Out on the Floor: The Politics of Dancing on the Northern Soul Scene
Tim Wall [+]
Birmingham City University
The Northern Soul scene is a dance-based music culture that originated in the English North and Midlands in the early 1970s. It still thrives today with a mix of forty-year-olds and new converts, and its celebration of 1960s Soul has an international following. Centred on the detail of the dance techniques, and musical and cultural context, the analysis presented here is developed from an ethnographic study. It uses a concept of competence and the example of a classic record to explore the meanings of dance for the scene’s participants. The importance of solidarity, senses of identity through gender, place and ethnicity, and the relationship of the scene with African American culture are explored. The study draws conclusions about the way that dance can be theorised and analysed, and argues that a full analysis requires an exploration of the relationship of physical movement to space, music and senses of identity.