Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Judge Jules and Ratpack at The Warehouse Project

'The Judge Won't Budge.'
- Radio 1 stab

The building is massive. The former Boddingtons brewery, that used to pump out a stench of cooking malt and hops as revellers poured out of the bars and clubs of Manchester, has now been renovated into a club in its own right. The Warehouse Project, capacity 1800, feels like a throwback to what I'd imagine the 'illegal rave' events of the 1990s were like: I wasn't old enough to go. By the time I'd reached 18, bar culture, posing and cold pretentiousness had replaced the sense of togetherness that clubs were renowned for. It isn't just the club that's been renovated: Manchester's clubbing scene has been injected with new life, through this venue.

The woman in the fur bikini rips me off. £5 for a tiny bottle of 'Pure Gold' poppers? Whatever. Why not. It might take off the chill: away from the main stage the club is sparsely populated and freezing. The hall near the DJ booth, however, is rammed with people, a sea of hands pumping in unison through the colourised vapour and the nineties hard core. Above them, projected logos for Radio 1 and Smirnoff Vokda slide across the brickwork. I take a big Pure Gold hit through each nostril and pass the bottle to mates Toby, Kev and Duressa. My head is an aeroplane, and has just taken off. The smell of poppers and vapour hangs in the air. But the ceiling is so high that the usual BO smell found in clubs densley packed with revellers is strangely absent here- even at the turbulent stage-end of the club.

Radio 1 DJ Judge Jules, distinctive in his trademark wraparound sunglasses, appears behind the decks, doused in a red mist. His music set, which includes a remix of LaRoux's In For The Kill, is incredible and it lifts me even higher.

Everyone was searched on entry, but it's obvious that some people have evaded security checks and are wired, sweating profusely and dancing like depraved lunatics. Good for them, I think.

As the music styles edge towards hard house, dipping our enthusiasm, we wander into the Smirnoff Movie Theatre. In this side-room a few spaced-out clubbers, sitting in the rows of benches, are watching a projection of Star Wars.

We pass through into the main room again. 90s Old Skool Rave group Ratpack are performing a live PA: their remix of Liquid's Sweet Harmony. I'm too young to remember them in their prime, but a friend of mine at uni introduced me to them when he downloaded a shitload of music for me. The CD he gave me featured this particular track. It is piano house music at its finest, and the venue lends itself perfectly.

Welsh DJ Mark E G, seemingly the most drug-addled DJ of the night, ups the tempo with a single 15-minute happy hardcore track. He shows his love of the music he plays by throwing his t-shirt on the floor, climbing ontop of the 2-metre speakers, throwing himself off and thrashing around on the floor of the stage, moving in time to the bassline, tongue lolling. His hair, heavily gelled into thick neat spikes, remains immaculate.

A few hours later, the Smirnoff movie theatre has replaced Star Wars with what I figure to be the Bill Murray movie, Lost in Translation.

In a separate hall, away from the echoing music, the lights are harsh and one side of the perimiter is lined with around thirty portable toilets. There's a constant, sporadic slamming of doors as people walk in and out of the cubicles, the sounds deflecting off the high stone walls.

On arriving home I take off the semi-transparent red Smirnoff golf visor that some randomer gave me and try to sleep. It's broad daylight.

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