A little while back I wrote about those instantly recognisable, iconic structures that have been replicated in virtual form in SL. To me, for a place to merit the description ‘iconic’, it’s not sufficient to simply be recognisable; it must also be imbued with a sense of place, or be remarkable in some special way. So, for example, the Statue of Liberty, the Guggenheim Museum and the Burj Khalifa are more than simply structures of noteworthy design, they also have a deeper significance. Such icons are often one of a kind, or provide a focal point for national pride and not only are they instantly recognisable, but they also speak volumes about their location and culture.
An iconic building is more than just bricks and mortar, it has a story to tell and often holds its own unique and significant identity in culture and history – to visit such a place can be an emotional and moving experience, and can forge personal connections with that sense of identity to which the visitor can feel and relate strongly, even where previously there may have been nothing.
I’ve experienced such feelings at numerous locations, and it’s particularly keenly felt at those places that you might consider in terms of a ‘pilgrimage’ – such locations can evoke such a strong sense of place that even after the the original structure may be long gone, we experience that remarkable affinity. To simply stand amongst the ruins, or on the spot where something of such note once stood can stir those same emotions as we might feel when faced with a complete and perfect edifice. Such is the power of iconic locations.
Some places hold a much smaller niche in our collective consciousness. They may not be instantly recognisable the world over, but in certain circles, they represent the Holy Grail because of their importance. In my last post on the subject, I mentioned my plans to reconstruct one such place – an unpretentious, and in many respects a wholly unremarkable building – but one that was the fulcrum of a musical revolution that coursed through Britain in the late ’60s and early ’70s and in fact, for aficionados, is still going strong today. The music was Northern Soul, and the venue I wanted to celebrate in virtual form: The Wigan Casino.
To be totally honest with you, I’m far too young to remember, let alone have been involved with the Northern Soul scene in its heyday. The truth is that I’d never even heard of Northern Soul before being introduced to the genre by some friends inworld! I’m certainly not qualified to discourse at length about the scene, but if it’s something that’s unfamiliar to you, something of the flavour of this music phenomenon can be discovered here, and also here.
Other than enjoying the music for itself, there’s a camaraderie that exists amongst its adherents that I really like; then there’s the almost subversive nature of the genre, it’s almost like the anti-hero of popular culture, eschewing the mainstream and appreciating the things that slip under the radar for most people. The story of the music and those who gravitated to it is a fascinating one, which is as much a part of the overall picture as the recording artists and tracks that were formative in creating the movement; and the clubs where Northern Soul found its voice were absolutely pivotal to its success. Those not in the know may never have heard of them, but there are many for whom names like ‘The Highland Room’, ‘The Twisted Wheel’, ‘The Golden Torch’ and, of course, ‘Wigan Casino’ – all now long gone – send a shiver down the spine, along with the occasional wistful tear.
Which I why I wanted to build a virtual homage to the Casino, inworld – it is an iconic place which has lost nothing of its allure, despite having been reduced to rubble by the march of ‘progress’, and the build itself was something of a challenge. Working from a handful of poor quality photographs and an awful lot of guesswork, I’ve done the best that I can – it’s far from perfect, (I’m a far from perfect builder!), but I hope I’ve done it justice… If nothing else, I hope I’ve done my bit to keep the legend alive.
Visit it inworld: Wigan Casino
Out on the floor each night I’m really movin’
The band is wailin’ right I feel like groovin’
The chicks are out of sight I’m approvin’ yeah
The crowd is in tonight begging for more
But I get my kicks out on the floor
Dobie Gray – Out On The Floor