Manchester has a long association with rave culture, most often linked to the infamous Hacienda nightclub. Opened in 1982 in a former yacht showroom, it built on the success of the city’s Factory Records, famous for releasing the music of Joy Division, New Order and the Happy Mondays. Modelled after New York nightclubs discovered by Factory Records boss Tony Wilson, it wasn’t an immediate success but it did eventually prove to be pioneering in scope, aesthetic and musical direction.
Today, it’s the Warehouse Project that’s picked up the mantle. Launched in 2006 by Sacha Lord, and Sam Kandel – two promoters who were both previously involved with another Manchester mainstay, Sankeys – the superclub boasts some of the longest lineups and biggest acts in the world. It also puts an onus on catering to every taste – on any given weekend you can catch acts as wide ranging as Peggy Gou, Chic and Megan Thee Stallion, while its seasonal approach and changing location means it continues to evolve.
The rainy city, as Manchester is often called, is also home to smaller venues that are catching up with the reputations of those two behemoths. Clubs like Salford’s Hidden and The White Hotel and the Northern Quarter’s Soup and Band on the Wall, have carved out their own lanes by pushing back against the mainstream. Meanwhile, there are venues that have found a way to survive through challenging times – Eastern Bloc was once the city’s prime record shop, but with declining sales, it became a café and then a late-night spot where up-and-coming DJs could practice their craft.