It's a freezing cold, wet and blustery Saturday night in Manchester.
A leopard skin-clad Bet Gilroy has just pulled her last pint in the Rovers Return, Cliff Richard has just been made a Knight of the Realm and you’re in a huge queue outside a former sunday school in an area that is now known as Deansgate Locks awaiting the opening of a brand-new night… Funkademia.
It’s 1995 and much of the city’s clubbing scene is still in the sweaty clutches of house music, as The Hacienda clung on for dear life over on Whitworth Street and other clubs attempted to ride the wave and emulate it’s cultural (but not financial) success.
But there was something new and exciting set to begin at The Boardwalk, and what begun on that cold, dark evening 24 years ago is still as popular as it ever was. Funkademia had arrived and it was here to stay.
Now officially the city’s longest running club night, founder of Funkademia, Dave Payne, has described the night as a ‘chronological history of soul’ with a collective of DJ’s playing the very best in soul, funk, disco and hip-hop, with a touch of R’n’B and house classics thrown in for good measure.
Back in 1995 though, it was all about New Jack Swing, a fusion genre that originated in 1986 from Janet Jackson’s third studio album Control, and subsequently entered club consciousness over subsequent years.
By the time Funkademia had opened, New Jack Swing was proving highly popular in the city, offering up a more urban musical experience than the typical house classics that were blaring out of speakers across the city.
This movement, coupled with classic funk and soul from the 70’s and 80’s, proved to be clubbing catnip for Funkademia and the hundreds of Mancunians that would queue up and dance all-night, whatever the weather.
But as New Jack Swing made way for newer musical sounds, as did Funkademia – riding the wave of what the city wanted and what the city was dancing to. As they moved to The Attic in 1996 and then the larger Subspace in 2000, Funkademia continued to be packed out every week.
By around 2007 Funkademia had moved a few times more, firstly to Zumebar on Oxford Road and then to One Central Street (after a short hiatus for Dave to concentrate on his family). It was here that Funkademia added more DJ’s to their roster, including Good for the Soul team Jamie Scahill and Keith Griffiths – both of who are heavily involved in the night to this day.
It was also here that Funkademia added some true soul and funk legends to their roster, with some unforgettable nights with the likes of Norman Jay and Greg Wilson hitting the decks.
2009 saw One Central Street close their doors and so Funkademia was forced to move once again, this time to the other end of town to Mint Lounge, right in the heart of the city’s Northern Quarter.
Mint Lounge offered up a fantastic basement space which to this day is still full every single Saturday. With a dedicated and loyal following, the night continues to grow from strength to strength, providing the city not just with a ‘chronological history of soul’ but also with a chronological history of Manchester’s clubbing scene.
Any night that has survived for 24 years and continues to be just as popular and busy as it was back in October 1995 must be doing something right. And if you’re wondering what that ‘something’ is – just ask anyone down in Mint Lounge on a Saturday – they’ll be more than happy to tell you.
Every Saturday at Mint Lounge