Oh, Sankeys. We knew you so well, and yet, we barely knew you.
Ask just about any Manchester student who has passed through the club’s hallowed doors – be it for the Thursday night juggernaut Full Moon, or to revel under bright lights in the presence of a world famous DJ – and they will recall one classic, emotionally-charged night at the legendary venue just as easily as they will all-but-forget a further three; those alcohol-imbued nights reduced to a smattering of barely intelligible photos on Facebook. It is no coincidence that few students could point in you direction of Jersey Street, the home of Sankeys, but could instinctively direct you towards the bar.
Alas, Sankeys is moving house (pun intended), to a new home. A marathon, 12-hour party on Bank Holiday Monday will see the club voted the world’s best just three years ago open and close its doors for a final time. The announcement that Sankeys Manchester will close to enable the organisation to concentrate on its Ibiza counterpart provoked an outpouring of grief on social media. Speculation that the closure may be a short-lived publicity stunt, only for the club to rise from the ashes in September, was generated more in hope than expectation.
Here, we talk to owner and ‘creative visionary’ Dave Vincent about the club’s legacy, the reasons behind the move, and why “no-one can fill Sankeys’ shoes.”
Why do you think there has been such a tremendous and emotional reaction to the closure of Sankeys?
Because quite simply Sankeys is one of the world’s most respected club names, and the club has contributed massively to Manchester’s music scene, its culture and heritage. I really have been overwhelmed really by the reactions from people from the four corners of the world – huge amounts of support and love from everyone. It’s been very humbling to feel the impact the club has had.
To what extent have students played an integral part in Sankeys’ success?
Students have always been a huge part of the club’s success, especially during the more traditional student times but also throughout the summer. We have always had a very loyal crowd and the students have helped underpin this. Plus Sankeys attracts people from all over the city and beyond – it’s a vibrant and mixed crowd.
What sets Sankeys apart from any other club in Manchester?
We have always striven to be different, left of centre, and do what everyone expects us not to. There’s a unique spirit that the club has which I don’t think you can find anywhere else. The Haçienda was a legendary club and so is Sankeys. And of course this was recognised by DJ Mag in 2010, when we won the World’s Best Club award. We retain an intimacy in the venue which everyone loves; the basement is such a brilliant space which has seen pretty much all the world’s best house and techno DJs play over the years.
What are you strongest memories of your thirteen years in charge of Sankeys?
For me, one of my best memories is the Danny Tenaglia 12-hour session from 2002. Everyone who was there knows how it defined Manchester’s club scene. It took us to the next level.
What is your ultimate goal? Where do you hope to take Sankeys in the future?
The idea of having seven Sankeys’ – seven wonders of the world, seven Sankeys’ – is something we are determined to achieve. We are also opening in Miami and New York City this year, as well as our third season in Ibiza, so there’s lots coming up.
What should people expect from the closing party next month – the biggest party Manchester has seen in…?
It’s going to be a really epic weekend as the club closes. We are knocking the wall between the Basement and the Bar down to make one room so everyone can enjoy the closing night more freely. We are going to be giving away pieces of the wall to people as souvenirs to take a little piece of history home with them, and also we are throwing in a free ticket to some shows so you can go to Sankeys Ibiza too.
We have got a special eight-hour show from Sasha on Saturday 4 May, who at the moment has his album going to number one in nearly every dance chart around the world, and the Haçienda are having a BBQ party on Sunday afternoon with New Order’s Peter Hook, and possibly Shaun Rider from the Happy Mondays. Of course, expect the unexpected – we have got some surprise guests too playing on the final day.
Is there any chance of Sankeys returning to Manchester in the future?
In all honestly who knows at the moment. It is closing indefinitely, but if Sankeys does return it won’t be with me as its owner. I have done my time here in Manchester; I love this city dearly and always will, but for me this is the end and I want to finish on a high.