There’s always been this pseudo-criminal fringe on the scene, attracted by the underground nature of everything else around it.
I was shocked by the first time I went to the loo at the Casino.
The reason Ian Dewhirst went to the US, as touched upon above, was to search out records to bring back home to play.
He had begun to make a name for himself via appearances at Cleethorpes Pier and Samantha’s in Sheffield, not to mention the Casino, and increasingly found that if he showed interest in a record, the dealer was likely to phone other DJs, letting them know it was something Dewhirst was after, in order to up the price by getting a bidding war going.
It’s interesting to note that in the early ’80s the leading DJs on the gay scene in both the North and South just so happened to be Northern Soul legends, Les Cokell at Heroes in Manchester and Ian Levine at Heaven in London.
The uptempo side of the Northern scene undoubtedly influenced the style of music they played in their venues and the emergence of Hi-NRG, especially via Levine’s productions, as previously mentioned, but also thanks to Cokell and Leo Stanley’s ‘Castro Connection’ column for the early Mixmag, then called Disco Mix Mag.
Although it was black music they were infatuated with, the Northern Soul audience was made up predominantly from the white working class.
There were some black people on the scene, but they were very much in a small minority.
From all accounts it’s the real deal, capturing the essence of Northern Soul in a way that the 2010 film ‘Soulboy’ failed to do.
If, as is hoped, ‘Northern Soul’ connects with a younger cinema-going audience, we’re likely to see a renaissance of this underground phenomenon that has refused to lay down and die.