“ 4a South King Street, Manchester. „
This Manchester nightclub has been open since 1995 and until recently was run by the former Hacienda promotions boss Paul Conns. This year it was taken over by Aaron Mellor, co owner, with Peter Hook, of the recently opened FAC251. Since he took over the outside has had a repaint and I think there are plans to add an extra room but not much has changed so far which isn't a bad thing.
The club is only open Fridays and Saturdays, probably because most of the punters don't have the luxury that students have of lying in on a weekday morning. You get a few students and youngsters in here of course but I'd say the crowd is mostly mid 20s upwards which makes it a bit more laid back, not in the sense that they're not up for it, but in the sense that you're not too likely to get punched in the face, groped at the bar or have someone throw up on you.
It's only a small club so when you go down the stairs you are practically on the dance floor, an area bordered by a few pillars and adorned with a lone disco ball up above that always looks a bit out of place! The DJ booth is quite high up but there is a slight ledge that you can just about stand on to lift yourself up to speak to the DJ(s), or to knock their beer over yourself if you are me!
Saturday nights are always DJd by Clint Boon and the music is mainly indie from the 60s to the present with an emphasis on the 90s, and a bit of late 80s/90s dance thrown in. If you know who Clint Boon is or listen to his show on XFM Manchester (4pm-7pm weekdays) you'll have an idea of what he plays. For those that don't know him he used to be in a band called the Inspiral Carpets in the 80s and early 90s, before moving on to his own project the Clint Boon Experience, to DJing in clubs and on the radio, and he also has his own record label and writes theme tunes for kids TV shows, and occasionally hosts daytime 'tea parties' with his wife. So he's a pretty busy bloke, and well know in the North West. If you're in the club you'll probably hear a few shouts of BOON ARMY from his loyal followers, and he's just an all round top bloke really, and you can rely on him to play decent tunes all night, that's in my opinion of course!
Friday nights seem changeable at the moment. It used to be Dave Haslam a few years ago, then Boon did it for a while (told you he was busy) and they've had a few special nights with guest DJs recently; Tim Burgess (Charlatans) was in there in February and I think the guy from Gavin and Stacey (the less annoying one) DJd a few months ago for some reason. I didn't recognise the guy who was doing it last time but he played good music so it was fine!
Drinks served at the bar include cans of Red Stripe and Strongbow, bottles of VK and all the standard spirits and prices are not too bad for a club really, I think you can get a zubrowka and apple juice for £2.50 if I remember right and the cans are a similar price. I'm sure I heard they sell Boon's real ale (that's something else he does!) in there but I forgot to check. If they do serve it that will be the only draught available which means you never have to wait too long at the bar as people can just grab a can or a bottle and go. It is £1.50 for Coke.
The toilets are half way up the stairs and have always been ok when I've been in, better than most Indie clubs. The cloakroom used to be ahead of you when you got to the bottom of the stairs but it had disappeared last time I went, presumably as part of the work they plan on doing.
It'll cost you £5(£4 NUS) on a Friday, £7(£6 NUS) on a Saturday. You shouldn't have to queue and the bouncers are friendly. There is no dress code so you won't get turned away for wearing trainers, or for wearing shoes, or for wearing a certain brand of trainers...
Like I said, it's a pretty laid back atmosphere inside, people are friendly and just want to have a good dance and a good time. It gets fairly busy without ever getting too rammed so you can find a bit of space for yourself on the dancefloor. There are no seats anywhere so you just have to keep dancing! It is open til about 3am.
You'll find the club (eventually) on South King Street which runs between Cross Street and Deansgate and parrallel with the bottom half of King Street. It can be a bit confusing, especially after you've had a few but you can always ask someone. It is in a central location so you'll have no trouble getting a taxi afterwards if you walk to the end of the street, or there is an official taxi rank nearby at the Printworks.
There are other indie clubs in Manchester of course, 5th Avenue is one of the main ones but I started feeling too old to go in there when I turned 22!
So have a good time if you do go, and tell Boon I sent you.