I was too young to party at Manchester’s Twisted Wheel club in the late sixties, one of the original Northern Soul all-nighter venues, but I did get to tread its boards circa 1976 during its disco incarnation as Placemate 7 – perhaps that’s why I never properly took to clubbing. Disco? Me? Really?
I did venture to other nightclubs though. Three(ish) to be exact(ish). A Mancunian friend called Bernard, who I had met during my ill-fated time as a student in London, visited me in Kendal a few months after I had dropped out from the prestigious North East London Polytechnic (aka NELP) and suggested we go to an all-nighter at the famous Wigan Casino.
We were so naïve we didn’t know what it involved (seemingly drugs, an ability to ‘dance your own steps’ and a strong Lancashire or Scottish accent). We left before it really got going – before two actually in what was probably a first for Wigan Casino.
I still like the music, but Northern Soul purists would trash me for keeping the faith via the medium of a couple of ‘Best of’ CDs and not by the possession of rare and exclusive original 7 inch vinyl singles.
A year or so later, a group I was with was turned away from the Mecca nightclub in Dundee due solely to my less-than-sartorial outfit (jeans and no tie). Fortunately, the city’s Barracuda club had no such sensibilities and thus, in June 1979 I stepped into a nightclub for the third (fourth if you count the Mecca) and last time.
So, you ask, what is the point of all this nostalgia? Well, although not a Northern Soul mainstay and probably a bit too disco for my liking, Stevie Wonder had released his double album Songs in the Key of Life just before my visit to Placemate 7 and while on the dance floor there I recall having to avoid the over-amorous attentions of one of my sister’s flatmates with whom I was dancing to Wonder’s Sir Duke.
Needless to say, any mention of Stevie Wonder (or Sir Duke) since then has immediately transported me back to that dance floor. And “No!”, I didn’t take advantage of the situation. I’ve always been “too much of a gentleman for your own good” (Anne Somervell, pers comm, New Year’s Day 1981) – frankly, as a naïve North Country lad I was also terrified!
So, the astute among you may have guessed that these ramblings were inspired by a recent mention of Stevie Wonder. And you’d be right as finally I get to the quote that made me laugh. Here is Stevie Wonder’s take on the current American Presidential election:
“Voting for Trump is like asking me to drive!”