At 2am on Sunday, 23rd September 1973, Wigan Casino (the last incarnation of a Wigan ballroom called the Empress) opened its doors for its first ever Northern Soul all-nighter, with Russ Winstanley as the DJ.
Russ approached Wigan Casino manager Mike Walker and lease owner Gerry Marshall with a view to running all-nighters and the rest, as they say, is history.
Young people from all over the UK regularly made the pilgrimage to Wigan Casino to hear and to dance to the latest rare Northern Soul tracks originating from Detroit and Chicago. Stars such as Jackie Wilson and Edwin Starr appeared live and the club eventually built to a membership of over 100,000. In 1978 Wigan Casino was named Best Disco in the World by American music magazine Billboard, beating the infamous New York club, Studio 54.
Sadly, all good things must come to an end and the last official Wigan Casino all-nighter was held on September 19th 1981, the local council having decided to demolish the venue for redevelopment.
Traditionally, every all-nighter at the Wigan Casino, ended with the ‘three before eight’: Jimmy Radcliffe’s ‘Long After Tonight Is All Over’, Tobi Legend’s ‘Time Will Pass You By’ and Dean Parrish’s ‘I’m On My Way’. On the final night, Russ played them, and then played them again, following them with what has since become recognised as the best and most valuable Northern track ever, Frank Wilson’s ‘Do I Love You’.
Now, Ska and Soul, in partnership with Russ Winstanley, is recreating many of the classic pieces worn at Wigan Casino for a new generation of Northern Soul fans. Several styles carry the instantly recognisable Wigan Casino embroidered badges designed by Russ Winstanley in the 70’s (accept no imitations) and many styles are based on original 70’s pieces.