Paul you have to go to The Engine Shed

Back in April I’d ventured up The A1 to Tadcaster for a freestyle at Riley-Smith Hall run by DJ Kerry Bayley.  It turned out to be a fantastic night, and when I came to select my Top 5 Freestyles of The Year I had to include it (see links below).  I remember chatting to people to get their reaction to the night and one lady enthusiastically told me this:

Kerry’s music is just the best.  It’s always a great night at Tadcaster, but you should go to The Engine Shed at Wetherby.  It’s got to be my favourite place.

I love the idea of following up on people’s recommendations.  I’d actually gone to Tadcaster on a previous recommendation.  I’d written a review of Jive Infusion’s Freestyle at Parklands in Doncaster, where Kerry was spinning the tracks, and had raved about her music.  A lady got in touch to say that if I liked Kerry’s music I should head for Tadcaster.  So by way of Doncaster and Tadcaster I set off up The A1 for the Engine Shed.

I spent my youth dancing and train spotting

It’s confession time again.  Regular readers of the blog will know that I got my love of dancing and dance music at The Nottingham Palais.  However prior to developing a passion for Motown and Soul Music I had developed an obsession with trainspotting.  It was a thing lots of us did before an interest in girls inevitably took over.  However I never lost my interest in railways and as I drove up the A1 I couldn’t help wondering why the venue was called The Engine Shed.

This is a venue full of character

The building is an old railway goods shed and its been cleverly restored to create a dance venue full of character.  This is the only reminder that a railway line ran through Wetherby, and its hard to imagine that it also acted as a station.  Its height allowed a mezzanine floor to be built on an upper level, providing another dance area and a gallery overlooking the main dance floor below.

Underneath the gallery alcoves with built-in seating have been provided.  The result is a well laid out venue, perfect for social gatherings of all kinds, and you can see why this has become a well loved destination for Modern Jive freestyles.

The dance floor on Friday night viewed from the gallery

This is a very popular venue

After hearing so many good things about this venue I had little doubt that it would be busy and, not unsurprisingly, the dance floor was packed by 8:30.  Sadly the dance floor on the upper area was out of action, and so as more people arrived the main dance floor became a little crowded.

I’ll often talk about DJs setting the dance floor on fire.  By playing a series of hi-energy tracks DJs can create a vibe out on the floor where the dancers lose themselves in the music.  This may result in the dancers being distracted and not fully appreciating the presence of the people around them – collision can and do occur.

 

A couple of Modern Jive favourites to slow it down

What impressed me was the way Kerry controlled the vibe out on the floor so that when it was the most crowded she eased the tempo down.  At about 9.30 Kerry had the floor rockin’ to Roy Orbison’s I drove all night.  Now all Kerry had to do was play another energised track and the floor would have been on fire, but it was just too busy.

Sensibly, even at this early hour, Kerry slowed the tempo down with Kaleida’s relaxed and smooth Take me to the river, then followed it with the equally gorgeous 40 years from Tone Damli – a perfect move.

The best DJs constantly watch the dance floor

It’s difficult to please all of the people all the time.  We all have our difference musical tastes, our own favourite tracks and those we are a little bored by.  The best DJs know their audience and watch the floor constantly.  They know when a track has not gone down too well and they will ensure they follow it with a proven floor filler.

Remember Kerry couldn’t play too many of the high energy tracks I love – the dance floor was just too busy, but I still don’t remember any track falling flat, and my note book was full of music that I just loved.

Here’s one of the first I picked out.  We are the people by Empire of the Sun in a wonderful mid tempo dance track, but Kerry found a Cosmonauts Re-edit that took this track to another level, and gave me one of the best dances of the night.

Kerry has built quite a reputation across Yorkshire

I’d long been aware that Kerry has built quite a reputation in Yorkshire, and DJs for other dance organisations, including the aforementioned Jive Infusion and also does dates for Northern Jive too.  In fact looking at the schedule she publishes on her Facebook Page it seems that Kerry is DJ-ing somewhere every weekend in this part of Yorkshire.

Because Kerry DJ-ed so regularly wasn’t there a danger that the dancers, who followed her around, might start to hear the same old tracks where ever they went.  However many of the tracks I was dancing to were new to me – it had been the same at Tadcaster too, and I couldn’t help thinking that Kerry freshens the playlist up for every gig.

No same old, same old with Kerry

In my reviews I embed YouTube videos of the standout tracks from a DJ’s playlist.  I couldn’t resist looking back through my reviews of Tadcaster and Doncaster to see what tracks I’d featured.  I wondered if I might see some of the tracks overlapping.  Impressively only one of the tracks I’d featured in these two previous reviews was played at Wetherby – Maroon 5’s homage to Swing – The way you look tonight.

Just as I suspected, Kerry seems to avoid playing the same tracks at each of her weekly venues, and this is one of the reasons she has been able to build such an enviable reputation across Yorkshire.  Another reason for Kerry’s success is the sheer variety of musical styles she plays.

One great track after another

Kerry does sprinkle a few past hits from the charts in to her playlist (well all DJs are allowed at least one Jess Glynne track), but it’s predominantly made up with her own picks from the many different parts of the dance music vaults.

My notebook was soon full of a list of one great dance track after another including, the Clubby Starlight by The Supermen Lovers, a piece of unashamedly pop in Kylie Minogue’s On a night like this, and a very dance-able piece of Rock ‘n’ Roll from Elvis in the guise of Stuck on you. There was some funky Latin Rock from Zucchero’s and his Baila Morena and a thumping remix of Will Young’s Jealousy.

I just love dancing to DJ’s remix masterpieces

I love it when DJs find these great remixes, and the Moto Blanco Club Mix of Will Young’s Jealousy is a wonderful track to dance to, but the remix I want to feature is a reworking of The Temptations Papa was a rolling stone.  The original isn’t quite fast enough for Modern Jive, but the funky remix that Kerry played by Dr Heinz Funkenpumpe is just perfect.

I first heard this version of the Norman Whitfield produced Motown classic in May at St Neots, with DJ Sue Astle on the decks.  It then  resurfaced at Bedforn Corn Exchange with Marc Forster spinning the tracks.  I’ve danced for nearly eight years without hearing this funked up masterpiece, and then I get to dance to it three times in the space of a few months.  A bit like the proverbial London buses.

Two disco delights and a classic from Nat King Cole

At about ten thirty Kerry treated the floor to two disco delights from the ’70s – Edwin Starr’s H.A.P.P.Y Radio and Sylvester’s You make me feel (Mighty real).  I’m used to DJ’s playing disco triples to really get the dance floor rockin’, but it was still too busy, so these two fabulous tracks two were just enough, before Kerry sensibly slowed the tempo down again.

One of Kerry’s choices, as she cooled the dance floor down was the Modern Jive classic Let their be love by Nat King Cole.  I know we hear this track almost every time we go dancing, but I don’t hear anyone complaining.  It’s just so lovely to dance too – relaxed but not too slow.  It was actually played at my first class night, some eight years ago, and I’ve enjoyed dancing to it every time since.

We all go dancing for different reasons

I love travelling round the country going to new venues.  I love the opportunity it gives me to meet and dance with new people, but I have to admit that one of the main reasons for my travels is to indulge my passion of dancing to new music.

I know that other people like trying out new venues too, and some will travel long distances to visit venues with outstanding reputations.  I was impressed to hear that a group of people had travelled up from Reading to enjoy the wonderful music and dancing at The Engine Shed.

Most people, of course, prefer to stay local – and why not when you have a venue and music as good as this.  Partner dancing, like Modern Jive, is a great social mixer, and this venue is a great place for friends to meet up.

As a newcomer I’m always a little anxious to how friendly a venue is, but from the moment I was welcomed by a very smiley Chiqui on the door I was made to feel very welcome.

The ‘What was that track?’ dance

As I said above, when I go to new places I want to hear some new-to-me music.  Not just any old music though.  No, as I drive home I want to be able to remember having a great dance to something a bit special.  Kerry didn’t disappoint, and served up the perfect track at the end of the night with Start it up by blues/rock guitarist Robben Ford.

This track is more rock than blues – so no need to do that close-hold blues thing.  Regular modern Jive moves will work perfectly well, but this track gives you and your partner, so many opportunities to play around with them.  Though the song does have a vocal line, the thing to do is connect with the instrumentation and listen out for the accents and the breaks.

Hopefully you can leave your inhibitions behind

It’s around these accents and breaks that you find the opportunities to really showcase your musicality.  Many of us, I hear you say, struggle with our inhibitions and so  find it difficult to fully express ourselves on the dance floor.

What makes this track so outstanding, is that if you really connect with it’s hypnotic vibe, you can easily lose yourself in it.  You may then be able to leave those inhibitions behind, and dance as if no one is watching.

I had the most wonderful dance, and hopefully so did my partner too, and at the end I had to ask Kerry what the track was.  After giving me the details she explained that it was a real favourite at The Engine Shed.  All I’ll say is that the regulars are very lucky to have a DJ that will find such wonderful tracks to dance to.

A great track that is so easy to dance to

When you have great music to dance to on a regular basis you can slowly develop your dancing to get the very best out of tracks like the Robben Ford one.  Realistically I know that many people are more than happy to simply dance to uncomplicated music.  All they ask is that the music is easy to dance to, so that they and their partner can dance to it with a degree of fluidity and style.

Towards the end of the night Kerry played what I consider to be a perfect Modern Jive track – 3T’s version of Lionel Ritchie’s Stuck on you.  This track has a straight forward beat that’s easy to connect with.  It has a catchy melody, and its instrumentation and production makes this track a joy to dance to.

Occasionally that’s all that’s required.  No need to do anything complicated guys.  Just concentrate on making your moves flow smoothly, and giving your partner an easy time by making your lead as clear as possible.  3T’s version of Stuck on you has long been a favourite of mine and on Friday night I was reminded just what a lovely dance track this is.

Another recommendation, another road trip to plan

This had been a wonderful night, and I should here thank all the ladies for my wonderful dances.

It was a pity that the mezzanine floor wasn’t available, meaning that the dance floor was at times a little crowded.  However I don’t think it really effected anyone’s enjoyment.  Kerry used her musical picks, and constant forays in to chilled tracks to ensure the atmosphere on the dance floor was not too excitable.

Towards the end of the night I got chatting to a guy from Leeds.  We both agreed how wonderful Kerry’s music had been, and he was quick to make another recommendation:

So are you going to Pudsey tomorrow?

Sadly I had long planned to review a major freestyle in Nottingham.  Gary Wharton was making his debut as the DJ at Pirate Jive’s freestyle at The Shed in Beeston, one of Nottingham premier Modern Jive venues.

It’s just that Kerry is DJ-ing there.  It’s one of the best freestyles in Leeds, and the music will be as good as tonight.  It’s always a great night.  Perhaps you could come up another time.

When I started my blog just over a year ago I had no idea where it would take me.  Little did I know that I’d find myself on a dance journey to Pudsey, via Wetherby, Tadcaster and Doncaster.  Life can be like that sometimes.

Please follow the links to other review featuring DJ Kerry Bayley

My Top 5 Freestyles:  Tadcaster makes The Top 5 for 2016/17

Riley-Smith Hall, Tadcaster:  My first visit to a Yorkshire Freestyle Nights venue

Parklands, Doncaster:  My first time dancing to Kerry’s music as she DJs for Jive Infusion