Friday, 28 October 2011

Dance dance dance till you're dead ...

Two KILLER parties for this Halloween, with a whole day in between to recover!

First up is the annual ZOMBIE PRIDE party. This year it’s bigger and bloodier than ever. Traipse your rotting self up and down the cobbles of Canal Street first beforeoff to Legends where all your favourite nights are assembled under one dripping mausoleum roof. Here’s the lowdown …

Zombie Vogue Off - Dress to DISTRESS and take your look to the catwalk!

Blige Sisters Chapel of Death - Death is hell but you look fabulous!

The Blige Sisters will be reading you your last rites at your own fabulous open casket funeral!

Pisscotheque … Lurking in the toilets enter a dark room of horrors and dance the night away!

Tranarchy's CREEPSHOW with Zsa Zsa Noir, Kurt Dirt, Sahara Dolce and more TBA!

DJ's Off The Hook, Chew Disco, The Niallist, Trash-O-Rama, Pumping Iron and Raw Like Sissy!

I’ll be representing Off The Hook with my homie Anthony Crank down in the bowels of the club, with the gorgeous Chew Disco in between and the Pisscotheque massive next door.

HEADS UP: that vogue trophy is MINE ....

Zombie Pride, Saturday 29th October, Legends, Whitworth Street, 10.30pm, £6. Zombie Walk on Canal Street at Taurus from 9.30pm

Then on Halloween proper, get out there for the real spirits of the night. The House Party massive are hosting their annual Haunted House Party, this time at Mint Lounge, smack bang in the heart of the Northern Quarter. Yours truyl will be hitting the decks at some point, warming up as best I can for, oh my god only Tim Burgess and Dave Haslam. Plus Zvook! Dance Party, Nik Void (Factory Floor), Good Vibrations, The Power Ballad Salad, Jamie El Muerto and Ron Negro AND MORE ...!

Facebook jargon here

Tickets available here… BE QUICK!

The Haunted House Party, Monday 31st October, Mint Lounge, Oldham Street, 9pm, £8.

Remember, bad requests will earn you a stake in the heart …


Thursday, 20 October 2011

Holestar: The Queen Of Fucking Everything …

If you haven’t heard of Holestar yet, exactly WHERE HAVE …. YOU BEEN …?

Holestar is a gender bender with a liberation agenda you can dance to. The First Lady of the East London drag scene extends her beautifully lacquered fingers back into the world of music with a well overdue follow up to last year’s ‘NyLon Woman’ (‘You can see me in the East End, and catch me on the West Side …’) The Piers Remix was my number one WORK IT! track at the gym for a while.

This time round we have a whole EP, nattily named ‘The Queen Of Fucking Everything’ and it’s all wall to wall synth classique baby. Gimme …

The title track is curt, catchy and comic and sees our tranny with a fanny tearing strips of some uppity scene queen. Oh please, she had it coming. And it ends with laughing. I seriously love songs that do that.

Another Heartbeat’ is John Foxx bagging off with the lasses from Human League. It’s pocket calculator /asymmetric hair music and even has a little talky bit. YES!

The Insider’ is a wee shady gem of a track, like Bananarama in the interesting dark middle period they never had but really should’ve, and it’s a stand out for me.

Remember, electro drag disco is the new punk rock so support your DIY drag queens ...

Monday, 17 October 2011

The Manchester Weekender 2011: All Done For This Year ... Or Is It?

I love city festivals. I love that feeling of being on holiday in the place you live. I love disparate events with a collective purpose. I love tearing all over town and Tweeting about it. I love free wine and cheap tickets and good conversation with motivated people. A hectic calendar of Manchester festivals (International, Pride, Jazz, Science, Food and Drink, Literature, Asia Triennial, Comedy, and of course the Weekender) provides this in spades.

The savvy thing about the Manchester Weekender is that it mingles events that might already be happening with new and specially-commissioned work to create mutual enthusiasm and mass encouragement to get out there and see what your city has to offer.

At Castlefield Gallery, Istanbul artists blend ideas of vacation and immigration, utilising everything from suitcases to IKEA-style stills of visa application offices. Entry is through a metal-detecting airport security gate. On the inside, voices of authority are aired through video interviews with visa office employees while the voices of the disappointed and rejected literally envelop the entire gallery on the outside; the walls and windows are papered with correspondence from people denied entry into various countries. The exhibition forms part of the ongoing Asia Triennial Manchester.

Against this backdrop Beating Wing Orchestra give a musical performance with a global and mesmerising blend of influences; old European, pan-Asian, Congolese, hip-hop, Bhangra, all with astonishing vocal dexterity. ‘World music’, explains one of the singers simply. A terrific feeling of camaraderie between band members, and eventually between band and audience too, make this a special event.

Down at the Whitworth Gallery, After Hours present ‘BlackLab’, an amalgam of set pieces that complement the existing ‘Dark Matters’ exhibit. Both play with light, film, delay, transparency, print, music and motion. The slow-mo movie of burning oilfields is weirdly touching while next door live guitar and cello soundtrack short films of traditional paper silhouette stop-motion. Whether the man shouting ‘MARGARET THATCHER! KARL MARX!’ is an installation himself or someone with political Tourettes I’m still not sure. ‘Cosmodrome’, screened in the auditorium, pays melancholic testimony to the heroes of Soviet space travel.

‘Primitive Streak’ is fashion meets life science. Divided between the Royal Exchange mezzanine gallery and the windows of Debenhams, the clothes shown in photograph, sketches or their final stitched form are inspired by the cellular development of living humans, so we get designs for spinal couture, a ‘sperm’ dress and, my favourite, the ‘Anaphase Dress’ which surely should belong to Bjork by rights?

Time to hit the shoe leather for two Mancunian walks. The first sees Ed Glinert from New Manchester Walks take a group of booted and be-torched urban explorers through Manchester’s concealed subterranean history and its fascinating links with Nazi invasion, state secrecy and ambitious canal endeavours. It’s thrilling and unnerving to be metres beneath Deansgate and not hear a sound. Memories of people enduring uncomfortable, diseased hours in the expansive bomb shelters feel all-too tangible in that dank air.

Then it’s back into sunshine and air for a tour of Ancoats, incorporating old and new, alluring decrepitude and ambitious renovation. The ‘Ancoats Peeps’ are discrete viewing portals, historical fragments placed in oblique locations that preserve images of Anocats’ past even as the district develops around them. Beginning and ending at the beautifully designed Cutting Room Square, the tour brought us into renovated cotton mills and the breathtaking interior of St Peter’s Church, soon to provide rehearsal space to the Halle Orchestra no less. A book is available to chronicle and complement the ‘Ancoats Peeps’.

The weekend ends on a high with Dave Haslam’s ‘Close Up with Jarvis Cocker’ in the intricate Gothic majesty of the Town Hall’s Great Hall. Surrounded by Ford Madox Brown’s vivid and edifying murals, Jarvis and Dave talk music, lyrics, sex, Michael Jackson and recession Britain before a rapt audience. Wonderful fun.

Though the Manchester Weekender is officially over, it is in fact a gateway to an autumn/winter schedule packed with events like the ones above. Festival season continues across the city. Check links, get on mailers and Twitter feeds, see what’s afoot. After 48 hours of cultural input it becomes apparent you can make a Manchester Weekender for yourself whenever you like. Get going ...

(Big thanks to Holly Jennison at All Points North)

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

The Manchester Weekender 2011

The leaves are dying a death but the city’s alive and kicking. Music, art, theatre, politics, underground, overground, lots of it free! That’s what Creative Tourist have magically/manically pulled together for the imminent Manchester Weekender, running from this Friday (14th) to the far end of Sunday evening.

It’s all about engaging conversations, big questions, daring performances, secret places and cool spaces,’ says the spiel. Perfect.

The good folk at All Points North have asked me to delve in and report back from the artistic front over this frantic three-dayer, and I’ve accepted the challenge.

A full guide for the three days can be obtained right here, and a more compact version, a clash-finder if you will, is here. Best get planning. Here’s what’s currently taking my fancy …

Primitive Streak … couture meets evolutionary science in these free exhibits at the Royal Exchange and Debenhams

Sounds Like A Gallery … tributes to Manchester Art Gallery and its collection told through the medium of the banjo (!) and other instrumentation

Beating Wing Orchestra … part of Asia Triennial, migrant and refugee musicians make up this collective performing at Castlefield Gallery

After Hours presents BlackLab … a blend of prose, film and still photography, soundtracked live by artist and musician Otto Smart

Gothic Splendour … embrace Manchester’s Victorian roots by visiting Ford Madox Brown’s dozen murals housed in our beautiful imposing Town Hall

Underground Manchester with New Manchester Walks … torch, boots and backbone required for this subterranean exploration beneath the city streets

Ancoats Peeps … the endlessly rich story of the Ancoats streets is the subject of this walk, taking in historical buildings and new installations

Jarvis Cocker: Close Up with Dave HaslamRound off your epic weekend in the company of a contender for the title of ‘Greatest Living Englishman’ inside the Town Hall’s wondrous Great Hall. Jarvis Cocker will be there too …

If you’re out Tweeting during the Weekender the hashtag is simply #McrWeekender so let’s get trending while we’re trekking.

See you out there…

Berlin Part 6: Our last auf wiedersehen …

A late healthy breakfast at Hilde’s where we meet Matthew’s friend, the lovely Anita. Anita is an ex-Mancunian resident and a delight so we decide to fall in love with her over croissants and fruit and Geordie’s fragrant peppermint tea which is simply fistfuls of shredded mint leaves in piping hot water and which smells of HEALTH. Delish. Anita hasn’t been in Berlin long but she already has a fascinating job working for this talented lady. Jealous.

The sun is blazing down. I have to donate my hat to Matthew. It’s a parks and ice-cream day for sure. I have pistachio and one other flavour which runs down to my elbow in the heat and makes me feel about eight. Mauerpark is our destination. It runs along the site of the old wall (‘mauer’) and the deathly no man’s land that lay there. Today it’s a bustling park with performance spaces, wild undergrowth, and best of all a huge flea market where you can and must buy everything from knives and forks and dresses to ice cold beer and records. Matthew tries on a lovely lavender panama hat with some sort of floral print on it and the couple running the stall fall about laughing.

After a nice lazy wander and some beers we retire to a bar across the road for Mai Tais in the shade. Our good intentions of visiting the gay museum fall apart as the cocktails work their magic. It’s simply too hot and too hilarious to do anything but sit and smoke and laugh like drains. Stomachs begin to rumble so we head out for Vietnamese food in the slowly cooling streets of Prenzlberg.

Soon it’s time to say goodbye to Anita. The boys and I begin to amble home. Soon the sky bruises and my skin starts to prickle. We’re not very far from the flat when the first ice-white flash of lightning booms its way across the sky. It’s the beginning of the biggest, loudest thunderstorm I’ve ever seen in my life. This was our view of it from our balcony (careful, it’s pretty loud…)

After watching in the hot rain and drinking some or other amazing wine with the lightning coming from all directions round the Fernsehturm I am filled with a weird kind of energy. It needs to be danced off. I leave the boys at home and go to meet Craig for nocturnal revelry. I don’t know if I have a reputation for getting lost or something but this is what is placed inside my wallet before I head out …

Pork at Fechen 3000 is exactly as upmarket and glamorous as it sounds. Tonnes of beary boys and fit art gays pinballing around the place to a mush of indie and dance and electro guff. The lovely Joel Gibb from The Hidden Cameras is DJing when we arrive and lets me take over the decks for a bit. The ‘decks’ being someone’s woefully undernourished iTunes from which I salvage some Ladytron or something. It’s all severely hazy by this point. I’m seriously entertaining missing my flight on purpose but the administrative nightmare of this threatens to sober me up (fat chance) and there’s still plenty of time to party yet.

There is more than one area in this nightclub establishment. I lose my brand new jackplug necklace in the other area of this nightclub establishment. That’s all I have to say about that.

I am limping for a cab home at 8 am. Every single item of my clothing is drenched with beer. The get-me-home Polaroid proves itself priceless. I still have it with me now. Everywhere I go.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Objects of desire: Part 2

The delights gathered below are all lovingly bookmarked with a view to potential future perusal and possible eventual acquisition. By me. Within reason. The Manhattan helicopter ride might have to wait till next year at the very least. Anyway, feast your eyes on these consumable beauties. By the way, this list in no way constitutes a series of enormous hints about things that you might like to buy me for Christmas. No no no …

Peruvian Organic Fairtrade Coffee


Muppets Movies Boxset


Chromeo, Terminal 5, New York

£30 (plus cost of getting to New York and staying there of course …)