Tuesday, 29 March 2016

The 1001st post...

...Is this one.

A few things happen this week- I'm running another Tuesday night to Tiger Tiger for their Taboo night. Good music, mostly student-age people and a few floors to choose from. They claim to have had 1700 people through their doors at the last event. Tonight we're starting in the club at 9 so we don't have to pay an entrance fee. How busy it will be, considering most of the students are at home for Easter, we'll have to see. I know that a lot of locals visit there, so it could still have a crowd.

Here's the event on Manchester Social Group, and here's the same thing on Manchester Cool Bars and Clubs.

Who remembers Alison Limerick's Where Love Lives?

On Friday night she drops into The Milton Club to sing as part of Key 103's 
Anthems Live night. The Meetup with Cool Bars is here; the meetup with Manchester Social Group is here; the Facebook event is here. I've been to a Key 103 event at Milton but I didn't seen anyone sing. When I first got into dance music at about 13, Where Love Lives was one of the regular tracks on what was Kiss 102. Great music.

Sunday 31st: author Irvine Welsh drops into Manchester to discuss his new book The Blade Artist. His latest novel focuses around the psychotic Begbie, seen in trainspotting, Porno and Skagboys. I've met Welsh twice already, and have more than enough books to read. But if you want to meet him and guest-blog for me, I'd be happy to put it up here.

Tweet me your events!

Monday, 28 March 2016

Martinez Bros in Sankeys

Techno rave on a bank holiday Sunday, you say? I'm there.

A few of us went to see The Martinez Brothers in Sankeys last night. Sankeys, formerly Sankeys Soap, is one of Manchester's longest-running nightclubs, and it has survived on the edge of the city through persistently hiring high-quality DJs and playing them though the best sound and light systems in the country. It's well worth a look. The smoke, lasers and LEDs combine to make among the best club visuals you'll find in the UK.

We got there at 22:45 and there was already a queue, and considering Storm Katie was battering large portions of England- including Manchester- we had to tough it out until we got inside, which couldn't have been more different- it was roasting and packed, like you'd expect a 90's rave to be. It added to the appeal, though.

Here's a glimpse of the warmup by Jozef K

DJ Jesse Calosso nestled between him and the main act, and here's some of The Martinez Brothers.

I got a handshake off the brothers at the end. Top night!

Saturday, 26 March 2016

Plush: The Homecoming Reunion

Plush was a house music night held at Ampersand, the unit on Longworth St in Manchester which now houses Suede. The Plush brand has held nights in other places since moving in 2008, in a club that was near the Great Northern (the name escapes me; it's a homeware shop now) and more recently Venus. The Homecoming Reunion took place Thursday 24th, a night of funky house tracks from the Plush era played by two of the DJs who were regulars on the Plush scene a decade ago. Jason Herd and Jon Fitz, known collectively as Herd 'N' Fitz, took to the decks of Suede Thursday night, and were joined by a crowd of (admittedly aging) clubbers and younger, newer house lovers.

I went with a few people that I'd been to Plush with in 2006, and we stumbled across a few more familiar faces once in there. There were more than a few flashbacks! Good vibes all round. I miss Ampersand. In what other club can you see the DJ climb on top of the booth to dance in front of the crowd?!

More pics will be on Suede's Facebook page or on the Plush Facebook page. Or both.

I was driving, so was a bit gutted that the staff took the lid off my bottled water. I have a tendency to dance a LOT when it's house music they're playing, so it's really handy to screw the lid on. They have a minimum spend of £10 if you're using a card, by the way.

There was an added appeal to holding this on the first night of the weekend, just like the Fridays used to be in '06. I've been to other Plush Reunions that were previously held in Venus on Saturdays- holding the night in the unit that was Ampersand is a nostalgic and aesthetic masterstroke. Once in an occasional while, let's do this again.

Monday, 21 March 2016

Easter Weekend Yeah?

So what's on the horizon this weekend? Other than devouring copious amounts of chocolate and nose-diving into sugar addiction and morbid obesity again? Well, no Easter would be complete without it. Likewise, no Easter would be complete without a few parties.

I might possibly be at Suede on Thursday for the reunion of Plush, a house music night that used to run in Ampersand. The club was in the same unit that now houses Suede, a smart, boutique venue with a large opulent mirror behind the bar and podiums and bookable booths.

I used to go to Plush nights at Ampersand in the summer of 2006. The music, atmosphere, DJs and regulars were all superb.

Previous Plush reunions had been held in Venus- I believe this is the first of its kind to be held in the original unit.

Good Friday is a family day this year, so I'm unlikely to be able to make it to monthly night Bamboo at LIV. Gutted. I've been to the last 2 Japanese-themed nights and they've both been superb. Having said that, Bamboo didn't get busy til quite late last time, so maybe...

Saturday: Showcase at Eivissa, AKA The Oxford Club is a possible, although last week was a bit of a misfire.

Easter Sunday: House music duo The Martinez Brothers are Djing at Sankeys on Radium St. I haven't had a proper night in there since I saw Armand Van Helden in 2004. I believe the place has changed quite a lot since then. We'll find out!

No meetups for any of these as yet, but keep your eyes on the Cool Bars group and this could change...

Sunday, 20 March 2016

Model Search in The Oxford Club

Eivissa, a night of RnB and house which started in leafy Cheshire, is now the staple Saturday night in Manchester's The Oxford Club. Last night Nemesis Models were conducting a model search, so I thought I'd throw up a meetup on the Cool Bars page and see who I could entice. It'd mean it would be full of hot women, so why not.

We started in the bar of Pan-Asian restaurant Sakana, which got progressively busier as the night went on. We hung on a while and watched the sax action. It's always been a starting place for meetups in Manchester when going to Oxford Club, The Milton Club, Suede etc, so it was interesting to see how it developed later on. Our meetup group got talking to a group of girls- a Kiwi among others, memory fails me- and some stayed in Sakana with them. The atmos was so good. We also bumped into a few other familiar Meetup faces. I was keen to see what the talent scout party was like, so some came with me to the club.

I had got guest list for the group, but that only secured entry to the club- it was still £15 on entry, more than competitors LIV or Milton club, for example.

Lovely venue inside, although they don't sell pineapple juice... just a point... Also there were one or two difficult people from Oldham of all places. I didn't notice anyone from Nemesis actually approaching anyone, but I guess I wouldn't. Also: how come there are now bookable couches on the dance floor? Doesn't that reduce capacity? I preferred it as a busy dancing space myself.

But yeah, a fair few stunning people- but then, there was in Sakana and they were much nicer. Friends who stayed there say it was busy and “kept filling up with hotties”. I might hang on there some time. You might want to too, so keep your eye on the Cool Bars group.

Pics from Eivissa will be here.

Monday, 14 March 2016

Who goes out on a Tuesday?

Well, this week I do. I'm using up some leave so I thought I'd take a look at Tiger Tiger, as their student nights used to be great. I've talked about this with people at Manchester Cool Bars and a few of us have booked off tomorrow morning in order to go tonight. I found the student nights much more fun than the weekend ones. Nicer people, no fights, good old-school music.

Do you fancy joining us tomorrow night? RSVP to the event and come meet us. We're starting next door in Hard Rock Cafe at 9:30pm. Stay as late as you want.

Sunday, 13 March 2016

The Open Door

At the previous Writers Connect we'd used the phrase “The Locked Door” as a prompt for a writing exercise. This time we switched it to “The Open Door”. We gave it 10 minutes instead of 15 as we took ages to get started and a few of us had work to read out. The meeting was looking like running over. Here's mine:

“Always leave the cage door open,” Sean said, “so the canary can fly back in.”

Wesley leaned on the window ledge and considered this. He thought of what happened with Sarah, with Becks, and with that crank whose name he couldn't even remember. He sure as shit wouldn't be letting those canaries flutter anywhere near his goddamn cage. He'd shoot them out of the sky without hesitation.

The Skoda purred as if his foot was on the pedal, a possible reactin to the cold. He'd bought it new last summer, and January was proving a test. But it was still handling winter better than he was.

Emma was different though. He wanted that canary back in the cage more than anything, he realised. Maybe it wasn't too late. Every other door was closing: the jobs market was saturated, he was stuck doing the same spirit-crushing spreadsheet, in the same flat with the same broke, over-worked friends he didn't have time to see. But then again, he'd left the door open for them.

Sean latched the car door open slightly. “Wait,” he said. “You should come too. You need cheering up.”

I'm driving.”

I'm not recommending alcohol. You need a total change of scenery.”

What then?”

Stay sober with me. Come to this club. Look around. I can introduce you to loads of people.”

I dunno.”

It's Sunday tomorrow and I'm not out til next week. Get involved.”

This was inspired by a scene in Rising Sun, a murder mystery starring Sean Connery and Wesley Snipes.

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

“A Load of Faff”: Beef and Potato Pie

I used the Hairy Dieters Cookbook to make another tasty healthy meal. This one was quite a troublesome recipe to follow particularly relating to memory difficulties.

First, I got all of my timings completely wrong. There's never an indication in this book of how long anything is going to take. Apparently Jamie Oliver's recipe books do. I might switch. And 75g of peas in giant pie is hardly worth putting in at all. Weird measurements. Mum and Dad got here on time- my pie did not.

They helped me polish off the recipe, my mum- the experienced baker- describing it as “a load of faff” and “a weird way of doing things”. There would have been simpler ways of doing it, according to her. I started cooking way before 6, but didn't finish until 7:41. Mum's kneading techniques were invaluable. I'd have given up and not used enough flour without her. These kind of things weren't clear in the recipe.

It was really tasty, though, with the Worcester sauce and pastry bringing huge bursts of flavour.


Tuesday, 8 March 2016

The Locked Door

A writing exercise from Writers Connect, at the end of February. We used the above title as a prompt as I was very nearly late for the meeting. The following story is, as you'll see, based on fact.

Well, yeah, the door was locked, but that wasn't exactly the problem. He was still inside. It was getting out and locking it again that was the issue. With an upcoming writers meeting, this was a huge setback.

He had torn apart his whole flat, going through the stinking bins, the recycling, the piles of paper on his computer trolley, the coats and jackets and jeans he'd worn since he let himself in yesterday. The keys HAD to be in here. They HAD to be. Fuck it- he swallowed his pride and phoned his dad, for what it was worth. Another brain might spot the obvious.

His dad started to look through the pockets of summer coats he hadn't worn since last September- he was concerned his dad might stumble upon the present he'd bought for his upcoming birthday. He wanted to say, “don't bother looking there”, but he knew it was more peaceable just to let him look.

He tore his bag apart, splaying pens across the lounge. He threw his diary on the floor, then felt the lump between the pages. KEYS.

People in the group likened it to the Gene Hackman film The Conversation, which ends with Gene Hackman convinced he's been bugged and destroys his home looking for an (ultimately untraceable) recording device. They also recommended No Way Out, I Heart Huckabees and Little Miss Sunshine. Are these similar?

Monday, 7 March 2016

Eivissa Saturday?

The Cool Bars and Clubs group are out in force on Saturday for a night of house, RnB and goddamn good looking people at Eivissa, the Saturday night event at Manchester's Oxford Club. They're starting at nearby Sakana on Peter St then heading over to the venue on Central St. More pics on their Facebook. It's only a quick change between venues so don't let the cold put you off. We're through the worst of it anyway. BBC weather shows highs of 9 degrees C for the weekend. I've got snow on the ground here in Oldham right now. I'm a bit gutted as I'm a Celeb / Geordie Shore star Vicky Pattison is hosting the first Ladies Night of the year. Would have been interesting!

Oldham weather is a pain- we're on higher ground so we get the worst of it. I've got loads of ideas for nights out, but I'm waiting for this ridiculous snow to pass before I start suggesting meetups.

I need an early one Saturday night, as I'm at Writers Connect Sunday. I need feedback on the next part of my script. Join us at Nexus from 1pm onwards!

Sunday, 6 March 2016

Book Buying Amnesty Fail, UFC 196

Back in October I mentioned I was trying not to buy any more books, as I had more than enough. I failed last Sunday though, and strayed into the Oxfam at the end of Oldham St and picked up this beauty:

I was 16 when South Park hit terrestrial TV and immediately loved it. Reading the scripts for the first season was a great trip down memory lane. Amazing how many jokes I missed the first time around.

I'll continue to avoid the lure of bookshops while I chug through the huge pile I still have.

Last night I went out to watch UFC 196, in theory with some people from the Cool Bars group. The fights started some time around 1am, with the main card happening after 3. I arranged the meetup for 2:30am, as the start time was still very difficult to track down. None of the websites were making it clear. Genting Casino is supposed to be one of the best places to watch fight sports, so I arranged the meetup to take place there. I got there on time, but there was no sign of my 2 RSVPs. (As the start time became clear a lot of people dropped out but there were still remaining committed people.) A few screens were showing the boxing. The barmaid claimed they weren't showing UFC, but a few minutes later she led me to the back of the club where one screen was set up with the pay-per-view feed. The first undercard was already under way, so God knows what time it actually started.

I got talking to a group of Irish lads who were there to watch UFC. A sound group, we got on straight away. Bantamweight title fight Holly Holm vs Miesha Tate was a good matchup, and a fair win for new champ Tate. She must be good if she can beat Holm, who had previously beaten the then-unbeaten champ Ronda Rousey.

The main event: Conor McGregor V Nate Diaz. The current featherweight champ McGregor bulked up to welterweight at short notice to fight Diaz. He had good heart but the extra muscle weight clearly gassed him out and Diaz's superior ground game got the better of him. Diaz won by Rear Naked Choke early in the second round. To take on a challenge like that- going up 2 weights- is no easy feat though, and he still has his belt in the lower weight. So fair play to him. Who else would do that? I was gutted when he lost though. Telegraph has a good write-up

So. A night of upsets. Is Genting not the place to go for UFC? Is there a better or more reliable venue in the city? What about competitor casino Manchester 235?

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Writing Exercise from Valentines Day

I've just dug this out of my notebook: I wrote it a couple of weeks ago at Writers Connect. Between the group of three, we had a sheet of paper each. We first wrote a character and age, then folded this back and handed the sheet to the next writer. On the next sheet we wrote a place. On the final sheet we wrote an activity, something the character is doing. With a final pass, we now had our scenario. I had Algernon Fauntleroy, a 12-year-old boy in Edinburgh Castle, and he's cooking.

He sharpens the knife and plunges it through the chicken, hacking off the bottom of the legs and eviscerating the spine. There is no adult to help him. Algernon Faunlteroy grips the bird by the outer sides and pushes his thumbs over the gaping wound in the bird's back, flattening it down. The collarbone snaps, echoing off the stone walls of the castle.

Edinburgh Council had assisted in funding the new kitchen, unblemished steel surfaces nestling up to the exposed uneven stones of the old castle walls.

It's really only instruction-following, he knows; anyone can do it. He carefully slices grooves into the skinless chicken, and firmly smears the marinade deep into the wounds, the extractor fans leaving only the faint odour of traditional Indian spices. Another contrast to the Gaelic setting. The walls slick with condensation, the castle kept the cold Edinburgh air out.

The Hairy Dieters Cookbook, something I've been dabbling with for a few years now, inspired the detail. I cooked masala-marinated chicken, a recipe from the book, some years ago now, and what I could remember found it's way in.