The brief was simple - classic disco, funk n' soul - the DFS approach. The venue; my local' the Traveller's Rest (aka The Tup) in Runcorn, where unbelievably I had one of my best New Year's Eve's last year with local northern DJs cooking up a storm. Always a bit of a backwater, Runcorn's 'dance scene' such as it is, never really recovered from the closure of Gaz Crilly's brilliant 'Stoned Soul Picnic' nights at the Panorama and later The View if Frodsham.
Runcorn, like Widnes and Warrington has always had a strong allegiance to northern and at one point Halton (the joint borough of Widnes and Runcorn) had it's own Soul Club which basically meant local DJ and 'character' Harry Dennett persuading Edwin Starr and the like to (rumour has it) stay over at his terraced house on the Grange council estate (where I grew up) before appearing at the Queen's Hall in Widnes at various alldayers. Some of these events were great but the northern scene has always been a strange, closed world and as we realised that anything that deviated slightly from the Detroit/60s template would NEVER be accepted in such purist circles, we moved onto clubs in Liverpool and Manchester (and even places like Blackburn's Peppermint Place) where 'progressive' dance music was played.
This was the mid-80s before house totally took over and our little crew were regulars at most events in the surrounding area, especially the first Upnorth weekenders in Blackpool and Southport. And now we're all getting older and some of us have grown up kids and some of have young kids and most of us can't be arsed driving out to Manchester or Liverpool, so we make do with life in a (very boring) northern town.
Ofcourse we could've played the latest Terje remixes and deep Estonian space-disco 12s from 1978 but instead began with Barry White's version of 'Standing In The Shadows Of Love' and ended with Shalamar's 'Night To Remember.'
Inbetween there was Philly, Stax, Gamble, Atlantic, Motown, RAK (Mickey Most - Britain's Tom Moulton? We think so!), West End, Casablanca, Solar, Tamla, Jay Boy, Buddha, Fourth & Broadway, King, Ze, Verve, Direction, Salsoul, Whitfield, TSOP and Prelude; nothing too obscure (although the Eddie Kendricks instrumental version of I Am A Cider Drinker got the trainspotters pestering me for the identity of my cover-up), nothing too pretentious or conceptual, not the kind of stuff we'd really play for ourselves given a totally free reign, but hey, this is fucking RUNCORN!!
We enjoyed it, so did the crowd and even the bouncers joined in for the finale 'get ready, baaaby, tonight, darrrrlin' gonna make this a niiiiight to remeeeeemberrrr!' Now fuck off, the milkman's here!