"Northern Soul": An Unexpected Cultural Treasure of Britain
Sitting in a Glasgewian flat, hanging with some proper Scottish friends,can and will always bring about some of the most interesting topics. It's a moment I always treasure but only in hindsight; for I never know that I'm about to learn something amazing.
Even now, I can't recall how it came about, but while deciding what funk venue to check out for the evening, I first heard of "northern soul".
What is northern soul? It's a style of music associated with dance and fashion of the working class youth culture of Britain during the late 1960s and early 1970s. In particular, the soul music in the north of England was said to be quite distinct from any other part of the country.
The music originally consisted of Motown music and similar obscure American soul recordings of Detroit and Chicago labels. Northern soul had to always have that uptempo Motown beat (for dancing).
Due to the rarity of the music, collecting associated vinyl is an expensive pasttime. Vinyl discs can go anywhere from $3000 to $30,000 each!
Apparently, the classic image is of men, dancing, not with young ladies, but alone, competitively against each other.
It reminds of similar contemporary images, much what you still see in dancehall and modern African popular music scenes in nightclubs.
The northern soul culture was influenced by the mod scene in style and fashion. Everyone dressed up like Austin Powers all the time. (lord)
When it comes to supplemental drug use, uppers must have been the thing, in order to do all that fast-pace dancing all night long. There were club badges with the icon raised black fist as a prominent symbol (hm...very interesting). The vespa was the signature mode of transportation tricked out with fancy mirrors and lights. (I gotta find a movie or archival photo book on this stuff)
According to my source of all things musical in Britain (aka Andy), northern soul music scene is still alive and well with original fans as well as some young audiences of 21st. centuy. I'll have to check out when I hear of a club I can get access easily. Check out this more recent venue poster with a raised WHITE fist. I don't even know what to say about that.
Any one know anything about this scene?