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Nightshift: Growing Up in and Around Wigan Casino 1974-1981 Paperback – 1 Nov 1995
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Pete McKenna's story of growing up in a world of Blackpool rock, gleaming scooters, and northern soul music moves along with all theamphetamine-fuelled pace of a Casino dancer. If it moved any faster, it would be called a Ferrari -- Gutter Press, January, 1997
From the Back Cover
Pete McKenna's underground classic takes you on a journey back in time to the days of scooters, football aggro and northern soul allnighters at the legendary Wigan Casino.
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The earlier chapters take in the pub and club scene in Blackpool in the early 1970's. Of the characters and people mentioned on those pages I am sure CAD was at Brian London's 007 club the night I was there many moons ago.
It would be Interesting to find what the people who were the regulars at the Wigan Casino from those days make of this?
These all-nighters were essentially dances that ran from around midnight until 6am or so, and can very rightfully be considered the precursors to the rave scene that arose in the '80s. The music mostly came from DJs, although for a while, the Wigan Casino was considered the best live soul venue in the world and attracted big name American performers. The music bits are a bit boring if you're not into it yourself, and the details over the scene infighting about which club or DJ was playing more "authentic" music are laughable.
McKenna's discussion of the role of drugs displays an astounding capacity for doublethink. On the one hand, he keeps trying to say that it was all about the music and the dancing, and the drugs were a tiny part of it. But then he also talks about how almost everybody was necking them down, how the drugs were "out of control" and how obvious it was that eventually the heavy drug trafficking would lead to the demise of the club. In one incredible series of passages, he berates the tabloids for over-the-top articles on drug use at the clubs, and then almost immediately admits that the stories were more or less true. Not only that, but he spends considerable space mourning fellow scenesters who eventually died from heavy drug use! So, although he does do an excellent job of conveying the excitement and camaraderie of being part of an underground subculture, in the end it all seems rather a shallow and silly enterprise. It should be noted that McKenna's book had been criticized for overstating the amount of drugs there were on the scene.
The last twenty pages or so are a glance at the scene circa 1995, which he finds to be alive and kicking, as well as a few recollections from some old scenesters he runs into. The book ends with a list of 50 Northern Soul classics and suggestions for further reading, including Soulful Kinda Music and Soul Up North magazines. Since this volume, several other books on the Northern Soul scene have been published, including: Too Darn Soulful: The Story of Northern Soul, Casino, The In Crowd: The Story of the Northern and Rare Soul Scene, Northern Soul Top 500, and the novel Crackin' Up: A Tale of Sex, Drugs, and Northern Soul.
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