If you've dusted off your dancing shoes in Pittsburgh over the past few years, chances are you have your own Soulcialism story -- some tale of misbehavin' brought on by the sweet strains of vintage northern soul. From its debut as an über-nerdly get-together at Zythos to attempts to super-size it at the former Upstage, the city's main event celebrating rare grooves and rare good times was hosted mainly by DJs Justin Hopper (a CP contributor) and Soccer John, along with the occasional guest DJ from the northern-soul scene's ground zero, in the U.K.
While the event was held at different venues, the definitive Soulcialism experience was to be found at the South Side's White Eagle club, an after-hours haunt off the main drag. Walking through its doors and onto the frantic dance floor for the first time, you might think you'd stumbled onto a movie set -- early on, the atmosphere seemed always just right. But that atmosphere could also be unbearable: Absolutely frigid in the winter, and sweaty beyond imagination during the summer months, the event's true constant was a choking cloud of smoke.
Last August, Soulcialism was ceded to DJs Gordy Greenawalt and Ian Friend, at which point it became known as Cashin' In. But then the White Eagle itself abruptly closed its doors.
"It was on short notice, so it was a bummer!" says Regina Deloria, who has tended bar on weekends at the White Eagle for the past two and a half years, and helped coordinate the soul nights with the DJs. While declining overall attendance was a factor -- "the regulars came less and less," she says -- "it's kinda hard to pin it down to one thing."
"Soulcialism was the main event," says Deloria. "It kinda kept the Eagle going."
But even as the Eagle swells the ranks of venues that aren't there anymore, Greenawalt and Hopper are teaming up to present "Vipers Soul Club," a new night being held at Shadow Lounge for the first time on Sat., Jan. 26. In a slight change from the Soulcialism format, the night is focusing on 1960s R&B, popular classics from the Motown, Tamla and Stax labels as well as obscure gems. Since much of the music has never been released in a digital format, it's "something they can't hear on the radio, or even download," says Greenawalt.
"We're really trying to build on the communal aspect of what Soulcialism and Cashin' In were," he adds. "It's really about the dancers and fans, and their connection to the songs." For more information, call 412-363-8277 or visit www.myspace.com/vipersoulclub