Tuesday, 30 October 2012

HomoElectric: The final party at Legends

Back when I lived in Chorlton I rode the 86 bus every day, like you do, and there would always be this same handsome guy on the bus and a look would always pass between us. Nothing ever came of it. One day he started riding the bus with his girlfriend. He always sat with his arm wrapped around her and he still gave me a look but this one was sort of proprietorial, almost smug.

Meanwhile, back in the unreal world, I was a clockwork-regular at HomoElectric. It was actually unthinkable to miss one of their parties. We planned holidays and days off around them. It was the crown jewel of a tiny clutch of unmissable nights that also included Club Suicide and Chips With Everything. From there I was eventually taken to Electric Chair and Mr Scruff, and when Scruff played his fantastic set at HomoElectric it was a perfect full-circle of music and good times.

Anyway, I digress... Another regular at HomoElectric at the time was a young, spindly Black queen; he was camp as anything, exceptionally mouthy and brilliant. You could usually hear him coming a mile off, except for this one night when I was just getting into the zone and I backed into someone on the dancefloor. I turned round to say my apologies and there was the queen, full on face-pashing with the hot guy from the number 86 bus. Bus guy looked at me with a mixture of guilt and discomfort, but I just smiled and waved and kept on dancing. It was no big deal, it was a total HomoElectric moment, and there were loads of them.

It was all electroclash round here in them days. We saw My Robot Friend, WIT, Readers Wifes, plus a so-bad-it-was-actually-kinda-fun PA from Siobhan of Bananarama/Shakespears Sister. She did her version of ‘White Rabbit’ by Jefferson Airplane. Surreal. I might’ve worn a Blondie T shirt the first time I went there. One night I wore a bottle of poppers round my neck on a shoelace. I think I’ve kept most of the amazing atrocities I showed up in. There was a brief sweatband and rubber bracelet fetish. Then home-made graffiti tops. Things went a bit Nu-Rave for a while too. There was lots of asymmetric hair at one point and that amazing blonde lesbian who always danced in a sports bra. Some guy did full face make-up in the toilets for me one time. It lasted about twenty minutes out on the dancefloor.

I cringed at the name ‘HomoElectric’ at first. I was only just out and I hated the word ‘Homo’. Now I only ever call it ‘Homo’. No cringe. I’ve been out ten years and I’ve been dancing at HomoElectric for all of them. For a time, HomoElectric was the best kept wide-open secret in town. One morning – post-Homo at a late night gentlemen’s establishment – I met up with a DJ from Essential who asked where I’d been for the night. I couldn’t believe he’d never heard of HomoElectric. Sometimes you’d be shocked at who did know about the place, even though it was always rammed. (‘Oh my god, you’re here...?’) I met my first boyfriend and my new boyfriend in Legends. I still can’t believe they’re letting it close.

There were so many good HomoElectric stories. One night my then boyfriend leaned on a spotlight in a mesh shirt and had grill-shaped burns on his back for weeks. It once took me five minutes to walk the four steps down to the dancefloor because I thought the shadows were holes in the ground. I think Davey Dobson got me to safety in the end. Thanks Dave. When I moved into a flat just up the road from Legends, I jogged home in the middle of the night more than once to get changed, or take a shower, or replace a shirt that I’d lost. Seemed like a good idea at the time I guess. More than once I got home without any shoes on, one time even in the snow. Somebody piggybacked me. I’ve no idea who. I remember the night everybody must have done their shopping at the same place. Everyone came up like billy-oh, they were queuing up to explosive-puke on a pile of plastic chairs down one of the corridors. We sat on the stairs laughing like goons and then we danced for five hours without a rest. A couple of times on a Sunday you’d spot a familiar shirt or dress out on the streets of the city centre. It would be somebody still pin-balling to or from another party that was actually the tail-end of Friday’s HomoElectric.

There was so much good music. It was an education. Erol Alkan stripping everything down to brass tacks, including us. Ivan Smagghe doing crunchy monochrome death-music in near-darkness. The majestic Mark Moore, who I’m pretty sure shoe-horned ‘Song 2’ into some unbelievable mix or other. Fischerspooner, Gwen Guthrie, Sebastien Tellier, Chaka Khan. The residents themselves were and are solid gold.

The rules of the rest of the city seemed to perceptibly lift when you walked down the steps into Legends for HomoElectric. The placed heaved with the ghosts of parties, from the Twisted Wheel up to the leather bears down-and-dirty get-togethers. You could often kiss your mates goodbye at the door, it was possible you might not see them again that night but there were always new friends to be made. ‘You can learn a lot more than you think about somebody on the dancefloor,’ a clever woman once said.

All good things must come to an end though, and they did. I remember dancing with Matt Rothery at the last closing party. ‘They’ll be talking about this for years to come,’ we said. ‘And we were there...!’ 

HomoElectric will live on, in Manchester some place, and London too, but nowhere in the world will match HomoElectric the way Legends did, the way Morecambe matches Wise, the way Fischer matches Spooner; not for spirit, not for love, not for all those party ghosts... It’s all over now, baby blue. Play a song for me, would you ...?

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Funny emails 2

Portions of emails, sent and received by me, rescued in edited form before being consigned to 'Trash' forever. Writers: thank you all ...

 I see a future of weeping at train stations for myself, like Celia Johnson with firmer hair.

Two boys? It’s not right. Feels right though.

I put up pictures where I think I might look fit then I go back and look and I actually seem to be a dickhead.

Got changed for bed then couldn’t face lying down so put jeans and coat over sleeping clothes and went for a walk round town with headphones on. Very trippy, people in bizarre outfits dancing in the street to my iPod, a line of teenage girls stepping over a puddle of vomit to get into a bar, all holding their passports out, and everyone but everyone smoking cigarettes...

She calls them arrogant twats, completely justified, then leaves. After which they accuse her of being drunk, self-important, a bitch basically. I have to leave, somehow feeling like it’s my fault. I can’t sleep so I take two kinds of sleeping aid then sleep right through my alarm and get to work at twenty to ten.

Fight for this Love is pants. She looks fit in her costume and that’s it. Singing something about `no picnic` and `walk in the park`? Urgh. She aint no Beyonce.

I nearly ate a whole block of cheese to myself last night. AND…the girl who brought in sweets today just called me greedy. I might be greedy but I still have feelings!

Grindr is proving quite interesting, especially when one is reclining on the couch thinking, ‘Nah, 200 meters is too far away…’

I'll bring a selection of false beards, one of which you can wear to compensate for the fact you are about to pack the wrong top.

Passion. Is. A. Slanket.

Beat me to death with my own colour co-ordinated reversible 100 % woollen house-shoes.

Oh man I’ve just pulled FIVE bar receipts from Via on Sunday night for a round every forty minutes.

guess who is going to have a baby? you are allowed three guesses

We only have one checked in bag between us. We can always add another if you want to but you are a boy and we can probably squeeze you into mine if you're spilling out the sides of your hand luggage. Needless to say, I will require the majority of the space for my sizeable collection of vintage control pants, Louis XVI dressing table and stainless steel trouser press.

Do you have your E111 up to date? For when you get your leg trapped in a storm drain.

Other terms you might use: rasping, sandpaper, experienced girl groan, fingered, expressive, fighty, grunty... bourbonned...

Why are you afraid of whales?? Why why? Did you see the story about the American Seaworld trainer killed by a whale? Is it things like that?

I joined Gay Romeo last night. I cancelled my profile after one hour.

Hi m8 you’re close where you at?
Oxford Rd, you?
I’m working on campus, you same or you a student?
Lol m8 I’m a train driver

A cervical 'sweep' first and then, if he's anything like the rest of us, a gin and tonic should coax him out

Friday, 12 October 2012

‘Manchester: In Residents’ … #20: Sarah

'Manchester has a fascinating history, artistic integrity, an intellectual legacy, great diversity of people, a lovely self-deprecating sense of humour, it’s not pretentious, and we work hard...'

What’s your name?

Sarah Perks

What do you do?

I hold the super title of ‘Programme and Engagement Director, at Cornerhouse which means I’m in charge of all of the artistic programmes. This cuts across our exhibitions, films, engagement projects (young people for example), lots of events, and much more. As well as all the team management and strategy, I curate exhibitions, produce artists’ films and commissions, distribute artists’ film, programme film seasons, talk constantly and run around after artists. There’s a lot to do, I love it and I have a fab team.

Where do you live?

I live on one of the cheaper sides of Chorlton, opposite the cemetery, near the water park where I walk Benji (my dog) twice a day. I resisted Chorlton at first, then I gave in about a year ago. Some of the stereotypes are unfair, I’ve never even been to Unicorn. I’ve lived in Oldham, Urmston, Prestwich, the city centre, Clayton, and more recently on the Rusholme/Moss Side border where I was chair of the residents association.

Tell us the story of how you ended up in Manchester.

I was born here, and without even a gap year, I have always lived in Manchester. My parents were born here. Further back leads to Ireland (of course) and the slums of Greengate, Salford. Lots of people don’t believe me because I have an accent that seems hard to pin down (I don’t know why, I sound Manc-ish to me). I’ve almost left and then didn’t, though nearly all of my family have left (for as far away as New Zealand). Anyway I’m still here with Benji, who’s also a Mancunian, he’s from the dogs’ home.

What’s great about this city?

I can gush forever about Manchester and often do, particularly if someone mentions Liverpool... Manchester has a fascinating history, artistic integrity, an intellectual legacy, great diversity of people, a lovely self-deprecating sense of humour, it’s not pretentious, and we work hard. Wherever you go people know Manchester and are positive about it (I don’t even mind if football comes up on occasion). This city has a different energy and attitude that’s not afraid to do something else, be brave and ambitious, and just get on with it. It’s small enough to be friendly and easy to get around, yet there’s great culture and lots to do. I’m not entirely sure a working class over-achiever like me would have got such amazing opportunities in London.  We need to keep an eye on the young talent though and make sure they keep up the spirit.

What’s not so great?

For a city of over two million people, there are not enough visible hot single straight men and those that disagree should make themselves known. Also, on occasion there’s a little too much sentiment for ‘Madchester’ and certain people from that era. I’m not saying it wasn’t important but it’s only a small part of the story and most kids don’t care about it now. I think The Smiths will endure beyond all that, and Take That probably.

Do you have a favourite Manchester building?

There are so many amazing buildings all over the city – visiting artists often want to research them and are continually impressed by wealth of architecture styles and influences – that’s what makes the city special. Chetham’s Library is a particular gem. I also love the view from Peel Tower (Ramsbottom). Recently, with an artist, we looked into the old Salford Cinema at the top of Chapel Street out of curiosity, and ended up attending an entire evangelist Christian service.

Do you have a favourite Mancunian?

I think Dr CP Lee is a city treasure. Some others are Emmeline Pankhurst, Morrissey, Davy Jones and everyone that makes Coronation Street so great. And Friedrich Engels, though he wasn’t born here. I would like Nick Grimshaw to smash the R1 breakfast show… Mark and Lard didn’t, although their afternoon show in the early noughties was genius, I still often think about Halon Menswear...

What’s your favourite pub/bar/club/restaurant/park/venue?

I’m always in Cornerhouse bar because I love it, not about promoting it at all, it would be weird if I didn’t like it and didn’t talk to people there! I like traditional pubs like Britons and the Peveril Of The Peak, and unless it’s cocktail time, I like more relaxed bars like The Gas Lamp and Common. Myself and Benji frequent many Chorlton bars including The Parlour and The Spoon Inn. A Chinese hotpot with a big group of friends at Red‘n’Hot on Faulkner Street is the best – I’m particularly crazy about the spam and frog legs bubbling in hot chilli.

What do you think is missing from Manchester?

See the first line of ‘What’s not so great’...

If I was Mayor for a day I would …

Give myself a full 4 year term. Seriously, I’d arrange a doggie day across the centre, bring your dog to shops, pubs, restaurants, galleries, museums, promoting both adoption from the dogs home and responsible ownership.

Who else would you like to nominate to answer this questionnaire?

Dr CP Lee and Jason Singh.

Sarah is Programme and Engagement Director at Cornerhouse.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Funny emails

Portions of emails, sent and received by me, rescued in edited form before being consigned to 'Trash' forever. Writers: thank you all ...

" ... So my SATC party was a blast, I made the perfect Martini and Cosmopolitan and then spilt them all down my white shorts.

In case I die I want these played at my funeral in this order please: This Love, The Luckiest, Nightswimming, then finish with Gold by Spandau Ballet.

Just got a great piece of text advice from Mr Garvey, a master in matters of the heart: 'Kiss his head in!'

I might as well go for it eh? Unless you want him? I'll add him to the drag queen, Jamaican novelist, Welsh rugby player and rough trade.

Had to write Saturday off, no food on Friday, drank till the small hours and was ill all day. Aside from what a dickhead *** was, *** doesn't like the guy *** is seeing, *** stood *** up then *** saw him out drinking (he's drinking himself into oblivion and can't stop, he disappeared without saying and wouldn't answer his phone then was sleepless with guilt all weekend). *** and *** left in such a hurry they left their stuff behind in the bar, nobody knows why. We should all have stayed home ...

I can't believe Mum is on facebook.

I need more than a Compeed, more like a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (because of their demonstrable efficacy in smoking cessation).

I'm a fucking feminist I don't have to sit around waiting for him to call me.

 Will you still come on a fancy opera restaurant night with me? We’ll bring Geordie so he can explain the plot while we eat Minstrels with our Walkmans on.

Tosca was brilliant by the way, except for someone in the Gods who said really loudly "Excuse me!" in the dramatic opening scene.

Helen and I are both in comas. 
As opposed to commas. 
Which would be 'Helen and I'.

He says he can't stop thinking about me. He's got NO written in permanent marker on his hand to stop him texting me.

Did I tell you my DJ name is 'G of the Bang'?

You can't see my face but you can see my semi through my shorts.

It seems I have a knack … whenever I write about somebody, they appear. I wrote about this DJ who basically saved my life (sing it!) and the day after I finished the chapter he was sitting on the next table to me in Tampopo.

We went to Sandbar, hangout of postgrads and bicycle couriers. You should see the thighs on those postgrads.

We've got the spare bed made up....not bothered who ends up in it. Anyway i handed my notice in today! yay!

Do you think seven DJ sets is enough of a CV to start my own night? Do you think my DJ name should be Plums Geldof?

Whoopi does know that Ghost wasn't a documentary doesn't she?

I am designing a book about religious dress in Italy from the 13th to the 16th centuries. Opening line: 'What do we wear after we die...?' OMG NEW GAY ANXIETY!

I bought him a book about the feud between Bette Davis and Joan Crawford and used a picture of Dusty Springfield to wrap it in.

I have a terrible enormous zit with its own postcode right on my lip and he hasn't called me all day so is OBVIOUSLY sleeping with hookers in Kings Cross.

The Manbaby pops those giant chocolate babies like Quaaludes.

Don’t you just wanna turn him inside out and WEAR him?

By the looks of it he was addicted to hair straighteners

Let's have a nice and friendly break up when it comes can we? Please?

Not sure if that makes me Joan Crawford or not. I'm much more Michael Crawford.

According to Urban Dictionary 'bogata' can also mean:
(n.) A muncher of ass or someone who searches through garbage looking for used tampons. Usually derogatory.
'Usually derogatory' made me simply roar laughing.

I ate dinner over my proofs and now there is pasta sauce all over an explication of 19th Century renditions of Henry V. Well, it needed spicing up.

On Saturday my mate found a girl collapsed in the street and put her in the recovery position and called an ambulance. In the intervening two days the story has been embellished thusly: he dragged the girl from a burning Ferrari, restarted her heart with a car battery and her own earrings, performed an emergency tracheotomy with a biro, then delivered her twins by streetlight and now he's going to be on the Golden Heart awards with Joanna Lumley ..."