Sold on a night of soul

WHY do you build me up buttercup? For those who love soul and motown and all those classic 70s numbers there's now someplace to go. JAMES MARSTON had a night out.

James Marston

WHY do you build me up buttercup?

For those who love soul and motown and all those classic 70s numbers there's now someplace to go.

JAMES MARSTON had a night out.


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HAVE you heard about Suffolk Soul Nights?

Hundreds already have and it's a growing phenomenon.

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Held at venues outside of Ipswich town centre and aimed at the over 25 age group, the Suffolk Soul Nights attract a mixed clientele bound together by a love of music.

Promoted by Tony Mills and Graham Lloyd the nights have developed through word of mouth into a monthly event that now fills some of the regions largest venues.

Tony said: “Suffolk Soul Nights were born from a shared passion both Graham and I hold for maintaining the best atmosphere we can for our members and we love it and the positive comments we get back from people who come along.

“We planned from the outset to run membership-based events for over 25s allowing us to provide a safe and secure place to people to have a great night out.”

And as 40 people queue at Ipswich's Trinity Park waiting for the doors to open at 7.30pm, its clear the soul nights are proving popular.

Graham said: “Our members and their guests have told us they feel no other events in the area matches the relaxed and open atmosphere, it's their own age related nightclub.

“Many of our members in their 30s, 40s,50s and 60s say they have not been out for years because there was nowhere to cater for their age group.”

Once the doors open, people are greeted by a large function room that has been transformed into a night club. There are video screens, speakers, a large dance floor, tables to sit at and lights.

At the bar I caught up with a group of three lads who had come along to see what Suffolk Soul Nights are all about.

Gavin Williams, 20, of Bell Lane Kesgrave, said: “I'm here with my parents and it's our first time here. I like the music and its something different to come along to.”

Dan Middleditch, 21, of Manor Road, Martlesham said: “My friends said it would be a good night out and I thought why not?”

Scot Ramsey, 20, of Cambridge Road, Kesgrave, said: “We hope to meet some girls. It's a good venue and there's a friendly atmosphere. It's something a bit different from our normal nights out.”

As people get themselves a drink, the room begins to fill up. People are chatting and greeting each other - and it's clear there is a bit of a soul night community that has developed.

Tony said: “We have sold out at every event we have organised and we have even had members asking to pre-book our New Year's Eve 2008 event nearly a year away.”

Graham said getting the venue right fuels the right atmosphere.

He said: “The atmosphere is more important than profit and commercial venues could not run their businesses like we do. We don't feel it would be the same if we used a nightclub.”

At the bar friends Diane Carter and Kim Hill are getting the drinks in.

Diane, 42, of Sutton Bridge in Lincolnshire, said: “I love soul music. I've been to soul nights before but not at this venue. I always have a fantastic night.”

Mum-of-one Kim, 35, of Bramblewood, Ipswich, said: “I love the music and it's a slightly older crowd so not so many youngsters.

“Everyone is very friendly. It's a bit more mature and people are here to have a great time.”

Friends Claire Saw and Diane Andrews have both been to a Suffolk Soul night before.

Claire, 32, of the Warren Heath area of Ipswich, said: “It's a very good atmosphere and a good laugh. The people are friendly.

Diane, 41, of Nacton Road, Ipswich, said: “There's no hassle and I like soul music. We feel more secure here too.”

By 8.10pm the music gets going - Heaven must be missing and angel - and the first dancers take to the floor. Close to the dance floor are a group of friends chatting at their table.

Kim Whymark, 50, of Thackeray Road, Ipswich, said: “I enjoy the music and it's my era. There's no trouble and it's a fairly mixed age group. It's somewhere to go to enjoy yourself.”

Theresa Tatum, 54, of Glamorgan Road, Ipswich, said: “I came to the last soul night and I really enjoyed it. I like the music and the venue and it's a real party atmosphere. I feel a lot more secure here than out in Ipswich town centre.”

Mum-of-five Heidi Gorringe, 46, of Wix, near Manningtree, said: “It's a safe place and we like the music. I've been a few times and its good fun.”

The lighting, sound system, and video equipment takes a while to set up.

Graham said: “At most of the smaller events three people can set up in about four to six hours, and to break down takes two hours.

“On the last Trinity Park event in September it took eight staff 10 hours to set up and five staff three hours to break down.

“Tickets are requested online or over the phone. If they are approved members they are then delivered in person by us to the member's homes.”

Graham said the door staff are used again and again so people are greeted by the same people at every event.

He added: “Barry and Tony are the friendly faces that greet you at every event. The atmosphere at our events is so friendly that every person that has ever worked with us has requested to be at every event.”

And outside where there are a few stragglers and a few smokers, I even spot a stretch limo dropping off guests who've decided to arrive in style.

Doorman Barry Fisher said 530 people had gone through the doors by 8.30pm. By 8.46pm the number has risen to 590 and by 9pm its 621 with a further 150-200 expected.

By 9pm the party's in full swing, the dance floor is full, the room is buzzing and the crowd's cheerful.

Couple Gail Euripidou and Paul Hudson are making their way in.

Gail, 40, said: “We love soul music. It's easy going and it's good to dance to as well. We've just arrived and we're hoping for a good night.”

Inside as Build Me Up Buttercup awaits them.

The next Suffolk Soul Night is on February 29 at St Clements Ipswich. For more information call Tony on 07836 759242.

Are you a fan of Suffolk Soul Nights? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

Two large vans and a truck.

12 venue staff

Seven door staff

Four ticket registration staff

One technical onsite engineer

One lighting jock

Two photographers

Three roadies

One 7,600 watt sound system.

Five video projectors and giant screens.

62 meters of rigging.

Four powered winches

Six moonflower lights

Five mirror balls

12 large stage can lights

Four ultra violet LED screens

Four multi coloured lasers

Two star cluster lasers

Two moving mirror scanners

14 foot LED based deck stand

Two video and CCTV systems

Four large dance floor fans

Two haze machines

Two outdoor projectors

Two large silk flames

And one large burger van

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