There is something compelling and beautiful about Northern Soul. This engaging recent film by economics journalist Paul Mason for the BBC2 Culture Show poignantly captures the passion and shared joy of the historical northern UK scene, with its love of dancing to obscure American soul. As Mason says the links are economic, with the underground black music of US cities in industrial decline such as Detroit and Chicago, providing a soundtrack to the crisis of the working class cities of northern England. The clubs such as the Wigan Casino and the Twisted Wheel were an alternative England, a ‘magical’ escape from the harshness of reality. Maybe there is a sadness and romanticism in the memories of loss for primarily white working class communities decimated by economic and social change. But as Mason also argues this is no nostalgia given the soul music still speaks to us, offering some solace and sheer uplift as we head from one crisis to another. Keep the faith.
Also check out the accompanying piece by Mason on Northern Soul. It includes his playlist.