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Antwerp Mansion Reviewed

L'Oréal Blackett takes a wrong turn on Fallowfield's Curry Mile and parties with fake Rastafarians in a rundown Victorian House

Written by . Published on February 6th 2014.


Antwerp Mansion Reviewed
 

HIPSTERS, beards and the ‘Northern Quarter type’ are joining a list of banned clichéd and overused words at Manchester Confidential (Yes, they bloody are, Ed).

Unfortunately in a review of Antwerp Mansion, the 'need-to-know' venue hidden away in the grungy depths of Fallowfield, these words are proving hard to avoid. 

It’s anti-establishment, anti-control, anti-pretention, anti-toilet paper, anti-glass cups and anti-deodorant. All complete with graffiti, face-painting and cans of Red Stripe.

After all Antwerp Mansion is so hipster no one in our offices, apart from me, knew down a side street and shielded by the seizure inducing neon of Wilmslow Road’s Curry Mile, is an 1840s house, alive with dancing.

The place was initially built as part of a gated community for super-rich industrialists, then turned into a private estate for a Belgian Consul – hence the name - before being transformed into ballroom and snooker hall during the 1920s.

Nowadays it looks like a squatters den in a post-apocalyptic Manchester. In reality it's a run down music, arts and event venue that caters for a subculture of artists and musicians despite the website claiming it's 'run by lizards from the lower fourth dimension'

Outside_Back_ScaledAntwerp Mansion back entrance 

In short, the place is eccentric. 

Despite this being my fourth visit, entering Antwerp from the rear is always an unnerving experience.

You have to walk down a dark, dark alley, way up some dark, dark stairs, into a dark, dark house, bypassing a few fake Rastafarians all with dirty blond dreads, some hooded figures and bulky security guards before you enter a surprisingly welcoming club night

Img_5680

People are friendly in Antwerp. In the packed-to-the rafters gig room I was continually greeted by a bunch of cheerful oddities with mutton chops who couldn't help but touch me and tell me how amazing I was. Thanks, I guess. Yet you go along with it because the sugar coated niceness is infectious and who values personal space anyway?

Img_5661Really nice people. 

At its centre, a grand wrought iron staircase separates two floors. Upstairs is The Old Rope Gallery or Ballroom space with acoustic perfect arches, downstairs is The Blue Room, a small bar  that on this night included a make-shift tepee den where you could get your face painted. Also downstairs is the large Gig Room.

Img_5613Gothic Victorian staircase

On this particular night, it was an Antwerp Mansion fave: Riot Jazz.

As the name would suggest Riot Jazz is pretty much an oxymoron.

In this instance it involves a casually dressed brass band including a half naked tuba player, lead by an MC and enhanced with a drummer and DJs.

It shouldn’t work but it does. The result is more unruly dancing, collective euphoria and a lot of new found romances in the middle of the floor.

Img_5659Riot Jazz and an euphoric crowd

The charm of this place is its unconventional approached to clubbing and its air of unrestrained freedom. It has all the space of a modern club, yet all the reckless abandon of an illegal house party. You can jump on the sofas or as one girl decided, make dust angels in the middle of the cold stone floor.

Img_5687Anything goes at Antwerp Mansion

The drinks are dirt cheap too. There’s not much choice, to be fair. Most partiers opted for a can of Red Stripe, crushing the cans on the floor once finished. The upstairs bar only had a humble choice between your standard  rum, vodka, whisky and a few beers.

At £3 for a single shot plus mixer there was little chance of me staying sober and not joining in with all the lovey-dovey touchy feeley-ness.

Img_5669Red Stripe?

Antwerp Mansion’s rundown vibe may only be appealing to the likes of me and my friends, a collective of people who like their music unconventional but secretly have enjoyed the odd song from Justin Biebs. It's niche and that's what brings me back

Img_5607

For me, there was initially an unwillingness to uncloak and reveal what is one of the most unruly and organic event venues in Manchester.

It’s anti-establishment, anti control, anti-pretention, anti- toilet paper, anti glass cups and anti-deodorant. All complete with graffiti, face-painting and many more cans of Red Stripe.

Even so, you can’t ignore that the once beautiful Victorian House is falling to pieces. It's in great need of renovating and could do with a good clean.

The grass-roots owners have a nifty line of reasoning to excuse the dereliction. 

 "It is not and never was a squat,' it states on the website. 'It costs a bomb to do what we're trying to achieve. The profitable thing would be level it and sell the land...but then that would suck wouldn't it!? If you don't like the fact it’s rough, you can either help us renovate it or bog off to any of the fancy joints across town.'

Antwerp Mansion and the likes of the bars across Deansgate and Spinningfields exist in parallel universes. That's the way it should be with cities of course. Something for everybody. It would be boring if everywhere were the same. 

Antwerp is sweaty but fun, in a your-sweat-is-mine kinda way. Go and try it but remember, your shoes will be destroyed.

Still those shoes only lived so you could dance like you’ve never danced before - right?

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Find out more about the events at Antwerp Mansion and just exactly where it is on the website. 

Img_5600Good moustache

Img_5603


Img_5673

Img_5671

Img_5681

 

Img_5688Good Graffiti

Img_5664A beautiful weirdo

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

Stephen6230February 5th 2014.

Looks good.

StephenFebruary 6th 2014.

So, does anyone else here call their group of friends a "collective"? Anyway, I'm off into the kitchen with a bag of flour. Those "Dust Angels" don't do themselves you know!

AnonymousFebruary 6th 2014.

Decided to delete this idiot's rant as unbecoming - in its tedious parochialism - of a city that has 25 Nobel prize-winners and is at its best when it is open to the world and not stuck in a cul-de-sac of envy somewhere in a lonely suburb. Antwerp Mansion seems fabulous and if I were younger I'd be there like a shot, just as my son and his mates from Old Trafford have been on many occasions. Jonathan Schofield - editor

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousFebruary 7th 2014.

Who rattled your earrings, Deirdre?

AnonymousFebruary 6th 2014.

Top venue. As far away from the likes of Deansgate Locks as you could ever wish to imagine.

Chris Keller-JacksonFebruary 6th 2014.

Amazing venue for Fashion Photography, and the folk who run this (Kris the caretaker / day Manager) are very accommodating. Cheap to hire too, considering the possibilities - some very eclectic rooms

AnonymousFebruary 6th 2014.

It is indeed a great venue, have had some great nights there - well done to the guys that run the place. Great to see one of Victoria Park's remaining grand old houses being put to good use rather than being left to rot and fall down as so many have already (there are a pair of fabulous buildings on Oxford Place in a terrible state - COUNCILLORS ARE YOU LISTENING????). Yet to see any evidence of renovation at Antwerp Mansion yet mind... even some bark chippings on the muddy entrance / lawn area would be a start? Where is the revenue going?

8 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousMarch 10th 2015.

Cllrs are listening. One works at Antwerp....

AnonymousMarch 10th 2015.

Are they? What enforcement action have they taken against the absentee owners of said derelict but beautiful buildings?

GimboidMarch 10th 2015.

What enforcement action do you think they could take, Anon? Out of curiosity.

AnonymousMarch 11th 2015.

Section 215 Town and Country Planning Act. Powerful and much underused legislation. Also Empty Dwelling Management Orders. I'm sure there are other powers that someone more familiar with planning law might suggest.

GimboidMarch 11th 2015.

Thanks Anon.

AnonymousMarch 11th 2015.

Cllr Gillard working in nightclub representing a ward with massive problems from parties in houses... I rather wonder about the irony and conflict of interest.

GretchMarch 11th 2015.

Conflict of interest? Nonsense Anon. Do you think that councillors should not be involved in businesses in their wards? Rather a warped view.

AnonymousMarch 30th 2015.

No Gretch, Cllr Gillard is Withington ward, part of which is famous for student house parties. Having a Cllr working in night club is somewhat at odds.

AnonymousFebruary 7th 2014.

For shame Ms Blackett. The Curry Mile is "Fallowfield" is it? Fallowfield's famous Curry Mile? Do you know the classic Smith's song, Fallowfield Ruffians? Good grief. If you guys can't even get this kind of basic local geography right then nothing on ManCon should be taken seriously. en.wikipedia.org/…/Rusholme… cleveret.net/…

3 Responses: Reply To This...
Hero
GordoFebruary 7th 2014.

Clearly I should close the whole company down Anon. OOhh a mistake...

EditorialFebruary 8th 2014.

Bless you, Anonypedant, but L'Oreal went via Rusholme to get to Antwerp House, she doesn't say it's in Rusholme.

AnonymousFebruary 8th 2014.

But it is in Rusholme...

VicFebruary 9th 2014.

"I was continually greeted by a bunch of cheerful oddities with mutton chops who couldn't help but touch me and tell me how amazing I was..." Brilliant

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