Northern Soul vs The Ottomans

The Ottomans: Europe’s Muslim Emperors BBC 2 11.20pm. Produced and directed by Gillian Bancroft and presented by Rageh Ommar this is, I suppose the equivalent of BBC saying we’ve done the Jews (Simon Schama The Story of the Jews) now I suppose we better do the Muslims. The latter had Simon Schama doing everything: writing, directing, appearing on camera, twiddling the funny bone, the former has Rageh Ommar and you know what, and this shouldn’t be relevant and shouldn’t matter, but I don’t know if he’s a Muslim. But Schama was such fun. This felt like sitting through an extended sociology lecture. All very relevant in understanding the division in the Middle East and factionalism of Sunni and Shia, but I nodded off near the end. Mehmet II’s taking of Constantinople in the fifteen century was a high point or low point, depending on where you stand, and we heard how his conversion of The Sacred Palace of Constantinople, the heart of the Byzantine Empire, into a mosque was a symbolic show of grandeur and sign other Muslims that we’ve done it lads. This is the equivalent of a secular army conquering London and converting Westminster Cathedral into a gay disco.     

Northern Soul written and directed by Gillian Bancroft was a nostalgia fest. It’s Wigan 1975 and adolescents dance all night to Soul music by obscure black artists nobody else ever heard of. It’s The Commitments meeting Dirty Dancing and God did it look like so much fun. Film clips show none of that dancing round handbags with the guys hugging the walls that sticks in my memory, but guys and girls going for it full tilt and doing their own thing. It helped that they were out of their face on speed. But they talk about those times with the revivalist glee of a Billy Graham on the god juice. I miss it and I wasn’t ever there. 


I was (nearly). Born and bred there.  Wigan Casino - the venue for the famous 'all nighters' was formerly the 'Empire Ballroom' (the Emp').  All the lot's under a shopping centre now.


I WAS there. In 1975/6 we were all dancing to soul records here in London but the clubs closed at two. Then we heard of some Northern place called Wigan that played Soul music and it went on all night!

So we piled into a mates MK1 Ford Cortina ( took all day) and went to Wigan Casino. The only problem was that we couldn't understand a bloody word they said and their fashion was about four years behind ours. But boy could they dance. We thought we could throw some shapes but they out did us. The music was fantastic. Rare grooves, "B" sides of singles that we'd never heard of, lots of obscure motown and sixties soul. Fantastic times and great memories.


Maybe it is Ramadan right now and I agree that it is good for the media to give all religious tribes a turn (including of course the ones that often get overlooked  for example aetheists, unitarians, Pagans and many more I am sure)     Elsie

Was this on the telly celticman?

 this is Granada documentary from the time - I've been fascinated with Northern Soul for years (although I'm too young to have experienced it first hand!).


Canonette thank you so much for finding this documentary, A terrific mix of the (then) now and the past feeding into it. And I love to watch lads jigging. Energy, Muscle mmm!    

The documentary has now inspired my poem Wigan Casino Lass.

Leon Rosselsons' song 'What shall we do with the Ugly Ones?'  that is used so well in the Northern Soul documentary  is also completely brilliant as is everything else he has written. Rosselson is a socialist singer songwriter who is now approaching 70 and still going strong. His best known song is the historical ballad 'The Diggers Song'      Elsie