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  • What you've got to remember, if you're under 50yrs old, is that the BBC played very little black-music on their radio stations, or televised anything about 'black' culture. Magazines featured very little either, in respect of the 'alternative' culture of 'Modernism' that was growing in London and possibly Manchester. Most 'live music' with genuine black artistes never got out of London, with the majority of these musicians being jazzers...in their 'stagewear' of lightweight mohair suits and button-down/tab-collar shirts.

    It was the fans of these modern 'cool jazz' musicians, (as opposed to the fans of the 'traditional Dixieland jazz') that started imitating this mode of dress, whilst combining it with 'new looks' from France & Italy (check out french actor Alain Delon) and who eventually in the very early '60's became a new cultural scene known as 'Modernists'.  

    By studying Jazz and through it, the 'black culture' of the USA, very soon blues roots-music was discovered in the UK and shortly afterward the 'new' sound of soul-music. France had a long history of Jazz /Blues appreciation (think New Orleans, eh?) so black US musicians had now two appreciative ports-of-call on European tours. Where there are 'tours' people want to purchase recordings of the music they hear. So 'imported' black-music records became a growth business to very specialist record-shops in London, Manchester and L/pool.                          

    Without doubt, the choreographed 'stage moves' of black male singing-groups especially started to influence club-dancing. As stated previously, at this time there were also many 'black' US Servicemen stationed in the UK who would at weekends attend music/dance-venues in central London. Their new innovative 'dance moves', (as opposed to Chubby Checker's 'Twist') could therefore be seen and adopted in real-time by followers of this 'new' club-culture that was rapidly bourgeoning from around 1961/2....just about the time James Brown was beginning to come to the fore!

    Let's remember, that until the 'British Invasion' of bands and groups to the USA from circa 1964/5, most young 'white' Americans had little knowledge of, or access to, the rich treasure-house of varied musical ingenuity that lay within the lives of their 'black' neighbours. The UK bands, having had several years more 'exposure' to black musical influences thereby encouraged interest in this 'home-grown' talent and eventually made a lot of US black-artistes the money they deserved, in their own country.

    However, by 1965, that initial period of wonder and the excitement of discovery of the 'new' was all over. For just like the 'Punk' movement did 12yrs later, Modernism had eventually become mainstream. it was dead. Northern Soul had nothing to do with Modernism, it was a completely separate movement.

    • Modernism and Northern Soul seperate movements..... mmm. Different fruits of the same tree.

    • Hi frames, I agree about the 'specialist', music-magazines carrying 'jazz' revue material, but I was referring to the more W.H. Smith 'counter' magazines, periodicals etc. I had forgotten about Jazz 625! However, somewhere in my loft, I have reel-to-reel tapes of a programme on BBC Radio, from circa '65-'66 called "Jazzbeat', introduced by George Melly on a Saturday evenings around 6:30pm. This featured BBC-studio recordings, of usually two of the more popular 'club bands' doing the rounds at that time. I think that I have :Georgie Fame, Zoot Money, Herbie Goins, Geno Washington,The Artwoods,The Pedlars, etc, all recorded onto those tapes. These 'bootleg' recordings were usually made by my 'Mum', whilst I was getting ready to go to work on Saturday-nights at a local club-venue. She had to press the big 'record' button on my Ferguson 'Ultra', reel to reel, tape-deck, with it's microphone positioned in front of the family's huge VHF radiogram! I've never seen this highly unusual radio-show,( it a had a run of about 6-shows), referred to in any BBC programme, or other articles, that have attempted to outline music in the 60's. By now of course, Mr Melly has been long gone,... to his own jazz-gig in the sky.

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    • yea ! i agree with you there, i'm an old 60s mod and a stickler for the music from that era but i have to say i'm glad the northern soul scene is around i've come across some cracking tunes because of it stuff that would have gone un-noticed if i hadn't been trawling thru some northern site or other, i am sometimes of the opinion that northern's more about acrobatics sometimes as opposed to dancing but hey ! so what ? i wish i had the energy ( and knees lol) to do it i saw some really good dancers back in the day in those clubs in soho some of whom were my mates it was a pleasure to watch probably even more so cause i personaly had two left feet ha ha there was one guy i remember used to dance almost non-stop right thru the night not completely under his own steam ha ha but thats another story, they were great times at the cutting edge of RnB in this country, it was all new then and so exciting !

  • i've always maintained that nothern soul dancing is a progression of the early mod dances from the eraly 60s , the skate, boobaloo, the block, the bang, all these and variations of them led onto the northern soul dancing of today, just wish i was young enough to do it myself , i had a couple of mates back in the day that were really good dancers one of them represented our club ( the last chance saloon ) in a competition against the scene and la discotheque , which took place one friday on " ready steady go the scene won it they had some good dancers too great times " up west" back in the day

  • If you take a look on YouTube at early 'live' Rolling Stones videos (circa 63-65), you'll see that Mick Jagger is 'bustin' a few moves' similar to Mr Brown.

    He always said that he learned these moves from 'black' US Military personnel who travelled to central London jazz & blues clubs at weekends, from

    their post WWII bases around London & SE England. One of these soldiers was singer Geno Washington, who upon his demobilisation formed a band

    and became one of the top UK soul club-acts of the mid-60's. His 1966 album 'Foot stompin, Funky butt, Live!! ' still remains one of the finest examples

    of the mod-culture 'soul-club' atmospherics still available. 

  • I think you will find that a lot of the soul dance you see today was born of soul artists a lot from Motown Such as the four tops the temptations and many other soul artists when they did the clubs particularly up north on stage they would do back drops and spins ie soul dancing
  • could well be, remember he was around before northern soul was thought of, he was the god father of soul

  • Like the good Doctor I love a bit of Northern Soul. It's tough to say when Mods (or whoever) started dancing that way as opposed to doing the classic dances such as the Block, the Swim and a combination of many of those that did not involve moving too far from the spot. The first time I noticed it was a clip from a 1965 Ready Steady Go. Stevie Wonder was singing 'Uptight' and there was a Mod doing the dance that would in later years be associated with Northern Soul.

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    • Soul dancing is really what your talking about and James Brown King of Soul was a pioneer and an expert dancer. The term Northern Soul is a bit of a media myth. The Soul Music/Dancing in general evolved in the 60s. Many Mod fave tunes now also come under the banner of-N.Soul. Early and Late 60s tunes some  unreleased/undiscovered. However the Media tend to put it all under the Northern 70s Soul Image, the was a feature on the BBC1 One Show and some Northern Soul film is being released shortly which has added to the hype! 

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