From 2:00 am September 23 rd, 1973, until 9:20 am December, 1981 the former Empress ballroom tentatively opened its doors to the cult followers of an underground dance scene as a logical progression from Manchester's Twisted Wheel, Blackpool Mecca and the Torch at Stoke.
Little could the promoters have realised the phenomenon they were creating, one that would put Wigan and its Casino on the world stage. With the incredible support of the Casino's tenant Gerry Marshall, manager Mike Walker and Northern Soul Legends Russ Winstanley (founder of Wigan Casino Soul Club), Richard Searling and Kev Roberts, they made 'The Casino' the Holy Grail of Northern Soul, and booked legendry acts at the heart of soul. It was also voted the best disco in the world in 1978 by Billboard Magazine beating Studio 54 in New York, also elevating Russ Winstanley the Number one DJ in the world.
Over four million devotees enjoyed the unsurpassed music atmosphere and friendliness for eight soul-filled years. Membership was over 100,000!
Almost 34 years after Russ played his first record, "Put Your Arms Around Me" by the Sherry's, the timeless music and nocturnal life style are more popular than ever, generating more venues worldwide.
Not to mention that Wigan's Casino has inspired numerous books, CD's, television (view "This England " feature [right], originally broadcast by Granada Television, U.K.) and radio programmes and a ‘not to be missed' play ‘Once upon a time in Wigan'.
Championed again by the ‘teens and twenties', the much loved Northern Soul genre is destined to last forever.
Twenty six years after the misguided council's decision to demolish the casino, it's wonderful to have a permanent memorial of the Heart of Soul, Wigan Casino.
Wigan Casion now has its own web site with store, articles and links to other great resources. You can also read about all the events that they are organizing and order on-line products, books, CD's and tickets to events directly from the site!