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In this chapter, we continue with the central issues of time, the past, and narrative, revealing how engagements with the past are encoded into the rituals of the allnighter and the scene process of historicising. Individual and shared understandings of time are organised through stories told and retold by older participants. Engagements with this past by the scene’s younger generation are interpreted as cultural processes of “patching up”, with an experience of the past built from an assortment of stories and objects. The shared version of this past notably (and inevitably) distils different political and cultural experience and reference points from those that take centre stage in the official history. Finally, we explore how these are encoded into the material culture of young scene members.

Sections of this chapter have been published in S. Raine (2019) “‘Back in the Day’: Experiencing and retelling the past as a claim to belong in the contemporary northern soul scene”, eds. Sarah Baker, Lauren Istvandity and Zelmarie Cantillon, Remembering Popular Music’s Past: Heritage-History-Memory. London: Anthem Press.

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  1. 1.

    White, The Practical Past, xiv.

  2. 2.

    Hayden White, “The Practical Past,” in “History between Reflexivity and Critique” Historein, Vol. 10 (2010), 16.

  3. 3.

    Ricœur, “Life in Quest of Narrative,” 33.

  4. 4.

    Record collecting within the northern soul scene is set out in more detail in Chap. 8 (167–169).

  5. 5.

    As I argued earlier in this book, such claims of an unchanging scene reflect a perpetuation of dominant ways of considering the scene by researchers (of northern soul and also in other popular music scenes), rather than a critical engagement with these. This notion of the northern soul scene as paused in time is also perpetuated in – Smith, “‘Time Will Pass You By,’” 176, 182.

  6. 6.

    The term “Black America” was used to describe this American arm of the soul fraternity by soul fan and soon-to-be journalist Stuart Cosgrove in his article for Collusion magazine, published just five months after the closure of Wigan Casino, “Long After Tonight Is All Over- Northern Soul,” Collusion 2 (1982).

  7. 7.

    Italics in the original Gebhardt, N. (2017). “A Time for Jazz.”, 193.

  8. 8.

    White, The Practical Past, xi.

  9. 9.

    Maria links this empathetic relationship back to a shared class experience. This is discussed as a central part of Chap. 7.

  10. 10.

    The relationship between scene members in the 1970s and the American producers of northern soul records, and a critique of the scholarship that discusses this, is central to the discussion of place and class in Chap. 7.

  11. 11.

    This is discussed at greater length in Chap. 7 (122–125).

  12. 12.

    Record collecting practices within the northern soul scene are discussed in Chap. 8 (167–169).

  13. 13.

    This construction of the sacred through ritualised and repeated behaviour, and through mythologizing narratives, is central to anthropological studies of religious objects, for example Tambiah’s (1984) study of Buddhist amulets, the charisma from a sacred person imbued within the object through repeated touch. Through the emceeing practices and anecdotal tales that surround records within the northern soul canon, and the ritual activities of turntable technology, a similar process of reiterating boundaries between the profane scene outside and sacred, is evident, see Stanley. J. Tambiah, The Buddhist Saints of the Forest and the Cult of Amulets (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984).

  14. 14.

    Roy Shuker, “Beyond the ‘High Fidelity’ Stereotype,” 312.

  15. 15.

    James Clifford, The Predicament of Culture: Twentieth-Century Ethnography, Literature, and Art (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1988), 218.

  16. 16.

    Hayden White, “The Practical Past,” 16.

  17. 17.

    See boyd for a discussion of the role of social media for teenager social processes, It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens (New Haven; London: Yale University Press, 2014).

  18. 18.

    The colour-matching of socks and shirts was explained to me in several interviews as a typical skinhead consideration of style.

  19. 19.

    Harry Shapiro follows this relationship between drugs and popular music in a seminal study, Waiting for The Man. New York: Morrow, 1988.

  20. 20.

    Wilson, Northern Soul; Andrew Wilson, “Mixing the Medicine: The unintended consequence of amphetamine control on the Northern Soul Scene,” Internet Journal of Criminology (2008).

  21. 21.

    Constantine, Northern Soul.

  22. 22.

    “Scary fuckers” was a term often used in conversation with both younger and older individuals to describe the drug dealers and heavy drug users in the 1970s scene.

  23. 23.

    Facebook comment on the 2014 film, Northern Soul dated 16th October 2014.

  24. 24.

    As detailed in Wilson, Northern Soul; Andrew Wilson, “Mixing the Medicine”.

  25. 25.

    For example: Ritson and Russell, The In Crowd, 27; Constantine and Sweeney, Northern Soul; Nowell Too darn soulful, particularly 50; 86–7; 127.

  26. 26.

    In regards to ethics, it must be noted that I have anonymised the identities of all participants within this study and beyond brief conversations I organised to meet individuals for interviews outside of the allnighter context.

  27. 27.

    “Discogs” is an international online catalogue and auction platform for private sales of records.

  28. 28.

    Northern soul collecting practices and these terms are further discussed in Chap. 8.

  29. 29.

    “Cover-up” is a term used on the scene to describe a record that has had its identifying features – such as the label at the centre of the vinyl – removed or “covered-up” by a blank or fake label.

  30. 30.

    The gendered and age-related issues of engaging with these practices are further explored within Chap. 8.

  31. 31.

    This was also provided in Chap. 4 as part of a longer piece focusing on Joe’s understanding of the northern soul shared identity and the ways through which this is claimed.

  32. 32.

    See Chaps. 4 and 8 for a more detailed consideration of the role of public critique on the dance floor.

  33. 33.

    Roberts, K. (2000) The Northern Soul Top 500. The “Top 500” is discussed in relation to record collecting and DJing in Chap. 8 (from page 167).


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Raine, S. (2020). “Back in the Day”. In: Authenticity and Belonging in the Northern Soul Scene. Palgrave Studies in the History of Subcultures and Popular Music. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.

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