Great to see The Yo-Yo being taught

Last night I was at a Ceroc Heaven class night in Nottingham, and it was great to see Kali Fraser teach The Yo-Yo as the first move in the Intermediate lesson.  This move is an old favourite, beloved by many people who remember it when it was a Beginners’ move.

Though it’s now reclassified as a Classic Move it doesn’t get as much teaching as it used to do.  Which is a pity really because it’s a lovely move to execute for both the lead and the follower, and it also gives the ladies an opportunity to create the lovely arc movement of The Ronde.

I find myself using it a lot, particularly when I find I’m in a man’s right to lady’s right hand-hold.

When I was a Beginner I wrote all the moves down, and divided them up based on their hand-hold.  A lot of moves were doubled handed, like The Basket, or modern day version The Cradle.   Some were man’s left to ladies right – like The First Move, now re-titled as The High First.

I was always worried about what move to do when I ended up, say after a Man Spin, with my right hand to my partner’s right.  The Ceroc Spin was always useful, but it was The Yo-Yo that got me out of trouble more often than not.

These hand-holds are the key to selecting the right move to do next.  Ashley Davis, one of Ceroc Heaven’s teachers, calls the right to right hand-hold the hand shake position, or for short the Shaky, Shaky hold.  I always love when a bit of comedy comes from the stage to relax the beginners.  (Posted Friday 30 March)

Phil kicks off a YouTube discovery trip

After reading my review of Switch, and how I had talked about John Baker’s contemporary playlist attracting younger dancers, my dance friend Phil Cliffe sent me a list of tracks for me to check out:

Here are a few ‘modern’ tracks, which you have probably heard, but I think will attract the younger dancer.

In his list were the very popular New rules by Dua Lipa and one I really rate – 17 by MK.  There were a few I didn’t recognise, so I loaded up YouTube and put in one of Phil’ssuggestions – The Middle by Zedd featuring Maren Morris and Grey – a song that is currently in the Top Ten Singles Chart.

Now I’ve listened to it a couple of times, and I’m not sure, but it kicked off a YouTube discovery trip that proved very informative.  First though, here’s Zedd.  See what you think.

The next track is going to prove very popular

After The Middle stopped playing, YouTube brought up a track, that I did like.  These Days by Rudimental, featuring the vocals of Jess Glynne, Dan Caplen and American rapper Maclemore, is also in the current Top Ten Chart.

Now I’m sure I’ve danced to this already, and it’s going to prove very popular.  Jesse Glynne has a wonderful voice, and she always goes down well on the Modern Jive dance floor.

Wikipedia aids my discovery trip

I’m sure any DJ worth his salt knows The English band Rudimental, but they had sadly passed me by, so I quickly put their name in to Wikipedia.  How they passed me by I feel quite ashamed about, because they’ve had quite a few hits since they broke out in 2012 with their UK No 1 hit Feel the love.

Scrolling down their list of hits, I came across a song I have definitely danced to before, and really loved – Lay it all on me, from 2015, featuring the vocals of Ed Sheeran.  It’s amazing how one track can lead to another when you can click on YouTube so effortlessly.  (Posted Tuesday 27 March) 

I want to dance to this again

I’ve just published my review of Diana’s Bath’s fabulous DJ playlist at Nailsea LeRoc.  Diana packed her set with one great Swing or Rock ‘n’ Roll track after another.  Now I couldn’t feature them all, so I thought I’d use my Quick Steps section to showcase one I sadly had to leave out.

Let the back door hit you by Angela Brown is a thumping piece of bluesy rock that blew me away on Friday night.  I could only find a live version on YouTube, but it has even more energy for being live.  There is some serious blues playing in this video, and it takes no prisoners.  I’m going out dancing tonight and I just wish I could be guaranteed to dance to something like this track.  (Posted Friday 23 March)

A track from my own beginner’s days

I’m in London for a couple of days visiting my daughters and my best mate Neil.  So Thursday night saw me with Neil at Ceroc Surrey’s Byfleet class night.  In the first freestyle session DJ Kevin Hill played a track that took me back to my own class nights, when I struggled to get to grips with the moves.

It was one of those tracks that was played in the Beginners lesson itself, but rarely in the freestyle sessions.  I always thought it a great track to play, as its well defined beat made it so easy to dance to – particularly for the beginners like myself.

I sometimes think that the tracks, for the freestyle session immediately after the Beginners lesson, should all have a simple beat.  More challenging tracks can be played in the second longer freestyle session when most of the early stage beginners have left.

The track, that triggered these thoughts about the music for class nights, was Elton John’s Are you ready for love.

The track has an interesting history, being recorded in the Sound of Philadelphia studios in 1979.  It was produced by Thom Bell who also produced the Stylistics, and you can hear its disco pedigree.  The track that was played at my lessons, and which Kevin gave a spin to, is actually a 2003 remix.  (Posted Friday 17 March)

This is the joy of dancing

Tel Jenkins has just published his album of photos from The Ceroc Heaven Freestyle at Hucknall, last weekend.  Flicking through them I came across this image, that simply took my breathe away.  It shows two people completely given up to the moment, and surely represents the sheer joy of their dancing.

I’m sure that moments like this happened across all the modern jive events of the weekend, and perhaps some were captured on camera too.  It doesn’t really matter whether they are captured.  What matters is that we all have the chance to experience this joy every time we step on to the dance floor.  We are very lucky people.

Blues delight from Charlie via Mark

The other night Ceroc Heaven DJ Mark O’Reilly played a delicious piece of slow blues perfect for a little bit of SILC down the slot.  I was struck by it’s funky vibe, but listening to it now on headphones, it’s got so much going on.  Guitar work straight from Blues Central, wonderful horn sections reminiscent of the good old Stax days, and a funky Hammond organ underpinning it all.

I was just about to award Mark a Blues Master Star, when he owned up to the fact that Charlie, one of the regular dances at the class, had passed it on.  Great to see people sharing music they love.  Having found the the artist Delbert McClinton on YouTube, it seems he has quite a back catalogue of work, and I suspect that the Blues DJs have already dipped in to his work.  (Posted Wednesday 14 March)

I couldn’t find room for a classic chill-out track

I’m just putting together my Ceroc Southport Blush Top Ten Tracks, and realised I’d got two tracks that I wanted to feature from DJ Vince Silva.  Sadly I’d set the rule of only one track per DJ.  The track I have to discard is one from his Midnight Saturday SILC Zone set which is billed as SILC GOLD.

Here Vince plays some of the classic Chill-out tracks from the past.  I popped in right at the end, as I was reviewing Nicola Di Folco, who was on next.  Vince played possibly my favourite Chill-out track of all time.  What I love about it is that you don’t have to an expert at SILC or Smooth Jive to enjoy a lovely dance to it.

You can simply slow down your normal Ceroc moves – it’s this that makes it so popular with Main Room DJs, and why I was so pleased to see it feature in Vince’ s set.  So here is Tone Damli’s gorgeous 40 Years.  (Posted Monday 12 March) 

I’m star struck – I get to chat with JLS

The more I get known for my blog the more interesting people I get to chat to.  Last night I was at Strictly Ceroc’s Coventry freestyle and got to chat with JLS.  You know JLS – Jill, Lynn and Sandra, three girls who tell me they live in the posher part of North West Leicestershire (our little joke).

The three of them have started to branch out and visit new venues in The East and West Midlands – it was there first time at Coventry.  I asked them what brought them there.  Here’s what they had to say:

We went on The UK Jive website, and saw that there were two freestyles on tonight.  Our other choice was The Ceroc Heaven freestyle at Hucknall, in Nottingham.  We didn’t really know anything about either so we randomly chose Coventry.

It’s interesting that I had the same choice.  I decided on the Strictly Ceroc venue because I’d never been there and thought it might be interesting to review.  The UK Jive website is the place that many of us go to find out where to dance, and last year I wrote a review of what is an excellent site (see link below).

So what did JLS think of Coventry?  Well, they were happy to give me some quotes for my review, which should be on the blog by the end of next week.  (Posted Saturday 10 March)

Read my article on The UK Jive Website

Can we call time on The Short Neck-break

When Tim Sant took over as Head of Dance at Ceroc he quickly rationalised the Beginners Moves.  Some he renamed, so The First Move became The High First.  Some were modified, so The Hand Jive was shortened and called The Spot Turn.  

New moves were introduced.  One of the best is The Sling Shot.  It’s not an easy one to master – it’s difficult for the men to lead, and if you don’t get the timing right it just looks dreadful.  Understandingly my lady dance friends tell me that it doesn’t get used much in freestyling.  However it’s a great building block move, and intermediate routines sometimes end with the instruction, ‘Now slingshot your lady out’.

Some moves were dropped or moved in to the Intermediate sylabus.  I do wonder though why The Yoyo had to go, because I think it’s very widely used, and it doesn’t often get taught in Intermediate lessons.  Having said all that, I think Tim did a good job, but I wonder if its time to look at the list again.

I feel for the First-time men sometimes

If so, can we please call time on The Short Neck-break.  I attend a lot of Ceroc beginners classes, and perhaps due to my own struggles as a beginner, I feel for the new men at times.  Last night I was at a Ceroc Heaven class night in West Bridgford, Nottingham.  The sequence was listed as Basic Travelling ReturnShort Neck-break and Ceroc Spin.  

From a technical point of view it’s a good routine with a nice mix of difficulty, and I might add that Kali as always did a great job of teaching the moves.  The Basic Travelling Return is an easy move to start with, and the Ceroc Spin gave Kali an opportunity to teach the important skill of spinning to the ladies.  However I could see that as usual The Short Neck-break upped the stress levels for the men.

This move is also difficult for the women to grasp, and this makes it even more difficult for the men to lead.  The common problem is that the women start turning before they get to the man’s side.  This results in the ladies effectively leading the move and it really throws the men.  Is it any wonder that by the time the routine is linked together, and the men have to lead it twice, that they end up in a tangle of arms and a sickening feeling in their stomachs.

I know that dancing is always going to be a challenge, but I wonder if there isn’t another move that could take The Short Neck-break’s place – The Shoulder Sway for example.  Remember that all Modern Jive classes need to hold on to the men, and reducing their stress levels in the early stages is really important, if we are ever to address the gender imbalance.  (Posted Friday 9 March)

Diana gives me a bit of pain relief

I’m the first to suggest that dancing is a lot more fun way to burn calories than working out in a gym, but I have to admit that in my own battle to get the balance right between calories in and calories out, I have taken to use the services of a personal trainer.  So once a week I’m in Rebecca’s mini gym at the end of her garden.

Rebecca is a Motown and Northern Soul fan, and so we work out to her favourite dance tracks.  Every so often we have to stop the exercise (always appreciated) to check out the details of a song that’s playing.  Last week I was distracted by a more contemporary track while doing some tortuous ab exercises.

Ok Becky, can we stop for a moment.  What is that track, and who’s singing it?  It sounds a bit Janet Jackson.

It turned out to be Diana Ross.  The track was a remix of a track off her 1999 Album Every day is a new day.  Apparently the remixed version was a UK Top Ten Hit.  So, Not over yet (Metro Radio Edit) is another fabulous dance track that passed me by!

I’ll send you the link, but now lets get back on the exercise mat.  So its twenty crunches slow, then ten real fast.

You’d think that all the dancing I did would be enough to keep my weight in check, but apparently I still need the torture of gym work.  Thank God then for the occasional relief when a great dance track comes on!  (Posted Wednesday 7 March)

A great recommendation from my daughter

It’s difficult to impress your kids sometimes, particularly when it comes to music and dancing.  The phrase ‘Dad Dancing’ says it all, but hopefully my two wonderful daughters are proud of their dance mad dad.  So I was really pleased when I received this message the other day:

Heard this and thought of you . . . do you know it?

Attached was a link to Kill the lights by Alex Newell & DJ Cassidy (with Nile Rodgers).  I hit the play button and instantly connected with its thumping beat.  This is good, this surely would make a great floor filler.  Then I realise I’ve danced to it.   Then another realisation- I’ve not danced to this for sometime.

In fact I want to know why this hasn’t become a Modern Jive classic.  It has everything – a thumping beat, catchy lyrics and a production and instrumentation that takes you higher and higher.

The track has a wonderful pedigree too.  Its produced by DJ Cassidy the man behind Jessie J and Robin Thicke’s Calling all hearts.  The vocal is by one of the artists who got their big break in Glee, and just in case you hadn’t noticed the Disco God Nile Rodgers also has some input.

So, someone please help me out and give it a spin – you don’t need me to tell you what a guaranteed floor filler it is.

A remix with even more energy

It gets better.  I just found an even better mix of Kill the lights.  I did my normal trick – I put the song in to YouTube adding the word ‘Extended’ and this is what came up.  It’s got added vocals from Jess Glynne and has been remixed by Dimitri from Paris (I keep coming across him – I must look up more of his remixes).

It’s got a bongo intro that reminds me of Edwin Starr’s Contact, and you can really hear the Nile Rodgers guitar lick.  There’s longer instrumental sections, filled with disco style horns and strings, that take the track to a higher plane.  I’ve got it blasting out of my headphones, and I don’t know how I’m still on my seat.

Please, someone edit this down to four minutes and get it on the decks ASAP.   (Posted Saturday 3 March)

Sadly the Snow takes it toll of everyone’s dancing

The Arctic weather has started to effect dancing across the country.  Here in the East Midlands we seemed to have got off fairly lightly, but a heavy fall of snow on Wednesday night has caused Ceroc Heaven to cancel their class nights at Bentley and West Bridgford, and very sadly the Friday Freestyle at The Grange in Radcliffe on Trent.

The reason I mention this is because of the hilarious and very effective way Mark O’Reilly got the message out through Facebook.  Impressively the Ceroc Heaven faithful shared the Facebook posting 12 times in just the first hour.  I know some people are critical of Facebook, but it serves the Modern Jive Community very well, and what better way to tell the world that Penguins have been spotted in The East Midlands.  (Posted Thursday 1 March)

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