CD Soul/R&B Review

Do The Popcorn: When Belgium Boogied

Title: Original Hits and Rarities From the Belgium Popcorn Scene

Label: Jasmine

Don’t be too perturbed if this one raises an eyebrow of ignorance. I wouldn’t say that this scene – and it was a scene – was popular enough to be essential for any music fan’s armoury. This was a retro fad, you see. In Belguim. I know, I know but Belguim has been and continues to be surprisingly important in terms of musical influence and innovation. 

The entire thing began in the town of Vrasene, 10 miles west of Antwerp, there was a cafe called De Oude Hoos that held dance contests. The most popular of many held there was the slow swing. This dance became so popular that the cafe turned into a club and was renamed The Popcorn, after a James Brown hit. All of this happened around 1969. For Popcorn there are, in fact, some similarities with the growth of Northern Soul in this country. In fact, there has been the odd Popcorn night in clubs within the UK, with guest DJs from Belgium making an appearance and very successful these nights were too. This was a Noughties thing though – it’s a little heard phenomena now whereas Belgians in Belgium, mostly over 40 Belgians, still groove to the Popcorn beat.

You see more in this short documentary…

But back to the story and DJ Gibbe Govaert who developed a unique style to match the slow swing, playing early soul mixed with a gamut of other genres, from blues to jazz to latin and more. Often, records were slowed down to the required beat. The Marvelettes’ Please Mr Postman would have been heard at a martial beat, for example. Other clubs opened up to play, what was termed as, ‘Popcorn oldies’.

This entire thing was a Belgium-Only ‘thing’ at that time. No-one else really knew about it to any great extent. 

This 25 track CD reflects the scene and holds an interesting comparison to Northern Soul with its inclusions from Bobby Day (King’s Highway), Ben E. King (The Hermit of Misty Mountain), The Exciters (Hard Way to Go), The Jive Five (Hully Gully Callin’ Time) and Marva Josie (Later for you Baby) that still haunt this little known underground scene.

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2 Comments

  • Reply
    Geoff
    1st May 2018 at 7:29 am

    “Belguim has been and continues to be surprisingly important in terms of musical influence and innovation”.
    Thank you for that. Music in my country has always been about new renewal. Maybe popcorn and new-beat aren’t the most sophisticated music but other styles have developed from them.

    Best regards
    Geoff from …

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      1st May 2018 at 9:32 am

      Indeed – Belgium has been the centre of musical innovation for as long as I can remember. When I was a full time, dedicated music journalist/editor, I used to review a host of music from there to review.

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