Wigan Casino: dir. Tony Palmer (1977)
6 Nov – 19 Dec 2009

Tony Palmer’s paean to the Northern Soul club scene.

“… So what you were left with was this network, this underground network if you like; Soul clubs, clubs that played Soul music, American Rhythm and blues records from the late 60s and early 70s. People refer to it as ‘Northern Soul”.
- Anon. 1977

Wigan Casino was a nightclub in Wigan, Lancashire. Home to all night, alcohol free dance parties, it was the primary venue to hear black American soul music during its time. Carrying forward the legacy of earlier legendary Northern Soul clubs such as the Twisted Wheel in Manchester and Golden Torch in Tunstall, to this day Wigan Casino continues to be revered as one of the foundational stones upon which thirty subsequent years of British clubbing activity have been laid.

Much sampled (notably in Mark Leckey’s Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore (1999)), Wigan Casino documents an idiosyncratic scene based around the weekly club night that ran from 1973 to 1981. From elegant slow motion dance shots to fervent scenes of vinyl swapping, Palmer precisely captures the bustle and energy, as well as the overarching sub cultural strangeness, of the Northern Soul phenomenon.
This is the compelling story of a music, a club, its devoted members and Wigan itself; a Northern industrial city teetering on the cusp of a Thatcherite decade.

Tony Palmer is one of Britain’s premier music documentary makers. His work includes over 100 films, ranging from early works with The Beatles, Cream, Jimi Hendrix and Frank Zappa (200 Motels), to his classical portraits which include profiles of Maria Callas, Margot Fonteyn, John Osborne, Igor Stravinsky, and Richard Wagner. Palmer is the only person to have won the Prix Italia twice. He is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, and an honorary citizen of both New Orleans and Athens.