The Wigan Casino night club (1973-1981) was central to the Northern Soul movement. Club goers were known to use amphetamines so they could dance and enjoy music until morning. In the documentary This England by Tony Palmer, a young man being interviewed claims that it was a loophole in a local bylaw that allowed the Wigan to host all nighters: https://youtu.be/MDTL57_lmgE?t=562 (his claim is at 9:22)

"I don't think the fact that it's Wigan is terribly important. It's just that it's an easy place to get to. And with a slip up in the local bylaws, the Casino can stay open all night from Saturday to Sunday, as long as it doesn't serve any alcohol."

The police were fully aware of amphetamine use at the Casino, shown in this news article (halfway down the page) which was posted on a Northern Soul fan forum. The relevant quote is:

A drug squad officer is sticking to his claim that 98 percent of youngsters at Wigan Casino’s “all-nighters” are on drugs. […] Casino owner Gerry Marshall yesterday condemned the officer’s statements as ‘utterly ridiculous.’ “There is no drugs problem at Wigan Casino. We have our own Casino drugs squad made up of our own people and they sort anything out. We have only thrown out half a dozen people whom we have suspected of taking drugs.” said Mr. Marshall. A police spokesman for West Yorkshire Police said D.c. Swallow was preparing a report for the Chief Constable following the Recorder’s comments. A Wigan Council spokesman said they had not received the letter from West Yorkshire police but added: 'We can only act if there has been a breach of the terms of the lease.'

Although the article mentions 'West Yorkshire' police, the Wigan seems to have been under the jurisdiction of Greater Manchester police in its later years. As pointed out by user Henry in the comments below,

Wigan would have been covered by the Lancashire Constabulary from 1969 to 1974 and Wigan Borough Police before 1969.

Given that the police had checkpoints in the area to search clubbers, nearby chemist shops were broken into, and drugs were increasingly criminalized, it’s hard to imagine how the venue survived merely because of a local loophole.

Which law would have allowed the Casino to continue hosting all-nighters, despite disgruntled local authorities?

  • Back then it wasn't unusual for venues to stay open (and serve alcohol) well past the standard licencing hours. I believe that local authorities had, and may still have, the discretion to allow late opening. It may have been something to do with the venues being private club, possibly in name only. If I get time I'll do some proper research – Dave Gremlin May 4 at 18:10
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    Interesting question. In regard to Wigan Council's role the building was owned by the Council and rented by Wigan Casino. The statement that Wigan Council could only act if there was a breach of the lease relates to the Council's role as landlord. The Council were not responsible for investigating illegality, which was a matter for Greater Manchester Police to investigate and report to magistrates who could revoke the licence. A local council per se had no role in that process. Wigan Council's only role was landlord. Separation of Powers. – davidlol May 4 at 20:56
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    At that stage magistrates were responsible for alcohol licenses and local authorities for music and dancing (and noise pollution). Perhaps the rule in Wigan or Greater Manchester (not West Yorkshire) on music and dancing had something generally permitting music and dancing at the weekend, or it came automatically with Wigan Council's ownership of the building. – Henry May 19 at 22:21
  • @Henry A similar discrepancy between police jurisdictions is mentioned in this thread, where a user says "Greater Manchester Police was formed in1974.....the result of an amalgamation of Manchester & Salford Forces and parts of Lancashire Constabulary" (Wigan Casino opened in '73) But as you point out, the news article mentions "West Yorkshire police" for some odd reason. – creative-username May 24 at 22:14
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    @creative-username: Wigan would have been covered by the Lancashire Constabulary from 1969 to 1974 and Wigan Borough Police before 1969. – Henry May 24 at 22:22

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