The Blackpool Mecca was a large entertainment venue on Central Drive in the seaside town of Blackpool, Lancashire in the North West of England, first opened in 1965. In the 1970s, it was particularly known for 'The Highland Room', which was a major Northern Soul music venue. The building was closed down in 1980s and was finally demolished in January 2009 to make way for new campus buildings of Blackpool & Fylde College. However, following an issue with funding B&FC withdrew and as of 2013 the site is planned for residential development.
Northern soul at The Highland Room
The Highland Room was used as a rare soul venue from 1971 to 1979 and it became one of the most popular venues on the Northern soul scene. Unlike similar clubs such as the Wigan Casino and the Golden Torch, these events were not "all-nighters" and ran from 8pm until 2pm on Saturday evenings.
The two main DJs for the Highland Room soul nights were Ian Levine and Colin Curtis. Several classic 1960s Northern soul records were discovered and "broken" by the aforementioned DJs at the venue, including Tony Clarke's "Landslide", Morris Chesnut's "Too Darn Soulful", Frankie Beverly & the Butlers' "If That's What You Wanted" and R. Dean Taylor's "There's A Ghost In My House".
Later in the 1970s, the Highland Room became synonymous with a more contemporary and less frenetic style of Northern soul music, typified by records such as The Carstairs' "It Really Hurts Me Girl", Voices of East Harlem's "Cashin' In" and the Charisma Band's "Ain't Nothing Like Your Love". Because of the change in tempo, a slightly different shuffling dance style developed at the venue. This newer sound and dance style caused some controversy and led to the formation of the parallel Modern soul sub-genre, which still exists today within and alongside the mainstream Northern soul movement.
The Northern soul music of the Highland Room has been commemorated by several compilation LPs and CDs, including:
- Mecca Magic: the Soulful Sounds of Blackpool's Mecca 1973-1979 (LP, Kent Records 1990)
- The Blackpool Mecca Story (CD, Goldmine 1999)
- Spirit of the Mecca (CD, Goldmine 2000)
- Reachin’ For The Best: The Northern Soul of the Blackpool Mecca (CD, Sanctuary Records 2004)
- The Northern Soul Story Vol 3: Blackpool Mecca (CD, Sony BMG 2007)
- Highland Room - The Golden Era: 24 Highlights From Blackpool Mecca (CD, Soulworld 2009)
- Blackpool Mecca "Legends" (MP3 compilation, Soul Food 2009)
- Piece of Blackpool History up for sale
- Bill Brewster and Frank Broughton. Last Night A DJ Saved My Life Chapter four, page 98, Soul wars: Wigan Casino vs Blackpool Mecca
- Sleeve notes written by Ian Levine accompanying the CD Reachin’ For The Best: The Northern Soul of the Blackpool Mecca
- Sleeve notes written by Ian Dewhirst accompanying the CD The Northern Soul Story Vol 3: Blackpool Mecca
- Bill Brewster and Frank Broughton. Last Night A DJ Saved My Life Chapter four, page 106, Fighting for the soul of soul
- Bill Brewster and Frank Broughton (2000) . "Northern Soul: After Tonight Is All Over". Last Night a DJ Saved My Life: The History of the Disc Jockey. New York: Grove Press. pp. 75–105. ISBN 0-8021-3688-5.
- Dave Haslam (2002) . "Leaving the Go-Go- Girls at Home: the Northern Soul DJs". Adventures on the Wheels of Steel: the rise of the superstar DJs. London: 4th Estate. pp. 152–184. ISBN 1-84115-433-4.
- Mike Ritson and Stuart Russell (1999). The In Crowd: The Story of the Northern & Rare Soul Scene, Volume 1. Bee Cool. ISBN 0-9536626-1-6.
- Russ Winstanley and David Nowell (1996). "Competition Ain't Nuthin'". Soul Survivors: The Wigan Casino Story. Robson Books. pp. 61–70. ISBN 1-86105-126-3.
- Northern Disco Web article citing Blackpool Mecca as one of the most important venues in the development of Disco and Soul music in the UK
- The Blackpool Mecca Web article containing music samples and collection of images
- Blackpool's Highland Rooms: why can't the north keep its pop culture heritage? Article in The Guardian, January 2009
- Blackpool Mecca Web article by John Ponomarenko
- Ian Levine | DJHistory.com Interview with Ian Levine
- YouTube: Blackpool Mecca Video montage commemorating the venue
- YouTube: Blackpool Mecca playlist Blackpool Mecca Highland Room playlist on YouTube