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:
After years of saying that he didn’t want a big fuss for his birthday, I couldn’t stand it any more and had to give in. I decided that it was high time we properly celebrated our beloved club owner, Mr Sword Starfall, so I devised a cunning plan to throw a huge surprise party for him.
Going with the suggestion from Mr G-Winz that we do something with a nautical theme, as Sword is such a keen sailor, I may have gone a little ….overboard….(get it? 🙂 ) and purchased a rather huge party boat for the event. I did some sneaky shopping around and decided against the Titanic (not the most positive venue for a party), or the HMS Phoenix (cool sailing ship but battle enabled and a serious health and safety hazard!), and finally settled on a gorgeous ‘Yacht Island’ sold by the very lovely and helpful Aymec Millet of Build boX – BBX Yachts. Seriously, if you are looking for a yacht or boat, this is the place to go. The customer service is outstanding and the quality of the products is excellent. Great attention to details and lots of cute extras.
After having found the perfect boat, it was then necessary to find the perfect secret location to berth it for the party. And for this, I have to thank Victor Edenfield of D’Vine Eden Real Estate for his patience in helping me find just the right parcel of land to put the large and bulky boat. Victor spent ages with me, looking at different parcels of land, shifting the boat this way and that, until we found the ideal location.
I then had a super fun time for the next 3 weeks, decorating the boat and preparing it for the party. I sent out secret invitations (individually, one by one) as of course I couldn’t put anything in the group notices or Sword would have seen it. Do you knoooow how long it takes to send 150 odd invites one at a time?!
I arranged with Sword that on the night of the party, he would take a night off from running the club so I could take him out to relax and enjoy his birthday without having to work, and whisked him away to a lovely Paris sim for a little birthday drink, whilst everyone gathered at the party boat.
Then at the allocated time, I took him to the boat and unveiled how sneaky, devious and downright underhanded I had been – and SURPRISE! Happy Birthday Mr Starfall!
We landed on a long wooden dock with a red carpet leading down to the water’s edge, where the party boat floated in the moonlit water, balloons bobbing in the doorway and Sword’s name in lights flickering above the door. You have to understand that for 5 years I have respected his wishes to not do anything for his birthday, so this is a lot of repressed party planning bursting forth here!
We walked through the boat, taking a glass of bubbly from the lower deck on our way through, and went up to the party deck, where dozens of friends were waiting to welcome the birthday boy and show their appreciation for everything he does. It was wonderful to see so many people turn up to celebrate with us.
The lovely Magda DJ’d for us with a selection of very fruity sea shanties, and even treated us to her own sexy rendition of Marilyn’s ‘Happy Birthday’. It was a wonderful evening and we partied into the early hours. Sword was very quiet for a while and it seems that there was much plotting between him and G about taking the boat out for long sea voyages – so keep a lookout for a flashing floating disco sailing past!
So once again – I would like to say a massive Happy Birthday from me, and everyone at Marcel’s, to club owner, sailor, barman, sympathetic ear and my very dear friend – Sword Starfall!
The final months of 2014 where a a busy time for Marcel’s and the Caffeine Nights group, .
One of the most important changes was the move from the platform recreating a Parisian street and square (la Place des Cerises…), to the sea level, which gave the whole build a bigger sense of space outside, and wonderful views, while keeping the intimate cosy feel inside that our friends have enjoyed so much as they discovered the bistro.
But soon Fall was upon us, and fallen leaves suddenly where everywhere (inside the bistro too!) and allowed Anouk to add a moody feel to the whole set, (which reminds me of a perfect tune to watch these pictures by, a song about the passing of time and the changing of seasons by Sandy Denny.
Everyone tried to stay outside for quiet evening chats at Marcel’s terrace as long as there where some warmth left and before the snow settled in.
Eventually Halloween arrived and Marcel’s rose to the occasion with some great sets from our dj’s and yet some more awesome decorations by Anouk!
The Matelots where also active, and in true pioneer fashion sailed out to discover new lands, and were treated by team Captain (G-WINZ) to some wonderful routes, sampling all the seasonal beauty of SL’s winter wonderland. There was also an unusual trip to the Great Wall of China, where we were kindly hosted by Selena Nirvana of the Heartbreakers Entertainment group, and her wonderful Chinese pavilion venue which held the cruise party.
And we finally got to Holiday season. Anouk once again showed her skills in decorating Marcel’s and all of Croissantville, and all ye merry group enjoyed a time of warm friendship inspired by outstanding musical shows which conveyed according to each dj’s style the spirit of the season.
So here is 2015!
We can’t wait to see what it will bring to Marcel’s and the Caffeine Nights group, and take this chance to wish you all, once again, a Happy New Year!
Marcel’s Bistro is now a bijou waterfront establishment – by popular demand!
The location of the bistro is on exactly the same plot as before (so your LM’s will still work as before) but instead of being up on a platform, we are now making the most of the lovely sea view we have down on the ground level.
Uncle Marcel requested that we reproduce his old fishing village so I have tried to incorporate this whilst also keeping a taste of the old Paris that he loved so much. The renovations are a work in progress so please excuse any rough bits around the edges in the meantime.
I eagerly look forward to his next brilliant idea that will involve more major construction work on my part 😛
I’ve been meaning to get a post up about all the various shows and events that we held over the Halloween week, but as I myself was unfortunately unable to be present for these, I was waiting for my dear co-host, Sword, to produce the article for this section. However, due to some very serious high priority matters (*cough* sailing *cough*) he has not been able to get around to it, so I’m just going to put up some pictures of the club with the rather fab décor – if I do say so myself. We did have a wee pre-Halloween bash to celebrate the completion of the decorations, but I’m still waiting for someone (*cough* Sword *cough*) to send those to me… 😛
And I really couldn’t resist showing off my brand new Maleficent costume, bought specially for the occasion..
DJ RhiaC, otherwise known as the “Blues Mama,” is another guest DJ at Marcel’s. Growing up a punk rock and funk/soul/jazz/R&B aficionado, of course one would predict she would become…a blues DJ???
But for her, it makes perfect sense. “Punk has an energy, an ‘up yours’ attitude that blues shares. Blues never cared about being ‘proper and prim,’ and neither did punk. And of course, funk, soul, R&B and jazz either came from the blues or co-existed with the blues – LOL, it seems almost all 20th century musical forms came from the blues!” And to those who would scratch their heads at such a vastly wide range of musical interests, well, she’s not interested in easy pigeon-holing. “I like to dance sometimes – and sometimes I like to think.”
Her favorite musicians were (and are, among others) artists like Prince, Otis Redding, Marvin Gaye, The Clash, The Ramones, The Sex Pistols, Billie Holliday, Ella Fitzgerald, Black Flag, Billy Idol, Blondie, Dead Kennedys, Stevie Wonder, Bill Withers, Aretha Franklin, and predicting her future interests, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Eric Clapton, BB King, Etta James and Little Walter.
Now, although her primary interest is blues, DJ RhiaC is still the same person who resists easy categorization and neat little boxes. “I have discovered psychobilly and wow, is that a head trip! I’m also falling for electroswing, thanks to my fellow DJ G-Winz.” She also has discovered genres of blues she never knew existed – “Punk blues!” she exclaims with a huge smile on her face. “Is that too perfect or what??”
She can be heard at Marcel’s on Sunday evenings, spinning all kinds of blues genres – everything from a Canned Heat retrospective to boogie-woogie. And yes, a punk blues evening is in the works…!
We were treated this weekend to one of our special themed shows, this time DJ’d by the very talented Mr Gerrard Winstanley, playing a selection of Asian fusion music. The show was based around the oriental Willow Pattern, the story of which was posted here a few days prior to the show itself.
The set was all in muted tones of blue and white, and was a replica of the china pattern depicting the lovely oriental landscape scenery. A bamboo bridge crossed over a babbling stream in which blue and white koi carp swam. The blue and white crane bobbing their long necks into the water every few minutes to pick up a fishy snack.
It wasn’t until guests zoomed their cameras away from the set that the realised that they were actually in the pattern itself – the entire set being a huge Willow Pattern dish, complete with giant chopsticks perched across the rim..
I even made sure I co-ordinated my entire outfit to blend with the background..
The rest of the guests really went all out and the costumes were breathtakingly beautiful. The contrast of the pure blue and white setting, together with the stunning, butterfly-like colours of the guest’s outfits was the most perfect opportunity for some amazing photos.
I was very fortunate and managed to “find” a very rare and valuable Ming dynasty DJ deck for G. Thank goodness he was carefully with his dancing throughout the evening as the decks were totally priceless and irreplaceable, and a mis-placed kick could have been a tragedy 😛
We even had the spirits of Koong-se and Chang floating over us in the form of a pair of white doves..
As the evening drew to a close, and the sun set behind the hills, the guests were treated to a surprise display of hundreds of glowing lanterns which were released to slowly float up into the midnight sky.
Sword spent ages on the night taking about a million photos so he could put together one of his cool stop-motion videos of the event which you can see here:
And here are a few very kind words left in our guest book for this show:
‘Amazing as usual. Congratulations on the fabulous work Anouk. xxx Valdez’
‘Fabulous set and music, Anouk. Thank you so much! Spectacular!’
‘At the Willow Tales event – wonderful set and wonderful music, a true pleasure to be here. –Lewis Luminos’
‘Lovely Party… thank you ありがとう
And finally, with thanks to Lewis, here’s a link to Lewis Luminos’ Flickr album, with some more gorgeous photos: Lewis Luminos Flickr – Willow show