A look at the brilliance of Manchester’s underground dance music scene
Did anyone else choose The University of Manchester primarily because of the city’s prestigious music reputation? I obviously attended the open day, skimmed through the course guide with feigned enthusiasm and accompanied (not forced) by my mother, tentatively questioned a lecturer on the content of the first year modules; yet, in the back of my mind throughout all of this was the nagging allure of Manchester as a city and the varying gigs, club nights, record shops and ensuing experiences that it had to offer. Now, while this may seem shocking to those who view University as an education rather than a three year musical pilgrimage, my fleeting interest in my politics degree has evolved into something more resembling a passion; a comforting realisation which has made me cherish the sanctity of university and its place in facilitating our thoughts to develop. However, music has still been at the forefront of my experience and Manchester has definitely lived up to my heady expectations. Dishearteningly though, one of my first experiences of the city’s nightlife was to be a massive disappointment.
Warehouse Project was one of the first things that was recommended to me before I arrived. It was depicted as the pinnacle of the Manchester club scene, £25 a ticket being an obvious indicator of its overwhelming superiority over any other night in the city. Lured by the often impressive, extensive lineups and the inevitable buzz which surrounded it (partly stoked by that retrospectively menacing slogan ‘For Twelve Weeks The City is Our’s’), we all went expecting something great. Overcrowded, stressful and essentially soulless, its ethos is wholly contradictory to that of the city’s smaller club nights which encourage a friendlier, more inclusive vibe; music being very much at the forefront. Piling and shoving 6,000 gurney weekend warriors into a warehouse every Friday and Saturday does not make a city ‘your’s’; surely the true musical ownership of the city goes to those who create vibrant club or gig nights in venues conducive to listening and dancing. House and techno nights meandyou. and Bohemian Grove are two such events which bring in many of the genres’ most respected DJs, yet the attraction for dance music enthusiasts often springs more from the sense of community and passion, sparked by the energy and devotion of the night’s organisers and resident DJs. Unlike WHP, you are not treated like cattle. In fact, as a party-goer there is a sense that you are integral to the night and in turn are treated as an equal. This attitude helps foster a feeling of togetherness and cooperation within the Manchester scene; everyone excited for the next night to arrive and the chance to get together with friends and enjoy the music that you love.
This is what the city’s music culture means to me and so many others. While London and other larger cities may offer more cultural diversity, one thing that Manchester and places such as Bristol and Glasgow uniquely offer, is an interdependent, communal environment in which you as an artist or enthusiast can entirely immerse yourself in. So, if you’re planning on making the move down to the big smoke after your degree, cherish the inclusiveness of Manchester’s cultural landscape while you’re still here: you may never get it so good again.