I don't think it's possible for me to watch a coming-of-age dance movie like SoulBoy without tracing some threads back to the godfather of them all - Saturday Night Fever. The key story elements are all there. Working-class boy meets a girl seemingly beyond reach, and sets about to win her through the power of dance. He is oblivious to the adoration of a more down-to-earth girl. Along the way he grows up a little, comes to resent his clownish friends, and it all ends with a climactic dance-off for all the glory. The two leading men - Martin Compston's Joe McCain and John Travolta's Tony Manero - seem to be cut from the same cloth. They're both working class stiffs (Joe is a delivery boy, Tony is a paint store lackey), they both find purpose in dancing, and they both eventually
For those not familiar with the genre known as Northern Soul, here's as good a track as any to serve as an introduction. It's from the sadly overlooked Flirtations, a girl group that started as the Gypsies in 1962 before changing to the Flirtations in 1966. In '68 they released "Nothing But a Heartache", which cracked the Top 40 in the U.S. It really deserved better than that, as it's one of the best songs from that year. This was the biggest chart hit for the group, which in my mind is a legitimate rival for the Supremes (at least talent-wise).