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Northern Soul: Living for the Weekend

The northern soul phenomenon was the most exciting underground British club movement of the 1970s. At its highpoint, thousands of disenchanted white working class youths across the north of England danced to obscure, mid-60s Motown-inspired sounds until the sun rose. A dynamic culture of fashions, dance moves, vinyl obsession and much more grew up around this - all fuelled by the love of rare black American soul music with an express-train beat.

Through vivid first-hand accounts and rare archive footage, this film charts northern soul's dramatic rise, fall and rebirth. It reveals the scene's roots in the mod culture of the 1960s and how key clubs like Manchester's Twisted Wheel and Sheffield's Mojo helped create the prototype that would blossom in the next decade.

By the early 1970s a new generation of youngsters in the north were transforming the old ballrooms and dancehalls of their parents' generation into citadels of the northern soul experience, creating a genuine alternative to mainstream British pop culture. This was decades before the internet, when people had to travel great distances to enjoy the music they felt so passionate about.

Set against a rich cultural and social backdrop, the film shows how the euphoria and release that northern soul gave these clubbers provided an escape from the bleak reality of their daily lives during the turbulent 1970s. After thriving in almost total isolation from the rest of the UK, northern soul was commercialized and broke nationwide in the second half of the 70s. But just as this happened, the once-healthy rivalry between the clubs in the north fell apart amidst bitter in-fighting over the direction the scene should go.

Today, northern soul is more popular than ever, but it was back in the 1970s that one of the most fascinating and unique British club cultures rose to glory. Contributors include key northern soul DJs like Richard Searling, Ian Levine, Colin Curtis, Kev Roberts, alongside Lisa Stansfield, Norman Jay, Pete Waterman, Marc Almond, Peter Stringfellow and others.

1 hour

On TV

Christmas Eve 2014 00:25

Forty years of the sound of Wigan Casino

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Paul Mason recalls the music that defined his youth at the Wigan Casino 'all-nighters'

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