It’s late on Sunday night and you can still feel The Southport Vibe
I took the snapshot above at about twenty minutes past midnight on Sunday night. Across the nation most people are long tucked up in bed, but The Thunderball Room is packed and rockin’. To the right of the stage you can see the slight figure of DJ Tim Sant towards the end of his set. In the centre of the stage is DJ Hayley Epps getting ready to take over. Look at the picture of The Thunderball Room again. That is the Southport vibe. It’s hard to put in to words, but it’s the reason why people come from every corner of the land to dance here.
A magical mix – the dancers, the music and the DJs
This vibe doesn’t happen by accident. The people on the dance floor play their part – they have had a great time over the past two days and they don’t want it to end – but the magic ingredient that delivers this sense of euphoria is the music. Track after track of great full-on dance music. Tracks you can easily connect with and the bass turned up to the Max. Dance music that is brought to you by some of the best modern jive DJs in the land.
Sunday Night/Monday Morning The Vibe was incredibly strong
I’ve done many Southports, and every time I feel a special vibe in the main Thunderball Room, but on this Sunday night/Monday morning the vibe was one of the strongest. I’d got a sense of how good the night was stacking up to be during DJ Roy Blewitt’s own outstanding set. I was dancing to one of Roy’s cracking tunes, fully absorbed by the music, when I realised that everyone around me was experiencing the same joy as I was.
Roy hands over the reins to Tim Sant
Roy had set the dance floor up nicely, and at eleven thirty Tim Sant took over. I had little doubt that Tim would maintain the levels of euphoria that Roy had created. As Head of Dance at Ceroc, you’d expect Tim to have an exceptional understanding of what music works on the dance floor, and he does.
Tim was also part of the team that developed the SILC dance syllabus, but there was to be no silky dancing in the main room while he was on stage – there was a SILC Zone for that. From his very first track you knew that Tim had only one intention – to set the room on fire, and he did.
I had long looked forward to Tim’s set
At the Southport weekender in February I had been really impressed with Tim’s dance music choice, and I had decided I would take time to review one of his June sets in a lot more detail. From the moment the DJ programme was published on-line, I was looking forward to his Sunday night set with a heightened sense of anticipation.
Tim launches in to his set with a Disco Diva
I couldn’t help wonder what kind of track he’d kick of with. Something very contemporary no doubt. Something that I might struggle with, while the younger dancers, who congregate round the front of the stage, would lap it up. In the end Tim played a track from the golden age of disco, that I had loved back in the ’70s, but had never had the chance to modern jive to before.
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 – even the aforementioned dancers at the front of the stage, who were hardly a twinkle in their parents eyes, at the time that Gloria Gaynor ruled the dance floor.
The next track connects with every set of dancing feet
How do you follow Gloria Gaynor? Something contemporary surely. Tim was never going to be that predictable, and his second choice proved just how deep his box of great dance music is. Matchbox from 1997 by blues and rock guitarist Jonny Lang was a wonderous choice. It has a dance beat and raw energy that I connected with in an instance, and so it seems, did every other set of dancing feet on the floor.
It wasn’t much longer before Tim had the dance floor on fire
It was never going to be long before Tim set the dance floor on fire, and four tracks in Tim played a 2017 track that did the trick. King Gong by Icarus has just about everything you’d expect from a top dance track and then some. Don’t skip this one – you have to experience the beat that is straight out of Funk Central, and when the thumping bass line kicks in, you’ll be wishing your local DJ plays it at this weekend’s freestyle.
Two more Blasts from the Past
I know that the Southport DJs have to include some old tracks in their sets, and Tim’s choices both put a smile on my face. I wonder if anyone else on the dance floor could claim to have seen Free perform All right now live on stage? I hadn’t got this down as a modern jive dance track, but I have to say it worked very well.
Tim’s other blast from the past (I always wanted to say that) was Everlasting Love, by Love Affair. This was a 1968 British version of Robert Knight’s (he of Love on a mountain top fame) USA hit. Again I would never have expected to dance to it, but I have to say I loved it.
A thumping Latin beat keeps the dance floor hot
What I loved about Tim’s set was that he was playing track after track that I’d never heard before, but they were still so easy to connect with. As I said above, Tim knows what works, and that means he doesn’t need to rely on a whole bunch of familiar tracks. Indeed it was this freshness of Tim’s musical choices that added to a growing feeling that I was experiencing something quite special out on the dance floor.
This next Latin infused club track is a great example of how Tim kept the dance floor hot with yet another of his own exclusive picks. The radio mix of Coracao from Jerry Ropero & Denis The Menace is a joyous piece of dance music with a thumping bass line, that you can’t fail to connect with.
Tim slips in a track to show off your musicality
Getting the dance floor pumped up is a main room DJs main focus, but the dancers need the occasional break. Time then for something a little gentler and perhaps a track to allow the dancers to express their musicality. Exactly half way through his set Tim chose to spin John Legend’s Love me now.
It’s not a track I could easily dance to, so I chose to stand by the stage and just watch how others used different styles of dancing to connect with its ever changing rhythm. This is one of the joys of Southport – its a chance to step back and realise there is still so much more to learn.
Tim takes me back to the dizzy dance heights in funk filled stages
Tim eased the tempo up a little with the Free track, I mentioned above, and then jacked it up further with a funky Flo Rida and Pitbull track – Can’t believe it. Tim then cranked the funk levels up a little more with You don’t know me by Jax Jones. Interestingly this was the first track from Tim’s set I’d actually modern jived to before.
Tim then took me and the rest of the room back to the dizzy dance heights visited in the first part of his set, with a hi-energy piece of electro trance music from 2010. Swedish House Mafia’s Miami 2 Ibiza is a track that slowly builds up to a trance like instrumental section, reminiscent of an Ibiza rave party. This weekend Southport was about fifteen degrees cooler than Ibiza, but that didn’t stop the dance floor catching fire again.
Tim ends his set with a Southport Top Ten track
I wondered if Tim would keep the momentum going right up to the end, but he chose to finish his set with a deliciously relaxed track, that I loved so much it’s made my Southport June 2017 Top Ten (see my next posting). A great dance set doesn’t have to be all hi-energy stuff. Like I said above, the dancers need a break every so often, and James Hunter’s I’ll walk away was perfect for this.
Don’t think this track was as chilled as the John Legend track earlier in the set. I’ll walk away still has a great beat you could easily modern jive to (see below), but it gave the dancers some respite, before Hayley Epps took to the stage and set the dance floor on fire all over again.
Tim’s set was one part of a wonderful weekend finale
For me Sunday night/Monday morning was the best of the three nights of dancing. Before Tim, DJs Mark O’Reilly and Roy Blewitt had done their bit in slowly building a vibe that Tim went on to intensify. Then it was the turn of Hayley Epps. I’d last seen Hayley rock the floor at Ceroc Passions Daventry freestyle in April, and as expected she kept the Southport vibe at the highest level for her hour behind the decks. I missed the first part of Tiggerbabe’s follow-on set, as I spent some time in the Blues Lounge and SILC Zone, but when I returned the dance floor was still on fire.
Tim Sant’s set had been a masterclass in modern jive DJing, but it should also be seen in the context of an amazing night of dancing, that included some very well crafted contributions from all the DJs mentioned above, and not forgetting DJ Jon Gammon who closed the night in The Thunderball Room at three thirty in the morning. The whole Sunday night team should be congratulated for creating a vibe that will last in the memory for some time, and ensure we all come back in September.
My last review from a wonderful weekend
I love dancing and I feel privileged that I now also get a chance to review the great music we dance to, and the DJs who spend so much time digging out the tracks I can then enthuse about. Below are links to some of the other reviews I’ve posted on my blog about Southport.
I’ll finish this final review by embedding Tim’s last track, the aforementioned I’ll walk away. Though it was recorded in 2007 it has the feel of a ’60s Drifters track (think Under the Boardwalk). Listen out for the wonderful Hawaiian style guitar solo. Great track to finish on Tim.
Click the links to read my other Southport Scorch Reviews
Motown & Northern Soul Freestyle: John Baker’s Friday night opener in The Cyclone Room
Tony Riccardi Set: DJ Tony Riccardi’s set from Friday night
Simply Slotted: Caine and Danni’s very helpful class in dancing on The Slot
Double Trouble: Matt & Chloe help Lyndsey Bennett with a fun filled class
My Southport Diary: Includes the live blog from Sunday night