What is northern soul
This page is just a generalized look. At the northern soul scene. No big statement of this was better than that. That judgement is your's not mine. A lot of the content, comes from my experience on the UK scene. All the content on the Twisted wheel and Torch is from reliable sources. Or from conversation's with people who did go. I went to the Twisted wheel. But a relaunch not the original. Mod's club. The Wentworth street venue just. Had the atmosphere. That was surreal and your imagination. Could get a feeling of the wheel in it's heyday.
As we reach the end of 2013. There seems to be a lot of unrest. Mainly from people. Bought up on the 1970's northern soul scene. The way the scene was given much stricter rules. In the 70's no rules got written down. But the entire Wigan casino crowd. Where fully aware of them, and the penalties. If they got broken. Today unlike the 70's rules are much more relaxed. This seems to have not gone to well. With the members who had to adhere to strict rules. These days without the line nobody would cross. It as lead the UK scene's decline to a low state. Trust as no place anymore. Anybody from the 70's, who was going for the first time since. Would not think it was the northern soul scene. It as changed so much. Values very important and never broken. Simply no longer are considered worth maintaining. Grassing is no longer a quick way to get excluded for life. The same as theft from people who trust you.
The start of northern soul: the Twisted wheel
it is widely accepted by the northern soul community in the UK. That the first northern soul allnighter took place in Manchester. At the Twisted wheel club which at that time 1963. Was located in Brazenose street the club was owned by Abudi brothers and was created to target the mod fashion popular at that time. A loop hole in a local byelaw enabled the club to hold allnight dance sessions. The new dance type music was not wecomed by some at the wheel. Roger Eagle the top dj refused to play it sticking to the blues. He was used to playing at the wheel. With the allnight dance sessions came another problem. The use of amphetamines was a major problem. Forcing the police to open there first misuse of drugs unit directly opposite the wheel. In a effort to stem the use of drugs at the club. This problem as always played a part in northern soul allnighters.
It is associated with staying awake all night long. The massive level of staminia needed to dance to the fast tempo music. In the 1960's and 70's a large percentage of the crowd took amphetamines. To boost boost there energy levels, so they could dance all night long. The poblem was no more serious at the wheel than at the Torch, or Wigan casino. It was so long ago now does it really matter. But it is a major part of the history. So it as to be included in northern soul. Or it is not the real story of the way it was at UK allnighters. In 1971 the wheel was closed down. As another bye law stated it was not allowed to let 1 session. Continue through to the next day. As now a Sunday session ran after the allnighter. The drugs problem was never given as a reason for the closure.
The name northern soul actually came from the Twisted wheel. In 1971 as Dave Godlin left the club, he used the phrase northern soul. To highlight the difference between the fast rare soul played. In clubs in the north, To the slower tempo more commercial soul played in southern clubs. Sadly Dave as died, but the name he gave to the music. Is still very much alive as a lasting memorial to Dave Godlin. It as always baffled me why? You can get a sports celebraty who dies the crowd's they gave enjoyment. All unite in getting a memorial to give thank's.
Instances of northern soul dj's or promoters who die. Get no such luxury just get remember at events. Mainly for records they discovered. I quite often, talked to Martyn Ellis at Wigan casino. There is proberly nobody in northern soul, that as reached his level of achievement. As a dj from introducing major Lance to the audience at the Torch. Through the entire 8 years of Wigan casino. He was a true ambassodor of northern soul. He was always easy to approach, never gave the "I'm better than anybody". Approach that as started to creep in these days. The last time I spoke to Martyn. He said he had been suffering with ill health. But never elaborated on what his illness was. I was on a oversea's work project ( so my mother told nieghbours). Yes I never went far for a few years due to a 20 foot wall being in the way. Yet people continue to tell me, they saw me at Wigan casino's last allnighter. This was not me at all. My brother Greg was there. Might of been him, or another Kidderminster friend called Gary Stubb's. Regulary got mistaken as me. Unforunately both Gary and my brother Greg. Have both since passed away. So there is no possible way to be certain of which 1. Please don't send stupid replies about this. As I was close to my brother, and Gary was a friend and I don't need stupidity. As my brother was 39 when he died. Gary was around the same age, so it is nothing to make a joke about
1972 the Golden torch
The next major club to enter the northern soul scene. Was the Golden torch, more commonly called just the Torch. Located in Hose street, Tunstall, Stoke on Trent. It ran for just 13 months, the owner Chris Burton a local business man. Did not contest the ruling to refuse the licence renewal. There where several things that where given for the decision to refuse the licence. The main raeson was the Torch being situated. In a residential area of Stoke totally unsuitable for a allnight dance club. Even with such a short time to make a impact. The Torch's imput for the UK scene was as important as any other UK allnighter. The playlists that where normal nights for dj's Keith Minsull, Martyn Ellis, Alan Day, Dave Evison, and Tony Jebb. Read like a what are the best records ever played at a allnighter. A lot of the records went on to be top sounds. In the start of Wigan casino's success as Torch dj's where the main part of the casino's dj line up. 1 exception to this, was Nottingham dj Alan Day. Even today he's still not given the status he rightly deserves from northern soul. As he appeared at the Torch, Catacombs, up the junction, and I was told vava's in Bolton. Along with record discoveries made by Alan many have no idea he found them. His vast knowledge as come from his long service as a dj. 2 other Torch dj's I became goods friends with at Wigan casino. Dave Evison and Martyn are 2 of the most friendliest people I've yet to meet. Every casino member remembers 6 am on a Sunday morning. The tiredness forgot for a hour at least. The dancefloor as full as it was at the start as Dave Evison's oldies hour. Bought fresh vigor into the tired casino crowd. It was obvious Dave got a level of personal gratifacation. Sharing his years of knowledge with the casino crowd. The vast knowledge bought a new lease of life to so many records for a 2nd time. The number 1 oldie shot up in popularity overnight. You often found Dave on the dancefloor. He loved the music so did the other Torch dj I knew at the casino. Martyn Ellis had exceptional intelligence as well. He helped me complete my homework once. Inside Wigan casino he thought I was writting down record names and offered to help on the records. I had no idea of the name of. But got a real shock to discover it was my school homework. Undettered he offered to help me complete it. The teacher did not believe I did it. When it was errorless. I did not either. Martyn was another dj often out on the dancefloor. He was the entertainer at the record decks. His dry sense of humour made him fit the dj position perfectly. Sadly a few years after the casino closed Martyn lost his battle with illness and died. The day he did northern soul lost 1 of the scene's most popular personalities. RIP Martyn. Your time at the casino. Laughing and joking with Kev Roberts where pure entertainment. Whenever Time: Edwin Starr or This thing called love: Johnny Wyatt gets played. Everybody who knew him, will think of your casino and Torch time. The real tragady of losing the entertainers like Martyn. Is he was a really friendly sort of person. That also had the real interest in northern soul. Joined the crowd on the dancefloor, with no attitude of being any different. This must of been inherited from the Torch. As Dave Evison Martyn's oldies dj partner was just the same. Never happier than dancing with the crowd on the casino's dancefloor. Dave was also easy to talk with no attitude problems at all. Unfortunately the massive input the Torch created on the UK's northern soul scene. Was from a mere 13 months that the allnighter ran. With mounting pressure by local residents. A almost comstant police prescence in the club. After the Torch was labelled the Tunstall drug factory. Owner local business man Chris Burton did not even contest. The decision to revoke it's licence.
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northern soul, origin & history
Always seen as the birthplace
the Golden Torch
From my personal opinion, nobody on the northern soul scene today. Either invented it or influenced it. It is a sad situation to hear people in their 30's make such a claim. In my time, which started the northern soul scene. The fact of it was the phrase northern soul came from the late Dave Godin. As he left the final night at the Twisted wheel in Manchester. He used the phrase to show the difference. Between the slower commercial type of soul played in southern clubs. To the more uptempo dance orientated obscure soul popular in the north of England. The obscure dance beat. Faster type of music. Sadly Dave left us. But he will always be remembered for using a 2-word phrase as he left the final night of the Twisted wheel in 1971. Northern soul was born. The phrase as been used eEver since that day. It is a controversial subject. A list of other clubs is often claiming the title. But the term northern soul. Was first used at the Twisted wheel in 1971 by Dave Godlin As he left the final night. So the place it started no argument
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In 1972 the limelight was taken off Manchester. As a new venue opened in Stoke opened by local businessman Chris Burton. The Golden Torch, situated in Hoose street, Tunstall, Stoke on Trent. The Torch originally earmarked as an executive night club. Complete with Roman chariots on the wall outside. Pillars on the inside , to enhance its appearance. Until DJ Kieth Minsull approached Chris Burton. With an option to stage a soul night at the Torch, Chris wasn't much on the idea at first. However Chris eventually agreed to stage a soul session. After several requests from DJ Kieth Minsull, the DJ had an impressive input in Northern Soul at the time of the Torch. When focus switched to Wigan Casino. Kieth was an automatic choice. To get added to the Casino DJ list. Personally his knowledge and history his the verification of high standard. Those from the West Midlands might know the Thursday night event better. Tiffanies at Long lane, Halesowen. Featured many of the top Northern Soul DJ's there. Kieth Minsull and Brian Rae seemed to be resident hosts. With a long list including Ian Levine, Colin Curtis from Blackpool's Highland Room and many guest appearances. It got established as an important mid week event in the 70's. The Catacombs had only ended around a year earlier. The Stone Manor, The Chateau, The Nautical William, with the Locarno alldayers and Nottingham Palais getting a lot of attention. West Midland Soul club featured at a lot of Midlands venues. Kidderminster DJ Steve Russell well respected in the area ran it with Mick Flello. The well known DJ's "The Soul Twins" emerged from The West Midland Soul Club. I seem to remember they where brothers Noel the other name I cant remember
The best came along last
Then Wigan Casino arrived
On the 23rd of September 1973 at 2 am. In Station Road, Wigan, Lancashire, England, UK. The doors of the former Empress Ballroom. Now renamed Casino Club where opened for a Northern Soul event from 2 am until 8 am. The allnighter had not had any big advertising campaign. 2 posters pasted on the wall in Station Road. The event had been the idea of local DJ Russ Winstanley who ran Northern Soul events at the Wigan Rugby Club already when the Torch had lost it's entertainment licence forcing it to close. He had noticed the Wigan Club lay idle. With just The Catacombs in Wolverhampton still operating Northern Soul events. He was convinced there was a need for another venue to satisfy the high demand. With his idea he approached the club manager Mike Walker. This had lead to the first night being scheduled. Nobody was 100% certain if it would last for a 2 nd event. Without any big promotion other than word of mouth 600+. Filled the immense area of the Casino's main dancefloor. For the next 8 years allnighters where staged every week