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They Danced All Night - Gethro Jones - Book Review

They Danced All Night - Gethro Jones - Book Review cover

They Danced All Night - Gethro Jones - ISBN 9781523393183
 
This is a very personal history. One which focuses on the lifestyle that became known as Northern Soul.
 
It’s quite hard doing a review of a biography without giving the whole story away really, so I’m just going to do a quick synopsis of how the story goes, and throw in why I found it so interesting.
 
Gethro’s story starts with a couple of very sad and heart wrenching chapters about how grim his life was, thrown into the orphanages of 1960’s Wolverhampton as a very young child it’s not an upbringing anyone would have enjoyed. He survived though, albeit with some challenging attitudes on life later on.
 
Growing up in Wolverhampton as a teenager was a rough time back then, it was a rough town, and Gethro started off as a youngster in the prevalent Skinhead culture, so there are many stories of fights between different gangs. The discovery of Soul music gradually led him away from the gang culture, and he discovered something that was to change his life forever: Dancing.
 
It was this love of dancing which pushed Gethro on, forged his friendships, and gave him the desire to be the best. The book’s not all about dancing though, there are many references to drug dealing, the legendary coaches that Gethro ran from Wolverhampton to Wigan every Saturday night, and finally, a full explanation of the forged tickets at the first anniversary !
 
The last chapter concentrates on Top Of The Pops, and ‘Footsee’. Not Gethro’s finest moment in my eyes, but there you go.
 
So why was the book so interesting to me ? I don’t think I’ve ever spoken to Gethro Jones. I knew who he was, but didn’t know him. Well, for me, it was interesting because in 1980 I moved to Dudley, 5 miles from Wolverhampton.
 
So many of the characters named in the book are still around today, I know people who hung around with the Temple St skinhead gang, I’d heard stories about The Octopus, and obviously The Catacombs. So it was quite funny to hear some of the stories about them, ‘back in the day’.

 

dance-night-cover.jpg
 
It also provides a perfect snapshot of the scene in it’s heyday, when venues weren’t held monthly, or even quarterly. They were weekly, and at one point Gethro mentions attending 25 venues in a month, all in the Wolverhampton area (With the exception of some of the nighters), and local mid week nights were just as popular as the Friday and Saturdays.
 
If I have one criticism of the book it would be this: Given that it has taken Gethro 40 years to write, it would have probably been better if he had spent a couple of more days proof-reading, and checking some of the names. I mean, who on earth are Richard Sterling and Dave Everson ?

A minor point though, and if you were around in those heady days of the early Seventies, or just want to read about them from a dancer’s perspective, I would recommend the book to you.
 

Dave Rimmer

March 2016

 

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http://www.amazon.co.uk/They-Danced-Night-Gethro-Jones/dp/1523393181





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Makes you remember what a dangerous place this ways in the early 70's though, actually it was like that throughout the 70's

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Has anyone read the "How To Do Northern Soul Properly, A Handbook For The 21st Century" by Tony Ellis an essential Do's and Don'ts guide for men about town on the scene? well worth a read for those of us who care about doing the Northern Soul correctly and with a wry smile whilst we are about it....

 

John

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So is the book just about the Wolves soul scene & the Casino back in the day.

If so, it would be of very little interest to me (being from Yorks & never having gone to the Casino).

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1 hour ago, Roburt said:

So is the book just about the Wolves soul scene & the Casino back in the day.

If so, it would be of very little interest to me (being from Yorks & never having gone to the Casino).

Pretty much John. There are odd mentions of venues he attended in Yorkshire, but the book is overall about the Wolves scene and the Casino. As I said in the review, it's a personal history, and as he was from Wolves, and attended the Casino, that's what he has written about. I suppose he might have had the odd Yorkshire pudding on a Sunday, but that's hardly worth writing about is it :lol:

 

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Every sane person in the world has eaten loads of Yorkshire Pudding ............

as a lad I had it for starters (with onion gravy), with my main course (a roast beef or similar) & for afters (with jam on).

Can't beat Yorkshire Pudd .... much better than owt from Wigan !!!

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Hopefully my copy will arrive tomorrow - meanwhile I read the first couple of chapters as a preview on the Amazon site.

Did I read it right that Gethro wasn't his name at all? In the children's home his name was Phillip. Then fostered out and he said he was given his REAL name which was Geoffrey -  which he didn't like. Next thing he was chatting up a girl and telling her his name was Gethro. So did he adopt that name as an alias? Or did I read it wrong?

 

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I'm ploughing through it.A great book from the dancefloor perspective but why so may spelling mistakes!. Sterling,Bopper and Quartro for starters..

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20 hours ago, Dave Rimmer said:

Pretty much John. There are odd mentions of venues he attended in Yorkshire, but the book is overall about the Wolves scene and the Casino. As I said in the review, it's a personal history, and as he was from Wolves, and attended the Casino, that's what he has written about.

Thanks for the info Dave. Back in the short period that I attended niters @ the Nite Owl in Leicester (May to October 67) I used to hang out with a crowd from the Walsall area. Once spent Saturday daylight hours in the town looking for soul / ska records with the local niter goers. Then @ the Wheel we were friendly with the Kidderminster mob (late 67/68/69) but never visited their home town back then. Never made it into Wolverhampton at all then but I guess the Walsall crowd would have attended soul nights in Wolves (were they a regular thing back in 67 ?). 

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23 hours ago, Roburt said:

So is the book just about the Wolves soul scene & the Casino back in the day.

If so, it would be of very little interest to me (being from Yorks & never having gone to the Casino).

Me too, that's the only reason I haven't ordered it. Well that and the fact that I was so disappointed with the last book I bought. 

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On 5 March 2016 at 13:36, Quinvy said:

Me too, that's the only reason I haven't ordered it. Well that and the fact that I was so disappointed with the last book I bought. 

What book was that Phil? Last couple I got were two of the best although Tim Brown's had a few spelling mistakes. Why can't Northern Soul book publishers edit out these annoying errors?

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2 hours ago, FRANKIE CROCKER said:

What book was that Phil? Last couple I got were two of the best although Tim Brown's had a few spelling mistakes. Why can't Northern Soul book publishers edit out these annoying errors?

This one mate. Just too much about drugs for me.

image.jpeg

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With you on that - tooooo much on drugs and no scans of record labels. Last book I bought also. Well written and no typos if I recall. But for a drug-free soul-addict, dance-freak, vinyl-fiend like myself, just too much on pill-popping.

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Only just started reading Gethro's book and I'm enjoying it. Not even got to any soul yet- just his miserable young life in the orphanage. Any soul will be a bonus.

:thumbsup:

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On 04/03/2016 at 13:32, Johnny One Trout said:

Has anyone read the "How To Do Northern Soul Properly, A Handbook For The 21st Century" by Tony Ellis an essential Do's and Don'ts guide for men about town on the scene? well worth a read for those of us who care about doing the Northern Soul correctly and with a wry smile whilst we are about it....

 

John

Got my copy yesterday and couldn't put it down. Lots of laugh out loud moments but with a message that I guess would appeal to many on here....

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Got my copy yesterday and read 30 chapters  and finished it today.  Couldn't put it down simply awesome book in my opinion. I only started going the Casino in 1975 when the book actually ends but that doesn't affect it in any way. It certainly brings a lump to the throat and a tear to the eye and brings back so many memories of arguably the greatest nighter of them all. And without doubt the greatest time of my life when I like thousands of other kids lived for the Casino nighters, the music, the friendships, the dancing, the drugs. Know plenty of people mentioned and they didn't stop there antics after the story ends, still see a few of them knocking about now. I must say after finishing the book it left me feeling all melancholy and nostalgic, of how young and carefree we all where, thinking of so many friends who haven't made it, lost love, Just makes you think.

Gethro thank you my friend :hatsoff2:

Steve

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Got my book this afternoon.  And just into his teenage skinhead/type years...enjoying it so far, and as mentioned no soul music yet....feel sorry for the poor bugger...but his time will come....everyone knows about him as the legendary dancer....good on you matey...I'm 44 and have still  heard of him loads of times...thank you..Rob

Edited by Lionelonthevinyl

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Just got a copy,knew gethro threw bucky,trev n Pauline etc,lovely bloke,allways got time for him,and my fav dancer,i still try to emulate his moves best I can,read 15 chapters and cant put it down,sure its about his home town n wigan ,so what,a lot better book than some soulie tales out there and incredibly moving in places,i'll never complain about my lot again! as books go about  the scene this is  THE BEST I've read, I'd love a sequel, but it's a lot of work and his life's private ,so we'll have to wait and see! as for the critics,come on it's a damn good book,good on yer geth and many thanks for the book [pete - the bloke who had the blue Suzuki with matching exhausts  ]

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Well I knew I wouldn't be able to put this book down. And I was right. 360 pages so had to spread it over 2 days but I was hooked from the start.

I happened to have lived in Wton from 1970 to 1974 so I could relate personally to the Catacombs, other pubs and clubs, shops, football, even going to Wembley with the Wolves. :)

But that shouldn't put anyone else off. IMHO This is an amazing piece of social history that absolutely catches the vibe of the time - the awful and the amazing all overlapping and rolled into one person's life experience.

I have by no means read all the books about NS but I have read some of them and seen both the recent films and this book is right on the top of the pile for me. There are 27 reviews on Amazon and every one gives it 5 out of 5. We can't all be wrong!

2 criticisms

1. There were spelling and grammatical errors all the way through. But I was so captivated by the story I pretty much didn't care.

2. It ended too soon. I wanted to know what happened next! If there was a sequel I would buy it in a flash.

(I know I read somewhere that his girlfriend and soul mate throughout the book died at a tragically young age. I don't even know if they were still together but either way a very belated RIP to her).

 

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On ‎04‎/‎03‎/‎2016 at 13:32, Johnny One Trout said:

Has anyone read the "How To Do Northern Soul Properly, A Handbook For The 21st Century" by Tony Ellis an essential Do's and Don'ts guide for men about town on the scene? well worth a read for those of us who care about doing the Northern Soul correctly and with a wry smile whilst we are about it....

 

John

nope,where do you get it from?

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On 10/03/2016 at 22:25, MBarrett said:

Well I knew I wouldn't be able to put this book down. And I was right. 360 pages so had to spread it over 2 days but I was hooked from the start.

I happened to have lived in Wton from 1970 to 1974 so I could relate personally to the Catacombs, other pubs and clubs, shops, football, even going to Wembley with the Wolves. :)

But that shouldn't put anyone else off. IMHO This is an amazing piece of social history that absolutely catches the vibe of the time - the awful and the amazing all overlapping and rolled into one person's life experience.

I have by no means read all the books about NS but I have read some of them and seen both the recent films and this book is right on the top of the pile for me. There are 27 reviews on Amazon and every one gives it 5 out of 5. We can't all be wrong!

2 criticisms

1. There were spelling and grammatical errors all the way through. But I was so captivated by the story I pretty much didn't care.

2. It ended too soon. I wanted to know what happened next! If there was a sequel I would buy it in a flash.

(I know I read somewhere that his girlfriend and soul mate throughout the book died at a tragically young age. I don't even know if they were still together but either way a very belated RIP to her).

 

 

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Not around in that area or the era this is written but that's what appeals to me. Unlike many others this doesn't pretend to be a complete history of the scene. 

To be honest the only book on the subject Ive read that actually rang true was Gareth Sweeney's and Elaine Constantine book mentioned earlier.

Looking forward to reading this. 

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On 10/03/2016 at 22:25, MBarrett said:

 

(I know I read somewhere that his girlfriend and soul mate throughout the book died at a tragically young age. I don't even know if they were still together but either way a very belated RIP to her).

 

Kim tragically died of cancer at the tender age of 23. If I remember correctly she was the same age as me so she would have been 56 / 57 now. 

Steve

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On 3/4/2016 at 14:48, Roburt said:

So is the book just about the Wolves soul scene & the Casino back in the day.

If so, it would be of very little interest to me (being from Yorks & never having gone to the Casino).

So this Odyssey by Homer is just about getting home from the Trojan wars back in the day.

If so.......................................... ;-)

 

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On ‎18‎/‎03‎/‎2016 at 11:29, Winsford Soul said:

Kim tragically died of cancer at the tender age of 23. If I remember correctly she was the same age as me so she would have been 56 / 57 now. 

Steve

 

what year did kim die

alan

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