Home Venues The Blackpool Mecca: The Epicentre of Northern Soul

The Blackpool Mecca: The Epicentre of Northern Soul

282
Empress Ballroom Wigan

The Blackpool Mecca, a vast entertainment complex located on Central Drive in Blackpool, Lancashire, in the North West of England, opened its doors in 1965. The establishment gained particular notoriety during the 1970s due to The Highland Room, a popular Northern Soul music venue. In 1977, the Commonwealth Sporting Club also made the venue its home. The building was eventually closed in the 1980s and demolished in January 2009 to allow for the construction of new campus buildings for Blackpool and The Fylde College. However, due to funding issues, B&FC withdrew, and the site was planned for residential development as of 2013.

Northern Soul at The Highland Room From 1967 to 1979, The Highland Room hosted soul nights and became one of the most renowned Northern Soul venues. Unlike similar establishments such as the Wigan Casino and the Golden Torch, The Highland Room events did not run overnight but took place from 8 pm until 2 am on Saturday evenings.

Ian Levine and Colin Curtis were the two main DJs for the soul nights at The Highland Room. Several classic 1960s Northern Soul records were discovered and popularised by these DJs, including “Landslide” by Tony Clarke, “Too Darn Soulful” by Morris Chesnut, “If That’s What You Wanted” by Frankie Beverly & the Butlers, and “There’s a Ghost in My House” by R. Dean Taylor.

In the 1970s, The Highland Room gained a reputation for a more contemporary and less frenzied style of Northern Soul music, with hits such as “It Really Hurts Me Girl” by The Carstairs, “Cashin’ In” by Voices of East Harlem, and “Ain’t Nothing Like Your Love” by the Charisma Band. The change in tempo led to the development of a slightly different shuffling dance style at the venue, causing some controversy and the formation of the parallel Modern Soul sub genre. This sub genre still exists today within and alongside the mainstream Northern Soul movement.