Wednesday, 13 October 2010


Dance the night away!
Once voted ‘the world’s best disco’ in America’s Keyboard magazine Wigan’s legendary Casino was the main location for northern soul all-nighters in the 1970’s. SoulBoy (2010) is a nostalgia trip for the fans of this musical genre. A corny plot centres on Joe McCain, restless and dissatisfied with his life as a deliveryman and bored with his visits to the pub known locally as The Onion. That is until he falls for trainee Hairdresser Jane who persuades him to travel to Wigan to sample the delights of the northern soul scene which eventually became his escape from a hum drum existence in Stoke on Trent.

Shimmy Marcus’s coming of age movie is certainly not going to win a cluster of awards but as pure entertainment, with its great soundtrack and lively dance scenes, it was very enjoyable. Ken Loach prodigy Martin Compston (Sweet Sixteen 2002 and Tickets 2005) stars as Joe McCain with Lily Allen’s brother Alfie as Joe’s best mate, Donkey Punch star Nicola Burley as Jane and the great Irish entertainer Pat Shortt (Garage 2007) as Brendan.

The story of Northern Soul is a difficult one to capture in a feature film. We were informed at Monday nights RBC Film Club that the phase Northern Soul emanated from a record shop run by journalist Dave Godin in Covent Garden London called Soul City. In an interview with the Mojo magazine in 2002 Godwin, who wrote a weekly column in Blues and Soul, said that he first came up with the term in 1968. He had started to notice that northern football fans, who where in London to watch their clubs away games, visited his store to buy records. He discovered that they were not interested in the latest music from the American charts but more obscure recordings by lesser known artists that had been initially released in very limited numbers, often by small regional US labels. The music genre is also associated with a particular dance style featuring various athletic spins, flips and backdrops coupled with some rather dubious fashions. It spread to various northern dance halls like the Wigan Casino, shown in the film, along with others like the Twisted Wheel in Manchester, Catacombs in Wolverhampton and Blackpool’s Mecca. There are still to this day regular northern soul events in various parts of the United Kingdom.

No comments:

Post a Comment