So this was us, Saturday night – going out dancing! To clarify, HOH was very keen on Northern Soul when he was younger.(Very, Very Keen) Northern Soul, for the uninitiated is dance music rooted in Motown and other, more obscure, very danceable soul music. In the early Seventies, there was a huge movement in the North of England where working class people (Including, unusually lots of men) would go and dance to this music all night. 10pm until 6am usually. The place at the epicentre of this movement was Wigan Casino – not a casino actually – a dance hall (no idea). It became a way of life for disaffected young people including my HOH. Eventually, it all collapsed under the influence of modern music, dodgy dealings by the club owners and accusations of drug taking. (Most of which were true – how else do you think people danced for eight hours straight?) However, what it did leave behind was the music and our house is a place where this music is usually playing somewhere. Consequently, although not involved with the original culture, (much too young) there is a lot of music, I really like and I do know a bit as well. 

When we lived in the North of England, we would go a couple of times a year to reunions. These were now, not the wild events of the early Seventies but rather sweet affairs where people in their fifties would get to dance to the music they loved on a good dance floor with plenty of talcum powder. (helps the feet to slip) and I would get to talk to a lot of interesting people and occasionally dance quietly in a corner.

We were really chuffed when we saw this advertised at the Guildhall. There isn’t much Northern Soul round here and so off we went. This time making sure we had a bit of an old lady nap in the afternoon so we weren’t too tired. Time catches up with us all you know. 

So the first thing I thought when I went in was, are there paramedics on call? People seemed a lot older and fatter than I remembered (which, of course they are) . There was much less dancing than I remembered – lots of people were standing round the edge of the dance floor just sort of doing actions for a lot of the time. In the olden days, people used to take a change of clothes because the pace was so frenetic. People were still walking in with the traditional holdalls but I’m not that sure that you need to get changed into your Union Jack T Shirt and baggy trousers after two hours of doing Semaphore. I tried to go to the ladies and ended up queueing with some nice women outside the disabled toilet because that was apparently all there was in the lady department. I was informed by a rather too chatty lady that she needed to go because she was in cream trousers and was on her P….. – mimed of course. Why would she think I would want to know that? Anyway – eventually a MAN came out of the toilet. There was some speculation that he might have been doing drugs. Really? At your age? Are you sure?

The biggest disappointment for HOH was the music. Most of it was very modern, which he is not too keen on. AND (this is very important) the turntables were too fast. This meant that Little Anthony (Of Little Anthony and the Imperials, obvs) who has a high voice at the best of times, sounded like Mickey Mouse on helium. Also, vinyl records are very precious things which need to be loved and caressed like a laydee. I thought HOH would faint when a loud scratching noise was followed by a DJ announcing “Sorry, quite a bit of fluff on the stylus there,” Had to physically restrain HOH at this point.

So he danced to a few things (no talcum powder allowed, the floor was too expensive) and then suggested we go home. We went out into horizontal rain, and no taxis anywhere. I am not good at hailing cabs, it always seems a bit forward to me. 

He was disappointed of course and you do wonder if there comes a time when it is indeed all over for you. I’m not so sure. Some decent music and a bit of a rest and we will be back one day. Probably



  1. June 3, 2015 / 7:49 am

    One of the fun bits of the George Gently series has been watching the episodes where the young people are enjoying a night of Northern Soul. It is odd listening to the music of our youth and realising how things have changed in the intervening years. And yes, most of us are fatter, and we are all older!! An old schoolfriend is organising a reunion this autumn for those of us who were in the church youth fellowship in the 70s. I am not sure I can face going!

    • June 3, 2015 / 8:38 am

      Oh, a youth group reunion. I was in a youth group in the late seventies. It was another world. Would be very curious to know what people were doing now but you are right – it would be very odd

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