Soul brothers back

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A LAD of my tender years has never experienced the delights of Northern Soul.

But now’s my chance, as well as anyone else who wasn’t around, or was busy, when the scene swept the north west and beyond during its heydays in the late 1960s/early 70s.

A recent resurgence of interest in the scene has led to the odd night springing up here and there, and the annual Northern Soul Weekender every November at the Blackpool Tower ballroom is a sight to behold – men and women of a certain age dusting off their old gear (baggy trousers and vests for the women, big flowing skirt and ankle socks for the fellas ... though there’s a chance I might have got those the wrong way round) and taking to the dancefloor with gusto.

For those folk, as well a new, younger generation taking an interest, there is now somewhere to go every month, rather than once a year.

Two local chaps belonging to The Blackpool Soul Club – Paul Livesey and Kevin MacKay – are launching Northern Soul nights.

They will take place once a month at the Wainwright Club on Hornby Road, with the first on Saturday.

It’s fitting that the scene is making a strong comeback in these parts for the resort has always been recognized as one of the original birth places of Northern Soul by its many followers.

Blackpool Mecca was regarded as a shrine to Northern Soul, with smaller venues such as The Gallopers in Cleveleys and The Peacock Room at the Welcome Inn other places where Northern Soul revellers could enjoy the iconic sound.

“Northern Soul was at its height in the 1970s but recently the scene has seen a renewed interest and become vastly popular again with people who enjoyed those past times,” said Paul, 56.

“Myself and Kevin went to a party a few months ago at the Wainwright Club and we thought it would make a brilliant venue for a Northern Soul night.

“It has a massive dancefloor, so there’s enough room for loads of people to dance, just like the old Wigan Casino days.

“We asked a few fellow Northern Soul fans what they thought and the general consensus was ‘go for it’.

“I think we have been short of a really good venue in Blackpool but we are hoping this could be it.

“I think the first night will be manic. The club holds 150 people and we’ll definitely get close to filling it.”

DJ Jimmy Scrivener, one of main Northern Soul men in the area, will be helping spin the tunes at the first event, and Paul is hopeful the night will grow into a big success.

“It isn’t a money-making thing though,” he added. “Anything we do make will be put straight into the next one and maybe occasionally, if we’ve got any spare cash, we’ll spend a bit on getting the odd big-name DJ in.”

For the uninitiated, Northern Soul was a music and dance movement that began in northern England and echoed Motown music.

It was huge back in the day, at venues like the Twisted Wheel in Manchester, Wigan Casino, the Golden Torch in Stoke and the Mecca in Blackpool (on Central Drive, demolished in 2009). The events at the Mecca ran from 8pm to 2am every Saturday and were the destination for many a young mover and shaker in the town.

The scene began to die out in the late 70s and it is only recently that a proper revival has begun,.

And it isn’t just those who were teens in the 60s and 70s who are into it.

“That’s the interesting thing,” added Paul. “There are a lot of younger people getting into it now and rediscovering the music, which is encouraging.

“At our first night on Saturday we’ve got a big group from Wigan coming – the Wigan Young Soulies – and they are all 16 to 18-years-old. They have all the gear, they are brilliant dancers, and they love it.

“So there’s a good combination of young and old and the main thing is everyone gets on the dancefloor and has a lot of fun.”

Saturday’s Northern Soul night starts at 8pm and lasts till midnight. Admission is £3.00 on the door.