Myths on/of the Northern Soul Scene
Sarah Raine [+]
University College Dublin
Tim Wall [+]
Birmingham City University
A history of the northern soul scene is comprehensively set out in a range of books, films and websites which give a rich picture of the scene’s past. They tell a story of the background to the scene’s formation and its early and later incarnations, all expressed through the strong sense that the scene has survived and flourished, welcomed new members and renewed itself, while always remaining true to its origins and traditions. Many of these mediated histories are stories produced for an insider audience by authors and media producers who themselves have personal experience of the scene. We see this as part of an extensive process of self-documentation which has become a central cultural practice of the northern soul scene. In this chapter, the authors seek to explore how the story of the northern soul scene is told through a range of media and how they relate to processes of scene self-documentation. They tease out the differences between self-documenting media texts and the more mainstream ways in which the scene is represented. And they argue that the myths of northern soul represent a shared narrative; held as a common point of reference, widely distributed and used as a locus for personal identity. Above all, these stories are testaments to an insider identity: a sense of what it is to be a member of the scene and, by contrast, what lies outside. This chapter explores some of the self-documented histories of the scene, drawing out core myths, exploring how they operate over a range of media as a key part in the mythologizing process of self-documentation, and identify the ways in which they act as a stabilising and legitimising force.