Happy big 4-0 Hacienda! The night I entered Manc Mecca…

1982 was a very special year. My brother was born in the January, the Hacienda was born in May. And the rest is history.

That said, history came alive Saturday night when the shutters flew up on what is now the Hacienda apartments car park, and 1000 of us flooded in (note a last minute ‘glitch’ meant this ended up being 500 at a time split over two sessions , but pretty sure Tony Wilson would have had a wry smile on this face at this aptly chaotic turn of events).

Finally I could say…

I was there


Raising funds for The Legacy of War Foundation and The Christie , FAC51 Hacienda put on a huge party where thanks to Stream GM and their fabulous live…well, stream, everyone was invited!

On the early shift, 6-10.30pm (the hardcore attendees scheduled for 11pm – 2am) I rocked up about 6.30pm, obviously in broad daylight. A curious concept, and I wondered how this would translate into an evening which was designed to celebrate the wonderfully hedonistic era of Hacienda.

With an amuse bouche of a vodka and energy drink mixer in me (wild) courtesy of another Manc city centre gaffe with legendary status, (The Britons Protection), I entered the fray.

My blog is named Honorary Manc, a self bestowed title, having taken up residency here in 2000. Whilst I’ve lived and breathed the Factory Records era (granted mostly retrospectively), age and geography meant I was never to be an OG.

I did however earn some entry level stripes, having worked at Granada TV in the first half of the 2000s, which granted me first hand ‘access’ to working with hero Mr Wilson on occasion. Following him round the news room one afternoon, notebook in hand as he multi-tasked, printing and photocopying whilst regaling me with tales of wearing sarongs on holiday, I was in my element.

My element only got better as I took quotes from him as he sat in the back of studio during a commercial break on Granada Reports in 2002, having his hair quickly quiffed into a Hoxton Fin, to emulate Beckham’s famous World Cup look, all in time to leg it back behind the news desk ready for part 2.

Using this as a metaphorical passport into such hallowed turf, alongside my ‘Actual Manc plus 1’ who had regularly frequented the Hacienda in the 90s, I entered Mecca on Saturday.

Dancing to music I grew up with and loved (whilst still at an age where I didn’t have a hope in hell of getting into a licensed venue) was a dream and the fact that it was still daylight outside mattered not.

Actual Manc would go to the Hacienda every Wednesday. Looking around he was feeling the old days. Everyone was there to dance, everyone was happy. No pretension, not a single upward inflection was to be heard.

What may or may not have helped stimulate that happiness back in the 80s and 90s (“every drink was £1 including the huge displays of water”), Actual Manc theorised (theorised) that whilst the nature of a drug can contribute to or create a culture, whatever was going on back in the day, people were remembering that night exactly how they used to feel when they entered that club and heard that music.

Like a form of muscle memory, everyone around us was happy to be back, like they’d never been away (even if they’d never been before), and that feeling was infectious.

Saturday was a mood and like one I’d not experienced out in town in a long, long time.

Everyone around was interesting, full of life, nice, joyous, charismatic, dressed diversely and gloriously. Like yesterday, it was the Hacienda and to completely misquote one of Tony’s past programmes, anything goes.

Indeed we made some friends for life (at least in that moment), but I either didn’t get their names or can’t remember them and so all are ‘assumed’.

*Mabel* and friend sat with us, asking if we’d been back in the day. She shared her memories and and excitement to be back.

“It’s scary, surreal being back amongst the stripes. The concrete, the ceilings; all creating that same acoustic that I remember.”

She didn’t look old enough to remember the acoustics to that degree but I didn’t say so. I couldn’t work out whether it would come out the compliment I intended. And we were all getting on so well.

Meanwhile over in the portaloo queue some time on, Actual Manc found himself privy to chat about the fast approaching cut-off time for part 1 of the party and pending requirement to depart to make way for those attending part 2.

“I’m not leaving, no way,” postured erm *Kev*. “Nah mate me neither! “ agreed *Rob* in solidarity.

“Let none of us leave!”

Needless to say, portaloo pact aside, everyone left obediently when the lights came up and it took only 15 minutes to clear the space ready for the next shift. Most of us back to the Britons Protection beer garden. Like I say, a nice bunch.

A repeat guest star in our evening was *Daz*. Daz on occasion couldn’t find his mates and Daz was appreciative of the 90s club classics blasted out so far, but was hankering after the “mental acid house shit” you used to get. Still Daz was having a top time regardless and the three of us had a lovely bonding moment as we embraced, and sang along that it was gonna be alright. Daz? It really was.

No more so for me than when K-Klass came on and Let Me Show You kicked in and it was 1993 and that piano and that beat and I could pretend that I was here at the time rather than 14 and having to make do with tapes, CDs and my bedroom. I realised my insane grin matched those around me.

And oh here’s Actual Manc back from anther trip to the bar, the portaloo, probably both.

“Mike Sweeney’s over there.”

He was. And eh up, here comes Terry Christian. Having rubbed shoulders with him at Mcr-based festivals and events before, we took it as a positive that he didn’t recognise us as obsessive groupies and once again gifted us a pic. Which he happily exclaimed was “a good one!”

It is isn’t it?

And with a projector streaming original black and white CCTV footage from the club, a wall hosting a tapestry of pictures, flyers and posters, the place was a living, breathing, pulsating shrine to an era where a club could pull no profits yet still become part of the fabric, if not the fabric, of our wonderful wonderful city of Manchester.

Highlights vid:

The (what was) live stream from the night:

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Read more, hear more, watch more about past, present and future streams at https://streamgm.co.uk/

It’s Thursday and I’m doing a deep dive into my ignorance levels – The White Card at HOME Mcr

In its UK debut at HOME, Claudia Rankine’s first published play, The White Card poses the question: can society progress when whiteness remains invisible?

I’m always early…

Written against a backdrop of an increasingly racially divided American and shortly before the murder of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter protests, The White Card is as tense and uncomfortable as you might imagine.

Allow me to set the literal scene.

We have the wealthy american epitome of white privilege in Charles (Matthew Pidgeon) and Virginia (Kate Copeland). He’s a property developer (including private prisons…) he’s liberal (check out the juxtaposition of his loose fitting suit and white trainers) he and his wife collect ‘black trauma’ art and they have a pitch perfect smug art dealer friend Eric (Nick Blakeley) who has invited black artist Charlotte (Estella Daniels) to dinner at their apartment.

They are courting her, hoping to buy and add a piece of her art to their collection.

Should she allow them to.

Charles and Virginia may as well have unfurled a banner saying, ‘we hate racism, we do’, such were their efforts to identify, sympathise, prove themselves as allies.

And so we have a classic dinner party set-up, invoking thoughts of Woody Allen films (sorry), The Last Supper, the seminal Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner…it’s a well-trodden trope for a reason and one I personally relish in.

Both in theatre set-ups and in life, it’s the perfect host for polite chat, followed by passionate debate followed by all out war, truth-telling and tears in the kitchen.

There’s often a direct correlation here between how much wine is poured to how much tea is spilled, and this was no exception.

The dialogue kept the controversial and inappropriate moments coming, all of varying degrees of subtlety. Some comments blink and you almost miss them, but perhaps one person’s blink is another person’s eyes wide open stare, is another person’s eyes firmly closed.

And so the examination for the extent of my own ignorance begins…

Very early on in the dinner we had the mistaken identification of one black woman for another black woman, ‘that wasn’t me’, we had ‘no the other black author’, we had a raised eyebrow at Charlotte knowing fluent French when here was Virginia explaining the meaning to her of just one French word.

Indeed we went from Virginia black celebrity name-dropping (Serena Williams- tick, Michelle Obama – tick) to exclamations directed to Charlotte of

Put down those plates, you’re not the maid!

Oh yes. That was a ‘sharp inward take of breath’ moment in Theatre 1.

We have the son Alex (CJ Coleman) who has joined Black Lives Matter and attends Trump rallies protests…

Isn’t that a terrorist organisation?

But darling your life matters…

(The White Card – please excuse any paraphrasing)

The couple’s pursuit in collecting ‘black trauma art’ is their privileged act of alliance. And Charlotte was here to hold a mirror upto this, refusing to allow her art of recreated moments of racism to become part of this collection of canvas misfires; misfire not in the art itself, but in the intention behind the purchase and the nature of the buyers’ posturing.

The play’s conclusion, almost epilogue, turned the table and perhaps gave Charles his most important life lesson yet. He became the subject, his whiteness became the subject, his whiteness as a black trauma tourist became the subject.

And he didn’t like it. But with that he was a step closer to getting ‘it’. As were we all.

Let’s keep talking and get this sliding scale ultimately going further and further in the right direction. Because when there is an inherent comprehension of an issue, we’re less likely to ‘trip ourselves up’ and get rightly called out on what might seemingly be just a word or platitude in the wrong direction.

And I’m sure my own well-meaning rhetoric is unintentionally littered with missteps, which is why plays such as The White Card must continue to be written and seen. So we can know what we thought we did but actually didn’t after all.

I love Theatre, I do.

The White Card is showing at HOME until 21 May 2022.


Photo credits: Wasi Daniju

More details:

Written by Claudia Rankine and directed by Natalie Ibu.


Nick Blakeley Eric
C J Coleman
Kate Copeland
Estella Daniels Charlotte
Christine Gomes Charlotte
Matthew Pidgeon Charles


Essence Aikman
Ellouise Bridge
Kasur Chaudhry
Sholabomi Tinubu


Natalie Ibu Director
Claudia Rankine Writer
Debbie Duru Set & Costume Design
Roma Yagnik Sound Designer
Rajiv Pattani Lighting Design
Rachael Nanyonjo Movement Director
Wabriya King Production Dramatherapist
Eleanor Manners Dialect Coach
Rachid Sabitri Fight Director
Naomi Daley Wardrobe Supervisor
Wambui Hardcastle Assistant Director (RTYDS)
Lauren Lister BSL Interpreter

A Northern Stage, Leeds Playhouse, Birmingham Rep and Soho Theatre co-production in association with HOME Manchester.

I’m beatboxing so it must be Tuesday…Frankenstein: How to Make a Monster, Contact

Me: fancy coming to see beatboxers perform Frankenstein?

Him: (without missing a …beat)


And this reader is why I married him.

On Tuesday I found myself part of a beatbox symphony. This is the same week that I got my first pair of prescription reading glasses.

Balance redressed..

Contact theatre played host (and continues to all week) to Battersea Arts Centre’s BAC Beatbox Academy and their highly, HIGHLY entertaining production, Frankenstein: How to Make a Monster.

A reworking of Mary Shelley’s famous tale, the underpinning message of this portrayal is how society creates its own monsters. To an incredible soundtrack.

Well not ‘to’ exactly as the six talented artists are the soundtrack, as every sound, every note, every beat is provided by their own incredible voices straight into the mic.

The 2022 touring cast features emerging artists and co-creators ABH (Alexander Belgarion Hackett), Aminita (Aminita Francis),Aziza (Aziza Amari Brown), Glitch (Nadine Rose Johnson), Native The Cr8ive (Nathaniel Forder-Staple) and Wiz-RD (Tyler Worthington).

The evening was energetically …hosted? MC’d? woven together? …by beatboxer Kate Donnachie.

So what was it exactly? Was it theatre? Was it a musical? Was it a gig, opera? It was all of these with a dose of provoked thought and some really fantastic, original music.

It felt Gorillaz, it felt Morcheeba, Massive Attack…

And it was funny! At one point turning the ‘beatbox battle’ on its head as ‘Frankenstein’ took on ‘The Monster’ in the boxing ring.

And it was educational. I’ll be honest, I was in my first year of uni when we were getting our first mobile phones. No cameras and you were lucky if you had text.

And all this were fields…

But pieces such as Click Clack (containing the mantra you really shouldn’t post that) and some uncomfortable audience interaction…

(no not the part where we all beatboxed or even when we were encouraged to stand up and rave – yes I did, oh ye of little faith)

…where a spotlight was shone onto audience members to a track about tearing each other’s aesthetic apart, really drove home the challenges of the digital, life-sharing, selfie saturated age. Point truly (and rhythmically) made.

But before we even got to that, got to all that, we were thrillingly introduced to young performers from in and around Manchester, who blew us away with their first time public performances, all a product of workshops attended that week and run by BAC Beatbox Academy. Bra-vo everyone.

Another of those nights where you pinch yourself at how lucky you are to have so much on your Manchester doorstep to open your eyes and minds to.

And how a routine weekday night can lead to cheering on a beatbox battle and a whole new playlist on your Spotify…

Frankenstein: How to Make a Monster is on at Contact until Saturday 14 May. Tickets available via: https://contactmcr.com/shows/bac-beatbox-academy-frankenstein-2/

Want to know more?

The production is co-created by the wider BAC Beatbox Academy, co-directors Conrad Murray (‘High Rise eState of Mind’) and David Cumming (‘Operation Mincemeat’), and BAC. OThis means it has been co-authored by cast members at every stage, who also shape all aspects of presenting the show in its different incarnations.

The company continue to work with young talent everywhere they go. Each live show of ‘Frankenstein: How To Make a Monster’ opens with a curtain-raiser – a short performance created through workshops with local young people – and ends with a beatboxing battle. At Contact, the company will work with young people from Greater Manchester to deliver these workshops across the city.

‘Frankenstein: How To Make A Monster’ is the first professional production from the BAC Beatbox Academy, whose members have developed and adapted the production over the years.

Starting with a small-scale Scratch performance at BAC where they encouraged feedback from the audience, the company continued to build on their success. They returned with sold-out runs at BAC, winning Off West End and Total Theatre Awards, embarked on their first national tour, presented the highest-rated show at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2019, received rave reviews at the Adelaide Fringe Festival and released their first film which they co-created and shot during the lockdown in 2020.

BAC Beatbox Academy is BAC’s home-grown young performance collective for local artists aged 11-29 years. Since BAC created the Academy in 2008, it has pro-actively engaged harder to reach groups in areas of significant deprivation; locally, throughout the UK and internationally. Through the Academy programme of nurturing rising talent and pushing the boundaries of sound and music, the casts of ‘Frankenstein: How To Make A Monster’ have developed; from a collective of local participants into highly-accomplished performers and music leaders.

‘Frankenstein: How To Make A Monster’ is supported by Arts Council England and Youth Music.