From The Haçienda to Sound Control via the Twisted Wheel. We take a look at some of Manchester's lost past of independent venues and newly founded musical hangouts.
Its legacy and its absence are impossible to ignore in any consideration of Manchester's club history; The Haçienda opened in 1982. The club that helped change British pop music and youth culture forever was made possible by Tony Wilson's vision and the lucrative sales generated by Factory Record's big hitter of the 1980s, New Order. It was ultimately finances that sank the Haçinda. It's pivotal significance to Acid House, Rave and Madchester meant that many hedonistic clubgoers were fuelled by drugs other than alcohol, leading to low profitability for the club's bars. It eventually closed in 1997 and was demolished in 2002. The site is now the location of a block of apartments which have kept the Haçienda name after developers bought the rights to do so from Peter Hook.
Opening on Brazennose Street in 1963 by the Abadi brothers as a live music coffee bar and dance club, the Twisted Wheel became one of the keystone venues of the Northern Soul movement. The club moved premises to Whitworth Street in 1965. Northern Soul All-nighters drew clubbers from far and wide until 1971 when the powers that be called time on the iconic venue's nocturnal happenings. Other clubs used the building until 2012 before it was demolished by developers in 2013 to make way for a hotel.
Gigs at the Roundhouse included early appearances by the likes of Elbow, Muse, The White Stripes and The Courteeners, in fact, four members of Elbow also worked at the venue causing a staff shortage whenever they played a gig there. Like many venues, it had its beginnings as a snack bar/nightclub in the 1960s, becoming a blues club before eventually ending up under the ownership of Kate Mountain in 1999 who operated it as The Roadhouse in partnership with sound engineer Steve Lloyd. After the passing of Steve Lloyd in 2014, Kate Mountain announced that the venue closed in 2015 to be repurposed as a restaurant with her new business partner.
Owned by Gareth Evans who was also the manager of The Stone Roses, notable moments at The international include The Stone Roses gig in 1988 that boasted a young Liam and Noel Gallagher in the crowd. With a connection between band and venue comparable to that of New Order and The Haçienda, the building also featured in the band's video for Sally Cinamon. An international supermarket now occupies the site and its sister venue The International 2 is also no more, replaced by an apartment complex.
A recent 2017 closure, the stark brutalist exterior of Retro Bar was formerly The Swinging Sporran, a rock pub that attracted bikers and UMIST students. Representing rock and metal in the indie/dance stronghold of Manchester the Retro Bar and the Sporran were known for late night indie, rock and alternative clubbing. Despite its rock leanings it also hosted early Chemical Brothers gigs, known then as the Dust Brothers.
Argued by many to be the true home of the Madchester scene, as opposed to the often cited Haçienda, the Thunderdome was considered an edgy venue with a reputation for attracting criminals and football hooligans as well as dancers and those wishing to buy drugs. Housed in a run down bingo hall on Oldham Road, unlike The Haçienda, Thunderdome had no dress code or entry requirements as such, so its crowd was a less gentrified mix than its Factory rival.
Opening in 1999, Planet K's trailblazing Musik night provided a stomping ground for live acts the likes of James Lavelle, DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist. Other notable nights at the club included Keep It Unreal with Mr Scruff, Counter Culture (a house and hip-hop night) and Robodisco, the latter boasting visiting DJs that included Andrew Weatherall and Jaques Lu Cont.
Manchester's loss of a record shop was also its gain when Sound Control made the transition from a store a music venue and nightclub. Sadly, the venue's management has confirmed it is to close at the end of 2017, although they aim to find a bigger building to house the venue. Manchester may lose control again, but hopefully only temporarily.
Though FAC51 (The Haçienda) is no more, FAC251 was born out of its legacy and sits in Factory Records’ old offices. The three-floor venue was designed by original Factory architect Ben Kelly retaining key elements such as the company boardroom and opened with a gig from Peter Hook’s ‘The Light’.
The Ruby Lounge
Opened in 2007, The Ruby Lounge is another Northern Quarter hang-out that lives up to it’s local and national hype. From Frank Sidebottom to Cabbage, The Ruby Lounge has hosted an impressive list of gigs, with Manchester’s greats well represented among the names. Describing themselves as flash but not showy it’s a place for diverse and irreverent club nights as well as gigs.
The Castle Hotel
John Peel and Ian Curtis put this fine establishment on the Subcultural Manchester map when Peel interviewed Curtis at the pub in 1979. The Pub went under in 2008 but reopened in 2010 under new hands becoming a thriving Music Hall styled venue with a varied programme of music.
Band On The Wall
Built as the George and Dragon pub in the late 1800s, Band On The Wall became a jazz club in 1970 and became involved with Manchester's punk scene soon after. Notable bands to play the venue in that period included The Fall, Buzzcocks and Joy Division. The club closed in 1982 but reopened soon after. In its current incarnation, the club now also acts as the head office for Brighter Sound, a company that works to run musical projects with children and young people up to the age of 19.
The Deaf Institute
Housed in the ornate Victorian building in the Northern Quarter that once housed Manchester's Adult Deaf and Dumb Institute, The Deaf Institute opened as a bar/venue in 2008. It was initially going to be named Deaf and Dumb (literally made of stone, these words appear carved into the stonework directly above the front entrance), but this proved too potentially offensive for modern-day Manchester, and so the current name was settled upon.
The White Hotel
In the liberal and experimental spirit of the warehouse parties and raves of a bygone era Manchester, The White Hotel is a gritty art scene venue that is hard to find for those not in the know. Located away from the city centre in Salford where licencing laws are not yet as adversely affected by residential development. A promising sign of green shoots emerging in the clubbing landscape of Manchester and its surrounding centres.
Night and Day cafe
Opened in 1991 it’s not the newest, but it certainly picked up the torch for new music and still carries it to this day, with a 220 capacity and a Northern Quarter Location. Beginning life as a Fish n Chip shop owner Yan Oldenburg gradually established it as a mecca for emerging and alternative bands. Following complaints about noise, the cafe avoided closure when Johnny Marr and Tim Burgess leant their support to a petition to keep the venue open.
Listen To a playlist and short interview with Night & Day cafe's Jay Taylor here.
Night & Day Cafe is just one of the clubs that took part in Independent Venue Week 2018. The week of events brings together Britain's independent venues along with breaking and established artists, promoters, labels, media, bloggers and tastemakers to create a nationwide series of gigs at the end of January. Find out more at www.independentvenueweek.com