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South nightclub refit review

Lynda Moyo feels the sounds of the underground at the new South

Written by . Published on January 6th 2011.


South nightclub refit review

This weekend, South was booming in every sense of the word. Following the new refurbishment, anyone who has ever been to the South King Street indie club seemingly flocked to see the outcome of designer Ben Kelly’s work and, more importantly, if South still made sense.

Clearly enjoying the bass boom, DJ Clint Boon cranked it up a notch on Saturday and nearly blew my ears inside out. The speakers, positioned at the back of the room, are the types that you feel right to your very core. Magnificent, although in a modest sized club such as South, they’re not for the faint hearted - more the faint of hearing.

The most significant change at South is of course the removal of those pesky tin can speakers and the addition of the monstrous and much-needed Funktion One Soundsystem.

Clearly enjoying the bass boom, DJ Clint Boon cranked it up a notch on Saturday and nearly blew my ears inside out. The speakers, positioned at the back of the room, are the types that you feel right to your very core. Magnificent, although in a modest sized club such as South, they’re not for the faint hearted - more the faint of hearing.

The upgrade in sound is juxtaposed alongside some rather rustic finishes elsewhere in the club. Some, such as the revealing of original brickwork on the main wall are totally in-keeping with South’s original remit of being ‘a tiny disco dive, dark and deliberately underground’. These design features work amazingly well on a visual level and accentuate everything South stands for. However, it’s the practical features such as the toilets where I found South caught short.

She's loving that bass box

What used to be separate gender toilets hidden away, is now a visible and confused unisex queue overlooking the dance floor via a glass balcony. The new design attempts to make the club seem more spacious, but actually defeats the object as the queues for the toilets snake down the stairs.

The reason for this was partly because there is now a mirror in each cubicle rather than a shared mirror by the sinks and hand dryers like in the old design of South. This meant that men ended up crammed into a boxy urinal whilst girls spent even longer than their usual 20 minute stint in individual toilets because of the internal mirrors. Granted, they do now have my favourite Dyson hand dryer, but when I’ve just had to pull an old fashioned chain to flush the loo it becomes absurd. Perhaps Ben Kelly got a bit carried away here.

Boon army chief

That’s not to say of course that South has lost a soldier over a bit of a loo rant. I’m still a fan of Boon army and most changes to the club are for the better, despite a few teething problems which I’m sure the club will address in due course. Another welcome addition is a treat of an area for smokers or those that have been blasted out of the building due to Boon’s knob twiddling.

Photo by Andrea Andrews

They call it a court yard, which it is, although it reminded me more of Jack Duckworth’s (RIP) backyard on Corrie more so than the pretty outdoor space I’d imagined. Still, it serves its purpose and it also has the add-on feature of an outdoor bar and a massive screen showing artists such as Velvet Underground and the Stones. I guarantee this area will be heaving in the summer months but unfortunately on a -6 Saturday night I could offer little cold comfort to the shivering barman.

Being the launch weekend, the atmosphere was more buzzing than ever. Boon gave the people what they wanted – most of the time. By that I’m referring to a couple of occasions whereby the song choice dampened the vibe. Let’s face it, most people don’t go to South to hear Jay-Z and Alicia Keys’ ‘Empire State of Mind’ and I did notice a few South old timers having a good old sulk over this.

I’m sure that kind of reaction is nothing a Happy Monday’s track can’t fix and in fairness to him he probably just wants to occasionally try out new or different material on the crowd – after all South is introducing some new genre nights too.

Overall it's the same old South we know and love. As my friend joyfully pointed out: “Look! You still can’t sit down ’cause there’s drink spilt everywhere.” Hallelujah.

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

P DiddyNovember 29th 2010.

Still full of old people and backwards looking music. People who wish they'd been around in the 60s and fetishise parkas, Weller haircuts and yearn for Madchester, beer-lad rock and a token bit of 'northern soul'. Irrelevant. Waste of money.

Arran SummerhillNovember 29th 2010.

or... Still full of a more mature and less problematic crowd, enjoying classic (in the main) indie and rock music. People who appreciate non-r'n'b/funky house/indie chav cr4p., No bald scallie haircuts and remember madchester for putting manchester back on the map.
Still relevant. pay your money and go if its your thing.
If not, got to the printworks/deansgate/ the locks or somewhere that you'll like.

RobNovember 29th 2010.

Ha. I know what you mean. It's full of idiots thinking they know what they like.

I'm going to club on Friday that's £75 to get in, it's only open for 14 minutes and the DJ is just a Pantone 185 coloured board.

It's going to be epic.

Kevin PrestwichNovember 30th 2010.

went at the weekend and felt like the crowd was mostly chav rejects that couldnt get in mojo's, its about 2 years since I have been and the crowd has changed a lot. I was quite amused by a drunken rant from a "cool" kid at the bar commenting on the state for the indie music scene and how all the chavs go crazy for kings of leon.

however on the positive the sound system is ace, the club feels a lot bigger, the dj is in a better place and the outside area created at the back is great.

if some effort was made to attract the right crowd and stop the wrong crowd getting in, then I could go a bit.

ACDecember 1st 2010.

I make the mistake of visiting South every couple of years and they are pretty much still playing exactly the same songs they played in the late 90's when I was a student. Do people need to hear I am the Resurrection every Saturday night? I wouldn't set foot on Deansgate Locks on a Saturday night but I avoid the likes of South, 5th Ave and The Venue too. There has been so much good indie music released in the last ten years and Manchester really needs to get over itself and stop playing Oasis.

JenwanDecember 1st 2010.

If you live in Manchester you know the bars/clubs pretty well and a refurb won't entice you somewhere you wouldn't have gone before. If you're a lover of South a new smoking area and mirrors in the loo's won't spell the end of Clint Boon churning out Oasis and the odd Inspiral Carpet number; but the regular clientele wouldn't want it any other way.
I find South is somewhere I like to dip my toe in every now and again, as it's a cheap night out, but give me the likes of Caribou at the Warehouse Project any night of the week.

WhitesidesOnsideDecember 2nd 2010.

P Diddy 29 November 2010, 17:36:04Still full of old people and backwards looking music. People who wish they'd been around in the 60s and fetishise parkas, Weller haircuts and yearn for Madchester, beer-lad rock and a token bit of 'northern soul'. Irrelevant. Waste of money.

If you don't like it then eff off back to London or which ever shit hole you left to come to Uni in Manchester you complete clown. This is what Manchester is about - like it or do one.

Leah BrothertonDecember 8th 2010.

South is the best club in Manchester, end of. Don't care if the choons are the same every week, I love it! Boon Army!

Brian JenkinsJanuary 18th 2011.

"Old people!??"...
How old is "old??"....As someone who's getting on a bit...mid 40's, but still younger than Boony! It's refreshing to be able to go somewhere where you are not stared at while dancing off yer face for four hours and having a good time.
The crowd here accept people for who they are, no hang ups about age or where they are from or what they are wearing (Although yep, do seem to be more chavs in here lately!)
But sort them bl00dy bogs out!!...Nightmare...erm especially for someone my age!
You don't stop liking good music when you reach 40 you know :0)

Kevin GrahamJune 14th 2012.

Think we went to this place last year - old uni pals early thirties on a golf trip - yep that's how we roll now. Red Stripe from the tin, 90s brit pop and indie and a decent crowd with a smile on their face. Saw one scuffle because of one 'kinard but apart from that, seemed friendly and up for the craic. Good work, might be back.

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