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Portrush man at the pulse of Northern Soul beat in Manchester

HE has danced on and choreographed a video for Duffy, performed on live TV before 12 million people and worked at the Royal Albert Hall - and he's never had a dance lesson in his life.

Portrush man Liam Quinn is at the pulse of the Northern Soul movement in the north of England and has recently finished working on a film called 'Soulboy' which has just been released in cinemas.

The former pupil of St Patrick's Primary School in the town can be seen showing off his skills on Duffy's "feet of flames" video for her hit song "Mercy".

Liam, who works for Salford City Council's Children's Services having studied Community Youth Work at Jordanstown, told the Times: "I always loved dancing since I was younger but that mainly involved doing a bad impression of Ian Brown dancing to Indie tunes in the back room of Gods in Kellys as a teenager.

"As I got older and my tastes and musical knowledge were growing, I gained a huge obsession for Soul and Funk. The north coast was starved of good nights, well Northern Ireland in general, so I started travelling over to England to Northern Soul events and funk nights.

"After seeing the jazzfunk dancers and soul boys dancing, that was it for me, I was hooked! It's the best feeling in the world dancing to the tunes you loved, but being able to dance better lets you express yourself and get a sense of escapism when you're on the floor.

"No drugs could touch the high you get when you're covered in sweat on a dancefloor dancing all night long, to unreal soul and funk masterpieces blasting out, with no pretentiousness, just top people all out for the love of the tuneage.

"I've never had a dance lesson in my life, I just watched the best dancers and practiced at home when no one was about," joked Liam, who is also a former pupil of Loreto and Dominican College.

"I nearly broke my neck a few time practicing acrobatics and flips in the living room. My advice? Take anything breakable out of the room," he laughed.

Dance and music are not Liam's full-time career - much as he would love it to be.

"I have been a youth worker for years now and have a great passion in working with young people who haven't had a great start in life," he explained.

"I currently work for Salford City Council's Children's Services and if you know Salford, there's plenty of work to be done. It's a great place though, with down-to-earth people. Potential flows from Salford's streets."

Since moving to Manchester three years ago, Liam has established and runs "the best Soul club in the north of England called the Beat Boutique".

"I DJ around festivals 'Bestival/Kendal Calling' and European Soul clubs most weekends, so I've been really lucky on that note.I've been collecting vinyl since I lived in the Port and now get to play my black plastic to the masses. Someone upstairs is looking after me!

"My love of Soul music was probably subconsciously embedded in my brain from a young age with my older brother Gerald blasting out Marvin Gaye, Luther Vandross and the Fat back band etc. in the house when I was a toddler.

"Coming from a big family, the house was always full of music and Soul was always getting spins on the record player. I found my own way musically as I got older, discovering all the classic Motown artists and funk sounds as a teenager but when I found a CD at my brother Kieran's house which had a Northern Soul written on it, this was the start of my love for the Rare Soul Sounds.

"My mum Alice also liked Jackie Wilson and Elvis and she's a woman with more Soul than anyone I know, so it's in my blood I suppose," he smiled.

"She always supported everything I've ever done and has been without a doubt the biggest influence and inspiration in my life in most things I do."

So how did Liam make the move from Northern Soul venues to appearing in and helping to choreograph Duffy's "Mercy" video?

"I received an email from a DJ in England who knew I could dance pretty well and he had seen a film/music video company were looking for a young Northern soul dancer.

"I went for the audition and within 20 seconds of dancing it was a YES! I went on then to help with choreographing the video and thankfully it was a good video which everyone liked (I think)," joked Liam.

"From then I got asked to be Rough Trade Records tour DJ and toured with Duffy and played in venues like the Royal Albert Hall and danced on a live TV performance in Cologne in Germany to over 12 million people - that was nerve wrecking!"

Looking back over his years in Portrush, Liam attended Loreto until third year and then transferred to Dominican College in Portstewart.

"I didn't stay on for A-levels as I wanted to go to St. Joseph's to complete a GNVQ in Advanced Business Studies which I also really enjoyed.

"As much as I was chopping and changing all the time, i think it was important to do what I felt was right for me and it goes to show you don't always have to take the traditional route. It's best find out what's right for yourself. It's a bit like music, don't limit yourself to one genre, try them all!

"You're either a dancer or you're not, people who get trained can look good but only to one style of music and generally it's a routine," said Liam.

"The best dancers improvise and go with the music they're listening too. Again the more styles of dancers you watch and music you listen to the better dancer you'll be.

"I do wish I had taken dance lessons though as I think I could have given 'oul' Flately a run for his money!" he laughed.

As for future projects, Liam says he is just enjoying the whole experience and not taking anything for granted.

He has already danced for one of Plan B's music videos earlier this year .

"There could be more projects in the pipeline but I'm so busy with DJing and running the club night in Manchester while holding down my 9-5 that I don't get a moment to myself..

"A trip back to the Port is in order for sure soon. I still miss the beach, the people and a cheeky pint in the Harbour..."

STORY: UNA CULKIN

STORY: UNA CULKIN

 
 
 

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