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LA PELLE NERA
For Connoisseurs of Soul : How it all began


Northern Soul in Southern Europe ? Why not, considering that music is the fastest and most telling media throughout the Planet. And why the hell not when the word is spreading from Milan, home of the football clubs A. C. and Ronaldo’s Inter, not to forget the Literature Nobel Prize winner, Dario Fo. And, most of all, a city much considered as the "Italian Manchester", or "the" northern city…
Well, "LA PELLE NERA" (the "black skin", literally) is a magazine absolutely devoted to Northern Soul, 60’s Rhythm ‘n’ blues and Afro-American culture. It has just reached its fourth issue (one each season), but around it a crew of contributors and DJ’s has already gathered and are starting a Soul Club. Absolutely the first in the – weakish – Milanese scene.
Like in most novels, it all began in a dark and freezing winters night. An idea came to Stefano Oggiano during the 1996 Christmas holidays. A blazing Soul fan, Stefano decided not to let himself be buried in by the snow, boredom and nothing to do. Somewhere in Milan, there must be some other northern stompers, living on their own and pissed off as well! So, he collected a couple of A4 sheets, packed ‘em with articles, translations and pics….et voilą, the first issue was made up. Now he needed a headline, but not for long. He borrowed it from an Italian 60’s popular tune by Leo Ferrč, who complained in his "Pelle Nera" about having a better voice than James Brown or Wilson Pickett, but not being as famous because of his pale skin: "That’s why I want a Black Skin…..".(Actually, his singing was pretty soulful).
I have to let you know dear NIGHT OWL visitors from around the Globe, that the 80’s and the 90’s have been hard times for Spaghetti Soul Fans. Not many chances, apart from Porretta Soul Festival (mostly original Stax artists), or Blues Brothers and Commitments’s crap-like bands. Even in Milan, loud shouts of joy and praises were rarely heard at the occasional American R&B gigs. Very seldom local mods and rude boys set up a venue, but no allnighters, no vinyl circuit, no press. Just two rock-mags, "Jamboree" and "Buscadero", that regularly give hospitality to us soul orphans. The one and only Torch lighting the darkness has been carried by the boys in the long-established Black Trefoil Soul Club of Genoa (Another Northern City…).
Therefore no wonder that Paolo, then Claudio Michele and others found themselves sticking together around Stefano’s "La Pelle Nera" magazine. We put together a couple of "experimental" soul nights. In June we had opportunity to provide the Milan Eurolambretta ‘97 meeting with a proper soundtrack. We faithfully put together an open-air event in a Lambro park disco, near the old Innocenti works. Lammie lovers and mods came from all over Europe, and even as far away as California. They merged with local clubs to make this the biggest allnighter we’d ever seen!
We hit it. And when you know you are on the right track, as Billy Butler said, 'things came easy'. After that, "La Pelle Nera" Soul Club is getting more and more members. We are now hosting regular Soul, R&B and Jazz parties in Milan and the local towns, plus "Soul Machine" a weekly program in an independent radio network, "Radio Onda D’Urto" ("Crash-Wave Broadcast!"). Shortly before last Christmas, on Dec. The 20th, we’ve organized the first allnighter run in Milan ever, where we met with many friends from other towns, whom we’d like to thank gratefully.
New year, New Goals. At present, we are working on the groovy thing to get as many people as possible involved, also crossing the usual scene limits, in order to increase the present number of Soul lovers and Pelle Nera regular readers.
That’s why we’ll start hosting parties in squats too and some DJing at live gigs in the Northern Soul-area (Blues, Ska, Reggae and Similar). Another point we believe is very important is to get more in touch with British and European Soulies, by mail or through a Web page. Time and money will tell.
By the way "La Pelle Nera"! Its 4th issue is a really good and extensive read.
Written in Italian, contains articles about the Black Trefoil Soul Club story, 60’s Flamingo Club scene, various news about the latest CDs and sevens, the first of a series of Motown anecdotes and gossips, a retrospective on Philly Sound plus Northern Soul Fever bits.
Dear reader, if you want to make yourself known in Italy, or advertise your fine, soul club, if you want to contribute to La Pelle Nera, or you’re just curious, please send Michele an E-mail at : dieffe@iol.it
You Can also write to Stefano Oggiano, via Cosimo del fante 15, 20122 MILANO Italy; or Paolo Sormani, Via Carmagnola 8, 20159 MILANO Italy. La Pelle Nera costs 4.000 lire, 2 pounds or 4 dollars p&p included for Eec. All we need is Smart people!
And of course keep holdin’ on

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Copyright © M Fitzpatrick
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