Amy Hodkin knows how to bust a move. A 15-second clip of her dancing at a soul club recently went viral on TikTok, racking up over 7.5 million views. The positive reactions she received online prompted her to start the Younghearts Soul Club to get the next generation interested in the art of dance. It will be free for children ages 12 to 17 and will take place at a local community center every other Thursday in the evening.
Hodkin, a community health practitioner at Sheffield Children’s Hospital, said young people need a physical outlet to channel their anxiety as they continue to recover from the isolation brought on by the pandemic.
“In times where there is a cost-of-living crisis and ongoing austerity I want to ensure that young people no matter what financial situation they are from, can have somewhere to go, with something to do and feel a sense of belonging with others,” she said. “The aim of the youth club is to provide a friendly, no pressure environment, where young people can spend time with each other.”
She first fell in love with soul music after going to the clubs with her father, Ian.
At 30, she said no one at the club would’ve guessed she was a nurse. Hodkin, who describes herself as a “second-generation soulie,” said dance has done wonders for her mental health over the last three years.
“As a nurse it’s been quite difficult with Covid for the last two and a half years and music has really gotten me through,” she explained. “There’s a real sense of community and it’s great to see the men there have a way to express their feelings and dance like nobody’s looking.”
Kevin Bruce, one of the founders of the Roundabout Soul Club, said they normally get around a hundred dancers on the floor every night.
“It’s all about the music, the dancing and socializing with like-minded people. It’s not about drinking,” he says.
The clip features several local dancers tapping their feet in perfect unison, including Mick Carter, who can be seen wearing a vest and flat cap. The 58-year-old has been dancing to soul since he was a teenager and now does his best to pass it on to his young granddaughters.
He was thrilled to see the video get so much attention. “I’m glad they captured my best side,” he joked. “I salute everyone and everyone who comes onto this dance floor. It’s about expressing yourself and it doesn’t matter if you’re good, bad, or indifferent.”
Some of Hodkin’s followers have donated money to get the club up and running. Multiple small businesses have also donated supplies, including several restaurants and a carpet company. The kids will get a chance to learn more about soul music and how to move their bodies to the rhythm. They will also practice DJing and graphic design, making posters for events. She hopes to take the group to a recording studio sometime in the future, so the teens can see how the professionals do it.
“Young people can come along to listen to music that is steeped in history, made by artists who faced oppression and overcame this, chill out and play retro games, learn some dancing/breakdancing moves, and get creative drawing and creating pieces,” she said.
“I currently DJ at northern soul nights, often to raise money for charity, and have been fundraising at these events as lots of people want northern soul to continue and for the younger generation to experience being a part of this community.”