To understand the dancing you have to understand the music. The northern soul scene blossomed in the 1970s, when DJs would hunt down rare black American soul 45s and bring them back to play in venues across the north-west of England. The music – inspired heavily by the Motown sound, with fast tempos and a simple 4-4 beat – was a dancer’s dream.
Because the scene embraced competitiveness, with DJs trying to outdo each other by playing the rarest vinyl, so too the dancefloor became a showcase for audacious moves: spins, backdrops, high kicks.
In the book Last Night A DJ Saved My Life: the history of the DJ, the authors describe northern soul as “a genre built from failures”, stating: “…Northern Soul was the music made by hundreds of singers and bands who were copying the Detroit sound of Motown pop. Most of the records were complete failures in their own time and place… but in northern England from the end of the 1960s through to its heyday in the middle 1970s, were exhumed and exalted.