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Club of the Year: Mr Scruff’s ‘Keep it Unreal’

Mr Scruff’s sets are veritable feasts of eclecticism. As one of the lesser known Manchester musical heroes, Scruff’s legendary ‘Keep it Unreal’ club nights have developed a deserved cult following over the last decade. To start with, Band on The Wall is a great choice of venue; aside from the levelled dance floor there was a spacious chill out zone full of sofas. Music is piped through to this room so you won’t miss anything; with Mr Scruff’s sets being as eclectic as they are, this is a godsend– you don’t want to miss a beat. I challenge you to name any other club night that has a stand selling tea, biscuits and fruit like Mr Scruff’s tea shop, alongside heavily discounted records and merchandise.
The set itself was a work of art, lasting 5 hours and spanning nearly every genre, from disco, to jazz, to reggae, to house, to reggaeton. In what would normally be a jarring mix of genres, Scruff managed to perfect craft the atmosphere and ease through each transition of style. Example: our arrival was met with Born Under A Rhyming Planet’s ambient gem ‘Analogue Heaven’ drifting seamlessly into Paul McCartney dazzling ‘Secret Friend’, the most eclectic of choices. Genius. Who knew Macca was making proto-house in 1980? Mr Scruff, that’s who.
As night approached morning, Scruff turned things up a notch with Bileo’s disco screamer ‘You Can Win’, as well as the rare cut that is Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes’ ‘Prayin’. Somehow, the atmosphere dipped at no point, even as Scruff moved into Peruvian tropical house from Quechuaboi, and into the better known ‘Disco Balls’ by Flying Lotus. As the set began to close up with 30 minutes to go, Scruff played some choice cuts from his own back catalogue including the fantastic ‘Get On Down’.
The ‘no phones on the dance floor’ policy gave the night a very relaxed vibe, as fears of being captured drooling in the side of someone else’s picture or being dazzled by camera flashes were allayed. Worryingly this also meant no Shazam. For those of us prone to FOMO, being stuck on a dancefloor with no Shazam is like being stranded in the peak district without a map, but thankfully Mr Scruff uploads all of his sets online afterwards, the code for which you are given on a card upon entry, so that the next day you have a ticket to go on an expedition across the internet discovering all of the obscure artists and labels that Scruff has so lovingly stitched together into one giant patchwork. If we can recommend one thing to do before you leave Manchester, this is it.

Tags: Band on the Wall, Club of the year, Keep it unreal, Mr Scruff

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