Manchester has always prided itself on its past, but even more so its present and future. As the continuing flux of new inhabitants from its many universities meet with the acid house settlers of the past, this mix feeds a continuing growth of likeminded party souls.
The Electric Chair was, and still is, the epitome of this mix. Starting back in the mid 90’s, Luke & Justin Unabomber began at the Roadhouse, a shifty grimy rock club . It was never about exclusivity, in-fact the more the merrier just minus the devil and his aggressive cocaine shiny disciples. It was come as you are. It was family and friends. 380 souls who loved music and life.
As new footage emerges from the heyday of this legendary party, taken from the forthcoming documentary film that charts 30 years of house music in the city, two of Manchester most beloved characters, Krysko and Luke Unabomber got together to discuss the history of the chair itself, 'Manchester Keeps on Dancing' documentary and the End Of Year Riot that is held in the same regard in Manchester as Christmas itself.
House music itself is over 30 years old and it still is the best Saturday night music to go out to. The longevity is because the music evolved with new generations who experience the same thing we all experienced a long time ago. Manchester never really had a super club, the WHP is of course big but it didn't follow the same path as Cream or Ministry of Sound, and it had a real Manchester flavour to it. Nights that have stood the test of time in the city never set out for world dominance, just a good vibe. Back to that vision of Mancos’s loft.
When we started Electric Chair it was monthly party in a grotty little rock club, a shit hole shit toilets and a great sound system. Longevity comes when there is no ego and no financial game plan. The best things in Manchester have always happened when they are understated and they are not trying to be the next big thing and not about fashion or hype. That's the same anywhere. Look at plastic people, Thunder and Faith.
Weatherall said a beautiful thing; he said for him the underground is just where he felt comfortable. That's it. It’s not about holier than thou. There was always a sense of belonging at Electric Chair and that family aspect has always underpinned it, so even on a night where the guest DJ wasn’t your thing there was always the social element of it.
The longevity is taking the vision of New York, Detroit and Chicago clubs, real places with great music and real people meeting that very british instutution of the blues, the shabeen, the late night raw dirty basement and making our own uk unique thing.THATS IT dirty preserves us . nothing more nothing less.
Mancuso was about the dance floor, love, togetherness, family, music, amazing sound and being free.it sounds hippy;but hey thats good.
combine that mancuso vision with 400 northern crazy banshees in an old school uk basement and theres magic. acid house gave us that evangelism of sticking together and losing yourself in amazing music from all corners of the shop.
We have been involved in the making of Manchester Keeps on Dancing, and we have both seen the finished documentary and know it has a focus on the story of 30 years of house music in Manchester, but I feel it captures so much more… what do you think it captures more than anything?
I loved it. Its fantastic to have a documentary that looks at the finite details; the grey matter, the dark matter, the in-between bits, the B-sides where the light pours through the cracks. I think sometimes it all too easy to write the history of dance music in the UK and miss out these subtlety’s, and I think in 50 years time they will look back at this period of the eighties, nineties noughties and beyond, when it was much more understated and not about cul de sac rock pigs strutting like Viagra fools on MTV. I was very excited about the untold stories and footage right back to the early 80s to those early moss side house foot worker kids, through to now. The history of electronic music, disco, soul, techno and house has had an incredible journey and it was good to see from documentary the likes of Greg Wilson and Colin Curtis and mike Pickering telling another side.
In the documentary Andrew Weatherall says rave is in northerners DNA, and stems back to the industrial revolution, are we born with it, do you agree? How does it connect to today, what's relevant in youth culture today here in the city that's familiar with bygone times?
Lets be honest a lot of Northern cities including Sheffield had that DNA, including Nottingham, Derbys blue note and Glasgow. But it would be mad to say it was only northerners when you look at the likes of Bristol and the scene there. It was funny, a lad I met in Manchester called Barney in 92 from Bristol who gave me a mix tape along time ago; a Wild Bunch mix from 85, mixing hip hop into early house records, it sounded like Winston and parrot.
Look, we love the banter and have been winding up the cockneys for years; that they were late to the house party by 3 years blah blah blah. But hey its banter. BUT To deny what Shoom did and then later what terry Farley did would be sectarian stupidity.
We just had a different path that's all when the black lads in Sheffield Nottingham and Manchester were foot working to early house music at the jazz all dayers in the mid eighties pre acid house. You know when I first saw this at Sheffield’s jive turkey 1985/6 I was born again .In Sheffield there was a love for deep electronic murky foonk with the likes of cabaret Voltaire. I mean listen to those early haven 17 tunes and human leagues being boiled and kraftwerk; House music was the continuation of that. Likewise in Manchester it was next stage of Greg Wilsons electronic funk music, a direct lineage back to northern soul and our obsession with drugged up fast dance floor imported American future soul music. But ultimately who cares if the north was first, It doesn't matter.every city has its own unique story and without London it wouldn't have the same impact.the whole nation was united in its love for those stripped down jacking drums. And by 1988 it was in all our dna.thats all that matters really.
Rave is not an ‘old mans game’, it has always been pushed forward down new avenues by the exuberant innocence of youth, but with a few ‘older heads’ still in there, holding their own. How important today is this blend of youth and experience?
It is fundamental. I think where the scene is simply a bunch of old men it eventually becomes a red hang gang with stupid club rules, young blood is essential, some of the best nights I have been too have 18 year olds and 50 year olds in the same club, and it is a brilliant thing. The young ravers provide the sizzle and the old ravers provide the wisdom to guide this fresh energy and effervescence. But purism is the end of creativity. Colin Curtis broke way from the rules and played house music and was called the devil for it; but it changed everything… But you need the young blood to lead it.
With the sad passing of such an important figure for us, David Mancuso encapsulated what it means to party with total freedom, and within a truly inclusive environment that ignores, age, gender, sexual orientation, race, everything. From his first Loft in 1970, through to 2016 this is still the absolute essence of a truly special party. Things have changed, but why do you think this legacy has such gravitas still to this day?
The next 10 years of politics are going to be brutal, society has become run by bad people who are bitter and aggressive; what Mancuso stood for is ever more relevant today than ever. We need the loft. For one night only, when life is dark and its all gone face book lickspittle, you can escape and you can make yourself feel better with friends and family with beautiful music., I probably sound like a tit to say this, but it is a form of evangelism without the religion. Its about humanity, soul and love. What happened in Orlando through to Brexit and Trump, there is ever more a need to unite and get and stick together whatever your colour sexuality or religion, and experience something you believe in is going to be ever more relevant than ever. If you are 17 and coming through it is going to be tough time in this world of and ours,music is the universal language that can be truly spoken at every great discotheque in every city. Pretentious? Maybe but its true.its the lifeblood.forget big lads on the wrong drugs with fucking protein boxes and steroids. love is the message.
You have held parties over the last 23 in Manchester, and it continues to continue to present secret gems of venues, what are your favourites?
From my 30 years in this beautiful old city there has always been continuity between venues, like the Hacienda, Roadhouse, Follies, Legends,music box, berlins,manta, antwerp mansion and Hidden. They all share common themes; all off piste down back alleys ,shit toilets and great sound systems and you could do what you wanted ;they all shared the same kind of magic.
When I first saw Antwerp Mansion it blew me away, it was like Renate of Berlin , a squat meets a Scooby doo house at the back of the Curry Mile and I thought what the fuck is this place? It allowed music and creativity to happen minus all the shiny cocaine people and the devil coming down and ruining the vibe, and I feel exactly the same about clubs in the twilight zones like Cheetham hill, Strangeways and Ancoats . there are no fairweathers or moodys. The Hidden and Mantra teams are running their venues for the love of music with incredible spaces and amazing sound and now it suddenly feels wow again- finally again there are amazing venues that feel a bit special; they all have the making of the best clubs in the city, many of the old lot say it feels like 30 years ago, when Manchester had that Berlin feel to it, no health and safety, like when I went to Hulme 30 years ago and it was like a crazy circus; that doesn’t happen today in homogenised city centres. I remember walking up East Pollard Street where Mantra is and through Strangeways to Hidden and I mean they are both rough as fuck; you cant deny it, on the verge of a no go areas, but because of this you only go there because of the music and this is a return to the style of clubbing we saw 30 years ago. Stay free, love saves the day.