Manchester legends remember when it was illegal to dance on a Sunday night | Let's Grab A Beer

A Certain Ratio's Martin Moscrop and Luke Unabomber sit down over a frosty pint of Manchester Union Lager to discuss Manchester's club scene, what it once was and where it's at now.

By Ben Brown | Last updated 29 March 2019

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The two sat in The Patron in the NQ talking about everything from the early 80’s when Colin Curtis was hosting his weekly jazz nights at Berlins, right through to the Hacienda, and finally onto the present day with the likes of Cheetham Hill’s Hidden and possibly “the best club in the world at the moment” The White Hotel.

Martin explains how a visit to New York in the early 80’s (to record A Certain Ratio’s first album) was a big eye-opener in terms of the music and clubbing scene over there. But there were clear parallels between the two cities at the time, and perhaps even more so now.

A city that was on the brink of bankruptcy in the 80’s, New York became home to many underground music and club movements, places befitting from cheap rents and attracting a varied, eclectic crowd of people from all backgrounds and cultures.

Similarly, Manchester experienced a boom in smaller, underground venues, as places like The Reno Club in Moss Side appealed to often marginalised communities that couldn’t get into the more ‘mainstream’ venues, usually because of race or sexuality.

It wasn’t really until the arrival of the House scene and the Hacienda when a lot of these attitudes started to change in the city and people were able to come together all in one place.

Luke explains how Manchester’s clubbing scene is a slippery animal to grab hold of; its forever been something that is always evolving and changing – typically in line with wider socio-economic issues. Although Manchester has the big boys like Warehouse Project, we’ve never really had a proper ‘flashy’ super-club in the city, and he feels it’s down to the fact that Mancunians prefer a much ‘grittier’ and more ‘illegal feeling’ experience than elsewhere in the UK.

Nowadays Luke and Martin both agree that the Manchester music scene is both progressive and inclusive, with a range of exciting clubs and music movements that the people of Manchester have really taken to in the last few years.

Clubs such as the aforementioned White Hotel and Hidden are offering more “off piste” nights that are inclusive and constantly evolving.

In addition to this, you have Manchester musicians such as LEVELZ, promoting their music around many of the city’s various venues by putting on packed out club nights, much like Tony Wilson started doing at the dawn of Factory Records.

It’s a very exciting time for Manchester’s club scene and as it evolves, so will the city in its wake.


Luke Unabomber and A Certain Ratio will be playing back to back at the We Are Lager Festival on Saturday 6th April from 11am – 4pm.

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