Northern Soul – Underground England

The late 1960s underground rhythm and soul scene is where Northern Soul first emerged. Thousands of teenagers in the North of England danced to the same syncopated beat, revolting against the charts. The music and dance movement combined American soul and Motown music with distinctive dance styles. The phrase was first used by London Soul City record store owner Dave Godin around the time of 1970, after noticing young Northerners weren’t interested in American chart music but were buying energetic, up tempo soul from small labels. It carried a spirit that was to precede a passion for independent labels of punk and new wave to come.

Northern soul emerged from the mod scene in Northern clubs like the Wigan Casino, The Torch in Stoke on Trent, Catacombs in Wolverhampton, Manchester’s Twisted Wheel, and Blackpool Mecca. During the latter half of the 1960s and the beginning of the 1970s, underground club nights were held in ballrooms and halls. These crowded clubs would play music from bygone eras with accelerated tempos and soulful vocals on Motown records from the middle of the 1960s, with DJs introducing audiences to the rarest American vinyl. Stomping, floating, shuffling and floor shaking: the dance moves provided joy and catharsis to elated teenagers.

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