. ‘OK Mr DJ how are you going to follow that?’ ‘No problem Paul, how about Sylvester’s ’70s disco anthem You make me feel (Mighty real)?’ ‘Nice one Mark. Now Jo are you ready – let’s smash it!’

There are some amazing dance tracks out there, but that’s not enough to set the dance floor on fire. The track that precedes these full on tracks is just as important. In fact, there is quite an art to creating these hi-energy triple sets and that’s a mark of a great DJ. Here then is Mark’s triple track climax. (Posted Saturday 21 October)

Another slow-down delight

I love those moments in a freestyle when the DJ slows it down a little. Not too slow, something like The Temptations Lady Soul or Tone Damli’s 40 Years is just perfect. No need to do the close hold Blues moves, simply slow your modern jive moves and you’ll have a lovely dance.

I was on YouTube listening to some Tina Turner tracks when this delightful track came on. It’s instantly catchy and I think its got the right tempo to be another Lady Soul. See what you think to I don’t wanna fight. (Posted Friday 20 October)

New Derby Venue gets off to a good start

Saturday night saw the launch of a new Derby venue for Ceroc Passion, and it seems it got off to a good start.  For some reason Ceroc Passion were never able to establish their Rolls Royce Freestyle venue in Derby.  I find this strange as it’s a wonderful venue, and has a very well established Monday night class. It is also the place that I started my own Modern Jive journey some eight years ago.

The new venue is The Waterfall, opposite the railway station. This iconic building was built by The Midland Railway Company as a cultural and educational centre for its workers.  It’s great to think that it has found a new lease of life as a social venue.

Two of my favourite midland DJs were on duty. Rob Ambridge was in the main room and Roy Blewitt was spinning the tracks in the second chill out room. I understand that the attendance was very good and hopefully Ceroc Passion can build on this, and give Derby the outstanding Modern Jive venue it deserves. (Posted Monday 16 October)

Dance Tips for Ladies are on the way

After the success of my article Dance Tips for Men, I’m now doing the final edits on a sister article giving tips to ladies who are still a little anxious about making the jump from class nights to freestyles. I hope to have it published at the start of the week – I just need a few ladies to check it over first.

In the article I’ve used 40 years by Tone Damli to illustrate one of my points. What a delicious song this is and it’s such a joy to dance to. Here it is for those that want a fix of this gorgeous track. (Posted Friday 13 October)

On a London Class Night Road Trip

I’ve got the chance to visit my two daughters in London this week, so I took an opportunity to do a bit of a road trip around some classes while I was here.  I’ll post a review of each of them during next week, but here’s a snippet of each.

Tuesday saw me at Dorking Halls with LeRoc Surrey.  This is a very long standing class that was struggling to maintain viable numbers, but I’d heard that Colin and Evelyn had turned it round and it was very busy again.   I was interested to chat with Colin to hear how he had done it.

On Wednesday I visited a class that perhaps has the best location in the whole of Britain.  It was quite warm on the night, and it was great to wander out through the large doors and cool down in an open area.  Here’s the view that greeted me.

The venue was Ceroc London’s Westminster Bridge class night that’s held in Shepherds Hall inside St Thomas Hospital.  I understand that they hold two room monthly freestyles here – they must be very popular with this iconic setting.

Thursday night I was a little more provincial, as I drove through the suburbs of South West London to Ceroc Surrey’s West Byfleet class.  This is a very busy class night that is overflowing with the joys of social dancing. Its all down to a great crowd led by effervescent teacher Jackie.

Three wonderful classes each with their own individual story.  I can’t wait to tell you all about them and hopefully the first review will be on the blog early next week. (Posted Friday 13 October)

DJ Ian’s last Pirate Jive at The Shed

Last night was the last time that Ian McLeod span the tracks at Pirate Jive’s The Shed Freestyle in Nottingham, before he heads off for a new life in Scotland.  This is a much loved venue that Ian has built up over many years with his distinctive playlist.

I thought that Ian deserves some kind of recognition for creating one of the biggest Modern Jive venues in the East Midlands, so I’ve started working on an article to pay tribute to his contribution to this great dance scene.  Hopefully it will be ready in a couple of weeks.

Fortunately the venue will survive as Gary Wharton of Notts Jive Crew is is taking the venue over.  Gary’s playlists have a similar feel to Ian’s, and so The Shed will continue to offer an alternative music choice to the local Ceroc franchise – no bad thing. (Posted Saturday 8 October)

Colin rocks the floor at Tylney Hall again

I got a chance to dance again at LeRoc Surrey’s Freestyle at Tylney Hall in Leatherhead last night. Once again DJ Colin Shaul served up a great set of dance music. As always there were plenty of rockin’ tunes including two big favourites of mine. The first is Johnnie Johnson’s version of the blues classic Kansas City. Johnson’s great piano playing ensures that this track rocks along from the very start.

 

The second is perhaps the best rock ‘n’ roll infused track I’ve danced to in the last year. It’s Club Savoy by Rockin’ Louise and The Mamma Jammers (what a name for a group). Be prepared before you hit the play button, because this track is going to raise your heart beat to danger levels.  (Posted Sunday 8 October)

Thank you to all the readers of my Ceroc & Modern Jive Blog

I just wanted to thank all the readers who have visited the blog over the past two weeks – almost two and a half thousand of you. The three main reads have been the review of Medfest, the dance tips for men and the article about my top 5 freestyles (see links below). There has been a thousand sessions on the Top 5 Freestyle post and the article where I give tips to men on going to their first freestyles is not far behind.

I’ve been following the reaction and comments on Facebook, and I want to also thank the people who take time to give feedback. It makes me realise that people are enjoying my take on the wonderful Modern Jive scene, and encourages me to find new ways of looking at it. Here are the three posts that have proved so popular. (Posted Saturday 7 October)

I look at giving dance tips to men based on my own often difficult experiences

I select the best freestyles from my travels over the past year

I work in collaboration with DJ Sue Astle to review Ceroc Medfest