Author: Tim Jones

August 2000

The Bank Holiday weekend in Manchester saw the celebration of Gayfest, taking over from the formally known Manchester Mardi Gras. This year was a lower key affair due to the lack of central funding, and the loose of money last year, there was no organising group to put on an “outdoor” show as was seen in previous years. This year all the celebrations were “in-house” at the various Gay & Lesbian business’s around the Manchester gay village.

A parade took place Saturday morning, with a range of floats from local business’s to Age Concern!, ( see here for photos) on the Sunday there was a market in the local car park, this year with very much local community stalls, as opposed to the commercial outlets of previous years. All the pubs asked for a donation on entry which was to go to a range of AIDS charities, and most had extended licensees for the weekend.

We arrived on Saturday after a painful 5 hours on the motorway from London!… usual traffic, I would certainly use the train or plane next time!. Saturday was fairly low key, finding us hanging out at the Rembrandt Pub, very much the heart of the village, with it’s mix of bears, skinheads and 18 year old camp queens. Then it was onto Cruz101 dance club - not for the faint hearted!! The place was in full swing with a Hawaiian beach party…. As we walked in a very cheap Lai was put around our necks, mind you for £7 entry what do you expect…. There were “water features” placed strategically around the dance floor, the sort of thing you find in Wollies for £19.99. A few plastic palms finished it all off. The music was, well, music!.. I did manage to speak to the main DJ who passed this comment when he heard I had spun at Mardi Gras in Sydney “eee….I bet you don’t play this shit man” in an accent reminiscent of Benny from Crossroads. The smoke machine was in overtime, and my partner had to seek refuge in the female toilets, snatching an asthma inhaler from a blond 16 year old in a mini skirt, and gasping for breath lying across the sinks.

Sunday was all together allot better…. We made off for Treat in the Street 6 at the Granada Studios at 9:00pm. For those who have never experienced the Studios, it’s a Disney Land for British Northern soap fans, being the home of Coronation Street and now also The Wool Pack from Emmerdale. After kissing the hallowed cobble streets of Coronation Street we grabbed a pint in The Rover Return (Its bigger in real life than on the telly!!), then it was on to the dance venues. These were spread around the sound stages in the studio grounds. Baker Street, a huge mock up of Victorian Baker Street from London, complete with Sherlock Holmes’s flat!… here GAY, Heaven and Love Muscle all sponsored the music, and it was allot of fun. A big crowd of up for it guys and gals…. We even bumped into Janet Battersby with 17 year old groupies on the dance floor!.

The Baskerville Suite played host to Warriors, unfortunately this resembled a wedding party on acid… don’t ask, lets not go there!. Poptastic did a great job and certainly packed in the crowd with their mix of indie music… reminded me of my student days. On the main stage was a flurry of Wannna Be’s and Has Beens…, but Angie brown was Fab!.

At 2:00am we moved onto Hell Fire in Jillys in the city centre, I had been warned about this one. When we got there there was an excellent mix of Nu Nrg and Techno music (great DJ from Hamburg Andreas F.) The lighting was atrocious, with so much light from the emergency lights the disco lights paled into insignificance. I was immediately disappointed with the turn out, only half the floor held people…. Until I discovered the biggest dark room ever!!… with about 500 men in all stages of enjoyment!!!.. In another room there were demonstrations of flogging and S&M culture, almost along the lines of a Tupperware party. At 5:00am the venue closed and we moved onto Paradise Factory.

Now this was a treat…. An established club in Manchester that had only recently undergone a re-vamp…. 1 main dance floor playing a harder beat, with another layer above with balcony so that you can view the crowd. Another floor up was a combination of bar/chill-out area and funky dance floor. I think the highlight was at 8:00am when the DJ played a real phat one and the cute barman I had been watching ripped off his shirt and proceeded to jump up and down screaming “come on you bastard!!”…. by this time my tolerance for all things outside of London was wearing thin and I staggered home. I did have a good time, and it’s true what they say Northerners are friendlier than Southerners….

Lets hope they do it again next year!