A still-standing building for a change… although this one looks like it’s falling down! (The staff assure me it isn’t. Apparently the owner’s best friend is a structural engineer, which is reassuring to know.)

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Antwerp Mansion is a thriving club and music venue just off Wilmslow Road in Rusholme, on the edge of Victoria Park. Open Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays until 3 in the morning, it’s near Hardy’s Well on the Dickenson Road junction:

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To find it from Hardy’s Well, walk up Wilmslow Road towards town (crossing Dickenson Road) then turn right into Rusholme Grove. The satellite image also shows the path you take through Antwerp Mansion’s grounds to the main door.

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This is what the Rusholme Grove / Wilmslow Road junction looks like:

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Rusholme Grove is a pokey-looking dead-end:

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Half-way along Rusholme Grove on the left, you’ll see the entrance to Antwerp Mansion:

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Through the gate, it looks like this:

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After gaudy Wilmslow Road, the decor’s quite reserved. Are those Vurt feathers on that fence?

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The house was built around 1840, and was apparently a Belgian Consulate in a former life. Renamed in 2009, it’s been gradually restored and decorated by volunteers:

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I wish there were some women’s faces staring out from these walls!

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I was convinced this was Keyser Soze, but clearly it isn’t:

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Inside, lots of wordy signs:

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Must be the Hardy’s Well influence…

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We arrived much too early…

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I was charmed by this wall-art, but repulsed by the adjacent toilets…

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…which was fortunate because it turned out I was in the men’s…

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I hadn’t noticed the sign on the door.

Even though staff were meeting in the back room, they let me interrupt:

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I was delighted to see Mountbatten defaced here… I could bore you for hours with my theories about his role in the on-going establishment paedophile cover-up…

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A half-naked man in a red gimp-mask has his arm gripped by a suited man wearing a monstrous black-beaked bird-mask. Can someone tell me what the picture means? Is the bird-man a raptor-banker dominating the submissive gimp-man, who represents me and you, possibly? Shouldn’t the banker be an owl? Wouldn’t work well in profile, though, I suppose.

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One lovely young member of staff with a North American accent, explained that she was an “intern”, a concept which I found quite surprising given our surroundings.

When I enquired “Is this building safe?” she seemed genuinely surprised by the question. Apparently nobody had asked this before and it had never crossed her mind!

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Later I encountered an artist carrying ladders, who reassured me of the building’s safety, siting examples of the owner’s due diligence.

But what about the licensing authorities… and the fire officer?

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So I can only conclude that the owner “Andy Mansion” must be a man of almost frightening charisma… capable of inspiring a dedicated volunteer workforce and hypnotising officials into acquiescence!

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Upstairs

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The Ladies

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There I am in the mirror, looking like David Soul in Salem’s Lot:

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Hovering is mandatory:

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The Gig

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The support band must have come on about 10ish, when the crowd was still sparse, but a flashing hula-hoop light-show helped distract from the lack of people in front of the stage. It was a simple solution to an age-old problem which wouldn’t work at every gig, but worked well at this one.

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There was an embarrassing moment outside when a couple of guys stumbled out of a hedge and were instantly caught and ejected by security – who were very low-profile, but clearly efficient. Generally all was calm though.

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Tragically we only heard the beginning of The Hackney Colliery Band’s set because we had to be home by midnight for the baby-sitter. It didn’t bother me though, because the highlight of my evening was the venue itself.

(Also I wasn’t keen to revisit the toilets. I love the paint-job but does anyone ever clean them? Cleaning is so much less interesting than doing art…)