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“A Little Togetherness”

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Authenticity and Belonging in the Northern Soul Scene
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As a concluding chapter, we reflect upon what these insights and added voices mean for our scholarly understanding of the northern soul scene and, potentially, for the study of other multigenerational music scenes. Similarly, questions of method and the communication of research are considered before we step into a northern soul allnighter for the final time and consider what the future may hold for the people, places and music of the scene.

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  1. 1.

    This is argued by Nicola Smith, particularly in: Smith, “‘Time Will Pass You By.’”; Smith, “Beyond the Master Narrative of Youth.”

  2. 2.

    Grazian’s approach to writing, which he developed over several publications, has been highly influential to this research. But in relation to authenticity, I refer specifically to Grazian, D. (2003). Blue Chicago.

  3. 3.

    By this I do not mean that the experiences of African Americans in the 1960s are imagined, but rather that many younger members of the scene imagine and try to understand that experience to make their own role meaningful.

  4. 4.

    During my four years of ethnographic research, I only encountered one member of the original generation for whom northern soul was deeply political. Paul (mid-50s) framed his participation in northern soul from the 1970s onwards through anti-racist and liberation politics. However, Paul also noted that in the 1970s scene, social activism, political activities and discussions took place elsewhere. This observation supports the work of Wilson that I discussed in Chap. 7 (p. 144) and suggests that, rather than a scene-wide engagement with liberation politics and a direct assoication of this with northern soul music, certain individuals framed their participation through pre-existing and developing political interests, see Wilson, Northern Soul.

  5. 5.

    Wall, “‘Out on the floor,’” 445.

  6. 6.

    Street, “Dave Godin and the Politics of the British Soul Community.”

  7. 7.

    Stewart, K. (2007). Ordinary affects; Stewart, K. (2008). “Weak Theory in an Unfinished World”.

  8. 8.

    This scene term is used to describe a central northern soul dance move during which the dancer twists their feet to move across the floor. One leg can also be raised, and complex alternating patterns of movements and lifts are used to engage with the record being played. This movement is associated with The Twisted Wheel in Manchester necessitated (I was told by several people) by its small and strangely shaped dance floor. It is this movement in particular that requires a clean and polished wooden floor, sometimes aided by talcum powder.


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Correspondence to Sarah Raine .

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Raine, S. (2020). “A Little Togetherness”. 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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