The Spirit of Southport lies in the music

If you had to describe Ceroc’s Southport Weekender to someone who had no idea what even Ceroc was, where would you start.  You’d probably begin by telling them that it involved round the clock dancing – it starts at three on Friday afternoon and doesn’t stop until six o’clock Monday morning.

Southport is without doubt one hell of a dance fest, but it’s the music that gives the energy and emotion to the dancing, so for me the true Spirit of Southport lies in the great variety of music – and there is a lot of it.

So much music, so little duplication

The music is not just provided by the roster of DJs operating in three main areas, but the teachers too provide music as background to their many lessons.  I estimate there was over one hundred and twenty hours of music, and what’s even more amazing, is that there was hardly any duplication.  It’s this variety of dance music that makes the Southport Weekenders what they are.

I hope you recognise my snapshot of a great weekend

We all have our own memories of Southport, and our personal favourite musical moments.  I hope my selection of Ten Top Tracks will give a snapshot of this fabulous weekender that everyone will recognise.  I’ve tried to represent all the different types of music, and in the accompanying notes give you an explanation of why these ten tracks represent, at least for me, the true Spirit of Southport September 2018.

The tracks are listed in the order they were played.  The first on Friday night, the last on Sunday night/Monday morning. 

1: Can’t stop the feeling Justin Timberlake – DJ Tony Riccardi, Thunderball Room, Friday Night

If there is anything that evokes the Spirit of Southport it is The Ice-Breaker Class at nine o’clock on Friday night in the Thunderball Room.  In many ways it’s the moment that the weekend kicks off for real.  Some people will have been dancing outside the Queen Vic Pub since three in the afternoon, but Tim Sant-Turner’s early evening class must attract close on three hundred people of all levels, and it offers everyone a chance to meet some new faces, and catch up with long distance dance friends for the first time.

The Ice-breaker lesson is particularly helpful for the Southport first-timers.  Walking in to a packed Thunderball Room after ten o’clock can be a little overwhelming, but the Ice-breaker lesson takes the edge off it, and more importantly can give you your first dance partner of the night.

That first dance needs the right track, and DJ Tony Riccardi got it spot on.  Something that everyone knew, a track with an easy to connect with beat.  As Tim counted everyone in, to put all his moves together for one last time Tony hit the play button on this well loved track

There is another reason I’ve chosen this track – the lyrics.  While the song is about the feelings for a girl it’s a metaphor for dancing. Here’s a song expressing the feeling and joy of dancing (just watch the video), and that the singer just can’t stop it.  Sometimes we can’t stop it either.  Well for the next three days there’s no need to stop the feeling, for Southport is a non-stop high that comes from the joy of dancing

2: Disco Inferno Tina Turner- DJ Roy Blewitt, Thunderball Room, Friday Night

Every so often the DJs will set the floor on fire in the Thunderball Room.  It’s not guaranteed , and you can’t ever predict when it will happen, but it does.  It takes the right combination of tracks, as the DJ slowly edges up the vibe out on the dance floor.  Then comes the track that sets the flames alight.

DJs will set the floor on fire at their local main room freestyles, but to experience it at Southport with three hundred other people connecting with the same vibe is something special, and that for me is the Spirit of Southport at its most uplifting.  It wasn’t long before it happened again in the most intense way.

DJ Roy lights the touch paper

After 1:30 Roy Blewitt was on the decks. The previous DJs had done their bit to create a great vibe out on the floor.  At two in the morning the floor was still packed.  Everyone had looked forward to this night for sometime, and no one was ready to go to bed just yet.  Roy slowly built the vibe out on the floor and then lit the touch paper with Usher’s thumping Scream.

After a euphoric dance I rushed to write the title in my note book.  No sooner had I written the words ‘Floor on Fire! against it’, when I heard the opening strains of the one song I was born to dance to – Safri Duo’s Played alive (The Bongo Song).  I dashed on to the dance floor and once again felt the intensity of dancing with two hundred people, all in tune with Roy’s trance inducing selection.

Roy isn’t finished yet

As the track ended I returned to my notebook.  Scream was crossed out and ‘Floor on Fire’ was written against ‘Bongo Song!!!’  I needed a rest but Roy wasn’t finished.  He brought the vibe down from max for the next track – though I sat it out to take a rest – but then he really sent me into orbit.

The Trammps original recording of Disco Inferno is considered to be one of the greatest dance anthems to come out of The ’70s Disco boom, but Roy has found a version that I think puts it in the shade for sheer energy.

Roy has previous form with this Tina Turner track, and he knows it’s a sure fire winner that dance nuts like myself can not miss out on.  After another amazing full-on dance I returned to my notebook.  ‘Bongo Song’ was crossed out and in even bigger letters was written ‘DISCO INFERNO – Tina T version’.  The Spirit of Southport was well and truly alive.

3: Together again Janet Jackson – DJ Phil Jay, Sack the DJ Slot, Saturday Afternoon

There is a lot of DJing talent on show at Southport, and I suspect it’s not easy getting a slot as a new DJ.  One of the things I love about the programme is the ‘Sack the DJ’ slots that are Southport’s equivalent of the open-mic tradition that gives new talent some time in the spotlight.  These slots all take place in the Boudoir, and while they may not be the best of times – usually before the main action starts – they keep the non-stop feature of Southport’s spirit going.

At mid-day on Saturday Lyndsey Bennett was running her very popular Get ready for Swingers Hour class in the main Thunderball Room.  As part of my plan to pace myself over the weekend, I had decided to limit my Rock ‘n’ Roll  activities, and instead chose to see what DJ Phil Jay had to offer in The Boudoir as an alternative.

Phil gets my attention from the word go

The Boudoir was not particularly busy, and it was Phil’s job, along with two fellow DJs to fill the room up before ‘Swingers Hour’ itself got started at 1:30.  Phil decided to take an upbeat approach to his playlist, and he had my full attention with his very first pick –  an extended version of The Isley Brothers This old heart of mine, with long instrumental sections that I could really appreciate the musicianship of Motown’s house band – The Funk Brothers.

But this listing is about the spirit of dancing, and Phil soon had me doing just that, with a smile across my face the whole time.  Janet Jackson’s Together again is perhaps a rather pretty song, but hey, so what!  For Southport to work it has to have a variety of musical treats and this was one of them, resulting in me highlighting the dance I enjoyed in my notebook.

I love hearing how DJs get their breaks

Now I mention Phil for another reason.  After some more wonderful dancing I introduced myself to him, and he kindly gave me some background to his DJing story.  I find it fascinating how DJs get their first break, and I found Phil’s story particularly interesting.  Now here’s not the place to tell Phil’s story, but the interesting bit is that Phil is one of only a handful of people organising Modern Jive Freestyles in Ireland, running monthly dances in Carlow.

I know that there is quite a contingent that comes to Southport from Ireland, and it was great listening to how differently things are run over there.  I can only wish Phil and the other Irish DJs the best, as they help establish Modern Jive further.

The track has a rather slow intro, before it bursts in to life, which Phil sensibly cut out.  So move the slider to 40 secs to instantly feel the joy of this track.

4: Ain’t got no home Clarence ‘Frogman’ Henry – DJ Tiggerbabe, Swingers Hour, Saturday Afternoon

For many people Swingers Hour is one of the highlights of Southport, but perhaps not just for the music.  Though some people love the mix of high paced ’40s Swing and ’50s Rock ‘n’ Roll, the Saturday and Sunday afternoon sessions in The Boudoir have one other attraction, for the ladies at least.  That is the opportunity to dress up in ’50s style swirly dresses.

I’m always amazed at just how many ladies get in to the spirit of Swingers Hour by wearing dresses we associate with ’50s Rock ‘n’ Roll, and on behalf of all the guys can I just say how much we appreciate it.  I know a lot of care is taken over getting the dress right, and everyone of them makes a joyous statement.

Swirly dresses in fabulous designs are a well loved feature of Swinger’s Hour

From Vivien of Holloway to eBay

A lot of effort goes in to finding these dresses, and I can’t help complimenting the ladies on their choice as I dance with them.  I suspect that the ladies don’t need a man to tell them where to go to find them these wonderful creations, but I thought I might mention a few of the things the ladies have told me about their dresses.

One of the most famous brands of ’40s and ’50s vintage dresses is Vivien of Holloway (see link below).  They can be expensive (as much as £180 I’ve been told), but I know that some of my Nottingham Dance Gang friends have occasionally treated themselves to one of her less expensive one’s.  The Dance Gang are also avid followers of the second hand market on line.

After Sunday’s Swingers Hour I found myself dancing with a lady in a lovely vintage dress:

Love your dress.  Is it Vivien of Holloway?

No, it’s a Hell Bunny one (see link below).  I just love their dresses and I found it on eBay.  It was just £15!

eBay it seems is the place to look for these dresses, but there is another way to save money.  Again on Sunday I found myself dancing with a lady who actually wears these vintage style dresses whenever she goes dancing:

That’s another lovely dress.  Where do you get them all from?

Thank you, I make them all myself.

It must be wonderful to combine the hobby of dress making with a love of dancing.  For all the women, it must be equally wonderful to have an opportunity to wear such lovely dresses, knowing that they will make a colourful statement out on the dance floor, that helps to make Swinger’s Hour such a joyous uplifting occasion.

To recognise the efforts so many ladies go to with their dresses for Swinger’s Hour, I’ve chosen a track from Tiggerbabe’s (real name Sheena Assiph) Saturday afternoon set.  It’s a classic Rock ‘n’ Roll track that Sheena plays every Southport, and as soon as you feel it’s bouncy fun lovin’ energy you’ll realise why.

5: Solo Clean Bandit featuring Demi Lovato – DJ Jon Gammon, Lucky Dip Competition, Saturday Night

This Southport saw the introduction of a new dance competition.  It seems that feedback from recent weekenders suggested that people were tired of the teachers cabaret and preferred the idea of a more formal competition.  With this in mind Ceroc HQ introduced a Lucky Dip competition that was trialled at the Camber Sands Weekender in early spring.  It seemed to go down well at Camber, so it was introduced in to the Southport programme.

The idea was that gender balanced couples formally registered for the competition (the £2 fee all went to charity).  The couples would then be randomly mixed up so you ended up dancing with a Lucky Dip partner.

Seeing it on the programme before hand, I thought I’d enter in to the spirit of it, so that I could at least write about my experience – I’ve never entered a dance competition before.  As this post will appear in the coming weeks, I won’t say any more than to feature the song I danced to with my Lucky Dip partner – Clean Bandit’s latest hit Solo.

It’s a very catchy track, and you can easily see why it’s given Clean Bandit another hit, but I’ve not heard a lot of it on the Ceroc Dance floor.  This may be that it’s not the easiest of tracks to dance to.  So imagine my dismay when I was asked to perform to it in front of three hundred people – but I’m preempting my review of the experience, so I’ll stop now.

6: I’m coming out Diana Ross – DJ Tim Sant-Turner, Thunderball Room, Saturday Night

Prior to Southport I finished reading a book about the history of the ’70s disco boom, that had it’s roots in the clubs of New York.  It is here that DJs first exhibited the power to break dance records and make them in to global hits.  Its here too, that DJs first learned the craft of reading the dance floor, and taking their dancers to levels of euphoria not seen before, and it wasn’t long before they started remixing tracks to make them even more trance inducing.

It’s this same sense of euphoria that we are able to enjoy every night at Southport and it’s only right that we should acknowledge the role of these pioneers of dance music.  As I read the book one thing became very clear – the role of the male gay community of Manhattan in popularising a new club culture.  Some of the DJs were gay themselves, but it was the masses of gay men who packed their clubs that gave an unstoppable energy to this dance music revolution.

Gay Culture has been a driving force behind dance music

Back in the ’70s attitudes were very different from today and many of the clubs were regularly raided by the NYPD.  No matter, for these clubs offered gay men a relatively safe place to be themselves.  Since those heady days of the early 1970’s gay culture has continued to be a driving force behind dance music.

One of the greatest figures of dance music was a black gay DJ called Frankie Knuckles.

You probably haven’t heard of Knuckles, but his DJing skills, of remixing and introducing electronic drum and bass riffs to revitalise old dance tracks, gave us the genre of dance production we know as ‘House Music’.

This music genre still pervades through all modern dance music, and the Tropical House productions and remixes of Kygo can trace their lineage back to Frankie Knuckles.

Knuckles got his first break in the predominantly gay clubs of New York, but found fame when he moved to Chicago.  Here he took up residency at The Warehouse.  His playlists were described as ‘House’ music and the rest, as they say, is history.

Tim decides to celebrate this gay contribution

Now, I may be wrong, but here goes.  When I first saw the programme for this Southport one Thunderball Room Slot stood out.  On Saturday night Tim Sant-Turner was DJing a slot entitled Camp Attack.

Tim wasn’t taking the stage until 2:30 and it was a bit of struggle to stay up, but I was determined to see what track Tim would launch his set with.

I suspect that the track that Tim kicked his set off with quickly became a gay anthem.  ‘I’m coming out’ by Diana Ross was released in 1980, at a time when the fight for gay rights had finally taken to the streets.

Though I was in my bed by the time Tim finished his set, I’m told that it included many gay anthems, including the more recent Born this way by Lady Gaga and the ’90s gay club favourite Freed from desire by Gala.  I’m also told that there were quite a few gay pride ribbons being worn, and hey why not.

As I said above, those of us who have a passion for dance music, owe a lot to the gay community for their part in developing a music genre that has the ability to create so much joy in the world.

I captured this image of Tim Sant-Turner as he launched in to his set

Southport is a chance for us all to come out

I’ve chosen this Diana Ross track for another reason.  It is also a call for us all to come out.  It’s a call for me to let my inner Soul Boy out.  It’s a call to all those ladies to love every minute of wearing their gorgeous vintage style dresses.  It’s a call to be a little rebellious.  Sod the rest of the world, for one weekend at least.

This is our own quality time, and if we want to go to bed at silly o’clock, no one’s going to stop us.  If we want to enjoy a hedonistic indulgent weekend, then Diana’s anthem gives us permission, should we need it.

Here is the Spirit of Southport in all its glory.  Celebrate that you can dance and celebrate who ever you are.  Celebrate that you are with a whole bunch of people who will not judge you.  All they want to do is dance and have fun with their friends.  Let the Spirit of Southport take hold and remember that life is for living – just like it was in the gay clubs of Manhattan back in the ’70s.

Let’s do it all again next time

I asked Tim to check over my draft copy of the musings I’d put together about the Diana Ross track, and he kindly gave me this quote:

After celebrating a Summer of ever-growing and increasingly popular Pride festivals across the country, Camp Attack seemed like a fitting addition to the Ceroc Escape scene.

The music is so joyous, often cheesy, but the crowd love that they recognise the rhythms, know the words and the songs always hold a nostalgic sentiment for so many.

The reception was fantastic, the scores of people who dressed up and danced near the stage really enhanced the spirit of the room, and the feedback after the event phenomenal. We will definitely be doing this again!

My thanks to Tim for his contribution.  It was also nice to see Tim use the phrase ‘ the spirit of the room’.  It’s the Spirit of Southport again.

7: Trapped Colonel Abrams – DJ Vince Silva, Funk Hour, Saturday Afternoon

Vince Silva’s Funk Hour is without doubt my favourite speciality hour in the SILC Zone, and judging by the reaction I suspect it’s a few other people’s too.  Now extended by an extra thirty minutes it’s an even bigger chunk of ’70s and ’80s funk.

I’ve written many times about the revolution that James Brown and Stevie Wonder brought about in the ’70s so this time I’m going to concentrate on Vince’s picks from the ’80s.

But before I do, I have to give credit for Vince finding and playing a modern remix of a James Brown track that is so funkified that I want to tell the whole world about.

Sensibly I have an agreement with Vince that I’ll let him keep his exclusive finds to himself, but I still have to vote him this months ‘Funk Master’ for playing his James Brown track and giving me a safe overdose of funk.

I’m a great fan of DJs serving up tracks from our school days and early ventures on to the dance floor.  There must be hundreds of people at Southport who got the dance bug in the ’80s.  While dance music in the ’70s had been dominated by artists from America, The ’80s saw two British funk bands come to prominence.

This was a time when Shakatak and Imagination were constantly in the charts and Vince served up some of their best funk infused tracks including Down on the street and Just an illusion.  So good was the dancing that I’m going to message Radio 2’s Steve Wright and see if I can get a plug for Vince’s top draw playlist on Serious Jokin’ (no G) next friday.

Hey Wrighty (Steve takes on the persona of Silly Boy Wrighty to do his Friday afternoon dance blast) can you mention Vince Silva’s Funk hour at Southport.  It was awesome.  There was some serious funkin’ (no G) going on.

It was awesome, and after his last track, The Hustle by Van McCoy, faded out a rapturous round of applause broke out.  The track I’ll feature is another funk monster from The ’80s – Colonel Abrams’ Trapped.

8: This is Me (Dave Aude Remix) The Greatest Showman Cast – DJ Nicola Di Folco, Thunderball Room, Sunday Night

Sunday night dancing in The Thunderball Room can be the best of the weekend.  Sadly some people have had to leave so that they can be back at work on Monday morning, but this gives everyone a little more space to express themselves.  Also those who remain know this is their last night and are really up for one last fling out on the floor.  The resulting atmosphere can be quite electrifying.

It’s one of the reasons that the DJs love getting a slot on this final night.

The lucky ones this time round were Nicola Di Folco, Hayley Epps, Tony Riccardi, Mark O’Reilly, Caroline Houlton, Kevin Hyde, and as always Jon Gammon to round it all off in the early hours.

Each would take to the decks with a great vibe out on the floor, something they could work with and create their own special dance music magic.

Nicola sadly gets the graveyard shift on her debut

However Nicola Di Folco would not have the luxury of building on someone else’s set.  Nicola was first off, at a time when many people were still thinking about getting ready, let alone be making their way over to the Thunderball Room.  Nicola’s eight o’clock slot can be a bit of a graveyard shift, and so the first part proved.

This was a pity because this was actually Nicola’s Thunderball Room debut.  I’ve become a great fan of Nicola’s main room and chill-out music over the past year, and I was so pleased to see her get her opportunity to play to a bigger audience.  I have to say then that it was a little disheartening to see the floor completely empty when I entered about ten past eight.

The Scottish dancers turn out to support Nicola

However the seating area around the room was filing up and I noticed something very heart warming.  In amongst the gathering dancers was a large contingent from Scotland, Nicola’s home patch.

I’ve made a few trips north of the border in the past year, including the fabulous first-ever Ceroc Perth Fresh Weekender, and met some wonderful people.  Now pleasingly I recognised many of those faces, who were here to support Nicola.

My own home grown DJ Ashley Davis also made his Thunderball Room debut this Southport and the large Nottingham Massif (that’s what Ashley calls us) was out in force to support him.  Ashley had also been passed the baton of the first two SILC classes and once again The Ceroc Heaven faithfully joined the lines to support him.

The support that people give to their local teachers is another example of the Spirit of Southport and it is shown in this wonderful image that Nicola posted on Facebook.  Just look at the number of Likes and Loves it got, and the 15 comments showed the support that Nicola enjoyed on Sunday night.

 

Nicola took this shot from her position behind the decks during the first part of her set

The floor slowly fills up for Nicola

Even though Nicola played the first part of her set to an almost empty floor, I could tell that a lot of preparation had gone in to her playlist and the benefits soon showed.  So good was the vibe that Nicola built out on the floor, that I have decided to write a more detailed article about her set, but I want to finish by talking about the finale to her debut right here.

In my writing about DJ Roy Blewitt’s choice of Disco inferno above, I talked about the ability of DJs to set the floor on fire.  In the first part of her set Nicola had very few opportunities to do this – there were just not enough people om the dance floor.  But as Nicola worked the floor at the end of her set she did just that with her penultimate track. The 3 Jays Feeling it too.

This is a trance inducing track that I adore.  It was occasionally played at my class nights in Derby some years ago and I got to really connect with its clubland beat.

The track seemed to disappear from DJ playlists until Franck Pauly brought it out at a Ceroc Glasgow Party Night.

I’d forgotten just how good it was, and now hearing it through the thumping speakers of the Thunderball Room sound system it sounded even better.  The floor caught fire!

But Nicola still had one more track to go to keep the flames burning.  The Dave Aude remix of This is Me is a great piece of main room music and The Thunderball Room’s thumping sound system lifted it to another level.

I now enjoyed another fabulous dance, but here’s what was so wonderful about it.  This dance to This is Me was with one of the Scottish ladies who had come out to support Nicola when the floor was very quiet.

What was so wonderful was that she, and the other people who had turned out to support Nicola, had seen her build an exciting vibe out on the floor from absolutely nothing.  As I matched my dancing to the feeling sweeping the dance floor, I knew I had experienced yet again the true Spirit of Southport.

9: Stole the show Kygo Featuring vocals by Parson James – DJ Nicola Di Folco, SILC Zone, Sunday Night

One of the ways that The Spirit of Southport shows itself is how people throw themselves in to the programme of lessons.  Everyone seems bent on improving their dancing.  Regular readers of my blog, who have been following my Tea Dance Tour, will know that I’ve been on a mission to improve my own dancing, by learning how to dance in a smoother slotted style to chill-out music.

Southport provided me with two opportunities to improve my technique.  The first was Jo Hart’s Blues Toolkit class on Friday night and the second Ashley Davis’ Foundation and Progressive SILC classes on Saturday.  I’ll be discussing both these sets of classes in a bit more detail, when I take a look at the whole SILC experience at Southport in a future post.

Practise is as important as the lessons

For the moment let me just say that the lessons were a great help, but the benefit of going to lessons is soon lost unless you get to practice what you’ve been shown.  That can be a problem for some of us, because it means stepping out of our comfort zone.

I have often spoken of how I would come to Southport and watch in awe at the dancers in The SILC Zone as they danced to the slower forms of music.

I am not alone, and some people never get the confidence to dance in these rooms.  I knew that if I was ever to improve my slower dancing techniques I would have to overcome any fear.

Again, like many people, I took a cautious approach and would chose to dance with people I knew from back home.  My dance partner Jo was also on the same journey to dance in The SILC Zone with confidence, and for the last two Southport’s we danced mainly together to the slower tracks.

The Challenge: To Dance with a Stranger

Over the past year I have made significant progress, and so I set myself the challenge of dancing with a stranger – someone I didn’t know.  Someone I had no idea of their ability.  They might be equally or even less experienced than myself, or they might be the best dancer in the room.  I would have no idea – I could hardly conduct an interview beforehand – but that’s the challenge of dancing with a stranger.

Again I’ll talk more about how I got on, in my future SILC at Southport article, but let me just say that I think I did OK.

I set myself a greater challenge on Sunday night

On Sunday night DJ Nicola Di Folco was on duty behind the decks in The SILC Zone.  I’m a great fan of Nicola’s chill-out sets and I found myself once again just watching from the sides enjoying the music and watching the action.

It wasn’t long before I was transfixed by the dancing of one particular woman.  She and her partner were dancing in the so called smooth slotted style.

What struck me was the opportunities the male lead gave the lady to express herself particularly as she settled at the end of the slot.

I didn’t think for a moment that I could replicate the fluid and sometimes quite intricate moves of the male lead, but I wondered whether I could still give the lady opportunities to express her own musicality with my own more simpler lead.  Here was my next challenge.

I knew I was in safe hands

Before I go any further I should perhaps mention that the lady in question was no stranger.  Two weeks prior to Southport I had visited a SILC Sunday hosted by Strictly Ceroc in Bristol.  At this combined workshop and chill-out freestyle I’d met husband and wife dancers Terry and Lynda Hills.

Bristol is a real SILC and Slotted dancing hot spot, and both Terry and Lynda have a great passion for and experience in this style of smooth chill-out dancing.  That afternoon I’d enjoyed two particularly good dances with Lynda, so it goes without saying that when I asked her for the next dance, I felt very comfortable that I was in safe hands.

The dance was amazing.  I kept my lead simple – I could do little else, but I made it as smooth as possible and gave Lynda plenty of time to settle at the end of each slot.  This gave her the opportunity to show the same musicality she had impressed me with during her previous dance with the more experienced dancer.

The Spirit of Southport is a powerful force at times

As we walked off the dance floor the following words spilled out of my mouth:

Lynda you were amazing, and you made me look a lot better than I am

Lynda accepted my compliment very graciously, but here is my point.

The Spirit of Southport can be quite a powerful force at times.  It motivates us to go to all the classes, and then it gives us the courage to try out what we have been taught for real.

But you really feel it’s force when you realise that some of the people you dance with, want to do their bit to help you become a better dancer.

The track I experienced this aspect of Southport’s underlying spirit was Kygo’s Stole the show.  Record producer Kygo has created a quite unique sound for his tracks and remixes. It is firmly in the Tropical House genre that owes its roots to the work of DJ Frankie Knuckles back in Chicago in The ’80s (see track 6).

The track has plenty of changes of pace and mood that makes it a perfect SILC track.  I doubt that DJ Nicola would have had any idea that her spinning this delicious chill-out track would lead me to writing so many words, but great dances need just the right track sometimes.

10: She Bangs Ricky Martin – DJ Caroline Houlton, Thunderball Room, Sunday Night

If Nicola Di Folco had the most difficult slot on Sunday night, then Caroline Houlton had one of the best.  By half past midnight the vibe out on the floor it at its peak, and Caroline was always going to ensure that her set never let it drop for her second.

So good was her set that I’ve decided to write a review of it combined with Nicola’s opening set.  But for now let me talk about Caroline’s Ricky Martin track.

This is a classic Thunderball Room anthem.  It has everything that the Thunderball Room sound system was designed for.  A thumping bass line and an energy that, if you are not careful, will blow you in to next door.

This track has gained it’s classic status in every single main room freestyle in the country, and the fact that Hayley Epps also included it in her Saturday night set is more proof of its knock out credentials.

The DJs always include Classic tracks

I’ve included She bangs in my list for another reason.  I understand that the Thunderball DJs are given free reign with their playlists, but are asked to included a couple of so called ‘Classic’ tracks like the Ricky Martin one.   Last month I released a 10 Classic Track Album that featured some of the best of these well loved floor fillers.

The article proved so popular that I rushed out a Volume 2 with another ten thumping tracks (see links below).  It seems we all recognise these tracks when they are played, but just don’t know the name of them.

This probably explains why the albums were so well received.  Now I mention these albums because I couldn’t help but test my own selections against those of the professional DJs.

My two albums included twenty tracks.  I was in the Thunderball Room for for about a third of the DJ sets and eight tracks from my albums were featured.  I think that’s not a bad return.  The plays included Tim Sant-Turner’s Uprising, Jon Gammon’s use of Sunchyme as the first track in the Wife Swap, and Roy Blewitt setting the floor on fire with Played alive (The Bongo Song).  

It’s important that Southport is inclusive

It’s great to hear new music.  Nicola Di Folco’s choice of This is me to climax her set with was an example of a top draw track I’d never heard before.  I love Tony Riccardi and Hayley Epps sets because they include so many great new-to-me tracks, but it’s important that Southport is inclusive and the inclusion of these classic tracks is vitally important.

Everyone knows these classic tracks and that’s what gives them so much general appeal.  It’s little wonder that these tracks set the floor on fire more than any others.

Perhaps it’s because The Spirit of Southport lies in their thumping bass lines and their trance inducing instrumentation.

Hit the play button on the Ricky Martin track.  Turn the volume as high as you dare and I’m sure you’ll sense that there is something more than just a dance track in its hedonistic vibe.  Perhaps there is something a little spiritual about it too.

Please excuse my at times over enthusiastic musings

I’ve just read that last sentence back to myself:

Perhaps there is something a little spiritual about it too.

Perhaps you agree with me that there is something spiritual about dance music, though I think I do get carried away sometimes.  The word count of over six thousand words suggests I might have gone a little over the top this time.

However I always think there’s no point me ever just listing ten standout tracks, and I’d like to think that my musings make you think a little more deeply about the music, that at times we dance so passionately to.

This article was written as I enjoyed a relaxing break in Skiathos.  Each morning I would sit at my computer overlooking a glistening blue sea under an equally blue sky.  It is a heavenly place and I am very lucky to be able to write in such a calming setting.  That perhaps explains the depth of my musings this time.  Thank you as always for reading them.

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The Spirit of Southport June 2018