Well our homage to the late great Wigan Casino All-Nighter event went brilliantly last night, if I do say so myself.
I kicked off the evening playing some tunes from early rock bands who cut their teeth playing at this venue back in the late 70’s – such as Canned Heat, with their awesome track ‘On the Road Again’, through The Stranglers, Budgie, Nazareth, Judas Priest, the Edgar Broughton Band and Motorhead.
I’d never heard of the Edgar Broughton Band. Never saw or heard of them again and then in the 80’s I was stand-in bassist for a while in band from Barnet call Sheriff Jack, went into the studio with them and it was owned by none other than EBB drummer Steve Broughton. I ended up playing in a short lived 18 piece band called Soul Tax that he put together (we played our first gig the day after the Poll Tax Riots in London and didn’t have a name) – small world eh?
The atmosphere was fabulous and I had filled the room with loads of phantom ‘dancers’ in order to give the same feeling of crowded movement as was at the original venue. In fact, anyone who had actually been at the Casino in their youth might even have recognised some of the cut-outs as I had used screen-grabs from the TV documentary which was filmed in the 70’s!
Now, as I wasn’t old enough to be properly into clubbing in those days, and I didn’t live ‘up North’ where the Northern Soul phenomenon was born, I relied on my lovely Lord Andy to be artistic director on this project. My whole reason for creating these themed sets is to make people happy, and if I can accurately recreate a place well enough that it can take someone back to a time to enjoy fond memories, then I feel that I’ve done a good job. I have been reliably informed by his Lordship that I managed to capture the atmosphere to the point where he felt like he had gone back in time and was in his late teens again.
After the first hour of rock, we did as they did back during the days of the Casino and switched over to the Northern Soul set. Andy tells me that there was a distinct divide between the rockers and the ‘soulies’ and never the twain shall meet. All the rock fans would pile out of the club as the soul dudes would be arriving for their ‘all-nighter’. But as Andy and his mates were far more musically open-minded, they would pop into the loos to change out of their rock gear and slip into their wide-legged pants and vest tops and then sneak back into the club to enjoy the second half of the evening.
Our Northern Soul part of the evening was DJ’d by our very own Gerrard ‘G-Winz’ Wistanley, who followed in the footsteps of his RL namesake, the original Wigan Casino DJ, Russ Winstanley.
A little Wiki history on Northern Soul, for those of you not familiar with the term:
Northern soul is a music and dance movement that emerged independently in Northern England, in the late 1960s from the British mod scene. Northern soul mainly consists of a particular style of black American soul music based on the heavy beat and fast tempo of the mid-1960s Tamla Motown sound.
The northern soul movement, however, generally eschews Motown or Motown-influenced music that has had significant mainstream commercial success. The recordings most prized by enthusiasts of the genre are usually by lesser-known artists, released only in limited numbers, often by small regional American labels such as Ric-Tic and Golden World Records (Detroit), Mirwood (Los Angeles) and Shout and Okeh (New York/Chicago).
Northern soul is associated with particular dance styles and fashions that grew out of the underground rhythm & soul scene of the late 1960s at venues such as the Twisted Wheel in Manchester. This scene and the associated dances and fashions quickly spread to other UK dancehalls and nightclubs like the Chateau Impney (Droitwich), Catacombs (Wolverhampton), the Highland Rooms at Blackpool Mecca, Golden Torch (Stoke-on-Trent) and Wigan Casino.
As the favoured beat became more uptempo and frantic, by the early 1970s, northern soul dancing became more athletic, somewhat resembling the later dance styles of disco and break dancing. Featuring spins, flips, karate kicks and backdrops, club dancing styles were often inspired by the stage performances of touring American soul acts such as Little Anthony & The Imperials and Jackie Wilson.
So even though the whole ethos of true Northern Soul was ‘the less well known the music, the more popular’, it didn’t matter to our evening as it still had that wonderful Motown beat that you just can’t help bopping along to. I can easily see how these evenings would have been so popular, as I would most certainly have been a regular had I been around in those days. And of course, although it’s true that the more unknown and obscure the track, the more it was liked, it was inevitable that the movement would adopt some tracks to be their keynote anthems, the original recording of Tainted Love by Gloria Jones being the primary example.
And I wanted to post this bit of video as well as although the sound quality is pretty bad as it’s a live recording from the club, it shows perfectly the very specific dance style that was Northern Soul. Lots of leg-work but keeping within your own space, because of how crowded the venue used to be. It’s really interesting to see just how almost regimented the dancing was.
And finally, a little montage of photos from our own Wigan Casino..
As the evening was such a success, we’re going to try and run a regular monthly Wigan Casino night, so keep an eye open on the Caffeine Nights group events notification either in-world, or on our Facebook page:
Northern Soul at the Wigan Casino – a Caffeine Nights themed show production – Saturday 17th September – 2 – 4pm SLT
CALLING ALL BRITS! ANYONE OF A CERTAIN GENERATION REMEMBER VISITING THE WIGAN CASINO BETWEEN THE LATE 70’s AND EARLY 80’s?
Due to popular demand (well, 2 people), I have lovingly re-created the inner club of the Wigan Casino nightclub, hopefully capturing the authentic ambiance of sweat, cigarette smoke and excitement (thank you, Lord Andy, for the technical input as artistic director on this one – me being far too young to remember ).
For those of you not au fait with such a specifically regional venue and historical gem, here’s an introduction from our Lord Andy, a regular of the club in his day…
|For a brief period in the mid 1970s the flame of popular music burnt brightly at in a small industrial town in north west England.
Between 1973 and 1981 a run down dance hall, The Casino Club, was the home of a musical phenomenon that went by the name of Northern Soul.
Although it’s famous for its Soul All Nighter the Casino wasn’t just the home of Saturday night soul music. Earlier in the evening it played host to a night of live rock. This was where I cut my heavy metal teeth.
So tonight we bring you a selection of sounds from those early days of metal, spun by the lovely Anouk, before our very own Mr Gerrard Winstanley steps up to the decks of his namesake Russ to take you on a trip through the sounds of Northern Soul.
Starting at 2pm SLT until midnight.
Yet again, I have been horrifically lax in updating with shows and events so this is the last big themed show we did, back in the summer of 2015.
I thought it would be nice to do a show where I combined the key elements of a typical English summer, so the set ended up being a 4 part creation to encompass the main elements that sum up summer in England for me.
Part 1: Cricket on the village green
What is more English than the sound of birds singing in the trees, the gentle murmur of voices enjoying the warm sunshine, the distant chime of a church bell and the thud of leather on willow (and no, that’s not some kinky BDSM reference! It refers to a cricket ball being hit by a cricket bat!)
The guests arrived at the set by landing on the edge of a typical village green, beside the duckpond to the tune of Mungo Jerry’s ‘In the Summertime’.
They strolled around the green, making sure not to get too close to the cricketers, and enjoyed a cool glass of bubbly at the picnic blanket whilst we treated them to a selection of sunny feelgood tunes.
And what can be more English than watching tennis at Wimbledon? The guests wandered through the churchyard, leaving the cricketers behind, and arrived at Wimbledon just in time to catch the beginning of a high-powered match.
But of course, this is England. And what is even more typical for an English summer than tennis, and strawberries and cream? You got it…
Fortunately, it turned out that there was a rather special spectator in the crowd who got up and led everyone in a singsong (with a little help from yours truly – any excuse to get in shot) until the shower passed over…
Part 3: Croquet and afternoon tea
After all the excitement of the tennis and Sir Cliff, I figured our guests could use a little break, so our next stop was for tea and cake. But not just any old tea and cake. Oh no. I led the guests to drop down a rabbit hole from the tennis court and they landed on a soft bouncy pile of leaves in none other than Alice in Wonderland’s garden.
We danced on the croquet lawn, much to certain people’s disgust, and had Early Grey tea from fancy china.
Part 4: The Seaside
No English summer would be complete without a trip to the seaside. The guests were led down the along the lawn and across a footbridge leading over the little river at the bottom of the garden. As the came to the end of the footbridge, they came out through a lovely Victorian bandstand at the end of the pier…
There were heated discussions about who won the sandcastle building contest, whilst others just enjoyed paddling in the water or lazing on the sand.
It’s been a while since our last themed extravaganza so this Friday we held another one of our popular events. We decided to call it the Songs of Fire & Ice, in honour of the new season of Game of Thrones. The set was truly the epitome of “Winter is Coming” and we had several diehard fans in their winter woollies.
Sword work really hard to put together what he called his “ice songs”, which was a collection of Icelandic music, ranging from gently haunting mellowness, via the beautifully eccentric Bjork, with a touch of Viking thrash, with even a touch of Nordic mandolin jig!
The starlight sparkles off the snowy wastes as the dark and mysterious stranger appears on the horizon, his black cloak flowing behind him, making him almost become as one with his midnight steed. The figure of the rider and his horse slowly comes out of the veil of mist created by the steam from the distant hot geysers, the horse’s hooves crunching softly in the freshly fallen snow. Faint reflections of the Aurora Borealis glisten eerily on it’s ebony flanks. The rider glances into the foreground, as if expecting someone. He looks around the icy tundra and smiles. His people are coming.
He is the Bringer of Music and the Gatherer of the Clans. When he calls, the people come.
Štärfällsøn settles himself on his mount, waits for the clan to come together, raises his hand, and as all eyes look towards him, the music begins to flow…
The haunting melodies of Icelandic electro band, GusGus:
And as promised, here’s some unexpected Nordic rock, but with fiddles and mandolins!
OK – so I may have exaggerated a tad – but I had to let everyone know that our very clever Mr Starfall has put together another one of his brilliant movies of the recent Venice Carnival show. I have added the Youtube of the film to the main Venice post, but also wanted to pop it here separately, to make sure everyone saw it 🙂
These bits of film take Sword hours to put together and are a fab way to really get the feel of the shows. He’s started dabbling with adding some ‘live’ action to the stop-motion style he usually uses, although this first variety was filming directly from the screen with a camera phone. Sword tells me that this is quite a tricky method, and the quality of picture is not as good as ‘live’ filming in-world, so he is investigating various in-world machinima styles. I can’t wait to see future releases!
Oh….and one more thing….Sword has forgotten to add his own name to the list of credits for the show! (being his typical modest self), so I will add right now “Filmed & produced by Sword Starfall”, as he deserves equally as much credit as anyone else involved in putting together these shows 🙂
So, without any further ado, Ladies and Gentlemen, I proudly present…Marcel’s Caffeine Nights – Venetian Carnival! *wild applause*
Carnival with Marcel’s
Part #3 – Masquerade in Venice
With DJ G-Winz
Our final evening of Carnival was set in the floating streets of Venice. Dim lights glowing from the high windows of the houses overlooking the canal, and the distant sound of music echoing along the dark waters.
Guests arrived close to a wooden jetty, with the lamplight flickering on the surface of the gently rippling water. They were beckoned towards the water’s edge, where a silent gondolier glided up to the edge of the jetty and invited them to sit. The gondola carried our guests across the softly lapping waters to the palazzo at the far end of the canal. They could see the lights flickering in the windows as they drew closer, and hear the strains of the masquerade waltz. The gondola smoothly deposited them at the steps of the piazza, where the guests were greeted by our DJ for the night, Mr G “Winz” Winstanley. The music for the evening was a selection of G’s usual eclectic mixes, ranging from Italian classic, heavy opera and light hearted dances.
The set was the perfect backdrop for everyone to really show off their amazing masquerade outfits and as usual, we weren’t disappointed by the couture.
And here are some stunning ‘real’ Venetian masks and costumes, set to music as your backdrop for this page.
The Venice set is still there and will remain there for a while, you if you missed the show, or just want to go back and dance on the piazza and float about in the gondola, you can get there by using the teleporter at the end of the corridor at Marcel’s.
I would like to give a big thank you to our 3 amazing DJ’s who worked so hard to provide the perfect music for our Carnival nights, and to all our guests who always make such an effort to dress up and have fun. Thank you guys – and hope to see you again soon!