Northern Soul at the Wigan Casino – a Caffeine Nights themed show production – Saturday 17th September – 2 – 4pm SLT
CALLING ALL BRITS! ANYONE OF A CERTAIN GENERATION REMEMBER VISITING THE WIGAN CASINO BETWEEN THE LATE 70’s AND EARLY 80’s?
Due to popular demand (well, 2 people), I have lovingly re-created the inner club of the Wigan Casino nightclub, hopefully capturing the authentic ambiance of sweat, cigarette smoke and excitement (thank you, Lord Andy, for the technical input as artistic director on this one – me being far too young to remember ).
For those of you not au fait with such a specifically regional venue and historical gem, here’s an introduction from our Lord Andy, a regular of the club in his day…
|For a brief period in the mid 1970s the flame of popular music burnt brightly at in a small industrial town in north west England.
Between 1973 and 1981 a run down dance hall, The Casino Club, was the home of a musical phenomenon that went by the name of Northern Soul.
Although it’s famous for its Soul All Nighter the Casino wasn’t just the home of Saturday night soul music. Earlier in the evening it played host to a night of live rock. This was where I cut my heavy metal teeth.
So tonight we bring you a selection of sounds from those early days of metal, spun by the lovely Anouk, before our very own Mr Gerrard Winstanley steps up to the decks of his namesake Russ to take you on a trip through the sounds of Northern Soul.
Starting at 2pm SLT until midnight.
Yet again, I have been horrifically lax in updating with shows and events so this is the last big themed show we did, back in the summer of 2015.
I thought it would be nice to do a show where I combined the key elements of a typical English summer, so the set ended up being a 4 part creation to encompass the main elements that sum up summer in England for me.
Part 1: Cricket on the village green
What is more English than the sound of birds singing in the trees, the gentle murmur of voices enjoying the warm sunshine, the distant chime of a church bell and the thud of leather on willow (and no, that’s not some kinky BDSM reference! It refers to a cricket ball being hit by a cricket bat!)
The guests arrived at the set by landing on the edge of a typical village green, beside the duckpond to the tune of Mungo Jerry’s ‘In the Summertime’.
They strolled around the green, making sure not to get too close to the cricketers, and enjoyed a cool glass of bubbly at the picnic blanket whilst we treated them to a selection of sunny feelgood tunes.
And what can be more English than watching tennis at Wimbledon? The guests wandered through the churchyard, leaving the cricketers behind, and arrived at Wimbledon just in time to catch the beginning of a high-powered match.
But of course, this is England. And what is even more typical for an English summer than tennis, and strawberries and cream? You got it…
Fortunately, it turned out that there was a rather special spectator in the crowd who got up and led everyone in a singsong (with a little help from yours truly – any excuse to get in shot) until the shower passed over…
Part 3: Croquet and afternoon tea
After all the excitement of the tennis and Sir Cliff, I figured our guests could use a little break, so our next stop was for tea and cake. But not just any old tea and cake. Oh no. I led the guests to drop down a rabbit hole from the tennis court and they landed on a soft bouncy pile of leaves in none other than Alice in Wonderland’s garden.
We danced on the croquet lawn, much to certain people’s disgust, and had Early Grey tea from fancy china.
Part 4: The Seaside
No English summer would be complete without a trip to the seaside. The guests were led down the along the lawn and across a footbridge leading over the little river at the bottom of the garden. As the came to the end of the footbridge, they came out through a lovely Victorian bandstand at the end of the pier…
There were heated discussions about who won the sandcastle building contest, whilst others just enjoyed paddling in the water or lazing on the sand.
Marcel shuffled into the cafe and started a fresh fire in the potbelly stove before settling into his rocking chair. He was having a hard night: the violent storm outside caused his joints to ache and brought to mind too many harrowing nights at sea. Getting out of bed was not a good idea, he thought, but he couldn’t stay there, tossing and turning the rest of the night, feeling age and loss too deeply to rest.
Watching the lightning flashes, he was startled when Badass leaped onto his lap and lifted his front legs to rest on Marcel’s chest. As Badass rubbed his muzzle against Marcel’s jaw, the old man smiled and stroked the cat from neck to tail. After several purrs, Badass curled up and went back to sleep. The heat pumped out from the stove, as well as the furry body on his lap was absorbed into Marcel’s very bones. Slowly, he relaxed, eyes drooping, and a long-ago memory came to mind …
It took more than ten years for Marcel to scrimp and save for the Marie-Jeanne II, a sturdy little tugboat that had seen better days under worse owners, and a couple of years to restore her from engine to hull. Two months after the last coat of paint went on and the last bolt was screwed on, the damned Nazis commandeered her. When he protested, the German officer looked down at his paperwork, then gave him a hard look.
“Your father, Monsieur, was last seen in one of de Gaulle’s divisions in Africa. Technically, that would mark your family as traitors to the government of France. However, the use of your boat will balance things out. And you can focus on keeping your mother and sisters healthy and in the home. Unless you think you can help them more by serving at the front? Your mother is expecting another mouth to feed very soon, according to our files.”
Marcel walked away from the officer, his anger and pride forming lumps in his chest that made it hard to breathe. But he immediately got a job at the docks to keep an eye on the Marie-Jeanne, watching as the Germans turned the vibrant port into a locked-down base for its U-boat fleet.
Marcel noticed the young woman hanging around near the entry of the port for several days in a row. She was dressed drably, only a hint of hair seen beneath her scarf. But he detected a steely deliberateness in her movements – she moved with alertness and purpose, even when she tried to look aimless. The impulse to approach her warred with the desire to keep his head down and stay out of trouble.
But she approached him before he made up his mind, just after Marcel finished work and had left the restricted area. Her smile was bright, as if she recognized him. “Walk with me, please?” After a beat, Marcel held out his arm and she took it. At first, they strolled towards the central square, but she steered him onto a quiet side-street.
“I am not sure I can help you, Mademoiselle. Regardless of what you request.” His heart thumped so painfully in his chest, he was surprised the sound did not drown out his voice. The local Resistance knew his sympathies, but had given up recruiting him. Was this a Vichy honey trap, testing his loyalty?
She squeezed his arm, then laid her head on his shoulder, making him slow down. In a very low tone, she replied, “Monsieur Rabbe at the machinist’s shop said that you would be the one to talk to.”
Monsieur Rabbe was part of the local Resistance. But this could still be a trap. Marcel tried to pull away, but the woman held onto his arm with a fierce grip. “Please, let me have my say,” she whispered. “Neither of us want attention.”
He nodded, and she started walking again, pulling him further into the shadows. After several minutes, she broke the silence. “The Americans are coming soon.”
Marcel stopped cold and gripped her hand. “When? Where?”
“If I knew, I could not tell you – and I am limited in what I know. All I know is that they are coming. They will need the port. And to take the port, they will need more information.” Even in the shadows, he could tell when she lifted her face to meet his gaze. “You can help.”
“Or I can call for the authorities.”
“But you will not. You are not one of them.” The ‘them’ was practically spat out, despite the softness of her voice.
“My family cannot be punished for my actions.”
“My colleagues cannot guarantee anyone’s safety. But your assistance will not be forgotten.”
They both froze at the sound of footsteps. She recovered first, whirled him against a nearby wall, pulled his head down as she rose on her tiptoes, and kissed him. Marcel was still frozen as the footsteps came closer. Against his mouth, the woman murmured, “Push down my scarf and muss my hair.”
Marcel wrapped one arm around her waist, drawing her close, as he pushed back her scarf and ran his fingers through her hair. He realized that her dull, shapeless raincoat hid a trim but curvaceous body. She moaned, nuzzling his lips apart for an open kiss. Lust took the edge off of Marcel’s fear, but did not significantly ease it; nonetheless, he followed her lead, stroking her hip just as someone coughed a few feet away.
They flew apart at the interruption. A policemen shined a light into his face, then hers. Her face was flushed, lips swollen and red. For a brief time, she looked genuinely flustered, even to Marcel. “Good evening, sir,” she said as she reached into her coat, brought out a small bundle of papers and handed them to the stranger. The beam of the flashlight bounced between the woman’s face, Marcel’s and the papers in the policeman’s hand.
Marcel moved slower, but handed over his documents, too. The beam stopped over both sets of documents.
“Monsieur, you are local, but not you, Mademoiselle. What are you doing in Brest?”
“My aunt was ill, and my family sent me to take care of her.”
“She has no relatives closer than Paris?”
“No. Her sons served the Armistice Army.”
“One is dead, the other permanently invalided.”
“Sympathies, Mademoiselle. Will you stay long?”
“No, Monsieur. My aunt is improving and I will be leaving in a couple of weeks.”
The beam of light settled on Marcel’s face again. “And you waste your time with him? You should save yourself for one of our brave soldiers.”
Marcel bit the inside of his cheek to keep from reacting, but his hands curled into fists before he was conscious of it. The woman laughed softly. “Do not worry, Monsieur, I am a good girl and he treats me well.”
The policeman returned their documents. “Remember, there is a curfew. Good night and stay out of trouble.” He turned off his flashlight and strolled away.
Marcel offered his arm once more to his companion. She placed her arm against his and they walked on. He put the fingers of his other hand along her wrist and felt the flutter of her pulse, listened to the shallowness of her breathing.
“I have two questions, Mademoiselle. What is your name and what do you need me to do?”
“I am Clothide. And I need you to get me as close to the U-boat base as you can.”
Marcel whistled. “You are asking a lot, Clothide. But, yes.”
After several weeks of building tension and trial runs, Marcel helped Clothide get into the offices at the port. He never learned how she managed to get into locked drawers and safes, and she never showed him everything she kept in that shapeless raincoat. Later that night, she also took him to bed. After their intimacies, she told him a bit about her life before the war and he talked about his boat.
She drew lazy eights through the hair on his chest. “It may be safer if you left before …” He waited for her to finish the sentence but she fell silent. In response, he placed a kiss on the top of her head. “Brest is my family’s home, my home. My father will come back here – leaving would separate us permanently.”
She sat up and stared at him, then leaned over and kissed him hard, beginning another round of lovemaking until they collapsed, sated and exhausted.
In the morning, Marcel woke up alone. A scrap of paper was placed in his right shoe, merely saying, “Thank you and goodbye.” Two weeks later, he received a letter from Clothide, apologizing profusely and confessing that she was due to get married to her long-term fiancé on June 6th, in the North. He waited, making arrangements for his family to go underground once the invasion started.
After a long, arduous battle that destroyed far too much of Brest, the Americans finally took the port. And after destroying the German U-boats … the Americans took the Marie-Jeanne II. But at least they paid him – a little for the use, and more when the boat was scrapped just before the end of the war. When his father returned to civilian life, with a vicious scar down his chest, a medal and a pension, Marcel went to sea on a merchant vessel to save up for a Marie-Jeanne III. But when he finally got his next ship, she was known as The Clothide.
Marcel awoke to his shoulder being jostled by his nephew Sword. “Uncle, did you spend the night in that chair?”
The old man blinked. The sky had lightened but was still gray. The patter of rain on the cobblestones outside but no howling winds or thunder could be heard. Marcel grumped, “The cat does not like lightning. I came to keep him company.” He heaved himself out of the chair and stretched, waving off Sword’s assistance. “I am going to head home and have breakfast. Do you need me here?”
Sword took a couple of steps, grabbed the cane next to the doorway and handed it to Marcel. “Take care, Uncle, it is still slippery out there.”
Marcel harrumphed, waving his left hand as the right clutched the cane closer towards the middle than the hook at the top, wielding it more like a baton. “I’ll be fine. Tell your mother to expect me for Sunday dinner.”
The younger man hid the smile on his face, just in case his uncle turned around, but Marcel did not interrupt his walk out the door and to the dock, looking out at the sea for a long moment before heading home at a brisk pace.
Story by Magda Kamenev; photos by Anouk
This wonderful new chapter of Uncle Marcel’s story was kindly written for us by the lovely Magda Kamenev, who has really given Marcel some interesting history. If you would like to be part of Marcel’s story, please send your chapter via the Contact Us email – we’d love to have everyone contribute to Uncle’s biography!
This dear sweet old lady wandered into the club recently and made herself very comfortable in Uncle Marcel’s favourite rocking chair by the fire.
Do we think the old sea dog has a new lady friend? Who is this mysterious lady?
After years of saying that he didn’t want a big fuss for his birthday, I couldn’t stand it any more and had to give in. I decided that it was high time we properly celebrated our beloved club owner, Mr Sword Starfall, so I devised a cunning plan to throw a huge surprise party for him.
Going with the suggestion from Mr G-Winz that we do something with a nautical theme, as Sword is such a keen sailor, I may have gone a little ….overboard….(get it? 🙂 ) and purchased a rather huge party boat for the event. I did some sneaky shopping around and decided against the Titanic (not the most positive venue for a party), or the HMS Phoenix (cool sailing ship but battle enabled and a serious health and safety hazard!), and finally settled on a gorgeous ‘Yacht Island’ sold by the very lovely and helpful Aymec Millet of Build boX – BBX Yachts. Seriously, if you are looking for a yacht or boat, this is the place to go. The customer service is outstanding and the quality of the products is excellent. Great attention to details and lots of cute extras.
After having found the perfect boat, it was then necessary to find the perfect secret location to berth it for the party. And for this, I have to thank Victor Edenfield of D’Vine Eden Real Estate for his patience in helping me find just the right parcel of land to put the large and bulky boat. Victor spent ages with me, looking at different parcels of land, shifting the boat this way and that, until we found the ideal location.
I then had a super fun time for the next 3 weeks, decorating the boat and preparing it for the party. I sent out secret invitations (individually, one by one) as of course I couldn’t put anything in the group notices or Sword would have seen it. Do you knoooow how long it takes to send 150 odd invites one at a time?!
I arranged with Sword that on the night of the party, he would take a night off from running the club so I could take him out to relax and enjoy his birthday without having to work, and whisked him away to a lovely Paris sim for a little birthday drink, whilst everyone gathered at the party boat.
Then at the allocated time, I took him to the boat and unveiled how sneaky, devious and downright underhanded I had been – and SURPRISE! Happy Birthday Mr Starfall!
We landed on a long wooden dock with a red carpet leading down to the water’s edge, where the party boat floated in the moonlit water, balloons bobbing in the doorway and Sword’s name in lights flickering above the door. You have to understand that for 5 years I have respected his wishes to not do anything for his birthday, so this is a lot of repressed party planning bursting forth here!
We walked through the boat, taking a glass of bubbly from the lower deck on our way through, and went up to the party deck, where dozens of friends were waiting to welcome the birthday boy and show their appreciation for everything he does. It was wonderful to see so many people turn up to celebrate with us.
The lovely Magda DJ’d for us with a selection of very fruity sea shanties, and even treated us to her own sexy rendition of Marilyn’s ‘Happy Birthday’. It was a wonderful evening and we partied into the early hours. Sword was very quiet for a while and it seems that there was much plotting between him and G about taking the boat out for long sea voyages – so keep a lookout for a flashing floating disco sailing past!
So once again – I would like to say a massive Happy Birthday from me, and everyone at Marcel’s, to club owner, sailor, barman, sympathetic ear and my very dear friend – Sword Starfall!
The results for the SL Avi Choice Awards were announced over the weekend, and the Favourite Group Award went to the Builder’s Brewery group 🙂
It was a well-deserved victory for a very worthwhile group who have been running in-world for years, and have thousands of members. They run regular building tutorial events and really have contributed a massive amount to the SL experience – so we would like to extend our congratulations to our worthy opponents.
Once again, Sword and I would like to thank all our dear friends and guests for nominating the Caffeine Nights group. Just being involved at all in the ceremony was a great thrill and we are honoured and touched at being nominated.
Sword was presented with a trophy as a nominated and participating group, which is on proud display at the club for anyone who wants to come and see it 🙂
And who knows……maybe next year 😉