A disco classic that’s been gathering dust in the vaults

I just bought myself a new book called The Record Players – The story of dance music told by history’s greatest DJs.  I bought the book so that I can broaden my knowledge about areas of dance music I’m a little rusty on.  My next project is to start writing about ’80s dance music in the same way that I’ve written about ’60s Motown and ’70s Disco.

Interestingly the first DJ I enjoyed reading about was Tom Moulton, who was one of the kings of ’70s disco.  Tom was really a record producer, and is credited with inventing the 12″ single.  Tom would remix and extend great disco tunes to five, six or even nine minutes, so that the dancers in the disco clubs could really lose themselves in the music.

I know that extended tracks don’t really work on the Modern Jive dance floor.  Three minutes is long enough sometimes, especially if you’ve not made a good connection with your partner, or if your moves are starting to get a little too repetitive.

One of Moulton’s first successes was the six minute extended mix of Al Downings I’ll be holding on.  One of the tricks Moulton used was to extend the instrumental sections.  Now I love instrumental tracks, there’s something hypnotic about them.  What I love about this extended version is that you get one minute thirty seconds before the vocal kicks in, and another two minutes of backing track instrumental before it ends.

Amazingly I haven’t heard this track for thirty five years.  It is so good, and would work well for Modern Jive.  There is a three minute version which I’m going to see if I can get played.

Was this backing track used for a Modern Jive classic

One of the distinctive things about I’ll be holding on is the backing track, with what turns out to be a catchy banjo lick.  Last week DJ Kerry Bayley played the Club Mix of the FR Modern Jive classic Love is the music.

It’s hypnotic rhythm track was still going round my brain, when I first listened to the Al Downing track.  Now I’m convinced that the backing track of Love is the music incorporates a slightly faster version of I’ll be holding on‘s distinctive banjo lick.  It just proves, yet again, the legacy of disco music still influences the production of modern dance music.  (Posted Monday 22 January)

Perfect Modern Jive tracks from Ed Sheeran

When it comes to reviewing music, that’s suited to Modern Jive, I have mixed thoughts about Ed Sheeran tracks.  Take Castle on the hill.  This proved to be a big hit on the Modern Jive dance floor last year, but I struggled to understand why.

It just seemed too fast, and no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t find a way to dance to it.  Forgive me Ed, but as soon as I recognised the intro I would quickly leave the dance floor.  In fact to ensure no one asked me to dance to the track I would sometime escape to the loo!

However one of my favourite songs of last year was the Felix Jaehn remix of Sheeran’s Photograph.  And that’s the point.  The remixes work for me because they give these songs the right tempo for Modern Jive.  This point is illustrated by the remixes that are now available of Perfect.  The original is a beautiful song, but it’s just too slow.

I suspect Blues DJs might be screaming at their screen to tell me that its a perfect track for Chillout Zones, but when it comes to Main Room playlists I can only see it as taking the ‘last track of the night’ slot.  However there are now two remixes available that really work for me.

The first is the Robin Schulz remix.  I danced to this on Saturday night, at Northern Jive Barnsley’s freestyle, where DJ Kerry B was on duty.  I had a great dance to it.

The second is Mike Perry’s tropical house remix, which I’m sure will get a lot of plays in SILC and Chill out Zones.  Interestingly the Mike Perry version seems to be the more popular of the two, receiving three times as many hits on YouTube.  I’ve embedded both versions so you can make up your own mind.  (Posted Monday 15 January) 

Great start for new Ceroc Heaven Class

Last night saw the opening of Ceroc Heaven’s new class night at The John Godber Centre in Hucknall, just north of Nottingham.  It was great to see so many new people taking the first steps on their dance journey.  It was also wonderful to see so many intermediate dancers supporting the opening of this class night.

Experienced dancers help in two ways.  Firstly they are there to help the beginners master the three move routine, but just as important to show the joy that comes from dancing as you progress through the ability levels.

Last summer I wrote an article on how Modern Jive dance organisations can use modern marketing methods to attract beginners to their classes.  It was really interesting comparing notes with Ceroc Franchise holder Mark O’Reilly, as he told me some of the tactics they used to generate interest in the class.  There is no doubt that his methods worked as there must have been twenty new starters last night.

Congratulations to the whole Ceroc heaven team, including venue manager Caroline Jenkins, who worked so hard to achieve this success.  I’m sure that Ceroc Heaven will continue to grow this class venue, and it will help maintain the strong tradition of Modern Jive dancing in the Nottingham area.  (Posted Wednesday 10 January)

A House Anthem gives me the best dance of the night

Remember House Music?  I’m always going on about how important it is for DJs to occasionally play tracks that we danced to in our youth.  There must be a lot of people out on the Modern Jive dance floor who learnt their first moves to the electronic House music of the ’80s and ’90s.  In the early ’80s record producers started to use electronic bass lines that properly thumped the dance floor.

Last night DJ Mark O’Reilly played a slab of these thumping bass lines that was just perfect for a full on Modern Jive dance.  Needless to say it gave me the best dance of the night as myself and my dance partner smashed it.  I remember dancing to it myself back in the day, but couldn’t put a name to it.  Mark kindly sent me a link.

When Show me love by Robin S was first released in 1990 it made little impression, but in 1992 it was remixed by Swedish producers Stone bridge and Nick Nice (nice name Nick), and it became a dance anthem for The ’90s. (Posted Tuesday 9 January)

A chance to compare Ceroc and LeRoc Freestyles

I had a wonderful weekend dancing at two fabulous freestyles in Surrey.  Interestingly one was run by a Ceroc Franchise and the other by an Independent LeRoc organisation.  They gave me an opportunity to make some comparisons.

First let me stress that these were two top drawer nights – I’ll be writing a full review of both of them later in the week – and the comparison is not whether one was better than the other.   They both had great turnouts and the music rocked the floor at both events, but there were two noticeable difference.

The events, on Friday night at Guildford (Ceroc) and Leatherhead (LeRoc) on Saturday, were only 16 miles apart, and not surprisingly there were a few people at both events.  The first difference was the age range.  Both freestyles had dancers from across the complete modern jive age range, but the Ceroc one at Guildford had noticeably more younger dancers.

The second thing was the music.  Again it was great at both venues, but Howie the Ceroc DJ played played more contemporary music, while Colin played less of this this and also treated the dancers to some Rock ‘n’ Roll inspired music.  So here is the ‘Chicken and Egg’ question.  Are their more younger dances at Ceroc events because of the music, or is the music at Ceroc events like this because it attracts younger dancers.  Answers on a postcard please.

Two great mixes make an interesting comparison

Here are two of my ‘What was that track’ moments from the weekend.  They are both interestingly remixes from the ’80s, but give some sense of how two outstanding DJ sets can be totally different, and perhaps appeal to different age groups.

The first is from DJ Howie’s Ceroc set.  It’s a remix of Marvin’ Gaye’s Sexual healing by Kygo.  This record producer’s remixes are easy identified by their Tropical House vibe, and Kygo’s treatment turns what is rather a slow track in to a great contemporary dance one.

 

The second is one of DJ Colins LeRoc picks.  Not sure when this Dimitri remix was done, but it has all the feel of ’90s Acid House, and it takes Madonna’s great ’80s dance floor hit In to the groove to another level.  (Posted Monday 8 January)

The New Year gets of to a Rockin’ start

I estimated that there were about forty Modern Jive Freestyles on New Years Eve, so I reckon between six and seven thousand people saw the New Year in modern jiving to some rockin’ tunes.  I was at Ceroc Heaven’s 2 Room Freestyle at Sandiacre in Nottingham, where DJ Mark O’Reilly treated us to a two hour Motown & Soul playlist in the smaller second room.

A great way to start what was a great night of dancing.  I’ll be writing a detailed review of Mark’s Motown playlist next, with a lot of background about the tracks for those of you who appreciate a Motown fix now and again.

At midnight after the traditional Hokey Cokey, DJ Mark O’Reilly really set the floor on fire with a thumping thirty minutes of top tunes.  It all started with Kool and The Gang’s Celebration, then Mark slowly cranked up the energy levels until Safri Duo’s Played alive (The Bongo Song) finally lit the flames.  Great start to the New Year.  (Posted Tuesday 2 January)

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