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Poptastic 12th Birthday

Wayne Clews reminisces about Poptastic and raises a glass to its future

Published on April 4th 2008.


Poptastic 12th Birthday

Twelve years is a heck of a long time in clubbing, even more so in the notoriously fickle world of the gay scene.

Yet Poptastic has survived in style. All those years ago, when I was but a callow youth fresh out of university with a second pointless degree and misguidedly thought I had a future ahead of me, Poptastic opened its doors for the very first time in the inauspicious surroundings of the basement of Blooms Hotel in the Village. The hotel, which would hardly have rivalled Malmaison even in its heyday, supplied a couple of dingy rooms complete with a dodgy sound system, throw in some cheap booze and a soundtrack of indie and pop and the phenomenon that is Poptastic was born.

Having been forced to spend my formative gay years pretending that I liked dancing badly to happy house in venues like Paradise Factory and Manto’s when I was much happier being a shoe-gazing miserablist, Poptastic was certainly a breath of fresh air. On top of that, I’m the sort of person who is quite content to get mortally paralytic on a Tuesday night and feel little remorse. However, the club’s future was still less than certain; many other venues and promoters gave Poptastic just a few weeks to live – apparently, puffs simply didn’t like music with guitars. I think we can safely say that they were wrong.

After an itinerant existence, Poptastic finally found its true home at Alter Ego (formally Mutz Nutz) on Princess Street and opened its doors on both Tuesdays and Saturdays. Perhaps the key to the club’s success was that it never took itself too seriously; from the notorious shagtags to the signature house cocktail of Cheeky Vimto (port and blue WKD if you want the recipe) to the unashamedly kitsch pop lounge soundtrack, Poptastic is all about having fun rather than posing in Versace and consequently has always been a big hit with the student crowd. It’s a formula that has seen the club expand across the country to cities such as Leeds and Liverpool, Glasgow and, this year, Edinburgh.

For their twelfth birthday, Poptastic will be decamping from the Village to the plush surroundings of The Birdcage in the city centre. Mr Poptastic himself, John Hamilton, will be your genial host for the evening and live performances come from Daggers and Saltylips (whose oeuvre is sadly a mystery to me) and from potty-mouthed former frontman of Dead Or Alive, Pete Burns. The whole affair has a distinctly eighties theme so dress accordingly. Failing that, fall over drunk, pull a student and celebrate twelve years of a Manchester institution in suitably debauched style.

April 8, The Birdcage, 11pm-4am, £10, £7 adv

Recommended Homoelectric
Legends, April 4, 10pm-4am, £10
One of the best club nights in the country is back for another outing. On the bill are Luke Unabomber, Jamie Bull, Tramp, Caged Baby and Matt from The Arctic Monkeys! More to be confirmed but just go anyway.

Club Lash
Legends, April 11, 9.30pm-3am, £15, members £8
The fetish night celebrates its tenth birthday with a purple passion themed party. There will be specialist stalls, changing facilities and a top line up of DJs. Dress to impress.

Pink Thursday
LGF, Princess Street, April 10, 7pm, Free
The monthly film club returns with a screening of Jonathan Harvey’s Beautiful Thing; a tale of a burgeoning gay relationship on a London council estate. Booking advised.

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7 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

snobApril 4th 2008.

sounds like "former fan" has "grown up" and forgot how to have fun!

Michael ColemanApril 4th 2008.

Poptastic does play a good mix of new and old music however the playlist is determined more by the crowd who want to dance to music they know than the DJ's who don't have any new tunes! If you get there early you will hear good new music but if that was played later it would clear the dance floor, not good for any club night! I would recommend Bollox at Legends to anyone looking for something a bit different, last time I was there the music veered from The Waitresses to Ting Tings through Siouxsie, Black Kids, Girls Aloud and Rufus Wainwright. Great stuff.

raeApril 4th 2008.

hey, does any one know if its a ticket or pay on the door affair? and do we HAVE TO wear 80' s stuff??

Former FanApril 4th 2008.

That time of year again when Mr Hamilton gets a micro-phone and says "They said we would be here for 3 seconds, and we've been here for 3,000 years" or some such. Lets face it Poptastic has had its day. It should have retired years ago. Now its just a badly attended shadow of its former self. I used to love the place. It was the only place I would go...even after the old crowd started drifting away. Then suddenly it began to dawn that the DJ had not bought any records in years, and that they were churning out the same old stuff week after week after week. The place had become part of the conservative establishment. Essential or Cruz, but with an indie room. Its one of the culprits that make gay clubbing so boring in this city now. Better to look to 'straight' nights such as Invest in Property, Clique, Keys Money Lipstick or Contort Yourself if you want some musical excitement or something with a modern edge where they are playing stuff that has been recorded in the past 2 years. I think last time I went to Poptastic the DJ managed about 30 mins worth of anything that could be called new. The people on the dance floor could hardly bring themselves to do just that - dance - and if Wayne thinks Poptastic is all about having fun, it certainly wasn't getting through to the people. WAS should be the word. It WAS about having fun. No club night should surely last 12 years. Surely each generation deserves something new - not the same old dinosaur trading on past glories. Poptastic is one of the few clubs I have ever known to drop its door prices - surely a sign of a dwindling crowd and a desperate management. I am sure the birthday bash will be full. Unlike the tired Saturday nights of now, empty of people driven away by a play list that should have been retired to an OAP home. Ultimately part of Poptastic's popularity was also about the bar prices. Perhaps they should also celebrate being at the start of the city's binge drinking culture?? Lets stop all this gay self congratulatory patting on the back that occurs in columns such as this and on the pathetic MEN gay page and face the fact that Manchester gay culture has turned from cutting edge UK leader to some parochial conservative none event.

NadsApril 4th 2008.

Jon Hamilton knows how to throw a good party! Pop's bday will be wicked!

Kev PApril 4th 2008.

I remember being a fresh faced 16 year old coming over from Liverpool for my first foray into gay night life and stepping in to Poptastic for the first time... oh the memories! Now I'm 24 and I still f*ckin love it! Long live Pop! Can't wait for Tuesday! Though I feel HIDEOUSLY old remembering their 5TH birthday!!!!!

ithastobemeApril 4th 2008.

Surprise surprise Pete Burns didn't turn up - I'm not doubting Jonm as he has photgraphs to prove he'd been here, but where does Pete Burns get off treating people who paid money to see him like this? Now i hear he is 'headlining'Blackpool Pride! THAT should be a laugh! At least we know Rowetta will turn up!!

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