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29 Jul 2020 - 6 minutes

Rhythm is Manchester

Rhythm is Manchester blog header

As Snap once sang, ‘rhythm is a dancer, it’s a soul companion, you can feel it everywhere.’ The lyrics couldn’t be truer to Manchester!

Rhythm can be felt wherever you go, whether it be the sounds of Salsa from the Spanish bars and restaurants, or the beat of the drummings on top of AXIS for our live DJ set on Friday - courtesy of Pukka Up, Monka, Be Like Butter and the Carmina Entertainment dancers.

Manchester has a history steeped in music, which is why Ibiza is perfect for our first staycation destination. Choosing a place in time to start talking about the city’s musical heritage is hard, but we’re going to pick...

The 1960s

In the 1960s, Manchester and the surrounding area was the birthplace of bands such as the Bee Gees, Herman’s Hermit, Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders and Freddie and the Dreamers. The city was also home to BBC’s Top of The Pops at the time.

Despite the success of these bands, (the latter three all topping the American Billboard charts consecutively during April and May 1965) very little was reinvested by them into Manchester’s music scene. The exceptions were Graham Gouldman and Eric Stewart (10cc and Mindbenders) who built the UK’s first world-class recording studio outside of London in Stockport, calling it Strawberry Studios.

Some of the world’s greatest artists recorded at Strawberry throughout the 60s and 70s, and the studio was also responsible for kickstarting the careers of many important and influential Manchester bands. Joy Division, New Order, The Smiths, James and The Stone Roses all recorded their early singles and some of their most important music at Strawberry Studios

Black and white image of a motorbike outside Strawberry Studios in Manchester

The 1970s

There were a couple of key events in the 1970s that influenced the growth of Manchester’s music scene. The most notable of these was a Sex Pistols gig played at the Lesser Free Trade Hall in front of an audience of around 40 people. Amongst them were several, would go on to become, key members of future of Manchester’s music scene, including Granada Television presenter and creator of Factory Records, Tony Wilson.

The other influential event to happen in the 70s was the release of Buzzcocks’ Spiral Scratch EP. The release of the EP prompted the formation of a local label called Rabid Records, who started putting out singles from local acts such as Slaughter & The Dogs and John Cooper Clarke. The formation of this record label coincided with Tony Wilson showcasing the best of both British and American punk and New Wave on his late-night Granada Television show, So It Goes.

When the show wrapped up in 1977, Wilson wanted to continue being involved in Manchester’s music scene and so he started an event night at the Russell Club in Hulme, calling it ‘The Factory.’ Along with his friends and business partners, Alan Erasmus and Alan Wise, they went on to create Factory Records, concentrating on producing albums. The first of these after a sampler EP was Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures.

Peter Saville, Tony Wilson and Alan Erasmus in front of The Factory in Hulme

The 1980s

Factory Records continued to play a major part on the music stage well into the 1980s. They took the Industrial Revolution as their model, playing on Manchester’s traditions and the imagery of the industrial north combined with the pop art world of Andy Warhol. In 1982, one Factory Record’s initiatives, the Haçienda nightclub, opened its doors to the public. The club played host mainly to club-orientated pop music with gigs from New Order, Culture Club and the Smiths to name a few. By 1986, the venue switched from being a live venue to being a dance club. In the same year, The Festival of the Tenth Summer, organised by Factory Records, helped to solidifying Manchester’s standing as a centre for alternative pop. By the end of the 1980s, other clubs in Manchester started to catch on to house music and the ‘Madchester’ era began.

Crowds cheers at an outdoor concert in Manchester

The 1990s

The term ‘Madchester’ was coined by Factory Records video director Philip Shotton. It is the term used to describe the cultural scene that developed in the city around the Haçienda in the late 1980s, spreading well into the 90s. Artists began to merge alternative rock with elements of acid house, rave music and 1960s pop. The main players in terms of bands during this period were Happy Mondays, Inspiral Carpets, Northside and the Stone Roses. One of the inspirations for our first holiday destinations was Haçienda’s famous Ibiza night “Hot,” an acid house night hosted by Pickering and Jon DaSilva. Haçienda DJs regularly appeared on radio and TV shows, including BBC Radio 1.

Unfortunately, the Haçienda was marred by trouble, with drug use and security failings leading to its closure in 1997. Following the Madchester period, big acts to come out of Manchester included Morrissey, New Order and perhaps most famously, Oasis. The band was formed in Manchester in 1991 and went on to sell more than 75 million records worldwide, making them one of the best-selling bands of all time.

2000s – Present Day

Manchester continues to have a strong affinity for music to this day! Manchester Arena seats over twenty thousand people and is the largest arena of its kind in Europe. The Etihad and the Old Trafford’s cricket ground also provide large open-air venues outside of the sporting seasons. But there are also plenty of smaller venues dotted all throughout the city for both smaller and unsigned artists to showcase their talents, including Band on the Wall, O2 Ritz, Albert Hall, Hope Mill Theatre, Castlefield Bowl and the Deaf Institute. Heaton Park, just north of the city, also hosts Parklife festival, where some of the world’s biggest names in music have played. The annual Manchester Pride also attracts big-name artists, such as Ariana Grande who headlined the festival in 2019, returning to the city after organising the ‘One Love Manchester’ benefit concert in 2017 in the wake of the attack at Manchester Arena.

Crowds watch the One Love Manchester concert organised by Ariana Grande

To kick start your weekend with an Ibiza vibe, in celebration of the music, we’re hosting a special DJ set this coming Friday (31st) courtesy of Pukka Up, Ibiza’s biggest boat party! We’ll be live from the sunny island of Ibiza with Be Like Butter alongside Matt Saxx and the equally sunny (fingers crossed!) rooftop of AXIS here in Manchester with percussionist Monka and dancers from Carmina Entertainment!

So, make sure you’ve got your speakers turned up, and get ready to show Ibiza a thing or two about how we party here in Manchester!

Join us on Facebook at 7:30pm this Friday to start your Ibiza Weekender!

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