Ceilings fell in, police were called and the Daily Mail blew their top. But my word - they were good!
I was taking a brisk walk through Fallowfield this weekend and it just felt as if something was missing.
Sure, it was early enough that I spotted a few people still coming in after a night out and Sainsbury’s was pretty rammed with people buying bacon and cider but, like many of us decide once we reach a certain age – it just wasn’t like it used to be.
Of course, this could well be a symptom of my freshly acquired rose-tinted glasses, but as I walked through the town (I was on my way to that Barnardo’s charity shop at the Fallowfield Retail Park – one of the best in the whole of Manchester) it was clear that things have changed considerably in Fallowfield.
In terms of boozers and venues, you’ll still find the brilliant CUBO, the ever reliable 256, Vodka Revs, the Friendship and that’s about it really. Oh, and the The Ziggy Sixx Social Club which has stopped being a curry shop and is now a pub again.
You could multiply this number by 3 around 10 years ago – with the likes of Orange Grove, Bar XS, Robinskis, Trof, Font and Baa Bar all biting the dust in recent years. I’m sure I’ve missed some more out but my memory is pretty hazy from those days of £1.99 for 2 bottles of Stella.
Gone are the days where you could head to the Orange Grove for a £2 plate of Sausage & Mash, sink a few pints playing pool before heading to Robinskis to do some karaoke and dance to Girls Aloud upstairs with a bottle of £6 wine. Finishing the night off with a Happy Days pizza and a sloppy snog on the pavement.
There’s something else that’s always been part of the quintessential Fallowfield experience too, and that’s the house parties. Quite possibly one of the best things to ever happen (if you’re a student), nothing quite beats the thrills of a massive party in a typical Fallowfield terrace – everyone on edge with the understanding that literally anything can happen.
There was a time, between 2008 and 2014 when the Fallowfield House Party ruled. Not only did they gain nationwide notoriety, they also fundamentally changed the area itself – perhaps contributing to the eventual shift towards the city centre, and the migration of vast student numbers to the big club nights of WHP, Antwerp and the White Hotel.
So, what happened? Well, to put it lightly – things got a smidge out of hand.
Some people, as is always the case, took it too far and ruined for everyone. The cocktail of freedom from home, drugs, booze and an abundance of like-minded students resulted in some absolutely bat-shit crazy scenes on the streets of Fallowfield.
The first major ‘incident’, one which I suspect became the first victim of the modern social media age, was in 2008, when 5 house parties on Landcross Road decided to all join forces and make one massive street party. Someone decided to film it, put it on YouTube and thus began a huge national media campaign about ‘Binge Britain’, and the sheer disgraceful behaviour of the students of ‘today’.
Well, I’m not going to lie – Fallowfield House Parties had been going on well before 2008, often descending into even greater debauchery and revelry. It only seems that with the advent of Facebook, as well as other social media platforms, that these parties stopped becoming a localised problem confined to one street and instead became a national issue that was even discussed by those stuffy bastards in Westminster.
In the following years there were similar occurrences gracing the front pages of both local and national newspapers, including that time that someone’s ceiling fell through mid-party – providing party goers with a few cuts and scrapes in which to prove to their mates that “I was there!”
The whole debacle came to a head in 2015 when the police were called out to around 400 student properties over noise issues – resulting in them getting together with the University and Council and coming up with a solution.
The simplest thing to do therefore was to hire private security firm G4S to patrol ‘hot spots’ in Fallowfield with an aim to clamp down on the massive parties as well as assist any students that may be in need of some help.
Now, whatever your views on the breaking up the parties, their presence alone must surely be going a long way to making students safer in an area that was always notorious for sexual assaults, burglary and serious muggings.
In addition to this clamp down, there was also a revolution happening – one that started on the streets of Fallowfield itself, before moving slightly northward to Rusholme and then finally to the back streets of Salford and Cheetham Hill.
The club scene in the city finally got its act together – shunning the standard ‘2 Blue WKD for £3’ deals that typically tried to entice students, instead concentrating on the music, acts and atmosphere above all else.
The Warehouse Project began its meteoric rise to fame in 2006 and is now packing out the huge Mayfield venue week-in week-out with some of the biggest acts in the world. Antwerp Mansion bridged the gap between serious venue and house party perfectly – a massive, run-down house where students could party til the early hours without worrying about someone trashing their room or stealing their telly.
And more recently venues such as Hidden and The White Hotel are offering an unparalleled club night experience, with many even boldly claiming the latter to be possibly the best club in the world at the moment.
Bold claims indeed, but fear not – the Fallowfield House Party is still here – it just seems that I’m both too old and too uncool to get an invite these days.
Just last year there were reports of ‘gate crashers’ storming a house party and causing a ruckus – telling us that these get-togethers are still very much happening – just much more under the radar and away from the prying eyes of University bosses and hired G4S heavies.
So, to answer the question in the title – what happened to the Fallowfield House Party?
Well first people started taking it a little bit too far, which was then spread all over the internet for all to see. The police and Universities then got involved, clamped down and so people headed back to the city centre, leaving Fallowfield as a much quieter place these days.
Is this a good thing or a bad thing?! I’m not going to get into it…