Jun 3, 2020

Lapse dancing: the stories of Manchester clubbers

The Lapsed Clubber Audio Map logo and background collage

Maps are great. You can get big paper ones that are difficult to fold, and digital ones that ask you to rate places you've been nowhere near.

The Lapsed Clubber Audio Map is a crowd-sourced map that was launched a few years ago by the Manchester Digital Music Archive. The great thing about this map is it talks to you.

The Map contains audio and text memories of Greater Manchester ravers of their clubbing experiences between 1985 and 1995, easily covering the peak years of rave culture.

I had a pleasant trawl through some of the stories uploaded to the site. Here are some highlights from various clubbers in various venues, appended with my comments because I'm a blabbermouth who wants to make everything about me.
808 State at G-Mex: "It was a hell of a gig for us coming from out of town, us small country people... we heard all the same music that we listened to in the clubs of the back and beyond, but on a massive sound system and with a massive crowd of people."
Growing up in Manchester, it's easy to forget that the city was a bit of a Mecca for people out in the sticks. I went to the Hacienda because it was just down the road – albeit quite a long road. My earliest gig memories were at G-Mex: Radiohead supporting James comes to mind, mainly because it makes me sound cool. I probably went to awful gigs there too.
Tangled at the Phoenix: "It was small and it was dingy and there was sweat dropping off the ceilings... Everyone would end up at the garage at East Lancs getting Ribena, the king of all drinks. That was pretty much my life for about five or six years."
The Phoenix was very sweaty. We're talking Piers Morgan's armpits when he has the guilty sweats, which is all the time. I did my first ever DJing gig in their bar – I was terrible – and I remember grubby acid techno bashes in the club. I worked near the Phoenix and watched its building get knocked down. It's shops now. On warm summer nights, you can still smell the perspiration.
Daft Punk’s first UK live gig: "Daft Punk played live for the first ever time in Britain and played that song [Da Funk]... Still to this day, the B-side Rollin’ & Scratchin’ is the only song I can never listen to without vomiting."
When I saw Daft Punk DJ at Sankeys Soap back in the 1990s, a French stranger tried to roll my torso like plasticine while saying "wide boy, wide boy". I have nothing more to say about Daft Punk.
Devils Dancing: "I had this strange-shaped pill I bought, which actually turned out to be ketamine... These lights were making red shadows and all I could see were these weird devils dancing, in this weird, satanic fire dance, and my friend took me home."
I've always stayed away from the more hallucinogenic end of the drugs spectrum. My imagination has always been vivid and strange: my silly creative activities are my way of pressure-cooking that intensity out of my brain. If I didn't have that kind of release, I really would be seeing red devils all over my walls. For now, I just have slightly muted woodchip.
Dancing at Sankeys Soap: "I felt this body come up behind me and start dancing in the same rhythm as me. It got a little bit too close and so I turned round, not forgetting that I’m off me chops, and it was Zammo from Grange Hill."
So many good nights at Sankeys. And a bad trip that nearly destroyed me. Easy come, easy go. When I took on the name 'Fat Roland', I didn't even think of the Grange Hill connection. I should have gone for something different. Wide Boy, maybe. The forward Frenchman was right. Dammit.

I've plenty of memories of clubbing back in the day, so I really should upload something to the Lapsed Clubber Audio Map. Have a browse, why dontcha.

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