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Manchester gets a People’s Groucho Club

All about the Culture Show and mooching around in a delightful festival venue with access all areas

Published on July 7th 2009.


Manchester gets a People’s Groucho Club

People just get down to that Festival Pavilion wouldya? We’ve got ourselves a proper people’s Groucho club going on here.

Go any time and you’ll probably find artists, politicians and business folk swinging in and out of the place.

Best of all the whole place is manufacturing a mood of easy-going enjoyment. It’s a sea of spires - the Town Hall, the Pavilion and the Albert Memorial - amongst which to watch the world go by, chat and drink and snack.

But there’s no exclusivity. The open door policy to the open-air perma-party taking place bars no-one. Down at the Pavilion you also get real folk not just the precious few. Tourists and city visitors are loving it as well.

This place is a real Festival success story already, just a 120 hours into our 432 hours of art, culture and fun.

It’s all cleverly arranged. There are a scattering of gaily painted benches, bright deckchairs strewn around and lights and lanterns hanging above. With the fountain, the trees, the cobbles and the Gothic glory of the Town Hall as a backdrop it’s an absolute treat.

Should it rain you have Roger Stephenson’s sweetly designed Pavilion tent providing shelter. On the other side of the Pavilion is a performance space with events taking place every night. The box office for the Festival is conveniently to the side.

Best of all the whole place is manufacturing a mood of easy-going enjoyment. It’s a sea of spires - the Town Hall, the Pavilion and the Albert Memorial - amongst which to watch the world go by, chat and drink and snack.

Things can heat up though. Last Saturday saw clubland hit the Pavilion, with people jigging around to such original modern, pioneering tunes as Sister Sledge’s ‘Lost in Music’. Oh well. You can’t win ‘em all even in a festival dedicated to new work. It was fun to see Stalybridge and Hyde MP James Purnell in there with a gorgeous lady, foot-tapping away. It must make up for missing out on all those dull policy debates since he jumped clear of the Cabinet.

Monday afternoon was more laid back. This was when John Robb, Terry Christian and Sebastian Horsley were interviewed by a drop-dead gorgeous Lauren Laverne – who up close is nineteen foot tall folks – for BBC2’s Culture Show. Watching this, it was hard not to find oneself pining for Anthony H. The city misses his authority on these occasions.

The presence of the Culture Show all added to the buzz though. As we say get down there and witness the beating heart of the Festival. And if you see us, come on over, we might even buy you a drink.

By the way, the Culture Show is covering Manchester on 8, 15, and 22 July (every Wednesday). It will be broadcast from 7pm - 7.50pm on BBC2.

The first show looks at the collaboration between film-maker Adam Curtis, theatre company Punchdrunk, and Damon Albarn for It Felt Like a Kiss. Lauren Laverne also talks to Elbow's Guy Garvey and there’s an interview with Kraftwerk's Ralf Hutter, plus the panel photographed on these pages get to say their piece.

The second show is presented by Miranda Sawyer and covers the four hour live art experience curated by artist Marina Abramovic at the Whitworth Gallery (click here). It also examines Zaha Hadid’s concert space in Manchester Art Gallery and interviews Rufus Wainwright about his first opera, Prima Donna, both of which will be reviewed by Confidential on Monday.

For the last show on 22 July, we haven’t got all the details. It definitely features a piece on Manchester’s architecture and design from Tom Dyckhoff. This includes an interview with Manchester Confidential editor, Jonathan Schofield, in which he’ll probably go on and on and on about something.

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

GrahamJuly 7th 2009.

Can we make it permanent somehow?!! In-fact, can we make MIF as a whole permanent, all year round... That'd be good. Then I wouldn't feel I had to spend so much money on tickets in such a short space of time...

J AllenJuly 7th 2009.

Who's the girl in the check shirt with the microphone, she's pretty foxy too? Are they both BBC? Might try for one of those jobs when they relocate to Mediacity

AnonymousJuly 7th 2009.

A proper members club. A meeting place. The sort of place you can turn up, talk to interesting people, eat, drink and be merry.A place free from footballers, bling and attitude.

EditorialJuly 7th 2009.

Thanks Anonymous

AnonymousJuly 7th 2009.

well it would have been nice to go it but no doubt because the celebs etc security was a bit unwelcoming so I gave it a miss... just

DescartesJuly 7th 2009.

Nice and positive. I'm sure they can patch any leaks and provide a bit of extra shelter over the seating area. I went down on Friday, beats the hell out of any market bar that's been there previously, really enjoyed it.

CasJuly 7th 2009.

Been to the St James' Club a couple of times. It's more for retired or semi retired legal workers methinks! Not somewhere a 30 year old would go. However the beef, that was to die for!

Charlie BJuly 7th 2009.

Anonymous, what type of thing would you envisage such a club being? Are you talking a place for artists and others to meet and chat?

AnonymousJuly 7th 2009.

Why does Manchester not have a permanent Graucho equivalent? The city is crying out for it.

Ali McGowanJuly 7th 2009.

MIF is bloody brilliant (again!!). Well done to all involved in creating such a slick festival. I went to the 'bingo' last night (Everybody loves a winner) and thoroughly enjoyed this piece. Now, I bet it might be in the pipeline... how about MIF every year? The whole thing is still in its infancy compared with other big events - but it's so bloomin' good that I'd be very, very happy to see it come back every summer...it

AvoJuly 7th 2009.

The St James' Club?

AnonymousJuly 7th 2009.

It's a great place but they need to sort the organisation out on a Saturday night. The outside bar ran out of drink then they wouldn't let people in to the main tent for about half an hour so nobody could go anywhere, the organiser was stood at the entrance to the tent throwing a paddy! Safe to say once I got a beer in hand though it was a great place to relax in a deckchair till the wee hours of Sunday morning. Can't wait to try the food.

Jonathan Schofield - editorJuly 7th 2009.

We've got an interview going up on Monday with NPMIF.

CasJuly 7th 2009.

I'm up for it!

EugeneJuly 7th 2009.

By the way...what is that cussons tent all about? what goes on in there...?

AnonymousJuly 7th 2009.

Er, that's Sebastian Horsley.

Beefy StewJuly 7th 2009.

Mind you, if you got say, thirty people to join we could take over the committee and bring it into the 21st century...

DrakeJuly 7th 2009.

It is all rather wonderful isn't it? Just one small point 'if it rains...there's the pavilion'. Which famously leaks. As does the PZ CUssons tent. Never mind, its the rainy city after all.

www.notpartof.orgJuly 7th 2009.

Don't forget that MIF isn't the only show in town. Check out the Not Part Of Festival for an inclusive, alternative.

Roger RudeJuly 7th 2009.

I saw Ms Laverne yesterday in the Square and I'm in love. Those legs. Wow. Double wow.

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