Russ Winstanley - Living Today

Artist Ross Birrell with Jacqueline Houston.

DJ Russ Winstaney, founder of the the legendary Wigan Casino Northern Soul all nighters.

This is the last week of the Living Today exhibition which opened in January at Glasgow's Macintosh Museum and features George Orwell's diary entries from his time in Wigan. The artists invited Russ Winstanley (above) to Glasgow for the launch party. He even played the famous 'three before eight', the same last three songs played before 8am which would signal the end of an all-nighter at Wigan Casino.


Russ sold his rare pressing of this single in 1979 for £1000. Believed to be only one of two in existence, it has since resold for £26,500...

I ask if he can still bust some moves and surprisingly, he tells me he never actually danced himself but did reveal there was an unspoken pecking order on the dancefloor of Wigan Casino and that you had to earn your place to be up at the front with the best.

One night the stage curtains opened and the venue inexplicably erupted. Russ raced over to discover a couple had been exposed doing some horizontal dancing of their own under the piano. The guilty party pulled his trousers up and scuttled off stage - but not before taking a bow!

The original turntables from Wigan Casino, these have been played by Martha Reeves, Paul Weller and so on. One of the hand written labels reads: 

*Empty the floor twice consecutively and you won't be coming back.*

The nights ran from 1973 - 1981 but Russ claims the Northern soul scene's never been bigger than it is now. He confesses that on the last ever night at Wigan Casino, he left through the back door, drove to a local beauty spot and cried his eyes out. He still DJs and hosts a show on BBC Radio Lancs.

The Living Today exhibition at Glasgow School of Art's Macintosh Museum runs until this Saturday.

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