Northern Soul dances
Dance Location: Working Men's Club, Stafford
This is a dance that... symbolises my youth.
It was the dance you danced everywhere. You learnt if off your friends and practiced at home in front of the mirror. I remember I used to babysit and, at night, once the kids were in bed, I'd practice in front of the patio doors where I could see my reflection.
I first started going out dancing it when I was about 14. We’d go to the working men’s club for discos. The only night club in town did Northern Soul all-nighters that would start at 2am. I did those a couple of times as I got older. I’d say to my mum, in all honesty, that all I was going to do was dance and drink water, but she never believed me, so I’d have to lie to her about where I was going.
You need to wear the right kind of shoe, flat and slippy. The floor used to get covered in talcum powder to take away the stickiness of all the spilt beer. That’s the smell of the dance for me - talc dust and sweat. It’s really fast paced, it’s not an attractive dance at all.
I stopped dancing it when I was about 18 and went to uni in London. No-one danced like that there, so I just fell in with what everyone else was doing; normal 80s disco dancing. Then on my 30th birthday we went to this pub in Hoxton and they happened to have on a Northern Soul night and I hadn’t heard that music all those years, but it just came back to me. It’s part of my upbringing and it’s in my body.
It was a generational thing. My parents didn’t dance it. And it had already happened and died out in Manchester and Wigan before it came to Stafford. It was rejuvenated there in the 1980s and there was a whole new generation of teens from that era, like me, who were in to Northern Soul. When I hear the music I just drop what I’m doing and start to dance. It sits in your soul. It really does. You can’t separate the music from the dance.