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Abstract

In this chapter, issues of gender and generation are highlighted. Again, we begin with an autoethnographic section which critically considers and represents the experiences of the author as a young woman on the northern soul scene as she narrates her engagement with older members of the scene in a very particular type of conversation. We then go on to explore this dynamic through the experiences of the nineteen-year-old record collector and DJ, Bobby. Following a critique of northern soul scholarship and popular music more widely, we return to the conversations that begin this chapter and—in reference to the wider practices of the scene—consider how the central power dynamics of the northern soul scene place barriers in the paths of young newcomers.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    This terminology has been developed within the scene to differentiate different types of records played at northern soul events. As such, they emerge out of discussions about different understanding of “northern soul”, the scene, and its members. The significance of “funky-edged soul” for younger members of the scene is discussed in Chaps. 7 (143), and 8 (164). The term “crossover” is used within the scene by different groups to define a particular sound. According to some, “crossover” records are those that were recorded at the beginning of the 1970s, moving from R&B into the popular music of the time and later disco. For others, the term includes records that were produced in the 1970s but based upon the sounds of the previous decade. In any case, they are seventies records that tend to have less of a pounding beat and more harmonious vocals.

  2. 2.

    The significance of Bobby’s decision to emcee and the ways in which he has developed his practice is discussed at greater length in Chap. 8 (183–188).

  3. 3.

    This promotional and event management company was set up and continues to be run by Kev Roberts, a long-time DJ and record collector on the scene.

  4. 4.

    The term “soul children”: was coined by Nicola Smith, “Parenthood and the Transfer of Capital in the Northern Soul Scene,” in Ageing and Youth Cultures: Music, Style and Identity, ed. Andy Bennett and Paul Hodkinson (London: Berg, 2012), 159–172.

  5. 5.

    The scene in Perth, Australia, has been documented in Paul Mercieca, Anne Chapman and Marnie H O’Neill, To the Ends of the Earth (Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 2013).

  6. 6.

    For example, my own observations made at three northern soul events in Spain and the inclusion of a Spanish-born woman within this study demonstrate that a Spanish soul following developed during in the post-Franco period, with ideas, records, events and imagery shared through a zine network from the 1980s until online platforms became the primary forum for sharing information. Events run by the British expat community are attended by Spanish individuals and some include sets by Spanish DJs, but the most regular events are organised by and run for Spanish fans of rare soul.

  7. 7.

    Elaine Constantine, Northern Soul. Film. London: Baby Cow Productions, 2014.

  8. 8.

    I have also discussed the role that the film and social media play in these “ways in” for younger members of the scene in two previous publications: Sarah Raine and Tim Wall, “Myths On/Of the Northern Soul Scene”, in The Northern Soul Scene, ed. Sarah Raine, Tim Wall and Nicola Watchman Smith (Sheffield: Equinox, forthcoming); Mark Duffett, Sarah Raine and Tim Wall, “The Voice of Participants on the Scene”, in The Northern Soul Scene, ed. Sarah Raine, Tim Wall and Nicola Watchman Smith (Sheffield: Equinox, forthcoming).

  9. 9.

    Andy Bennett, “Punk’s Not Dead: The Continuing Significance of Punk Rock for an Older Generation of Fans,” Sociology 40, no. 2 (2006): 219–235. doi:https://doi.org/10.1177/0038038506062030.; Ross Haenfler, Straight Edge: Clean-Living Youth, Hardcore Punk, And Social Change (New Brunswick, NH: Rutgers University Press, 2006).; Samantha Holland, Alternative Femininities: Body, Age and Identity (Oxford: Berg, 2006).

  10. 10.

    For example, Andy Bennett and Peter Hodkinson ed., Ageing and Youth Cultures: Music, style and identity (London: Berg, 2012).

  11. 11.

    Andy Bennett and Jodie Taylor, “Popular music and the aesthetics of ageing” Popular Music 31(2012): 231–243.

  12. 12.

    Nicola Smith (2006, 2009, 2012). Lucy Gibson, “Nostalgia, symbolic knowledge and generational conflict.” In the Northern Soul Scene, ed. Sarah Raine, Tim Wall, Nicola Watchman Smith. Sheffield: Equinox, 2019.

  13. 13.

    Examples of this can be found in Hollows and Milstone (1998), “Welcome to Dreamsville”, Milestone (1997), “The Love Factory”, and Robinson (2013), “Keeping the Faith”.

  14. 14.

    Barry Doyle, “More than a dance hall, more a way of life” (p. 317).

  15. 15.

    This draws upon David Hesmondhalgh, “Subcultures, Scenes or Tribes? None of the Above,” Journal of Youth Studies 8, no. 1 (2005): 21–40, doi:https://doi.org/10.1080/13676260500063652

  16. 16.

    Personal correspondence with Dave (58), an “original” scene member, dated March 2015.

  17. 17.

    This focus on marginal voices in order to understand wider processes is not a novel approach. Historians such as E. P. Thompson, E. H. Carr, and Eric Hobsbawm amongst others refocused their scholarly attention on “histories from below” in order to make sense of national political and industrial changes. So, too, the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies (CCCS) attempted to understand the post-War years of British society through the actions of “sub-cultural” youth. In more recent studies on popular music, the work of the CCCS has been critiqued, yet too often researchers continue to view individual music scenes as coherent, collective marginal voices in opposition to an external mainstream society. Like all communities, the northern soul scene has within it dominant and marginal groups.

References

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Raine, S. (2020). “Let’s Talk It Over”. In: Authenticity and Belonging in the Northern Soul Scene. Palgrave Studies in the History of Subcultures and Popular Music. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-41364-4_3

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-41364-4_3

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