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Manchester: The Retro Scene

Lauren Murphy finds the time-travelling club nights in the city

Published on February 10th 2010.

Manchester: The Retro Scene

For those of you who like your music a little bit dusty, there are a number of good nights to tempt you in Manchester.

Whether you want to hear classic hits from the f50s to the 80s or want a more underground and authentic experience, there’s a night for you.

A Monday night in the Roadhouse (on Newton Street, Northern Quarter: www.roadhouselive.co.uk, 0161 237 9789) provides the most authentic taste of the 60s with the popular club night, Revolver. As you descend the steps of the Roadhouse on a rainy Monday night, you might feel as though you are travelling back in time; once inside, you could be forgiven for mistaking it for an original vintage grotto.

The music is provided by the conspicuous Revolver DJs, who have become synonymous with the night itself; they are recognisable by their long hair, rock-star outfits, celebrity swaggers, and boxes laden with much-loved vinyl - all music is played on original vinyl, giving the night its true, crackly appeal. The red glittery walls, red fairy lights and red velvet curtains create the perfect backdrop for projections of iconic images which adorn the walls throughout the night.

Thankfully, the Revolver music does not play out like a greatest hits of the decade, but is in fact a well-sourced homage to the era; these DJs really know their stuff and are notorious for keeping the dance floor packed every Monday night. The Roadhouse opens at 10pm on Monday nights (it used to open at 11, but the extra hour was added in attempt to disperse the queue of eager Revolver-goers) and the night finishes at 2am, so that’s a perfect four-hour fix of retro music to keep you moving on a Monday night.

Another couple of decent retro nights to take you through the rest of your Manchester week are held at The Venue (on Jackson’s Row, just off Deansgate: www.thevenuenightclub.co.uk, 0161 839 5915). There’s ‘Retro Wednesday’ held every week, which plays a mix of crowd-pleasers mostly hailing from the 60s, 70s and 80s; you are likely to hear hits from the likes of The Beatles, The Small Faces, James Brown, The Supremes and Blondie. If you find yourself free at 10pm on a Wednesday night and you fancy a retro sing-a-long, this is your night.

The Venue also provides a retro fix on Fridays with their night ‘Twist and Shout’, which starts at 9pm and runs all the way through to 3am. The Venue describe this night as ‘Classic pop, funk and soul from the 60s and 70s‘, it delves more deeply into a variety of music from these decades, unlike its Wednesday counterpart which usually sticks more closely to the hits.

If it’s the lure of the 1980s that you can’t resist, there are options for you too. Subspace (on New Wakefield Street, right next to Oxford Road Station, 0161 236 4899) does an ‘I Love 80s’ club night every Thursday from 10pm until 2am, sounding out all your favourite 80s hits. Bum-bags and pound coin holders are essential if the night is to be complete. Also, if you are brave enough to enter the abyss of RockWorld (in Jilly’s on Oxford Road), you may be lucky enough to stumble upon the little-known room 4, pumping out 80s sounds. Good luck finding it (you may want to leave your bum-bags at home for that one).

Subspace also host a good Motown and Northern Soul night on Fridays, the aptly named ‘Outta Sight’. A good night if you want to don a sharp suit and some dancing shoes.

However, if you prefer your retro night more deep-rooted and psychedelic, then try the Star & Garter (hiding behind Piccadilly station on Fairfield Street, www.starandgarter.co.uk, 0161 273 6726) they hold a club night every month known as ‘Further’, accurately characterised by it’s Lichtenstein influenced flyer. Indeed, it goes further still into the realms of retro rock and garage; you are likely to hear some Velvet Underground, Jefferson Airplane, 13th Floor Elevators and Captain Beefheart. The next ‘Further’ club night is on Thursday 18th February and then again on 18th March. Expect to see some serious vintage fans (and some outlandish vintage fashion) at this one.

Manchester caters well for its fans of all things retro. Oldham Street in the Northern Quarter, for instance, is the indisputable home of vintage shopping; I’m sure many of the outfits spotted on these club nights have been carefully sourced and crafted from the array of vintage delights Oldham Street has to offer. Perhaps the retro scene’s popularity lies in the simple fact that the music is honest, good and familiar, or that these nights create a collective sense of energy and nostalgia; whatever the reason, they certainly draw in the crowds.

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Julian LyonsFebruary 10th 2010.

No mention on The Twisted Wheel?

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