Archive for publications, 2020

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[Commlist] Authenticity and Belonging in the Northern Soul Scene – new publication (Palgrave Macmillan)

Fri Jul 17 16:33:45 GMT 2020

*Authenticity and Belonging in the Northern Soul Scene*

*The role of history and identity in a multigenerational music culture*

*Dr Sarah Raine, Edinburgh Napier University*

*Available as both a hardback and an ebook via *****

"A record sounds out across the room. The one I have been waiting for but couldn’t predict. It moves me to move, from my seat into a space, and I become part of the motion on and off the dance floor. Weaving in and out of the dancers already in place, I find a space of my own, not too close to the sides and away from those who flail or aggressively expand their area. It’s a fast record, so I begin with simple steps on every other beat. Smooth and capable, if not the eye-catching performance of the most competent dancers: a debut performance for this particular audience. And it works. Those around me move into the in-between spaces, a harmonious ebb and flow of step and slide, a relationship of movement that binds me into a kaleidoscope for those on the balcony above. My claim to the space of the dance floor accepted by those dancing around me, the five years spent dancing, watching, practising in quiet moments channelled into a public demonstration of belonging."

Review copies can be requested here <>.

/Authenticity and Belonging in the Northern Soul Scene/ is the latest publication in the Palgrave Macmillan series Palgrave Studies in the History of Subcultures and Popular Music, edited by Keith Gildart, Anna Gough-Yates, Siân Lincoln, Bill Osgerby, Lucy Robinson, John Street, Peter Webb and Matthew Worley of the Subcultures Network.

"Participating in the northern soul scene is more about the ritual of placing a bag on the floor at an event than it is about the north of England, spectacular acrobatics or excessive drug use. As we shall see, these northern soul geographies and practices (amongst others) have become central to the dominant narratives of northern soul. They are also central to ways in which researchers have come to define northern soul experience and history. In the pages that follow, I demonstrate that these narratives have become a discursive tool in claiming to belong. What people do and say on the northern soul are acts of claiming space. The strict etiquette of the dance floor, and the dominant ways in which dance performances are valued, do not mean that ‘soulies dance in the same manner to this song as they have always done’ (as Smith argues), but rather that these rules and notions of ‘tradition’ make meaningful certain actions and narratives. These dominant ways of doing and saying northern soul work to keep certain people out and to maintain the claims and the space of others.

"I am interested in the ways in which people within multigenerational music scenes claim to be members, particularly those who do not fit within the discursive boundaries of the ‘true’ insider. Through an immersive ethnography, this book therefore explores these issues of generational claims among northern soul participants, primarily focusing on the experiences of women and men aged 18–32. As the title suggests, this book is about notions of authenticity and belonging, identity and history."



/Northern soul has become the subject of an impressive representational and investigative economy – incorporating insider accounts from DJs and from those who danced the sprung floor of Wigan Casino, contribute to online community archives, create fiction and documentary film, accompanied by an expanding array of scholarly studies.///

/‘Outsiders’ might be forgiven for thinking that, like the music itself, this material all sounds out the same beat in terms of its uncritical, familiar narratives and male-dominated perspective. It is refreshing, then, to hear Sarah Raine’s singular voice and to understand the diversity of the ‘scene’ and its meanings through her eyes as one that endures through its debt to roots in 1970s northern English dancehalls, and changes and renews itself by enlisting new generations and communities across the globe./

/Raine’s creative and engaging prose conveys the originality and attentiveness of her participant observation, often researching through dance. She brings to life the meaning and value of authenticity as participants claim a place in northern soul through rituals and public performances, between the dancefloor and its periphery, embodied in the passions and power dynamics of this music-focused community. /

/This is a significant and original contribution to the study of subcultures and popular music, methodologically rich and empathetically ‘four on the floor’, spinning, high-kicking and dusted with talcum powder. Now then, ‘On her way to work one morning/Down the path alongside the lake…’/

*Paul Long, Professor of **Creative and Cultural Industries, Monash University*

/Authenticity and Belonging in the Northern Soul Scene is a vibrant and vigorous exploration of that very specific dance between the past and the present, and its complicated choreography from bars to record stalls, from dance floors to more virtual spaces./

/In these pages Sarah Raine surveys the boundaries of the contemporary northern soul scene as both insider and observer, all the while painting a picture of a new generation of northern soulies who are staking claims to their own space on the floor. /

*Sarah Hill, Senior Lecturer in Popular Music, Cardiff University***

With thanks to Professor Tim Wall and Professor Nick Gebhardt who supported this research and to the team at Palgrave Macmillan, in particular Series Editors Professor Matt Worley, Professor Lucy Robinson and Professor Keith Gildart.

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