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Matt Male

My History - a personal account

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I wrote this for the background section in my profile but then discovered the 300 character word limit! I thought i may as well stick it on here for you lot to tear to pieces... This is a personal history and probably totally dull to most but maybe with some insights. Years are approximate (for example i couldn't remember if the Oddfellows had closed by 1987) but most everything else is as accurate as my addled memory allows...

enjoy and feel free to comment :wicked:

Matt

1978 - Go up to secondary school and start becoming more interested in music generally. Start attending youth club disco at Alderman Smith school in Nuneaton where the DJ, Dave Hall, plays a 'Northern Soul' spot amongst all the chart stuff. Turns out years later he was a regular at Wigan and was bringing this stuff back with him. Usual youth club faire, '9 times out of 10' 'If you loved me' (massive) 'On a magic carpet ride' 'Interplay' etc... but I'm hooked, especially as it seems to be a music which lads can dance too alone without looking idiots and even look cool. Start going to other local discos and notice on Friday nights at the local Labour Club a group of older lads and girls in soul bags and circle skirts carrying bags covered in patches. They all leave early. I later find out they are off to catch the train to somewhere called Wigan in Lancashire...

1980 - One of my mate's older sister is part of this group and she goes to Wigan regularly. I eventually persuade my parents to let me go with the older ones. We don't go with the older crowd but we are on the same train. My first time at an allnighter, Wigan casino. I'm 14.... Go regularly until it closes. My last nighter at Wigan is the final Oldies allnighter 4th September 1981.

1982 - After Wigan closes we all wonder what next but we didn't have to wait long. Stafford, Leicester, Morcambe Pier, 100 Club, Bradford Queens Hall, Hinckley Leisure Centre... the 'glory years' to most people, me included. I was 16, exactly the right age to really enjoy myself. Wigan was always for the older crowd and I always felt like a gatecrasher, but now this was definitely 'our' scene. Most of the Nuneaton older crowd pack it in after Wigan but us young 'uns keep going...

1986 - I suddenly pack it all in. I never understood entirely why, I was still single, no mortgage, no kids etc.. Unfotunately drugs had started to become more important than the music, I was very thin, very paranoid and the scene had become quite dark and bitchy (mentioning no names). I was spending longer obsessively playing Donkey Kong in the foyer at The Top of the World than up in the main room. It just wasn't fun any more and I was trying to hang on to a good job and got the feeling that I wouldn't have it long after several more weekends of gear and no sleep. I sell my records, throw away my memberships and my patches and flyer collection...

1986/7(?) - Somehow, and I'm not sure how this happened, I end up being persuaded to go to the Oddfellows niter in Leicester. I am thinking about getting back on the scene but it's a bad move. A couple of wannabe soulies from years back that we used to take the piss out of are now swaggering around like they own the place. We meet up with an ex-girlfriend and her new boyfriend, not good, and I crash my car on the way to the niter... At the niter I don't know a single record, it feels a bit weird, I don't dance and get thoroughly depressed (is this what it feels like to outsiders these days i wonder?). I leave early and get the bus home.

1988 - 1992 The wilderness years. I get into rock music and indie music and apply the same dedication with which I followed Northern, but there are no drugs and no allnighters. I keep my job, live a 'normal' life, I still occasionally see some people off the scene, everyone else I know (with a couple of exceptions) packs it in, gets married, gets a mortgage and settles down. I buy a house but not married yet and no kids.

1993 - I'm at university in Kent and I start seeing adverts in local papers about Southeast Scooter clubs and scooter sales. I start buying Scooterist magazine and amazingly I discover there are still Northern Soul nights and allniters going on around the country (I shouldn't have been surprised really). When I'm home for the holidays from Uni I dig out some ancient tapes from 1982 and begin to listen again, they sound unbelievable and I can't understand why I packed it all in. I don't go anywhere though and just sit on my hands and live my memories for three more years.

1996 - I've finished university and I'm looking for a job. I move back to Nuneaton and my girlfriend moves down from Scotland to live with me. Things are pretty settled. Then one day I run into Mark Freeman in town on a Saturday. I've known Mark since we were eight and had seen him regularly around Nuneaton for years and obviously in the past at niters. He tells me he's still into Northern (always has been) and he runs a soul night at the Old Hall in Nuneaton, I should come along. Saturday evening comes. I don't know what to do, I'll be going on my own, do I really want to relive the past? I'm very nervous. The Old hall is only a short walk from where I live, so (unfortunately) it's no hardship getting there. No excuses. I decide to go. When I walk in I can't believe it. A huge wooden dance floor, northern blasting from the sound system, and dancers, the room is packed! Everyone I've ever known in Nuneaton on the scene is there, from old Wigan goers to ex-close friends from the Stafford days. Soon I'm mingling and chatting as if I've never lost touch. I know every record played and I dance to 70% (this time without the use of drugs, although it's obvious some people are still using). I'm back.

1997 - Things move rapidly now. Mark runs more soul nights in Nuneaton, The Crazy Horse is one venue, and I attend when I can. I go to my first niter in 11 years, Stoke Kings Hall. I know it has its faults but for anyone who's been away Stoke is a good starting point and like stepping back in time into Wigan and will hook anyway not on the scene for a while. I couldn't believe how many records I knew. Probably 90%, but I was also puzzled. How come I didn't know a single sound at Leicester in '87 but now I know them all? The answer of course was that Stoke was an oldies niter and everything played was probably discovered pre-1986. It seemed like Stafford and Leicester had never existed, but I still wanted to hear those sounds too again. I start going other places and discover the scene has indeed moved on (thank God) and the rest, I suppose (as they say) is history...

1997 - 2006 Still going strong(ish), slowed down a bit now to maybe one niter a month and occasional soul nights now I have two kids under 5, collecting again as much as I can afford to, always trying to listen to new stuff (especially things I missed on my time out). I suppose I might be frowned upon as a dirty 'returnee', by some people but I'm older, wiser, and I don't give a toss these days. This is the greatest dance music ever created and every time I take to the floor it feels like the first time 28 years ago.

I'll never leave again... :thumbsup:

Edited by Matt Male

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great read Matt

will change the 300 limit to bit higher later

if enjoy bashing out words itmay be of interest that the "soul blog" thing is back, its not public annouced yet as some work on display

but if goto your profile and click on blog

theres a link to start your own up

think maybe ideal for stuff like above as well as forum

thanks

mike

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Guest Leigh J

. A bunch of local wannabe soulies from years back that we used to take the piss out of are now swaggering around like they own the place. :lol:

Local To Where ?

I still occasionally see people off the scene but they are very much druggies first soulies second.

Yeh Mark Probably Two People In Nuneaton Where Like That

We Have Always Got On Well Matt , Known Each Other Years , Swapped Tapes etc...

But This Is A Bit Harsh On The People Of Your Home Town , That Little Northern Soul Stronghold Nuneaton.

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. A bunch of local wannabe soulies from years back that we used to take the piss out of are now swaggering around like they own the place. :lol:

Local To Where ?

I still occasionally see people off the scene but they are very much druggies first soulies second.

Yeh Mark Probably Two People In Nuneaton Where Like That

We Have Always Got On Well Matt , Known Each Other Years , Swapped Tapes etc...

But This Is A Bit Harsh On The People Of Your Home Town , That Little Northern Soul Stronghold Nuneaton.

Hi Lee. :lol:

I don't think it's harsh mate.

As you say I was only talking about a couple of people as being drugs first, soul second, (even i was like that in the end and you probably know who else i mean). We're talking twenty years ago here remember. You're right i should have said one or two, it reads like everyone was into gear. I'll change that.

I agree about Nuneaton it's been a massive soul town for as long as i can remember and 99.9% of people are fantastic.

Remember these are events from 20 years ago. Long time ago, things have changed a lot for the better. Like i said it was a personal account.

PM'd you anyway.

Edited by Matt Male

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Nice one. Impressed with dates. I know I went to this club and that club but did I go to that one. Given up trying to recall it. Its good when someone has a good story which involves you and you cannot recall it. Does this happen to you... please say yes.

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Nice one. Impressed with dates. I know I went to this club and that club but did I go to that one. Given up trying to recall it. Its good when someone has a good story which involves you and you cannot recall it. Does this happen to you... please say yes.

No. :wicked:

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Guest

Matt,

Thanks. You did exactly the right thing here, totally captured the feelings, the losing them and the getting them back. Not ashamed to say it brought a tear to my eye, just as the great enders did. Had to take my shirt off to look at my 'Long After Tonight Is All Over' tattoo - must be getting seriously sentimental in my old age, but, in the end, nothing is deeper than 'soul'.

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