That’s the fun part done – now the writing starts

Another wonderful weekend of dancing and socialising at Ceroc’s Southport Blush Weekender.  But now comes the hard work – the reviews.  I’ve quite a few different things to write about and the one I’m really looking forward to is one I’m calling Southport – A First -Timers View.  I got to chat with quite a few people who were making their first ever visit to Southport and I hope it will give other people who’ve yet to make the trip some ideas of what their experience will be like.

I’ll also be doing reviews of Caroline Houlton’s and Mark Reilly’s Thunderball Room DJ sets, as well as Nicola Di Folco’s  Boudoir SILC Zone set.   I also spent a little time listening to Marc & Rachel’s music in The Blues Lounge – and will be using it to comment on the dancing I saw in that room.

I’ll start writing on Thursday and I’ll publish the reviews over the next two weeks.  As expected there was some wonderful music and I’ll be embedding a lot of it in to the reviews.  The picture below shows Caroline Houlton rockin’ the dance floor in the Thunderball Room on Friday night.  (Posted Monday 26 February)

Off to Ceroc’s Southport Weekender

The car is packed and the Dance Gang are ready to roll.  We are all off to Southport.  We’ll be joining up with all the Ceroc Heaven faithful – spot us all in our matching Angel T Shirts with our Angel nick-names emblazoned on the back – I’m ‘Blogging Angel’.

It’s going to be a great weekend of fun and dancing, and I’ll be doing a few reviews over the weekend.  I’m planning on doing a couple of Main Room DJs, one in The Boudoir and hopefully I’ll get some time to spend with Marc and Rachel during their Blues Lounge late night sessions.

I’m also going to interview a few first-timers, for a special article on the Southport Experience from their point of view.  I should have the first review on the blog by Thursday and I’ll then drip them in over the next few weeks.  I look forward to featuring lots of quotes from my fellow dancers.

Right, time to put the computer away and get on the road.  See you there. (Posted Friday 23 February)

Surely Rockin’ Robin is too fast

Every so often DJs play a track that is just too fast.  Even some of the best do it, and one reader of the blog got in touch to wonder why.  Terry has been Modern Jiving in the East Midlands for seven years and he takes a real interest in the music.  In amongst his reviews about some of the DJs that gig around the area was this comment – you’ll understand that in the positive spirit of my blog no names are mentioned:

The DJ played The Jackson 5’s ‘Rockin Robin’ which is 172 beats per minute (bpm) and ideal only for a 7 year old’s party.  The floor half emptied, but two very experienced Rock ‘n’ Rollers did their Rock ‘n’ Roll moves and just managed to keep up with the beat, but they both said it was awful to dance to.

Ouch!  In my reviews I tend to shy away from such criticism and only dwell on the positives, and the great tracks, but I think Terry has a valid point – sometimes DJs do play tracks that are just too fast, and like Terry I do some times wonder why.  Some experienced dancers tell me that they simply halve the beat, but I find that difficult to do.

Most Modern Jive tracks are between 120 bpm and 140 bpm.  I’m well known for liking the full-on tracks, but even my favourites like Safri Duo’s Played alive (The Bongo Song) rarely go over the 140 bpm mark.  Occasionally I’ve been asked to dance to these ‘too-fast’ tracks and I have declined and asked if we could dance the next track instead.

Like myself, Terry also learned to Rock ‘n’ Roll, and that style of dancing can cope with these super fast tracks, but Modern Jive is not Rock ‘n’Roll, and very few Modern Jivers have ever been to a Rock ‘n’Roll class.

In his message to me, Terry was full of praise for DJ Ian McLeod who built up the very successful Pirate Jive venues around Nottingham and Derby.  Ian has of course moved on, but he would play what I call ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll inspired tracks’, which had the same bouncy feel of Rock ‘n’ Roll, but were below the 140 bpm top limit.

Here’s one of Ian’s favourites.  I know a lot of other DJs play this track – surely it’s better than Rockin’ Robin!  (Posted Monday 19 February)

Notts Jive Crew bring out the Right Guard

Last night I had fabulous night of dancing at The Notts Jive Crew’s Keyworth Freestyle.  DJ Gary Warton was on top form with a wonderful mix of NJC favourites and some great new tracks.  Gary and Julie have established Keyworth Village Hall as a premier East Midlands venue, but I’m giving this great night a mention because of something unrelated to the music.

A couple of weeks back I wrote an article about my struggle to stay dry on the dance floor (see link below), and my need to be constantly changing my shirt.  Considering the article was written around my admission of being a sweaty man, it received a surprisingly high readership and was shared across Facebook.

In the article I dared to suggest that the men, with the same wet shirt problem as myself,  needed to not only keep changing their attire, but also to keep refreshing the deodorant.  I then suggested that venues might provide deodorant in the toilets.  Last night Gary and Julie did just that, and I think it’s worth a commendation.  Hopefully more venues will follow suit.  (Posted Sunday 18 February)

Murphy’s Dance Shirts & my battle to stay dry on the dance floor

Tim Sant does Motown at Southport

Looking through the programme for Ceroc’s Southport Weekender, I suddenly stopped at the listing for Sunday at 2:30 in The Boudoir.  Yes, Motown is back on the programme.

I was really excited when Motown got a slot on the Friday night in The Cyclone Room in February and June, and thought that DJs Chris Uren and John Baker did really well, so I was somewhat disappointed when it was dropped for September.  I’m pleased to see that it’s back on the programme with Tim Sant doing a Motown & Soul Hour.  Here’s what my my Soul Boy alter ego has to say about it:

Really pleased that Tim Sant’s got the Motown & Soul gig.  He’s already proved his knowledge of ’60s & 70s Soul Dance tracks during previous Thunderball Room slots.  In June last year he opened his set with a thumping Disco Soul Classic.  In my review of Tim’s set I said:

As the opening strains of Gloria Gaynor’s ‘Never can say goodbye’ ,with its soaring strings, hit me full on I was immediately in Disco Dance Heaven, and so it seemed was everybody else.

But it was in September that Tim really showed his Soul boy credentials, with a track that took me back to The Nottingham Palais in the early ’70s, when Motown and Soul ruled the roost.  It was a guaranteed floor filler then. and I couldn’t believe that Tim had plucked it from the Dance Music Archives to play in The Thunderball Room.

The track that so impressed my inner Soul Boy was Billy Butlers Right Track.  This track also gained a reputation in The Northern Soul Clubs of the ’70s and I hope Tim gives it another spin on Sunday afternoon.  To read my full review of Tim’s set please follow the link. Tim Sant’s June 2017 Thunderball Room Set.  In the meantime here’s the Billy Butler track with its distinctive intro.  (Posted Friday 16 February)

The Ceroc Nu-Line Dance 2018 is on line

The instruction video for the new Ceroc Nu-Line Dance is now on line.  The line dance for 2018 is done to Camila Cabello’s massive dance hit Havana.  I suspect that all over the country the line dance is being hurriedly taught so that it can premiered at next week’s Southport Weekender.  I know that Ash is teaching it tonight prior to the Ceroc Heaven class in Radcliffe on Trent.

Having had a quick look at the video, the line dance is based on the Cha Cha Cha, giving the dance the Latin feel of the song itself.  Last year I tried really hard to learn the dance to Justin Timberlake’s Can’t stop the feeling.  I practised the individual steps until I got them right, but failed miserably when I tried to put them all together with the music.

I’ll give the new dance a go, but I suspect I won’t be ready for this Southport.  How about I aim for June?  Here’s the instruction video.  I’m sure loads of people will pick it up quickly, and I look forward to the sight of two hundred people doing it at Southport.  (Posted Monday 12 February)

Let’s hear it for The ’90s

I’m always going on about DJ digging around the dance music vaults, so I thought I’d do some digging myself.  Hence I’ve started work on an article about ’90s dance music.  I’ve become aware of quite a few tracks from this decade making their way on to Modern Jive playlists so I thought I’d investigate a little further.

The first thing that I’ve discovered is that there is often an interesting back story to the people who created these great dance anthems.  Take the track I’ve featured below – Soulsearcher’s thumping Can’t Get Enough.  The female vocalist is Thea Austin, who co-wrote and provided the vocals for one of The ’90s biggest dance hits – Snap’s Rhythm is a dancer.

Here’s Thea fronting the Soulsearchers track which I think I have danced to on the Modern Jive dance floor.  I just love it’s energy and trance like vibe.  If you like it search for the seven minute long Vocal Club Mix – pity it’s too long for a MJ track.  (Posted Thursday 8 February)

Betty Boo does some Serious Rappin’

It’s Friday afternoon and that means I can write while listening to my favourite DJ – Silly Boy Wrighty on Steve Wright’s Serious Jockin’ (no G).  As always the dance music got me in the mood for some Serious Dancin’.  Fortunately tonight I’m at Kelham Hall, where the Ceroc Heaven Angels will be doing some Serious Cerocin’ (no G) – Sorry always wanted to do that joke.

As always Wrighty played some tracks that I wondered if they might cross over to the Modern Jive dance floor.  I’m always amazed that we don’t dance to much ’80s music, particularly because there must be plenty of people on the dance floor who grew up with it.  So I was pleased that he played a 1989 rocker from The Beatmasters and Betty Boo.

It’s a rap/house reworking of Martha Reeves and The Vandellas ’60s Motown track I can’t dance to that you’re playing.  The track uses the same piano riff, but adds a more danceable production on top.  Re-titled Hey DJ, I can’t dance to that, the track sets off at a cracking pace, but perhaps looses some of its vitality as Betty raps rather than sings the lyrics.  Even so, its not long before the chorus kicks in again, and I was Rockin’ (no G) on my seat.

Serious Jockin’ is breakin’ (no G) the Rules

One of the current favourites out on the Modern Jive dance floor is a New Rules by Dua Lipa.  This delicious contemporary track has had almost a billion hits on YouTube, proving just how popular it is.  However Wrighty and The Serious Jockin’ team have to play what they call a ‘Silly Boy’ track, so they finished the show with the Initial Talk 80s remix of this song.

The remix does have an ’80s feel, with some very obvious drum machine effects.  Whilst the remix works in its own right as a dance track, purest will no doubt grimace at how Lipa’s wonderful track has been disrespected.  But hey, that’s the charm of Serious Jockin’ – a programme that never takes itself too seriously, and loves breakin’ (no G) the New Rules (apologies for another bad pun).  (Posted Friday 2 February)

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