And now there's a film, directed by Elaine Constantine (who began her career taking photographs in clubs before working for magazines such as the The Face, i-D and Vogue). The film tells the story of two working-class teenagers from an industrial town who discover northern soul in 1974.
Constantine had been trying to get the film made for several years. She was turned down by all of the arts funding bodies. Her attempts to attract private investors failed, so Constantine and her husband remortgaged their home and spent all their savings on the project.
To teach the young actors, as well as hundreds of extras, to dance to the music in the film, she and a few of her friends set up a monthly club night in a room above a pub in Islington, north London. After each session she would post footage online to attract new dancers and by now their Facebook channel has almost 50,000 followers.
“We needed to populate the club scene for the film. Kids started coming to the dance sessions, and then their friends. Lots of them would go, ‘What was that you played last week, can we get a copy?’ and ended up buying vinyl and DJ-ing themselves. It was really like the youth club situation that I came through when I discovered northern soul.”It was expected to be a short-run release of a niche movie, but a wave of social media interest is turning it into a nationwide success beyond the dreams of its creators.
The film was planned to screen at a few selected venues, but there has been a surge in demand fed by social media sites. Cinemas have been overwhelmed with requests to show it. More cinemas are being added through Ourscreen, an online platform that allows film fans to influence their local cinema’s programme.
Here's a video from 2011, showing one of the Dance Clubs run to find dancers who could be part of the film. The videos played a big part in attracting the interest of young people.