“When a dilapidated dancehall in a mining town in Lancashire opened it’s doors to the sound of the recently-coined music style, Northern Soul, in the early hours of Sunday September 23rd 1973, surely nobody in that opening night’s six-hundred strong attendance could have imagined in their wildest dreams just how influential Gerry Marshall’s venue would become, locally, regionally, national and worldwide.
Over the next eight years, over five hundred All-Night sessions were held there, with hundreds of previously-undiscovered, obscure American acts getting their names in lights after the Casino DJs had belatedly played into everyone’s hearts their long-forgotten 45s recorded some ten years earlier to little or no fanfare in America.
Wigan Casino and it’s burgeoning membership of almost one hundred thousand fanatical members propelled these wonderful talents to ‘household name’ status, getting their records released at long last in the UK, and in many cases to share the national ‘pop’ charts with the rock superstars of the day.
Casino manager Mike Walker, backed by club owner Gerry Marshall, would bring over iconic acts like Jackie Wilson, Edwin Starr and Betty Wright to thrill the weekly lock-out attendances and in 1977 TV producer Tony Palmer brought the cameras in to capture forever the atmosphere and uniqueness with his highly acclaimed ‘This England’ documentary.
Now, with Wigan Casino’s 50th anniversary approaching in September 2023, original Casino DJ Richard Searling has organised a six-room, three-day festival at Blackpool’s iconic Winter Gardens to relive the memories that still mean so much to the thousands who still attend Northern Soul events in almost every town and city right across the UK.
Starting on Friday September 22nd through to Sunday September 24th, the festival will be highlighted with an All-Night dance on Saturday September 23rd, exactly fifty years to the day when the Casino All-Nighter opened up!
It’s already captured the imagination around Europe and beyond with over fifty ex-pats who attended Wigan Casino now confirmed to make the trip right around the world to be at this unique reunion event!
As Richard says: “Northern Soul is the music that loves us back. It’s not only the scene that formed our early lives, making new friendships will last a lifetime, it’s also music we can relate to, uplifting melodies to cheer even the most gloomy of days performed by amazing talents with sincerity always shining through”
There won’t be a dry eye in the house at Blackpool’s Winter Gardens on Saturday September 23rd next year as thousands make that pilgrimage to pay tribute the the greatest Northern Soul All-Nighter of all time”