Manchester Clubland 1984

Contains City Life Magazine Manchester Club Guide 1984
(Updated January 2014)

In 1982, when Carol Morley was, no doubt, already a regular at the recently opened Hacienda, I was battling with my parents to be allowed to go to Rotters:

The two clubs were compared in Issue 3 of City Life (Jan-Feb 1984) by Mick & Dean, the ‘Nightlife correspondents':

The other ‘mammoth’ club in Manchester around that time was The Ritz. Purpose-built as a dancehall, it’s the only one of the big three still standing – and for that reason I think we should all make much more of a fuss of it. It was refurbished as The HMVRitz in 2011 but has since reverted back to its original name, following HMV’s financial meltdown.

Unfortunately the refurbishment involved blocking off the broad staircases at the back of the building, which led down to the massive cloakroom/toilets area in the basement. This was an unofficial chill out zone, before such titles had been thought up, and looked particularly decadent when draped with Goths.

I regularly went to The Ritz on Monday nights in the 80s but I remember being solemnly warned never to go there at the weekend because Saturday was ‘grab a granny’ night! (Now I have joined those ranks of older women who would rather go out than stay in watching Ant’n’Dec, I am less judgmental… I don’t want to be ‘grabbed’ though.)

Through the early 90s, The Ritz was pulling in large numbers of students and alternative music fans on Mondays and Wednesdays. The Monday night would close with ‘The Dambusters’ Theme’ – people would charge round the dance-floor in a circle, arms outstretched like aeroplanes. I went back there in 1999 and was heart-warmed to see that this was still happening!

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I never went to Rotters in the end. By 1983 my friends had moved on to Tiffanys, DeVilles and The Berlin, and I followed like a sheep.

Tiffanys was on the opposite side of Oxford Road from Rotters; this photo is from 1978 (although it looks more like the 60s) and is borrowed from the MDMA Archive; Peter’s Square is just out of sight on the far left of the shot:

My main memory of Tiffanys is the plastic palm trees; I was surprised to discover such decor still existed in the early 80s, having been ridiculed by The Leyton Buzzards in 1979. Then the club changed its name to Tropicana and somehow the cheesy decor seemed acceptably kitsch! Maybe ‘Club Tropicana’ by Wham (1983) had something to do with this.

DeVilles, on Lloyd Street off Albert Square, was connected to Lazy Lil’s, which was well-known for its bucking bronco ride. I think everybody in there was under-age when I went in the early 80s, even though we were just round the corner from Bootle Street Police Station.

A short write-up in City Life Issue 8 (April 1984), again from Mick & Dean, reveals that The Berlin’s Thursday ‘Private Road’ night was intended to be a Punk/Goth night, but I don’t think I took this on-board when I went there:

I was one of the dreaded ‘Straights’ who was generally lowering the tone. They also played The Cramps ‘Human Fly’, Iggy Pop ‘The Passenger’ and Nina Simone ‘My Baby Just Cares For Me’.

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Here is a copy of the club list printed in City Life Issue 3 (Jan-Feb 1984):

Adam & Eve’s and Charlie Brown’s were next door to each other in Chorlton near The Feathers pub (now a Tesco) alongside Chorlton Park; they were depressing dives full of people who wanted to punch each other.

Annabels must have been the same place as The Exit on Wood Street, off Deansgate.

The Caribbean Club is not The Caribbean Club/PSV/Factory/Russell Club in Hulme, which is missing from the list. The Man Alive is absent too, as is The Reno, another West Indian run club, which was next door to The Nile in Moss Side, just near the Royal Brewery. The Nile and The Reno were famously open late… until 4 or 5am.

Cloud 9 was downstairs from Spin Inn record shop on Cross Street, opposite The Royal Exchange Theatre. I’ve been told that it was previously known as Top Of The Town, which is an odd choice of name because I’m sure it was a basement.

Playpen was renamed 42nd Street and is still going.

Placemate 7, previously The Wheel, was on Whitworth Street at the Piccadilly end, and was made up of a warren of small rooms; I went there again in the early 90s when it was called The State – atleast I think it was the same place. It was subsequently renamed Legends and was demolished recently.

Meanwhile, the Legend club listed in 1984 is the club on Princess Street, which was renamed 5th Avenue. Legend opened in 1980 with a state of the art sound and lighting rig installed, but this was wasted on me at the time; I assumed the place was a 70s relic because it was very much a ‘discotheque’. It’s the location of the Happy Mondays’ video for WFL which can be seen here.

Fagins (renamed Rockworld in 1990) was upstairs in St James Building on Oxford Road (or is it Street?), while Jillys, not listed, was downstairs in the same building (previously Rafters, later The Music Box.) This venue shut in 2010.

Thursdays must be the old Pips, as the address is Fennel Street. Pips was in the basement of The Corn Exchange… I don’t remember going there until it became Konspiracy in the late 80s. Upstairs, the Corn Exchange building housed an indoor market selling a bizarre array of ‘antiques’, collectables and occult services. It was redeveloped as The Triangle shopping centre after the 1996 bomb, but reverted to the name Corn Exchange in 2012.

The Swinging Sporran is still on the corner of Charles Street and Sackville Street, near UMIST; it’s now called the Retro Bar.

A notable omission from City Life’s club list is The Phoenix, which was strongly associated with heavy metal; it was in the Student Precinct across from the Royal Northern College of Music.

The Venue, Whitworth Street, is also missing from the list but it was definitely there in 1984, just a few doors along from The Hacienda. It was a proper dive, with a sticky carpet, which we had to dance on because the dancefloor was so tiny. We went to Indie nights there and danced to The Smiths, Echo & The Bunnymen, The Cure and Simple Minds!

I’m surprised that The International, Anson Road, Victoria Park doesn’t appear on the club list because I went to gigs there in 1984/85, but perhaps it opened later on during the year. Perhaps ‘Sting’ on Anson Road is the same place. The International was renamed The International 1 when The Carousel became The International 2.

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Gay clubs like Archway (Brickhouse), Hero’s, High Society and Naps were listed separately in City Life magazine, on a page dedicated to gay events.

I went to the No.1 Club around 1986/87 because they were playing disco, but I was almost thrown out for not being gay. I was very surprised therefore to see this ad for the club, which also appeared in City Life Issue 3 (Jan-Feb 1984):

I had no idea that the club was originally run by Peter Stringfellow’s brother.

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The last Mick & Dean clip from City Life 1984 (Issue 11 May-June) concerns the soul scene, something which I knew nothing whatsoever about in 1984, but which I became interested in a couple of years later:

Sandpipers is still standing in Fallowfield, on the crossroads of Wilbraham Road and Wilmslow Road; it was called Robinski’s Wallet for many years, later just Robinski’s… now I think it’s a restaurant. I’m surprised that it is mentioned here as a proper soul venue because I only ever knew it as an out-of-town student club.

Sorry that the comments below are all over the place – I had a few issues with updating WordPress and lost some comments – also some are clearly in the wrong order!

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34 Comments

  1. Nick Shiels

    Used to go to many of these clubs with my brother Chris. Brilliant times!

    Munchies after the clubs kicked out…. There was a pizza place on the corner of Oxford Street and Portland Street where that Witherspoon’s now stands….£2 for a fantastic dustbin lid sized pizza… Then there was the Topkapi kebab house next to the Free Trade Hall. Many a morning waking up covered in orange grease!

  2. Kate Valenti

    I used to work in the Tropicana in 1985 and this has brought back so many memories of the area and the time.
    Singles night on a Monday in Saturdays… one of the few nights I didn’t work and quite a good night out….as per Nick KEBABS from the corner takeaway next to the club. Owner knew us and gave us extra. The Tropicana did band nights on Thursday and I remember watching Simply Red “before they were famous”.
    I used to help out in the bar when they were busy and looking back what a great time we had.
    Ah, to be that age and know what I know now!

    • Think it was the Frantic elevators here first & then the early pre-signed band with Mick Hucknall most of whom were not signed with him?

    • hi kate tropicana was my dads club, do you remember me

    • Club Tropicana is or was one of my top night clubs in the 80s. Used to love watch PYTs (Pretty Young Things) half way through the night and whenever I hear the song Love Cats by the Cure it reminds me of the night they danced dressed as cats to the song! Oh to be able to go back to the 80s and Saturday nights!!

  3. A. Williams

    The Ritz end tune was 633 squadron theme. Loving the nostalgic trip.

  4. A. Williams

    I seem to remember that Cloud 9 was previously called Quintens and was owned by Chris Quinten who played Brian Tilsley in Coronation St.

  5. It was 633 squadron the last track of the night at the The Ritz on a Monday :) xxx Thank you A Williams , There is an Ritz alt 80s group on a Monday on facebook if anyone would like to join :) also Thank you Dave!

  6. David Dunne

    Pips was a remarkable club – a labyrinth of connected rooms, all with slightly different music, but lots of chart pop, disco and soul in a few of them – When I was a teenager at the end of the 70’s the “Roxy/Bowie” room was a refuge for all the freaks/new romantics and fans of the newer electronic music – the esteemed Dave Booth was a resident here. You fotensaw “clones” in there – mostly guys who would dress up as Bowie, bryan ferry and then a bit later, as David Sylvian from Japan. The music was fantastic in that room. But you had to be careful though if you were going to that room in all your peacocked finery, as the other rooms often had Perry Boys in, who would administer a good kicking if you bumped into them as you came out at closing time. As you say it later became Konspiracy, an acid house hangout with a very edgy atmosphere.

  7. Thanks Dave…
    There’s a mention of what you describe at Pips here:
    http://www.mancky.co.uk/?p=3592
    And more about perry boys here:
    http://www.mancky.co.uk/?p=2735

    • peter john bailey

      Pips was my second home as a perry boy was mainly in the commercial room listening to Motown and soul does anybody remember a club called pattys in town around the 90s

  8. Hayley

    I went to Monday night’s at The Ritz when it first started out as alternative. In fact I went to the first Monday alternative night. Loved the bouncy dance floor.

  9. Hayley

    I remember Wednesday night’s at the Cyprus tavern. I was,a student nurse at Manchester Royal. All the other student nurses used to go to the continental. The Conti as they called it. But I preferred the Cyprus Tavern because it was more alternative. I met a member of a famous Manchester band there too.The toilets were always flooded. It was such a dive.

  10. During the early/mid 80s Monday night at the Ritz always used to end with Nina Simone’s My baby just cares for me. Don’t remember dam busters theme?

  11. i used to go to a few of these but i am more 70s i was a dj at the piccadiily club 1975 they had a dj down stairs to until a fire finshed it off,i remember going in the playground pub just on oxford road next to the palace name was changed to the stage door..but it was a great disco pub….anyone go..

  12. I used to be a student in the Manchester Poly during 1985-1988 , and as a young man was always out and about. Our gang were “permanent fixtures” as they called us at the “Millionaire’s” and later at the “Applejacks” clubs ? Any of you guys and girls remember them. I’d love to exchange some stories.
    Also “Friday’s” on Palatine road , with the infamous sign “eat meet sleep” was a definite night out during the week. I have recently been back in Manchester, after almost 30 years .. it was a huge sentimental shock.. i miss these years so much

  13. Darren Greene

    Was the record shop Goldmine? I know they had those bags when they were in Shambles Square.

  14. Hello from over the pond! My dad worked at Rafters and the the Ritz in the mid/late 70’s. He ran the coat check at the Ritz, bar backed, and slung sandwiches at rafters. He met my mom at one of the 2 bars and she eventually went in to labor with me in may 1978 while at the Ritz. I have to say I’m rather found of the two. : ) my dad was foreign and said that the guy who ran the two places (same management??) was cool as shit to him. He remembers getting paid cash in tiny little envelopes, crazy punk bands, fog so bad you couldn’t see your hand in front of you, and one hell of a great time! We left England, and consequently his job at rafters ( he had managed to work solely there at that point) in late 78. Heading over this summer and can’t wait to walk down his memory lane.

  15. Michelle

    Wow enjoyed reading this. Hung out in room 1 in Placemates 7 mostly – made loads of friends. All went to London one weekend in 1983 & went to Steve stranges club Camden palace. Bit of punk, Bowie, Gary numan etc. in Room 1 – also legends on whit worth St & devilles were favourites in 1982/83. Used to be a great late night chippy in Piccadilly gardens – would get chips & gravy (gravy was to die for) then the all night bus home. Happy days – back combed hair, black lipstick & weird clothes – loved it.

    • peter john bailey

      Place mates was were we went if one of the gang we were with was banned from pips my first club I was 15 wearing farah stay press a Shetland wool jumper with a shirt and tie under it and a pair of college shoes was cloisters I thought I was the bollox and in there till after 2 I thought nobody else would be in town at that time well the shock I got going to Piccadilly for all night bus it was packed great times

      • peter john bailey

        Another great club was the cypress tavern on a Monday night drink joint and scrap night

  16. Hi,

    Can anyone remember a club on Charles Street.. A little bit down from Lass O’ Gowrie.. It was probably late 80’s-90’s. You would come in and go down stairs. I think it is now called R-Base. Can anyone remember the names this club has been?

  17. marcus austin

    Brings back so many memories

    I remember the Ritz final song being Nellie the Elephant by the Toy Dolls https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eti21PVHXrg

  18. Great article but as an “older” guy it was sad that some of the history was missing. I realize the time frame of the article but Manchester was buzzing way before then. The Wheel, in particular, was iconic and has global recognition thanks to it being the birthplace of Northern Soul. Roundtree Sound and Spring Gardens were great, as was Sloopys (previously The Oasis) on LLyd St. Disco Takis and Top Of The Town (Cross St) were also great venues. Ah the memories!

  19. Clairabell

    CLOUD NINE, gosh loved that place, New York New York last song, mods through the day, punks at night, dress offs with the other punks, red witches to drink, where are we all now I wonder, closing time would go to Dickens on Oldham st, knock on the door and the little spy hatch would slide across to check that you suitable for the club, how times have changed.

  20. Terry Mac

    I caught a couple of great bands at The Archway club, just across the road from the Hacienda, in 1986…Big Black from the US and the UK’s Head Of David, coming down from Glasgow with a mate to record both bands on my trusty Sony Pro Walkman! Even got to speak to Steve Albini from Big Black and record him introducing Head Of David’s set! Those tapes still sound great to this day.

  21. Can anyone remember where the Cyprus Tavern was? Was it Princess Street? A must in the mid 70’s after the Poly Unions Soul and Reggae night on Wednesday . Also I have a memory of a club called Manhatten Sound on Spring Gardens?

  22. Anyone remember the club on high street next to Yates wine lodge?

  23. Brings back memories-we used to go to manchester every year after the grand national ! Would end up in fufu’s millionare’s or fagin’s ! Remember one year ending up i fagin’s and I’m sure gerry and the pacemakers were on fell totally in love with a girl called Claire from the Wirral went to the toilet and the lads grabbed me to go back to the bus never got her number never saw her again! Great night tho! Called one of my daughters after her although wife didn’t know!

  24. I did the bar/ club scene in and around Manchester for many years,great times, started in the likes of pips and placement 7, my favourites​, years later were Richfield’s on Deansgate,Applejacks,Brambles, Lloyds,I worked in Fridays and Saturdays ( Piccadilly) in the 80,s… Henry’s bar,Tiger Tiger, just a few of the good ones.

  25. Back to Adam & Eve’s in Chorlton…They did some wild gigs. I saw Alien Sex Fiend there in the mid ’80’s and never recovered. Cloud 9 was my 2nd home.I even dated one of the bouncers.My two best friends dated John Gannon and Dave Booth so free entry to The Ritz,C9,The Playpen.All the clubs mentioned were part of my happy happy M/Cr monster club repertoire and do I remember International II being called Slosky’s at one point? Tickets to So Many amazing acts via Tony(The Greek) Michaeledes on Piccadilly 261. Those days were over far too quickly. And now I am Old….
    …And forcing my kids to go to gigs with me to give them a decent education!
    Cx

  26. Hi Dave – Thanks for the info – I must have gone to The Venue later than 1984 in that case… must have been 1985. Probably your Magic Roundabout night? I went along because some old school friends from Thomas Aquinas Comp went there regularly – I assumed they’d mostly moved on to uni/poly in other places by 1985 but maybe not.

    BTW Do you happen to know the name of the record shop in the University Precinct which had Laurel & Hardy carrier bags? Someone has asked in another comment and I said I would ask around.

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