This week comes the news that one of the key four venues in the 1970s northern soul scene, the Highland Rooms in the Blackpool Mecca, is to get knocked down. Pieces from the dance floor are getting auctioned for a tenner each as another piece of pop culture goes before the bulldozers.

Architecturally it's hardly a tearjerker - the building was an ugly, brutalist piece of 1960s concrete. But the Highland Rooms themselves were a key conduit of a vital youth culture. DJ Ian Levine put a funkier twist on his soul cuts, and went on to become one of the top pop producers in the UK.

The building may have been shut for years, but there's still something sad about losing these grimy northern dancehalls from Blackpool to Cleethorpes, where the Winter Gardens was demolished two years ago. Another piece of pop culture was lost with that venue: it staged one of the Sex Pistols gigs not to banned on the notorious Anarchy In the UK tour. It was a faded old building, but it retained some of that grubby romance of pop culture before it was flattened and replaced by nothing.

The same rampant destruction of our cathedrals of youth culture is everywhere you look, from Manchester's legendary Hacienda (now replaced with a block of flats curiously also called the Hacienda) to Wigan Casino, now a shopping arcade, Maybe they will go the way of the Cavern in Liverpool, shut down and filled with concrete before being rehabilitated next door years later.

So why can't the north hang on to its pop cultural heritage? One reason is that a lot of the buildings that housed our youth culture quakes were built during the industrial revolution. As cities and towns have moved to remove the stain of a dark time from its centres, a lot of memorable places have gone with it.

Add to this the fact that places like Manchester, being the first modern city, have always liked to think that they were moving forward and only rarely looking back – hence no museum for Karl Marx or the world's first computer, not to mention the unsentimental way it lost the Hacienda.

Of course there is an argument that pop is about the now and moving forward and to hell with the past. But there is also a counter-argument that these spaces that housed such incendiary excitement should somehow survive or be commemorated in some way. After all, they're as much a part of our history as Hadrian's Wall or some National Trust-supported stately home or old castle. For some reason, people's pop culture history is somehow not considered important. The very walls that dripped with sweat and excitement should be cherished and adorned with blue plaques and not handed over to developers who have no romance or sense of social history.

Even if the Mecca in Blackpool was an ugly old building and is being replaced by a music college which is far more use to modern pop culture there's something sad in a misty eyed kind of way about the final demolition of the Highland Rooms leaving only the Twisted Wheel in Manchester as the last standing northern soul venue, albeit under a different name.



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