Snapper Richard captures Northern Soul spirit

An image from Richard Oughton's Northern Soul exhibition at the Galleon Cafe, Topping Street - soul dancer Dave, currently seen in the Shredded Wheat TV advert, at Worcester University
An image from Richard Oughton's Northern Soul exhibition at the Galleon Cafe, Topping Street - soul dancer Dave, currently seen in the Shredded Wheat TV advert, at Worcester University
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An adopted ‘Soul Brother’ has launched an exhibition of photos capturing the spirit of the enduring Northern Soul scene.

Richard Oughton got into photography when he borrowed a camera from his boss, at Binoculars UK in Cleveleys, and started capturing street scenes.

His exhibition runs at the Galleon Cafe in Topping Street, Blackpool until the end of the month.

Richard said: “I fell into the scene really, I was doing a photo shoot for a Northern Soul gig at The Midland Hotel, Morecambe, and got speaking to someone about an event at Blackpool Tower the following week, and it went from there.

“Now I go to most Northern Soul gigs and events every Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

“It was about the photography at first, but it has gotten to me from the music side of things now too. You can’t not do with that music.”

Northern Soul grew in the UK in the late 1960s, developing from the Mod scene, with the music maining coming from the Tamla Motown and black American soul sound.

During the 1970s Northern Soul’s dance style develop ed to resemble elements of disco and break dance, with spins, flips and tricks all featuring as dancers made use of sprung floors at venues including Blackpool Mecca and Wigan Casino.

The sights and sounds of the scene, including the distinctive fashions, still have a cult following in the North West with regular all-nighters drawing big crowds.

One of the key elements that Richard, 41, who lives in Stanley Park, enjoys capturing at the nights is the gender switch - where men dominate the dancefloors.

“It’s a rarity,” he explained. “The only people on the dancefloor are men, which you just don’t ever see in any other music or dance culture. But no one even thinks anything about it.

“Everyone is so friendly, it doesn’t matter who you are or where you are from, you have Northern Soul in common.

“To see all these guys caught in their moment and when I put the photos online a few days later, they weren’t even aware they had been photographed but can tell me the exact piece of music on at the time.”

His collection of photographs has been put together from the past two years, and includes scenes from some of the region’s biggest soul nights including the Soul Weekenders at Blackpool Tower - as well as capturing one of the stars of the current Shredded Wheat advert which features Northern Soul dancers, fuelled by the breakfast cereal.

* Northern Soul, by Richard Jon, runs until Tuesday, March 31 at The Galleon, Topping Street, Blackpool. It will transfer to HM Blackpool in Bank Hey Street.