In the case of northern soul golf equipment, there are normally a number of that instantly come to thoughts; Wigan On line casino, The Twisted Wheel in Manchester and barely additional afield, The Golden Torch in Stoke-on-Trent.
Nevertheless for a brief second in time, a small Bolton venue turned the place to be to listen to the thrilling sounds of uncommon American soul music.
Within the 1960s, the Twisted Wheel was the undisputed king of northern soul, with the time period initially being coined by journalist Dave Godin following a go to to the membership.
As soon as it closed in 1971, The Golden Torch took its crown and reigned over the scene for the subsequent two years till Stoke-on-Trent Council refused to resume its licence in March 1973.
Till Wigan On line casino opened in September of that 12 months, there was an amazing demand for northern soul all-nighters, which Va Va in Bolton gladly took benefit of.
Hidden down the steps of Elizabeth Home, simply off Nice Moor Avenue, the venue held round 400 individuals but it surely was its futuristic decor that raised eyebrows.
In his ebook ‘Younger Soul Rebels’, Scottish journalist and writer Stuart Cosgrove notes that the “short-lived” Va Va was “memorable for its mirrored partitions and the paranoia they induced” in those that caught a glimpse of themselves whereas dancing below the affect.
A evaluate of the membership in an previous subject of Blues and Soul Journal mentioned that the membership contained greater than £10,000 value of kit and lights. Author Pete Fell additionally described the dancefloor as “small however satisfactory” and mentioned that the drinks costs have been “extortionate”.
One of many individuals who recurrently helped to pack the membership out on a Friday night time is Brent Howarth and the previous Smithills Moor Grammar College pupil remembers his native northern soul membership fondly.
(Picture: Manchester Night Information)
Brent, who additionally labored on the venue through the week, mentioned: “Bolton for some unusual motive appears to have had greater than its justifiable share of those golf equipment, document collectors and DJs, in addition to soul fans and good dancers.
“Va Va was fairly distinctive in that it had an all-nighter on Fridays. This was attributable to an area by-law that said that the one premises that might receive a music licence to play information after 2am on Sunday mornings have been members solely golf equipment.
“A number of of us would typically take a number of information down on a Saturday night time and when the locals had fallen asleep we might dance away to our favorite music.
“I labored on the venue through the week,and knew the administration nicely. After some time, and having borrowed information from older soulies resembling Jimmy Muirhead and Mick Gooding, Hank and Dave Urmston, the administration have been approached and the query of taking part in soul from the beginning of the session was posed. We have been informed ‘discover a DJ and also you’re on’.
“Legendary Bolton DJ Wycliffe ‘Wick’ Barratt was requested and he mentioned that he knew a mate who labored at International Information in Manchester.
“Inside weeks, what had been an all-nighter affected by sleeping our bodies turned a scorching sweaty mass of dancing soulies that got here from so far as Scotland, Barnsley, Sheffield, as we unfold the phrase a couple of Friday ‘nighter in Bolton.
“All this on two dance flooring; the largest of which was concerning the measurement of my bed room and the opposite as massive because the rug in it.”
Wick Barratt’s good friend from International Information was the, at the moment, comparatively unknown DJ Richard Searling.
(Picture: Manchester Night Information)
Richard, from Tonge Moor, has since grow to be a legend of the Northern Soul scene because the resident DJ at Wigan On line casino and fronting soul exhibits on stations resembling Clean FM and BBC Radio Manchester.
However in 1973, he relished the possibility to make a reputation for himself taking part in the music he was so enthusiastic about in his hometown.
Richard mentioned: “I bear in mind taking the decision one afternoon once I labored at International Information in Manchester from Wick Barrett, asking if I needed to DJ and I jumped on the probability. Had it been six months earlier, I would not have been as a result of it was solely once I went to International that I began to build up information throughout a visit to Philadelphia.
“I walked into Bolton from the place I lived in Tonge Fold, a couple of mile away, with a few little document containers and it was sufficient to get me via many of the night time. Different DJs like Ian ‘Pep’ Pereira, Alan Day and Martin Ellis would come within the odd half hour to assist me and provides me a break.
“The venue was state-of-the-art however the bizarre factor was that the all-nighter went on straight after a Bowie and Roxy Music night time and so they began letting our crowd in earlier than they’d kicked them out.
“The DJ sales space, or the ‘cockpit’ as I name it, was beneath dancefloor degree so if somebody needed a tune they needed to lean down and faucet you on the again of the top. The dancefloor itself was actually small, it was the scale of somebody’s entrance room.
“In the event you went in now, you’d say ‘there isn’t any approach a northern soul all-nighter would work right here’ but it surely did work due to the void between the Golden Torch closing and Wigan On line casino opening. Va Va crammed it completely.”
One of many information that Richard had in his field was an obscure single by American recording artist Gloria Jones, that he had purchased on a visit to the USA.
The tune, which was virtually 10 years previous on the time was utterly remarkable within the UK however Richard used it to pack dancefloors at Va Va and it will definitely turned a staple of the Northern Soul scene.
That observe was Tainted Love, which has since taken on a lifetime of its personal attributable to numerous covers, together with the preferred by Gentle Cell.
Different Northern Soul classics spun contained in the small venue embrace My Expensive Coronary heart by Shawn Robinson, I acquired to search out me anyone by the Vel-Vets, Sluggish Fizz by The Sapphires, and Lynn Randell’s Stranger in my Arms – which Richard notes was one of many final songs to be performed at Va Va.
“We would had points with the drug squad in round July 1973 however we managed to reopen,” Richard mentioned.
“Nevertheless when Wigan On line casino opened in September, it turned a waste of time.
“I acquired a name on the Wednesday or Thurdsay, previous to the all-nighter on Friday, and I used to be informed that we might misplaced our licence, that means that we needed to end at 2am.
“As we completed at 2am, individuals have been nonetheless arriving. I bear in mind a coach rolling in and so they needed to sit on the automotive park.
“Clearly there was no social media or electronic mail in these days so it was tough to essentially inform anyone. It was very disappointing.”
As Richard alluded to, Va Va was ultimately closed down attributable to drug use contained in the venue.
Bouncer Fred ‘Dicky’ Dickinson mentioned: “Folks took amphetamines to maintain them awake and dancing all night time lengthy.
“The results of the drug made it simple to inform who was on it – their eyes can be like saucers and so they would not be capable to cease speaking or chewing. That meant it was at all times simple to identify the drug squad at any time when they despatched cadets into mingle. They stood out like a sore thumb.
“I solely ever threw one individual out and that was as a result of he was a p***head moderately than a soulie, and he was inflicting hassle.”
After Va Va closed, the venue went via a quantity a reputation adjustments over time together with Pips, Rotters, House Metropolis, Excessive Society, Kiss and Membership Liquid.
In the present day it’s utterly empty, because it has been for a while, with the unit out there to lease on Rightmove.