my Movie

Movie Details

Title:   Northern Soul
Director:   Elaine Constantine
Year:   2014
Genre:   Non-Musical Music Film
Times Seen:   1
Last Seen:   08.22.20

Other Movies Seen By This Director (0)

Notes History
Date Viewed Venue Note
08.22.20Internet Several years ago I read a book about the history of DJs. It was a great book, covering everything from radio disc jockeys to house music to the superstars of today (or 10 years ago whenever the book was written). I'd kinda known about all that beforehand but it was interesting to learn more about each phase. Two chapters in particular really jumped out at me though: one about the soundclash in Jamaica, and another about Northern Soul.

I didn't know anything about Northern Soul, but it was a trend in Northern England that became fixated on rare and unknown american soul records from the 60s. It became quite a phenomena as people scoured the countryside and in some cases even flew to the states in search of the perfect 45 to whip the crowd into a frenzy. The movement seemed to be fueled by amphetamines so the most popular tracks were always upbeat, allowing the dancers, most notably at a venue in Wigan called Casino, to groove on their almost proto-breakdancing style of spins and floor maneuvers. It was sort of a inspirational pre-cursor to the Madchester scene of the 90s. There are a sparse few videos about it on YouTube, sort of the same amount as there are on the Paradise Garage in NYC, but other than that I couldn't find much on it at the time.

Until I found out that this was a movie. Not a documentary but a narrative feature about kids in that scene. I figured it was worth a watch.

The movie reminds me a lot of that old movie Swing Kids. In the late 90s, when swing dancing was "in" again, you'd watch that movie hoping to see some sweet moves or a recreation of the Savoy Ballroom back in its heyday or something like that. Instead, you get one or two scenes of actual dancing with a mediocre movie wrapped around it. Same here. There is the scene where they recreate Wigan Casino and show crowds of speeding kids swaying and twirling to the beat, but then there's also a pretty standard story of people who become friends, get in a fight, then get back together. Furthermore, it's shot in a naturalistic way that probably works for the drab atmosphere I've heard much about the north of england in the 70s, but also barely shows some actor's faces. All the main dudes look very similar and I barely catch their names. At one point, someone says someone died but i had no clue who they were talking about.

So the story of the movie's not great. And really how do you hang a story around a few dance scenes anyway? At least there were a ton of tunes that actually played back then which was probably my ultimate goal. Reading the book, even if they give you artists and titles, they are super obscure so it's hard to imagine what the music actually was. So the soundtrack is pretty great.
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