Tuesday, October 15, 2013
Crossfire, 12th October
I'm becoming quite the old hand at these Northern Soul nights (read: I've been to two before this one) and have a reasonable idea of what to expect. Namely lots and lots of people who clearly live and breathe the scene, and some great music, none of which I recognise.
Crossfire on Saturday fit this bill a treat but with the exception of it being on a much larger scale. Run by the same people who do Mousetrap (the New Untouchables) this was an EVENT. Held only twice a year, this all nighter which went from 10pm until 6 am spread across three rooms. One was garage, one was RnB and one was - well, I forget and it didn't make much difference to me as I'm not expert enough to have been able to discern the differences in each room. One of them also had a live band which seemed fairly decent and was drawing quite a crowd - so we went somewhere there was more room to dance! I'd never heard of 229 The Venue before hearing about Crossfire but it's a pretty large venue in the middle of London (by Great Portland Street) and they seem to have live music of retro-type events on every day of the week. Inside it's not particularly glamorous but it has the key features you need from a dance club - a bar and a dance floor.
Everyone apart from my motley crew was dressed to the nines in their best mod gear. We went to the Albany for a drink beforehand and it wasn't difficult to spot which people we'd be seeing again over the road with all the Paul Wella-esque haircuts, beehives and turned up trousers revealing brightly-coloured socks underneath.
Given the number of people who are clearly quite serious about the Northern Soul lifestyle, there's no attitude and we all felt perfectly comfortable being there. That might have been different had we eschewed the clearly printed rule stating 'No Drinks on the Dance Floor'. Because of course, the people are here for the music and to dance to that music. It's a serious business - the floor is sprinkled with talc to ensure maximum gliding ability for all the shuffle footwork that takes place. A spilled drink would ruin the effect.
There were some quite amazing moves happening on the dance floor and once again, almost everyone seemed to have that combination of moving like you're completely absorbed in the music but still looking completely authentic down pat. I wondered again if such swaying and shuffling requires much practice, or if people are so enthralled to the spirit of the 60s, it just comes naturally to them.
My feet had started hurting before I even got into the club so I didn't do as much dancing as I would have liked, and I must admit, I would have preferred it if I recognised some more tunes. Having said that, apparently the number of Northern Soul records in existence is very small so if I keep going to these nights I will become more and more familiar with them and potentially rack up some 'favourites' in my mind. In the meantime it's just enjoyable feeling like you have stepped back in time.