Around 1993-94, there was a monthly 70s night at the Irish Club in Chorlton, and it was great! They played disco, funk, punk, Bowie, Roxy Music, Rolling Stones, Blondie, etc, and the vibe was completely down-to-earth… only with dry ice!

I don’t remember seeing publicity for the night – I heard about it from friends – and the regular monthly Friday slot meant that we could predict when the next night would be. The guys that DJ’d had their own sound system and they looked like roadies. Maybe they did other similar nights all round the north-west.

Me, Danusia & Alf copied the idea with RetroDisco in 2003/4 although we rented our sound system and lights, which proved to be a headache.

Bop Local is essentially the same thing – a local disco at the Irish Club – but done with more finesse.

Their publicity has been clever from the outset: using the same typeface on their flyers as Unicorn organic grocers, they punned on Unicorn’s slogan ‘Shop Local’ and effortlessly caught the eye of Unicorn’s customer-base in one deft manoeuvre.

Their use of celebrity DJs, in collaboration with the regular DJ, Phil Beckett, has also provided useful publicity (and a local talking point) and kept the music policy on its toes.

I must confess, I was put off last year by ‘The Battle of the Soap Bad Boys’, when the visiting DJs were soap stars. It wasn’t because I thought they would be bad DJs; I just felt pigeon-holed by the assumption that I would pay to hang out with actors from soap operas.

Why am I so over-sensitive? (a) I’m unwaged and resent the stereotype of the daytime-tv-watching, soap-loving housewife, and (b) I’ve observed Mancunians paying homage to local soap royalty for years, and it isn’t a pretty sight… rarely do the city’s claims to be ‘global’ and ‘international’ ring so hollow.

Last Bop Local in May, the visiting DJ was Mark Smith from Funkademia and the music was very good. It ranged from The Police ‘Message In A Bottle’, through Human League, Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, Beyonce, Snoop Dogg & Pharrell Williams, A Guy Called Gerald, Nitro Deluxe and Candi Staton. There were a few interesting songs at the end including a cover of ‘Fools Gold’ which I’ve never heard before. It was a topical inclusion given the sample of Stone Roses’ ‘Fools Gold’ in the recent track ‘Unorthodox’ by Wretch 32 and Example:

Wheedle’s Groove – Fool’s Gold

I felt a twinge of self-consciousness while dancing to ‘Drop It Like It’s Hot’ by Snoop Dogg:

“When my niggaz fill ya vest they ain’t gon pass me shit…
…I keep a blue flag hanging out my backside
But only on the left side, yeah that’s the Crip side…”

Did we constitute a cultural anomaly? A group of (mainly white) 30 and 40-somethings in Chorlton Irish Club dancing enthusiastically to these words; myself included. If so, how could this best be interpretated? We’re all raging hypocrites? Delusional? Or most likely just high on Magners.

Bop Local has an excellent sound system and lighting rig, and the Irish Club venue is much better than it used to be… the whole downstairs having been re-designed and the building having been sound-proofed. (There is allegedly air-conditioning but I have yet to experience it.)

Bop Local organisers make good use of their ability to publicise free-of-charge using Facebook, and their website at www.boplocal.com is refreshingly simple and down-to-earth.

I’m certain these methods will be used to better and better effect by small-scale club-night promoters to help them counter the current fashion for pseudo-corporate, jumped-up, globe-trotting superstar DJ ‘brands’.

Bop Local dates for 2011 are confirmed as:

Chorlton Irish Club: Fri July 1st (1st Birthday Party); Sat 23rd July; Sat 27th August; Fri 30th Sept; Sat 29th Oct; Sat 26th Nov; Sat 17th Dec.

The Moor Suite, Heaton Moor: Fri 29th July; Fri 23rd Sept; Sat 22nd Oct; Sat 19th Nov; Sat 10th Dec.

The price on the door is usually around £5 and the nights at the Irish Club finish just after 1 a.m.