With the recent closing of The Birdcage, the number of Manchester nightclubs still in operation has taken a drastic dip.
In the Printworks alone in the last decade we have bid farewell to Pure, Opus and Lazy Lizard.
Even Tiger Tiger is re-thinking its tried-and-tested offering of cheesy tunes, sticky dance floors and drinks deals, to be replaced by a garden of Eden-themed bar and club (the karaoke booths will stay, if you were concerned).
Several that were clinging on have been plagued with issues of violence – see Neighbourhood in Spinningfields, and Factory on Princess Street.
Demand for nightclubs seems to have dwindled and diverted, resulting in many of Manchester’s biggest late-night venues to close up.
There’s still an appetite for hedonism – any stroll through the Northern Quarter or Canal Street after midnight will tell you that – but with the city’s many cocktail bars staying open later there’s less need for bigger club venues.
Last week we took a trip down memory lane to look back on some of the city’s bygone nightclubs, and you all had some theories to why venues are shutting up shop.
One Facebook user wrote: “People know what they like more specifically now. They’d rather have a rad night where they feel at home than just a few overplayed songs.”
Daniel Richard posted: “You can’t really compare 15 years ago (then) you could go out on £40.. you need £200 in this [day] and age.”
In the comments on our first article, one user wrote: “We never had bother in any of them places in the 90’s. No or very little stabbings then. Just a good night out with friends… Bring back the good and more safe times.”
Another comment reads: “Late licensing laws completely changed the nightclub landscape. No longer did anyone need a ‘destination’ simply walk from bar to bar until 05:00.”
Now you have all joined in the conversation and delivered an even bigger dose of nostalgia – here are some more central Manchester clubs – and the odd late night bar – you loved.
A small, sweaty basement club beneath the Corn Exchange (or the Triangle shopping centre), Isadora’s was a club that was lost to the IRA bomb in 1996.
Club nights held at Isadora’s included The Hangout, Transcendental, and Fondue.
One reader remembers it as: “An amazing club – house dance in one room, indie alternative in the other room, no trouble just an awesome night.”
Lee Seager wrote: “Isadora’s at the Corn Exchange was a great club.”
Rachel Forster said: “So glad you mention Isadora’s. Loved it in there. My claim to fame being that Clint Boon once asked me to keep an eye on his drink in there!”
The place to drink Red Stripe from a can in the wee hours after attempting to sing Suspicious Minds on the karaoke.
The Queen Street basement venue, with its Phoenix Nights interior, was where reporters, nurses and Forces rubbed shoulders with all kinds of people who just didn’t want the night to stop.
It shut down in 2016 following an escalation in violence . Toy Box took over the venue last year.
Located in a basement beneath Fennel Street behind the cathedral, Pips was a four-room club frequented by members of Joy Division, Ian Brown, Morrissey and Johnny Marr – as well as a lot of M.E.N. readers, and waves of Manchester style tribes.
Jacqui Barlow posted on Facebook: “Pips behind the cathedral was my favourite place in the 70’s. It had the Roxy Music/Bowie room, the Soul room & another room where I saw Hot Chocolate live. I loved that place”
Anthony H posted on Twitter: “What a posy place. All the Roxy women with pink, green, and blue cigarettes. Great days.”
Another shared a flier advertising entry fees – with members getting in for just 15p on Wednesdays.
Twisted Wheel / Placemate 7 / Legends
Another popular suggestion has been Placemate 7, which took over the former Twisted Wheel club space on Whitworth Street.
Clare Ashcroft posted: “Anyone remember Placemate 7? Going back to the 70s!”
Julie Beswick wrote that she had: “Some good times theRE back in the day”, with another reader describing the club as their ‘spiritual home’.
The building was demolished in 2013 to make way for the Motel One near Piccadilly train station.
Havana was the definitive R&B/garage venue in Manchester in the early noughties.
One former raver said: “The lady who took your entrance fee sat behind a two way mirror, so all you would see was a disembodied hand. Once inside the sound system was incredible, and as it was one of those clubs where people actually danced ( all night), sweat used to pour off the walls.
“Nearly every one drank brandy and coke – usually Martell but Courvoisier if you were feeling flush. People from across the North came to hear Soul Control, DJs Leaky Fresh, Bizzy B and Tiny G – and on New Year’s they used to throw in rice and peas, curry goat and fried chicken in with the entrance fee.
“Manchester bars all play R&B now but didn’t then. In fact many places in the Northern Quarter are playing songs you would only hear in Havana twenty years ago. It was part of a Northern R&B circuit along with The Old Monk on Lloyd Street, Mr Smiths in Warrington and Kirklands in Liverpool.”
Here’s Havana’s High Street building – down from the old Blob Shop – shown in its later incarnation as live gig venue Ruby Lounge.
The Continental – affectionately known at ‘The Conti’ – was a popular haunt on Oxford Road for off-duty nurses, thanks to its proximity to St Mary’s Hospital.
The club relocated to Harter Street and became The New Continental in 1967, where it remained until 2001.
Sharon Iatham remembers the club well, posting on Facebook: “As a student nurse we visited the Conti Club at the end of the month and the Millionaire club just after payday they sent complimentary tickets to the nurses’ home”
A commenter on our website posted: “The Conti was great. The amount of times ‘Love Shack ‘ was played in there probably kept the B52s in royalties for the next 10 years. There was a really miserable woman who worked on the food hatch that looked like she wanted to throw things at you if you had the audacity to ask for chips or a burger.”
Another wrote: “Does anybody remember the Conti Club, Harter Street, spent loads of Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, mainly chatting with nurses, great place but dilapidated.”
Brahms and Liszt
Brahms and Liszt was a popular spot in the 1980s, located in the basement that would later become Panama Hatty’s (and which is now due to be turned into a Middle Eastern restaurant by the owners of El Gato Negro ).
Brahms and Liszt was known for its Tiger Lounge club night, which eventually became a (now-closed) club of its own.
Julie Young remembers: “Pipes from ceiling used to drip on you. Fab nights in the 80s.”
Mary Clarke said: “Went to a lot of dives back then but had the best nights top memories too”
Smoky, sweaty and filled with mohawks, eyeliner, band t-shirts and leather, Jilly’s Rockworld, on Oxford Street, was a haven of guitar music for years.
M.E.N readers have remembered its friendly – though punky – vibes fondly.
Chris Partington wrote: “Jillys Rockworld the best alternative club in Manchester”, with another commenter adding: “no hassle no fighting just a bloody good night.”
Another described the venue as ‘always a classic for some all night music…”
Located on Oldham Street, Dickens was a popular gay bar and club in the 70s and 80s, though it appealed to punters from all walks of life. It was home to some of Manchester’s drag queens – a scene local entertainers Bunny Lewis, and then Frank ‘Foo Foo’ Lammar represented in the mainstream.
The Dickens was up a steep flight of stairs, and one M.E.N. reader remembers: “Now that was something altogether different. Late night ‘twin peakesque’ karaoke with posties, drag queens and working girls. Loved it in there.”
Lucid / Pure
Before it was Pure – one of the biggest noughties nightclubs in the city – it was Lucid.
The 1200-capacity Printworks nightclub was a favourite haunt for stars of Coronation Street and footballers alike, but was banned from playing music in 2007 after it emerged that it had never purchased a performance licence. Naturally, it closed shortly after.
Sally O’Shea wrote on Facebook: “I think Pure was called Lucid beforehand- remember going there on my a-level results night! It had a bowling alley in there too..!”
Ricky Sheppard replied: “Great night out….bowling alley, pool tables, food, 4 diff dance floors!! Massive place.”
Other users remember its next life as Pure. One reader commented: “I used to work in Pure. Wasn’t the best paid job I ever had but did I come back with some stories after every shift!
“Perhaps the only job I genuinely miss! First place to ban smoking before it became law and there was metal detectors on the way in.”
Elgan Thomas remembers it less fondly: “Pure.. Pure vile it was.”
The venue is now Bierkeller.
Loud, sticky and cheap, Piccadilly 21s had chandeliers in the loos and was a proper 90s party palace.
You have all been sharing your (admittedly hazy) memories of the club on our Facebook page.
Rachel Frodsham remembers: “Piccadilly 21’s and Royales, complete with a bottle of 20/20.”
Joanne Walker wrote: “Piccadilly 21s in the late 90s I could go out and only spend £2 on four halves of Woodpecker cider, classy bird! To be fair, although it was cheesy it played the best piano house.”
Another commented: “I remember your feet would stick to the carpet lol.”
Although rarely called its full name of Discotheque Royale, this enormous venue next to the Free Trade Hall has sparked a lot of fond memories for those who partied there in its heyday.
The huge Peter Street venue peaked in the 90s – and smelt like it too – dry ice, spilt Bacardi Breezers, Lambert & Butler, Joop Homme and CK1.
David Platt wrote: “Royales, where you lost your mates and spent the evening looking for them, how many levels was it?”
Martin Reilly replied: “No mobiles back in the 90s, so yeah lose them and you were doomed.”
Greg Charnock on Twitter said: “Wonder how many drinks were spilt, and injuries caused due to those stairs in there. Student night used to be the biggest meat-market this side of Smithfield as well. Happy days.”
Richard Harrison said: “Royales pound a bottle before 11. Then arguing with the Subway across the road because they didn’t do kebabs.”
Another reader remembers watching Chesney Hawkes, East 17 and The Outhere Brothers at the club.
There’s an NCP car park where the hugely popular Rotters once stood on Oxford Road – but though its sticky carpets have gone, the memories remain.
One reader reminisced: “Rotters was my first club experience, I was only 15 but looked older, no ID checks in them days, and the place next door,and whatever that pub was called with all the knickers on the ceiling, everything is great when you are young. Manchester was and always will be a top night experience.”
Debra Clarke commented: “Omg I worked across from there in St James buildings in the 70’s. It was a regular haunt. Fantastic memories.”
Kathy Staples Broad said: “Loved Rotters had some crazy nights in there in the late 80s.”
Another reader wrote: “Rotters loved the place it was fantastic in its day, sadly it was pulled down but boy did I have some amazing nights in there and some all-nighters too.”
“Not tonight lads, too many lads tonight lads.” Loaf was the quintessential Deansgate Locks bar – and part of a circuit along with Panacea, Sugar Lounge, the Circle Club, The Lock and Living Room which drew footballers, big spenders, and wannabes in big numbers, and along with them, plenty of accusations that it was ‘pretentious’.
With its long designer-clad queues, Loaf was the type of late night ‘glamour’ bar that helped kill off the cheesy club – but now looks dated in the face of the Northern Quarter’s hipster spots.
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