Dancing, Northern Soul Style

An old article but interesting


Here’s some more of my writing on Northern Soul. This time I am posting an extract from some work analysing dance styles on the Northern Soul dancefloor.

Style refers to the manner of expression; it is the particular way certain actions are performed. In his semiotic investigation of style, Dick Hebdige (1979) suggests that style is the active use of available materials, in which each use is interconnected with other uses, to produce a meaningful whole. As such I want to explore dance style as a process of meaning-construction, distinct in its usage of available moves, and linked to other practices that make it meaningful. It is, therefore, far more important to understand how and in what context dancers dance than simply what they dance or how it feels.

I start by identifying a central set of practices which were established in the early 1970s, and (mainly because of the continuity of many of the participants) have remained the predominant way in which dance is organised within the scene. These aspects of style constitute a narrow definition of how music can be danced to, expressed by the scene’s participants as a shared set of competencies or dance techniques and an associated notion of competence.



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