To be fair, I’ve not been on a date in years – so I’m hardly an expert. But from what my hazy, alcohol-infused memory can remember – the dating game is an absolute nightmare – one wrong word or phrase, a bit of spinach stuck in your teeth or accidentally revealing that you’re racist are all things that can scupper your chances.
With this in mind, it’s always a good idea to ensure that your choice of date is fool proof, so make sure you shave your pits, brush your teeth and wash your genitals before you head on down to one of these…
Twenty Twenty Two
With its trendy white tiled walls, underground entrance and welcoming atmosphere, 2022 is a great place to have a few drinks while listening to some fantastic tunes. On top of this, one of the main draws has to be the ping pong tables in the back room. Not only will these provide a little injection of competition into the date, but will also provide a welcome distraction if you find yourself struggling to come up with things to talk about.
Twenty Twenty Two, 20 Dale St, Manchester M1 1EZ
There are absolutely loads of places to check out live music in Manchester, starting with the big boys over at the Manchester Arena, via the O2 Apollo, Manchester Academy and even Band on the Wall. You can also add the Albert Hall to the list, who have a big calendar of music and acts, as well as the much smaller venues such as Ruby Lounge, Gorilla, Night & Day and Gulliver’s on Oldham Street. A gig is usually a pretty enjoyable experience as a date – there’s plenty of time to drink and chat before the band come on, there’s the chance to have a groove, and they usually end early enough to still have time to get the 142 back to their flat and get them topless before you have to be up for work in the morning.
With a couple of pool tables, 80’s inspired cocktails and enough little dark corners to do some tonguing; 17 Below is the perfect place to spend a few hours getting to know your date and deciding if you want to meet their parents for a roast dinner this coming Sunday or not. Once again, there’s also the added trump card of their selection of classic arcade machines in which to entertain yourselves or to distract the other person long enough to make a swift exit up the stairs and away into the night.
17 Below (below Dogs N Dough), 17 Bow Ln, Manchester M2 4FW
This one was a particular favourite of mine in the dark days of 2006. Grab a girl, get her on a bus to Sale and show her the sights and sounds of Mecca Bingo on a Tuesday night. Guaranteed winner. The thing with Mecca Bingo is that not only is it pretty cheap but it’s also always jam-packed full of enough whinging pensioners and scrotes to make even the ugliest date 10x more attractive. If you don’t feel like potentially getting stabbed with a knitting needle for winning a line, then you can also head on over to the Albert Hall who run regular Bongos Bingo nights to usually packed out crowds. Bongos is so far removed from Mecca that it’s probably an insult having them in this same category, but you can expect music, dancing, mental prizes and stupid games to keep you and your date entertained all evening.
If there was ever a more suitable date event and activity it would be ten pin bowling. Not only is it bloody good fun, but it’s indoors, it’s easy to play and therefore show off and you can also slowly get leathered over the course of a game while constantly flirting with each other. The only downside is the stupid shoes that you have to wear, especially if you have big feet because they make you look like you’re walking around with a couple of canoes on the end of your legs. Dog Bowl on Whitworth Street is perfect for a date, not only do they have the bowling, but they have a great selection of cocktails too so you can both get sloshed and enjoy each other’s company that little bit more.
Dog Bowl, Whitworth St W, Manchester M1 5WW
Unless your date was present on the Titanic, they will probably love to get on a boat, have a few drinks and head down the world-famous Manchester Ship Canal. There’s loads of options, which I conveniently listed in an article a few weeks ago but to give you the gist of it – if you want to get on a boat and have some drinks, some food and end up in Liverpool – these boats are perfect. Or you could just take the Waxi to the Trafford Centre, buy her a Selfridges Scotch Egg and then beat the shit out of some zombies together at the Namco Arcade. Up to you.
Manchester Climbing Centre
Located in an old church in Gorton, there’s likely to be plenty of silent prayers as you dangle from a 30ft wall with nothing but a flimsy rope and stupid helmet to protect you if you fall. My inherent fear of heights did not stop me from heading here once, although I must admit that I only managed to get about 5 ft off the ground, and considering I’m over 6ft in height – isn’t really much of an achievement. As a date venue however, you can’t really go wrong. Not only is it challenging but you will have a proper laugh at each other as you wear those truly flattering harnesses; I suppose it will give you both a chance to take a sneaky look at each other’s’ gussets to prepare yourselves for what’s in store later should the date go well.
Manchester Climbing Centre, St. Benedict’s Church, Bennett St, Manchester M12 5ND
Another one of my former favourites, the Roundhouse provided the perfect setting for a date – food, drinks, a bit of culture and a cinema in which to try to show off your knowledge of trendy art-house films instead of turning up at the Odeon to watch Transformers 3. Now that everything has moved to Home on First Street, there’s even more events on including theatre, art and workshops, as well as the old favourite cinema – surely there is something here for even the most difficult potential date to enjoy. My plan would be to take her to go see The Goonies, followed by a chance for her to find her own One-Eyed Willie back at mine after. Sorry about that joke – it was crass and uncalled for – but I couldn’t resist.
Home, 2, Tony Wilson Place, Manchester M15 4FN
Another interesting ‘activity’ date location where you could find yourself either looking brilliant or coming across as a right tool. If you’re middle class then you’re probably pretty good at skiing and will be able to show off your skills, belting down the slope, flipping over kids with broken ankles and generally spraying powdery snow all over the place in a revealing ski suit. On the other hand if you’re working class then there’s always the Wetherspoon’s on site where you can grab a pint and a burger for 6 quid. To be fair there’s quite a lot to do here if you’ve never been skiing, including some excellent induction classes on their baby slope as well as a bit of tobogganing where all you need to do it sit down and scream.
Chill Factore, Trafford Quays Leisure Village, Trafford Way, Stretford, Manchester M41 7JA
El Gato Negro
Tapas is the perfect date food and nowhere does it better than El Gato Negro down on King Street. Their great selection of wines, cocktails and gin make the perfect accompaniment to little plates of grub and stimulating conversation – as if you’d both just taken a wrong turn on Deansgate and ended up in Madrid. Order some of them little Padron peppers and some Manchego cheese and you can delay the effects of the wine long enough to ask some genuinely interesting questions while similarly recounting your days working in Thailand in a hostel and vomiting off the back of an elephant in the jungle.
El Gato Negro, 52 King St, Manchester M2 4LY
What better way to show your date that you are a well-rounded, thoughtful individual than locking them up in a room with you and showing them that you can solve puzzles. Being locked up in a small room with someone can reveal a lot about their character, and so Breakout is perfect for getting a good idea of whether you want to spend the rest of your life with someone. If you like, you can also deliberately make mistakes and get things wrong so you have the chance to spend more close, personal time together – although that might just give off a whiff of desperation if you’re not subtle enough. Best be careful.
Breakout Town Hall: 14a Brazennose Street, Manchester, M2 6LW
Breakout High Street: 36 High Street, Manchester. M4 1QB
There are about a million places in Manchester where you can both enjoy a lovely cocktail that leaves you with 1 quid change out of a 20 note. None of them can compete with the views that await you at Cloud 23 halfway up Beetham Tower though. Not only will your date be impressed with the stunning views of Manchester and the surrounding areas, they will surely be bowled over with the classy, luxurious surroundings and the fantastic selection of champers and cocktails. If you’re earning a packet, you might as well get involved in some Afternoon Tea here too for guaranteed knicker dropping credentials.
Cloud 23, Beetham Tower, 303 Deansgate, Manchester M3 4LQ
Your date is sure to be massively impressed if you bring them to Tattu, open the doors, head to the bar and order an absolutely mental cocktail, featuring more dried ice than a Michael Jackson concert and enough rigging and pirate booty to sink Jack Sparrow’s dinghy. To impress them even more, head on into the restaurant and try out their new Spring Menu, consisting of modern Asian inspired dishes, while surrounded by their fantastic cherry blossom tree and the odd celebrity. Finally, you can impress your date even more by actually paying for it all, or alternatively, offering to do the washing up for the next 4 years once you realise your debit card has been declined and shredded.
Tattu, 3 Hardman Square, 4 Hardman Square, Gartside St, Manchester M3 3EB
Head to one of Manchester’s many museums on a date and you’ve already scored a couple of points in the little black book. I mean, for one, they’re free so you’ve saved each other a few quid. On top of this you have some of the best museums and exhibits right on your doorstep, including the fantastic Museum of Science & Industry, the Football Museum and the People’s History Museum who continually create compelling and exciting events and special exhibitions for a range of subjects and interests. There’s also the Manchester Art Gallery and Whitworth Art Gallery if your date is a fan of that kind of stuff, or even the Manchester Museum where you can show off your knowledge of dinosaurs and Egyptian mummies which you learnt watching that Jurassic Park and The Mummy ITV2 marathon last Sunday.
Museum of Science & Industry, Liverpool Rd, Manchester M3 4FP
National Football Museum, Urbis Building, Cathedral Gardens, Todd St, City Centre, Manchester M4 3BG
People’s History Museum, Left Bank, Spinningfields, Manchester M3 3ER
Manchester Art Gallery, Mosley Street, Manchester M2 3JL
Whitworth Art Gallery, Oxford Rd, Manchester M15 6ER
Manchester Museum, The University of Manchester, The University Of Manchester, Oxford Rd, Manchester M13 9PL
There’s no better date food than pizza. First of all it’s not messy – unless you have the kind of dexterity that would make Stephen Hawking laugh that is. You can easily eat it with your hands, and on top of this, I’ve never met a human being who doesn’t like pizza – I just don’t think that person exists.
Even if you hate tomatoes, or can’t eat cheese, there’s still hundreds of options out there for you – so it’s definitely a safe bet. In Manchester you have a fair whack of choices when it comes to the Best Food in the World™.
First of all I recommend you to head to Rudy’s in Ancoats where you will both have a choice of one of their fantastically authentic Neapolitan pizzas – rammed with a choice of toppings and finished with a lovely beer or wine. Or you can head to Slice on Stevenson Square which manages to magically transport you to the Mediterranean as soon as you walk through the door or sit on the terrace.
Finally, you could both go a bit ape-shit on the pizza front and head to Crazy Pedro’s – where it probably wouldn’t be unusual to find a roast dinner perched on some dough and served by the slice. If you’re date doesn’t like any of these places, it’s probably safe to assume they are an idiot and therefore not worth your time or effort.
Rudys Pizza, 9 Cotton St, Manchester M4 5BF
Slice, 1 Stevenson Square, Manchester M1 1DN
Crazy Pedro’s, 55-57 Bridge St, Manchester M3 3BQ
Crazy Pedro’s, 1 Short Street, Manchester, M4 1AA
Unless they are devoutly religious, you can’t beat a bit of science for your date – impressing them with your GCSE Physics knowledge and explaining the insignificance of their existence, clinging to a rock hurtling through an empty void at 30km per second in an endless universe populated with billions of worlds; likely harbouring billions of species of life that we will never live long enough to meet.
Once this has been explained, getting them to agree to come back to yours to watch The Jungle Book in bed will be a cinch. So head on down to Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre for one of the largest radio telescopes in the world and a host of interactive exhibitions and displays for you to get your head around. The surrounding areas are amazing too, so you can head to Mobberley or Knutsford afterwards for a few drinks and some grub.
Jodrell Bank, The University of Manchester, Macclesfield SK11 9DL
Platt Fields Park
There’s plenty of parks in and around Manchester, it’s only because I used to live round the corner from Platt Fields that it gets a mention here. If the weather is nice there’s no better place to take a date – not only can you take a stroll around the lake and feed the ducks, there’s ice cream, a little playground and plenty of grass to have a picnic and some ciders. On top of this there’s usually a decent amount of skateboarders and BMX’ers there who you can watch fall off and have a giggle at, and if you’re both into sports – perhaps a bit of one-on-one on the basketball court like in that terrible Halle Berry movie Catwoman. They used to have row boats on the lake too but I’m not sure whether they pull these out anymore – you’ll have to ask – I can’t be arsed doing everything for you.
Altrincham or Levenshulme Market
Anyone with an Instagram account, or a friend that lives in Didsbury and has a dog/child, will know enough about Altringham Market already. There’s a great selection of eateries here, offering pretty much whatever you want, all mostly locally sourced and made, and it’s all set up in the fantastic surroundings of the Grade II listed market house. If the huge crowds and identi-kit families don’t appeal to you over in Altrincham, head on over to Levenshulme Market on a Saturday and experience even more food and drink and live entertainment. It’s only a couple of stops on the train from Piccadilly – nice and easy and perfect for a romantic stroll.
Altrincham Market, 26 Market St, Altrincham WA14 1PF
Levenshulme Market, Stockport Rd, Manchester M19 3PJ
Like the whole dating game itself, taking someone salsa dancing can be a little bit risky but if you manage to pull it off then you can come out looking like an absolute legend and heading out with a one-way ticket to ShagsVille. The problem with salsa (as well as other dancing) is that people directly associate your dancing ability with your sexual ability; so if you dance like an albatross receiving electric shock treatment, then your date isn’t going to expect the best performance in the sack. But if you’re confident enough to give it a try, head to a salsa class, like the one held Revs de Cuba every Wednesday and get involved. You can have a proper laugh, and maybe get close enough to your date to sniff their hair when they’re not looking.
Karaoke is not about singing at all; I’ve always said that it’s about having a laugh, getting sloshed, and belting out some absolute classics while your friends look on horrified. That’s got to be good for a date, right? Get yourself down to Black Dog Ballroom NWS, or even Tiger Tiger’s Lucky Voice pods and get Bon Jovi, Always on the screen, have a little bit of Dutch courage and get singing the song at the top of your lungs. If after the 3 minutes 41 seconds she’s not wetter than a sailor’s sock and deeply in love with you – I’m sorry – it’s not meant to be.
Black Dog Ballroom, 11-13 New Wakefield St, Manchester M1 5NP
Tiger Tiger Manchester, The Printworks, Withy Grove, Manchester M4 2BS
Sticking with the idea that playing some sort of game for an added competitive edge is a good thing, you can always give Junkyard Golf a try and down some cocktails while trying to hit a tiny ball with a thin stick. There’s two themed 9 hole rooms to choose from in here, loads of cocktails and plenty of food – should you get bored of playing golf. A mini golf game is one of the first dates Homer took Marge, and their marriage has been going for pretty much 30 years now. Although to be fair, the golden age was in the mid-90s and it’s been on the rocks for the last 15 years – it’s still pretty romantic.
1, First St, Manchester M15 4FN
A more dignified and elegant alternative to grabbing a Ginsters butty from a petrol station, smuggling it into a Wetherspoon’s and ordering 2 gin and tonics – afternoon tea has experienced a massive revival in Manchester over the last year or so, so that now you can pretty much get it anywhere. I suppose it depends on your budget, and how much you actually like the other person, but there’s plenty of options for you. There’s pure luxury at The Lowry Hotel, indulgence at Neighbourhood, decadence at Menagerie or even a more traditional experience at Richmond Tea Rooms. Just try to keep the swearing to a minimum and you should get away with it.
This pub on Thomas Street is one of my favourites, it’s always full of a great crowd, staff are brilliant and their Strongbow is fizzy as fuck. If you’re looking for a no nonsense date, where you can have plenty of drinks, loads of chat and meet some interesting ‘characters’ then The Millstone is one of the best choices in the city. It’s not the only choice though – there’s loads of great, proper boozers in which to take someone on a date, where you can slowly get merry while eating some British Tapas and laughing at the old bloke in the corner who keeps pinching everyone’s arse on the way past. Other favourites include The Briton’s Protection, The Unicorn and Seven Oaks.
The Millstone, 65 – 67 Thomas Street, Manchester, M4 1LQ
Frog and Bucket
They always say that it’s easy to laugh someone into bed, and if you find yourself in the enviable position of genuinely being funny, then you probably don’t need any dating tips off a knob head like me. Alternatively, if like me you’re about as funny as a dead badger, perhaps it’s useful to let the professionals do most of the hard work for you.
It’s a well-known fact that most comedians are physically grotesque; from the greedy, fat pig Peter Kay to the Auntie posh-lesbian appearance of Michael McIntyre – it’s highly likely you will be visually superior – so why not let them do the hard work – get your date all giggled-up and then swoop in. Head on down to the Frog and Bucket at the top of Oldham Street for one of their brilliant comedy nights and treat your date to some food, some drinks, some fantastic gags and then a cheesy disco afterwards where you can clumsily make your move.
Frog and Bucket, 102 Oldham St, Manchester M4 1LJ
Fish and Chips
This one is my personal favourite dates ever; so if anyone is reading this and fancies trying it on with the Brownmeister – take some notes. First of all, head on over to one of the city’s best Fish & Chip shops – in this case I suggest The Fish Hut over on Liverpool Road in Castlefield. Order fish, chips and mushy peas (x2) with loads of salt and vinegar. While that’s being sorted out, one of you runs out to the nearest offy and grabs some ice-cold ciders. Then take the fish and chips and drinks down to Castlefield Fort, or to a bench at the side of the canal and proceed to scoff your face while having some bevvies – ideally in the sun. It also works in the rain, but does involve some slightly depressing undertones, and don’t try to recreate the same effect indoors – I tried once and it failed miserably.
The Fish Hut, 27 Liverpool Rd, Manchester M3 4NW