CHRIS HILL REMEMBERS
It was a very cold January Sunday when Robbie Vincent and I first drove up the old (pre-bypass) A12, to take a look at the original site for what was going to be called the "1st NATIONAL SOUL WEEKENDER".
Robbie had the idea after hearing of an 18-30s event the previous year. The holiday centre site was in a town outside Yarmouth called Caister. "I‘ve never heard of it, and its fuckin' miles away," was my first response.”it’s bleedin' freezing" was my second. "It wont be so cold in April" was his reply......"You want a fuckin' bet?".....
We arrived at the camp to meet The Showstoppers team (the original promoters) and Ladbrooks management who owned the site. It felt like a German prisoner of war camp that day. The idea was to get all those soul music fans that came to our clubs (The Goldmine, Lacy Lady, Frenchies, Royalty) and that listened to Robbie and Greg Edwards radio shows, together for one glorious weekend in April 1979.....a one off!!!.....After the visit to the site we all agreed - this could work!
The original DJ line up was Robbie Vincent, Chris Hill, Greg Edwards, Chris Brown, Jeff Young, Tom Holland, Froggy (and his sound system) and Sean French, along with Light Of The World, and the event sold out in no time. When we arrived at the camp on 20th April to kick it off, I had been right........It was still fuckin' freezing!!! but the heat generated by all those funkateers made Norfolk sub-tropical for the next 3 days! The music was awesome, all new Earth Wind and Fire, Billy Paul, Al Hudson, Mcfadden and Whitehead, new street funk, jazz-funk, philly soul, salsoul, New York - Miami - boogiedisco-tastic!!! and the tribes of soul fans had now created a new phenomenon...THE FAMILY!
Banners hung from every spare space, and the incredible heat meant that everyone was stripped down to shorts only, including the fellas! The rooms (Neptunes Palace & Mermaids Hall) closed at 1am, no wonder there were chalet parties! And the partying never stopped. In the mornings we had a mass jog, then football matches, beach games, and a treasure hunt.......and then it all kicked off again in the main room. At 5pm on the Sunday we had finale......... it was suddenly all over. We had made history...... Driving back along that old A12 I thought, wouldn't it be great to do that again, one day "Maybe we should do this again later in the year" somebody said. "If this works we could do it next year too" “And the next" "We'll have to call it The Caister Soul Weekender" "Yeah, everyone will come back again, you know like Billy Paul said "Bring the family back". We were high as kites, just buzzing on the vibe of it all. The next day we were back in the real world again. "Dont be fucking silly" I thought "they'll all grow up one day, get married, have kids, and we'll be just sad old DJs with our record collections and no punters" Mind you it was a great idea. Thank you all for making a dream a reality.
CHRIS HILL - CAISTER SOUL WEEKENDER