Hacienda Classical at Castlefield Bowl – name something more Manc

Did I mention that it’s 40 years since the Hacienda and all it entails was realised?

Oh yes here’s where I mentioned it…Happy big 4-0 Hacienda! The night I entered Manc Mecca…

Well here’s its sister from the same mister and if you haven’t heard, been or listened to Hacienda Classical, you don’t know what you’re missing. Actually I’ll tell you (but in slightly less aggressive tones than this introductory paragraph).

It’s where DJs share the stage with classical musicians, creating a symphony of iconic sounds, where strings meet synths meets decks meets maracas. It’s a beautiful collaboration between The Hacienda and the holy trinity of Manchester Camerata, DJ Graeme Park and musical director Tim Crooks

And on Friday it was realised at Castlefield Bowl, that curious little amphitheatre where on a quiet day plays host to office workers bedecked in lanyard chic, eating their sandwiches, sushi and salads.

Castlefield itself holds legendary status. Being a self-titled honorary Manc and all, the area was my intro to Manchester, moving over to work at Granada TV in 2000 at its OG Quay Street site, with lunchtimes spent either sat on a blanket in St Peter’s Gardens (summer) or having one of them there new-fangled panini or ciabatta sandwiches at (air quotes) gastro-pub Oxnoble on Liverpool road (all seasons).

And we all know that when the temperatures hit 16c plus, with little to no control, our bodies take us straight to Dukes 92, Barca, The Wharf. It’s the Manchester in the Summer law.

But there’s another piece of legislation creeping into Manchester in the Summer book of policies and that’s to head to the frankly fabulous and, for many years underused, Castlefield Bowl for the superb programme of musical moments that is Sounds of the City.

Add to the mix Hacienda Classical, temperatures hitting, yes hitting…

the early 20s

we were ready for business and an epic Friday night.

I’ll have one of everything please

Attempting to break the world record for the number of open Didsbury Gins transported through crowds of shiny happy people, I had only one choice: up or down.

Whilst you’ve gotta get up early to take your seat/stance on the fabled elevated concrete steps of the ‘Bowl, an earlier commitment meant that this was not to be.

After a valiant effort to take my place on the other elevated location of what we’re calling ‘the grass verge’, much jostling and displacement of Didders Gin later, it was mission abandoned when I realised that this blog post would either have to be accompanied by images only of the backs of people’s heads who could see the stage or stock images, the decision was made to shimmy (read stumble) back down to take our chances at ground level.

As I was ably led through the crowds, snaking our way towards frontish-central, I was surprised at how relatively easy at this particular soiree it was.

Gig craft! It’s called gig craft!

husband/plus 1/decorated gig craft specialist

Anyway, gig craft employed and duly executed, we found our dance floor for the night and what a night it was.

Heartbreak and promises, I’ve had more than my share

Robin S

Swap that out for streamers, strobes and many gins and you’re getting an idea of my night

All ya your favourites – tracks, DJs, faces, memories, beats (as ‘they’ say), classical musicians filling a stage bedecked by those iconic black and yellow stripes, the railway arches ferrying people in and out of God’s own country on trams and trains alike, Bez freakily dancing maracas in hand as he bounced onto the stage unannounced…

the wonderful DJ Paulette at the decks, Hooky next to, having a chat…it wasn’t Year of our Lord 2022, it was just Friday in Castlefield, Manchester and nothing mattered (apart from I really, really needed the loo and the portaloos felt like miles away and I hate portaloos).

MC Tunes could get a party going in an empty room, and with the god-like Hooky seemingly overseeing proceedings via DJ sets, low-slung bass playing, singing and just generally serving up excellent him-ness, life was great.

And as the final confetti cannon went off and the iconic strains of You Got the Love heralded the end of the party, we all marched off, ticker tape in our hair and god knows where else, down the canal paths, past the boarded up (The) Knott – RIP – and onto that quiet little intersection of Deansgate where we jostled for black cabs, Ubers, trams and trains, once more having taken a ride on time into our pasts and what makes Manchester and its people great.


With special thanks to Laura of LG Publicity and James from The Hacienda. Words, opinions and hangover this writer’s own.

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