KEEP THE FAITH: NORTHERN SOUL MUSIC SPECIAL
Produced and presented by Thom McKeown
Who would've thought that the working men's clubs of Wigan would become the birthplace of all-night party culture? Well - back in 1973, revellers flocked to the now famous Wigan Casino to hit the dancefloor - to lost and forgotten tracks from Detroit, and the Northern Soul scene was born. In 1970, it was noticed that a perculiar trend for Mods from the north of England was emerging with them coming into London record shops and requesting obscure, 'old-fashioned' fast tempo soul records.
The phrase Northern Soul was created, to reflect this movement, as the buyers took the records back up north to Lancashire and put on nights at venues such as the Wigan Casino and Manchester's Twisted Wheel. For 1970s Northern Soul lovers, the only place they could hear the majority of their favourite tracks was at their local club.
They were at the mercy of the DJs’ scouring ability to track down any 7" vinyl gems, ideally before their competitors at other clubs, as there were only a handful of copies of many of the most iconic Northern Soul tunes in existence.
People young and old, black and white, came together in the clubs of these sleepy towns to dance the night away, with the elegant footwork and inch-perfect spins typical of the movement.
In the early days of Northern Soul nights, the male dancers outfits consisted of sharp Ben Sherman suits, but as the scene developed and the nights became wilder – the revellers didn't want to ruin the clothes they'd spent a fortune on so later Northern Soul fashion was therefore focused more on the functional – jeans, wide-fitting trousers and t-shirts. People were there to dance, not stand around posing in the corners.
However, this move towards functional fashion didn't mean that those entrenched in the subculture couldn't show any individuality at all, so badges and patches began to appear showing you were part of the group and in the know, many of them emblazoned with the now famous 'Keep the Faith' slogan and black gloved hand.
In this Public Address Northern Soul Special – here’s a chance to listen to the timeless classics that motivated so many –
to do nothing but dance!
Play the programme below: (First broadcast on SunnyG Radio Glasgow on 9th December 2020)