6Ts - Northern Soul's Southern Home

A brief history of the weekenders

The first 6Ts Weekender was on October 1st, 2nd & 3rd 1993 and featured Mary Love and Tony Middleton.

I decided to try and run a weekender for the same reason that Randy and I had started the 6Ts; i.e. no one else was doing it. A booking agency called TAC from Southend had run three or four good Northern/Motown weekenders in Great Yarmouth, which I had attended as a DJ and punter. I helped them with their bookings and sorted out the choice of songs for Chuck Jackson and Ray Pollard, amongst others. The weekenders were belting events but only lasted a couple of years, the profit margin was low and attendances were only average, though enthusiastic.

Now as a drunken student I used to visit a Hi-De-Hi style holiday camp in Cleethorpes where my mate's uncle was the camp comedian (no not that type, he actually told jokes and dressed up in a kilt singing Andy Stewart songs). I vaguely remembered it as having a great old-fashioned 60s dancefloor and revisited it to find it a perfect contender for a weekender. After a year or two of persuasion, I eventually talked them in to giving us a chance and the first event got under way. The acts booked were Mary Love, Tony Middleton and Willie Tee and we got an impressive line-up of the best Northern and Modern DJs operating at that time. However bookings were slow and with a month to go we were facing bankruptcy, we had to make a decision whether to pull the event or sit on the toilet and hope. Luckily we went for the latter and the bookings improved and we got a fair 'walk on' attendance on the individual nights, so though we took a hammering we kept our shirts and the brilliant atmosphere and enthusiasm of the event made up for that.

Of course it didn't run smoothly, Willie Tee pulled out the day before the event, so we gave everyone a £5 refund on arrival. We were meant to take security deposits off all the boarders, but we were so totally inexperienced at organising this size of event that it was utter chaos on the reception desk and Sylv and I were quickly sinking in to a nervous breakdown. Luckily the management saw how pathetic we were and took pity on us, waiving the deposits, rightly guessing that these were a decent crowd who would look after their chalets. We always have a soft spot for the punters who supported us in those early and it's always a pleasure when they re-book.

It was such a great weekend that we were sure we'd have no trouble filling the place once word got out. So the next one was booked for April 1994, 6 months after the first one. The line up was Barbara Lewis, Lou Courtney and Betty Lavette, stunning in anyone's book. Yet we had almost an identical problem with the bookings, history repeated itself and it was another fantastic weekend subsidised by Horace.

Not to be put off, we realised that every 6 months was too much and decided to leave it until later in 1995 and at this point the management again came to our rescue by saying why didn't we have it in June before the kids broke up from school. Too right we would, and we did; the crowds were appreciably bigger and have grown every year ever since. Now we're in the reverse situation of booking out of accommodation 11 months before the event and selling out completely about 8 months in advance.

Since then we've had another 10 memorable weekenders where most people have said they've been better than the previous one, virtually impossible but it feels like that at the time. Artists have included Doris Troy, Tommy Hunt, Maxine Brown, Al Wilson, Bobby Hutton, Little Ann, Hoagy Lands, Sidney Barnes, The Velvelettes, Dennis Coffey, Willie Tee, Dean Parrish, The Diplomats / Skull Snaps, the Mirwood Revue, Carl Carlton and Darrow Fletcher.

 

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  Tony Middleton, Paris Blues
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