Twenty-three years after it exposed a mysterious northern Terpsichorean cult, inspiring proto-breakdancers to fill playgrounds across the nation, Tony Palmer's The Wigan Casino is finally available on DVD. In the industrial north, the kids were dancing to a very different beat. The Wigan Casino Years documents, illustrates and analyses the golden age of Northern Soul from - Dave Withers, the guy who does most of the talking was a good friend of mine at the time and we would sit for hours in the Casino's record bar talking music.
Annual reunions are held in Wigan hosted by the original DJs. Wigan Casino was one of many all-nighter venues associated with Northern Soul in the UK over a 35 year period and though we could argue whether it was the best or most influential; it is undoubtedly the most famous and the name of the club is synonmous with Northern Soul.
The music will always be wrapped up with Christine or the likes of Big Phil who tragically died and my memories of them lie scattered in a warm place in my heart which will always lie with the Casino. Wigan Council owned the building and wanted to extend the nearby Civic Centre, but short of funding, it never went ahead.
The Wigan Casino like Wigan itself was a gritty place, bouncers in dinner jackets, the old woman taking the cash, the manager excitedly counting it.
Yet they also wanted to show a joyful celebration of a kind of music and dancing. As we hit the main street up from the station, most Wigan people were spilling out of the pubs to go home but our night was just about to begin.
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Filming was no simple matter either. Share via Email Flash dancing The anticipation would grow as soon as we entered Lime Street Station in Liverpool to take the last train to Wigan. I saw Dave briefly in New Jersey earlier this year and he is still dedicated to the music.
A couple of clubgoers talk at length about what the night means to them, while representatives of an older generation — uncomprehending rather than hostile — recall their own hard times. It doesn't need a sponsor.
Young people from all over the UK regularly attended Wigan Casino to hear the latest northern soul artists and to dance. Operating between and , it became known as a primary venue for Northern soul music. The club closed on 6 December ; that final night of Wigan Casino in its Northern soul state was DJ'd by Winstanley, and the '3 before 8' were played three times consecutively at the end of the night.
Wary of sensationalism the committee hoped for positive publicity against local authorities forever seeking to shut them down Palmer, using a cine camera with one portable light, was under orders only to film those who sought him out.
Brown chronicles developments in the NS world year by year at Wigan, Blackpool and beyond, and offers his critique of each year's pivotal records: The stars of the film, of course, are the dancers.
As one helpful punter points out: The music pounding out of the speakers welcomed you home once more for 8 hours of heaven.
We considered ourselves the chosen ones and everyone else was divvies. Especially when your old schoolmates were down the local Palais with a skinful of ale.
History of subcultures
A legal loophole meant that all-nighters were permitted as long as alcohol wasn't served, and it was conveniently placed to attract fans from a wide area. The lifestyle meant sacrifices in terms of relationships, sleep, health, money etc.
I suppose Wigan will always remain dear to my heart because of the sheer excitement generated by the venue. One wonders what Christine Rigby thought.