Wigan casino location
The casino club was situated in the former empress ballroom . In Station road, right in the centre of Wigan, Lancashire. You could not of designed a better suited building. For northern soul allnighters, the main arena. Had a large Maple wood dancefloor perfect for northern soul. It was described as a dump by many. Mostly people who had never made any big impression there. But the atmosphere inside a packed casino was better than anywhere else at the time. Then or since it was open. The place was in serious need of revamping to get it to it's former state. But if it had been perfectly restored it would loose the atmosphere. Other top allnighters in the casino's life where nothing to equal it. Yate and st Ives where newer built venue's. Both lacked in atmosphere compared to the casino
The rise and fall of Wigan casino
There had been a rumour it was going to close. Since it opened however it ran for 8 years. The first 2 years where strongly Torch influenced. As a lot of the dj's, came from the recently closed venue. But the casino had a uniqueness of it's own. By the time Tommy Hunt thrilled the casino at the 2nd anniversary. The casino had started to build it's own place in northern soul history. Even the vast sprawling space it had, was becoming to small. For the amount who waited in Station road to get into the venue. A 2nd room mr M's which only played oldies. Had been opened to increase capacity. But at times it was still to small and people where turned away. For me and for many other members, who where regular attenders long before the public spotlight fell. Or the TV camera's came into the casino in 1977.
The day Wigan casino was broadcast to the UK. Was the end of the good casino nights, as everybody all of a sudden. Could go to Wigan and have no real difficulty in entering the allnighter. I have never been a sort to restrict access to a selected few. But prior to that period in the casino's history it was just the northern soul community that went there. A few had never been to a northern soul night or event before. But the majority went to listen to the music, dance, and be with like minded people. As soon as people who where not there strictly for northern soul. Came in any number the exclusive high standards, suddenly fell low. Why spend a long tedious time searching for the next top record at Wigan casino. When a large group there would have no idea if it was good or bad. About the same time, a different drug appeared at the start of the night. Barbiturates where commonly used Sunday morning's to end the high pulse rate so you at least appeared. Like you had been awake all night unassisted and where now exhausted. But to take a sleeping tablet at the start. Of an event you wanted to be awake to enjoy. Was nothing but a sign of being there for something other than northern soul.
At the end of the day. It was a UK historic event so public. Nobody in the members made it happen .A lot had an important contribution to get the success. But 1 person had the foresight to create the allnighter. To fill a demand by the people on the northern soul scene. I have spoken to Wigan casino's creator. Local Wigan dj, Russ Winstanley on numerous occasion's. I have yet to hear him say. Wigan casino was solely down to his input, to make the success. In my honest opinion he is far to modest. Many of the required attributes. Where solely created by him alone. No financial reason at all. Or he would of claimed the glory fvor himself. It was created out of his admiration and love of northern soul. He could see a lot of other northern soul people without a regular allnighter to attend. That gave his real intention value.
To supply a venue for the demand of everybody. Not for a means to profit himself alone. But the entire northern soul scene. To maintainn the northern soul music for the future. Through his own love of the nusic. The overwhelming success that followed, couldn't of been seen by anybody. It was totally unexpected by the northern soul community. Least of all Russ. The Twisted wheel and the Torch. Were both successful ventures as clubs. But nothing like the level Wigan casino reached. It was the most talked about subject at the time
my Wigan casino story
In my honest opinion, to depict Wigan casino in a way that suits. Every member is almost impossible. For a host of similar reasons one. The reason you went meant the people. You mixed with was different. Record collectors looked looked through. Box after box of records in search. Of a record that the other collectors. Had missed and didn't know it's true value. I'd never seen a record collector there with a white stick. Or a Labrador. The record collectors had a shared attribute. They all had a great knowledge of records. The label it was on the number on the label. Wasn't out the ordinary. How anybody actually believed they wouldn't know the price amazed me, I would of bet a lot knew the name of the person and street it was packed in
That was the best thing about it. The class you came from, the colour of your skin. All had no bearing on your status. That was earned by regularly attending the allnighter. The performance you gave on the dancefloor and being seen. When the night ended there was no rushing home to bed. To get up the ranking, It was time to go onto a alldayer. In the early time I went the ritz Manchester and Nottingham palais. Where the 2 popular venue's I liked them both the Ritz had a moving dancefloor. Like you never danced in time to the record just the floor.
The last photo on the left, is the only photo of me in Wigan casino to exist. In my favourite red and white rugby shirt. That shirt felt like a part of the place. It had been there more often than a lot of people. It was like my identifier at the time. Only ever wore it in Wigan never anywhere else. Or on the way there or back. It had a few pints of sweat through it. Always a right game washing it after a oldies. But it had to be ready for Saturday night no matter what.
There where a wide variety of different items. At that time where associated. With certain well known faces. Often merely there position on the big Wigan casino dancefloor. I danced on the left, as you faced the stage. A few metres from the gent's toilet. The hirachy of best at the front, descending to the back. I must admit was a thing. I never came across. I danced in the same place for the entire 5 years I went. I was the typical gifted teenager. The 1st time I went, J must of looked a perfect prat. As I had got the general idea. But what I'd imagined I looked like and the reality. Was nothing like the same in comparrision.
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The drug culture reality
It was good up until it attracted complete w***ers out of there head on Tuinal, Mandrax, Seconol, Nembutol, or various other barbiturates at the time. Black bonbers, green & clears, red & browns, Philon, 2 tone pink's, and a list covering a Mim's catalogue . Had been inherited by Wigan casino. Not created as a new inclusion by Wigan casino. If the casino allnighter would of been left to govern itself. Like it did up until the 1974 misuse of drugs act. Which took the high grade pharmasutical gear. Out of Wigan casino's self governed control. But the massive scale of amphetamine abuse. Could not go ignored. When Wigan casino was no 1 UK topic. Police had to be seen taking action. First the useless 74 missuse of drugs act. Which killed more than it cured No longer was supply consistant produced under BMI guidlines.
It was trial and error production. If it made people dance stick with that dontent. If it killed a lot, it was not used. After that batch made had gone. Backstreet everything was circulating the casino. Red & white capsules "backstreet bombers". Which had no Durophet in them. But contained Epherdrine a more easily obtained chemical mix. Far cheaper as well, Larger profit for suppliers. If people had gone through medicines at there's and relatives homes. In the 70's. Diaretics where commonly prescribed. There was a good chance there was a better substance in the family medicine cabinet
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Wigan casino the reality of allnighters!
The hypocrasy found in northern soul. Has to be experienced to believe. When the internet, firstly got into home use, away from the intended market of corporate business. It was little wonder why. Back then it was text only connected through a 56k modem. The machine I;m using is 1500 mbs. A lot of the things in life. As continually improved like communication and travel around the world. To the point earth now seems a fraction of the size it did. When I was growing up in the 60's. The sun never set on the British empire. Britain was Great, we had the envy of the world. In the modern thinking of world power countries. It wasn't tolerated any major power could not be shown. To be bullying a smaller power. The UK was forced to give most of India, Africa, a vote on independance. Which they all wanted to break the manopaly of Brittish aid and help. Independance must translate into a different meaning in India and Africa. As there it meant being independant. Standing on your own in front of the world saying who badly treated. By the UK's racialist oppressors, but they would not object. To the UK getting out of there country, as long as they kept. The millions of UK money to support them. As actually having intelligent enough to go it as a independant country. Was as likely as a new grand canyon get dug woth a shovel
Back to northern soul, content of site
I don't run the country, everybody can run it better than Cameron. But the one's who shout there mouth off. Are unable to hold a rational conversation with 1. Let alone manage 68 million. Here we go out of Westminster back to Wigan. For 40+ years the true way Wigan casino created. electic filled atmosphere. You felt a long way before you got to Wigan. But you only ever felt a sensation known as the Wigan tingle. Stood outside the casino in Station road. Waiting for the doors to open and a rush to the black doors. Once inside up the first flight of stairs. To the desk you paid mrs Woods, who put the money in a egg box, not the dozen type a metre length box. In the early years they stamped your hand. This however lead to press the back of your habd to somebody elses. They had the stamp. So raffle tickets bought in most W H Smiths where introduced. The tickets where a dam sight easier to forge than FA cup final tickets. As many with genuine as forgeries must have got in. The 2nd anniversary was so overdubscribed. Eventually mr M's was opened. To add more space, it was open from then on. When Agie from Dudley went through the floor of the Beachcomber. It was seen as unfit to use. So you got there went in mr M's. Spent half the allnighter in mr M's, to end up in mr M's from 8 to 10 am Sunday morning.
Sunday was a real downer in Wigan
2 views of Station road. It's Sunday morning, the mass exit from Wigan. Had begun often a majority. Where about to head to an alldayer
Saturday night when you got to Wigan. Often buzzing the allnighter everything was ahead on Sunday morning. You had lost the edge. Exhausted the euphoric feeling amphetamine gave you. Was disentergrating from your body. As the 3 before 8 started you had the same feeling. The captain of the Titanic had in 1912. I'm sinking and nothing can stop it from happening. A massive dose of high grade amphetamine from Riker or SK & F. Just didn't alleviate the downer the same. What was infront was now behind. Alldayers gave some kind of lift in moral. But exhaustion couldn't be hidden from. It made no difference, what effect further quantities of amphetamine gave you. You needed the will to carry on. Which wasn't the same. around 76 the Friday allnighters started. The early years of the casino. Friday was taken up by VaVa's and Samantha's. Both had closed leaving the door open for the oldies, mods, motown, Friday allnighters
never equalled or bettered
a quick forward for page
Since it closed in 1981, I never went to the series of last nights. In 40+ years I have never been to the last night. I think they are diabolical in the way tickets are allocated. They are a last ditched attempt. To milk the golden egg. I can imagine what Wigan casino was like. People who had been a few times in 80/81 given preference. Over the people who went every week of the year in the early days. Gobbed some gear and just talked crap all night. To be honest the last time I went told me it had been ruined. The night Mike Walker stood on the stage. In front of a full casino to say the success Wigan casino as. Is yours not mine if you vote no camera's inside Wigan casino I promise you now no cameras will ever be allowed in. Then a vote followed those in favour raise your hand very few did. Those against raising your hands now. Nearly every hand in the casino went up. It wasn't anything like close. No was the resounding decision of the casino members.
A difficult job, made a lot harder. For the DS
When Wigan casino first opened. Little control over drugs was in place. It wasn't Wigan casino's activity that had forced. Radical changes in the law, to give more control to the drug squad. After former all-nighters had been a focus of misuse of drugs. They must have realized how little control was in place. Chemist shops were burgled at will. Class A drugs like Heroin and Cocaine already had a certain amount of public knowledge and concern. But most the casually used lower class drugs like Amphetamine. As well as being over prescribed in my opinion. In effect did not break the law. It was many years after the misuse of drugs act. Any big change was noticeable when chemist shops had alarms. Bars on the windows and heavy custodial sentences when convicted. Made illegal production a big source of income for organised crime. Obviously, no Government would sanction the legal use of drugs. But the way it was handled. Killed many and paved the way for today's drug culture. You want to make anything a far more attractive thing to teenagers. Get the parent generation to condemn it. Which was exactly what the Government had done. Backstreet everything flooded into the casino. The certainty of the drugs taken was removed. Pills looked the same but never where it was a gamble each week. Your life was the thing you had to gamble with not everybody won. Graves all over the UK were a result of the 1974 drug law reforms. I've stated numerous times before the drugs problem was one Manchester drugs squad. Had virtually no chance of ever controlling it was UK country wide. Very little drug trading ever took place in the Wigan area even all-nighters. A vast majority where under the influence of large doses of Amphetamines. The Friday oldies was an example most the Casino had done a day's work. Got home and started to get ready coaches started to pick passengers up 9.30 pm. It was one Friday each month the Casino was packed to the limit. The dancefloor was full from the 12.30 am start until the 8 am finish. Almost everybody on the immense Wigan Casino dancefloor had been on it for long exhausting periods of time. After doing a day's work having no rest but many completed a 7 and half hour anaerobic dance session. Get to the Casino Saturday night exactly the same faces as Friday
How do you start this story
If this story was an account of a day trip. It would have a sequence to follow. But this trip was 5 years long. In my case longer for a good many more. Like my good friend Gethro who completed . 8 years, as well as important landmarks like "Top of the pops". Was recognised as one of the top dancers throughout the entire 8 years the allnighter ran. He recently completed his memories. Now available in a book called "I danced alnight". The book gives a clear insight into northern soul. A subject often shrouded in secrecy in it's 70's heyday. Almost every major venue of the Wigan casino era is given a good detailed description of both venue and event. A complete detailed description the way contained in the book. As never been published before. It must be ranked as a definitive guide to northern soul. The content must be ideal for all university students. Embarking on a degree in social media. I've aided various students to complete the essay. Required for statutory course marks to be gained. Until this publication was released no other book published. Was in my opinion on sale for me to recommend. To university, lecturers to advise their students to purchase. For a complete source of reference for the subject. Websites
a big change in feeling. Excitement vanished
I Was in Nottingham last night. Usually friends with me Mick, Michele, and Paul. We all stood talking, somebody said what as happened to the thrill. I thought for a few minutes and then knew just what they meant. Station road close to kick off. Was a hive of activity nobody was relaxed. The first sign of movement by the black doors. It was like you had been sucked in. A fanatical surge to get in. Everybody wanted to be first on the dancefloor. I had occupied the same place for some time. It wasn't reserved danced anywhere else.
Bottom left side corner of mr M's as to looked from the entrance. The same in the main arena, the easiest place to go and return to. When you went to mr M's, toilet, outside, or on the balcony. Live band it was by the stage. On the left side of the stage, a door to access it. A toilet for the performers a single unit. Used by members more than artists. The DS never knew it was there I'm sure. Never saw them anywhere near it anyway. If it was now they could wear hi-vis tops. They might as well then they stood out so much. Why make them so obvious it was plain stupidity. They never stuck any chance. 2o years older and dressed for the dart's at the pub
It was impossible to defeat, the drugs problem
If it had been going into Wigan casino. From a single source of supply like from Manchester. The drug squad might of control it. But take into account. Every week it was open, Wigan became a magnet, people from every area of the UK. Flocked to Wigan by coach, train, and car. It was very competitive everybody who went. Wanted to be the face talked about. The only way to operate on an equal footing. Was to take a very high dose of Amphetamine. The same as the rest had. Not every member did but more did than didn't. That is 100% true. I have no need to make this up. To go with the theme of some film. I said it in 1987 a long time before they did. They said it, to profit from it. I said it as a true statement to build an element of reality. But being a normal member one of the people who traveled. Over 100 miles each week to dance alnight. I apparently had no right to reveal the true story. It can only be told by some git. With profit as a motive.
This website is free, I share my history with visitors freely. I have helped students with questions. At no time did I say £2 to answer. Or I refuse, my written English. Would need time to edit. But I sat and wrote the essay. No money involved the pleasure was helping. A common complaint from students was the information available. Was not consistent. Taking into account people say things very differently. Dates should still be around the same time. But the actual body of facts is very wide ranging. Now a section of people claim they went for years. Yet never once heard or saw drugs or it mentioned. This I find an outrageous inaccurate statement to say.
Obviously said by someone who played no significant part in creating it in the early years. I can't think of anyway anybody could have attended 1 all-nighter without hearing something. Sandbache and Knutsford services on the M6. Echoed with got any gear soon as any was available it was snapped up. Coaches from across the entire south of England and Wales stopped at the services. Everybody from one area knew somebody from another. This was the thing Manchester drugs squad had no way of controlling 60 miles before Wigan. Drugs were bought and taken searches as the coach left the M6. Going into Wigan found nothing except a coach full of teenagers out of there heads. Experienced drugs squad officers must have known it. But the lack of evidence was crucial
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n0t an easy answer to give
If you arrived at the same answer as me. It was the only answer there was fitting it is difficult, maybe near impossible. For one person to explain or have seen or heard every event or important event at an allnighter. The casino covered such an immense area. A series of books each targeting one aspect. I wouldn't claim to know all the events that happened. The one and only proven method of knowing. Was the grapevine. I've now even heard people casually say. It never existed sorry you never wen't. Or if you did you never took any active part.
the casino grapevine
I don't really bother
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