Sunday, 30 June 2019

Club X, Manchester

Manchester has been a hotbed of new ideas and challenges to the establishment for many years.  The industrial revolution stated in the mills around the city, it was the first city to adopt a telephone system from the GPO (later British Telecom), the first ever Vegetarian Society started it's own food-based revolution in 1847...the list goes on. 

Currently as a city the population stands at nearly 550 thousand, but once the immediate surrounding towns are brought into the equation it leaps up to somewhere in the region of 2.5 million.  That is a pretty big catchment area, and for any business or idea it must surely mean that there must be a hope of finding new eager customers somewhere amongst those two and a half million people.  And yet...

... there are currently no Michelín-starred restaurants in the city.  Yes, the thriving metropolis does not have the honour of hosting such an establishment and has coldly turned its back on those Michelín chefs who have tried.  There are plenty of such eateries in the north-west (including nearby neighbours Liverpool), but not Manchester.  It seems the majority of the Manchester folk are simply not interested in such food or fripperies. 

A world away, but in an oddly familiar pattern, the city has not hosted a big alternative lifestyle event for several years.  A look into the past would show that the explosion of the fetish/club scene in the early 1990s didn't really hit Manchester.  London boasted numerous clubs, with the likes of Submission drawing a few thousand people through its doors every six weeks.  There was also Torture Garden, The Gate, Night Of The Senses and The Sex Maniacs Ball, Pleasurezone... an endless list of events that catered for those seeking new thrills.  Birmingham hosted a few nights of their own, and further north the smaller cities like Hull, Bradford, Leeds and Liverpool all got in on the act with clubs in each city.  Manchester did, too... with one club.  Club Lash, run back then by Rosie Lugosi, was a great club, taking its well-earned place in the darkside of the nightclub scene which would see people travelling all over the country in order to slip into some latex or leather before venturing out into the night.

Like the Michelín restaurants, Manchester seems to have an issue with the fetish scene.  It has had a good go - back in the late 00's we had Dystopia, while more recently the now-defunct club Cirque (which hosted a few different fetish events) had a try, (successfully for a time, too), and I loved going.  And of course we can't forget the big Sexhibition events, although those weren't really clubs as such.

Therefore, it was quite exciting to hear that a new club would be opening its doors in June.  Club X would perhaps be the latest club to try and make a success of bringing some BDSM-inspired fetish fun back to Manchester.  Not only that, there would be a fetish fair the following day.  I had to go and take a look, and hope that enough others were tempted to dust down their fetish attire and support the new venture.

First problem is, would you believe, parking.  The club is right in centre of the city, just off St.Anne's Square.  That means there is little in the way of nearby parking, which means a potentially uneasy walk through the city centre on Saturday night - not that it's a problem (usually), but add some fetish clothing and it becomes a different matter for those who don't want to get changed at the club.  I chose to wear a latex jacket and leggings suit made specially for me by Cathouse Clothing - it would at least be incongruous if I had to walk through some busy streets on my way to the club.  I was also slightly worried about the rather relaxed dress-code that the club had - once you start to include 'black trousers and shirt' as a minimum, you can start to entice the wrong people into your club.  Once the wrong people come in, it can make ladies (especially if barely-dressed in lingerie or skimpy latex) feel intimidated, and if those ladies stop going... well, you soon have no club.

Nevertheless, I made sure I arrived quite early in the hope of making the most of the night. Through the doors, and down some suitably-distressed and run-down stairs...

Dexi Delite South Manchester Escort - Club X, Manchester.
Dexi Delite South Manchester Escort - Club X, Manchester.

 ...and I was in the club itself.  Being a dark, brick-work cellar was definitely a bonus, adding to the subterranean dark atmosphere.  So far so good.  A few tables were already busy, but I managed to grab a drink (a good selection, bonus point again) and find a spare table and chairs - important as friends from London would be joining me later.

Slowly... and I mean slowly... the club got busier.  There were a few 'street clothes' in attendance (although the tickets stated no street clothes, I'm afraid to me anything not fetish-inspred is street-wear), but at least there was no poor etiquette displayed that I saw.  The music was good, too, if a little disjointed (swaying quite bizarrely from 1980s New Wave classics, then some modern club/dance track, then some 1970s Bowie...).  It was a bit like someone had plugged their iPod on and hit 'Random'.  For a small scene and one I've been into for some 25 years, there weren't any faces I knew.

At least things got a little more interesting once friends turned up, and we managed to make use of some of the play equipment and the heavy canes and whips that one of the gentlemen, C, had brought along.  A shame, though, that some of the play had to be stopped due to being 'a bit extreme'.

One of the problems for me is that sometimes it's hard not to compare these small nights with other things I've done over the years.  Club X certainly couldn't ever really hope to match the extravagance or decadence of the Hamburg clubs, nor the end-of-the-world-let's-party feel of the Berlin clubs, but some things were perhaps against it.  Its closeness to the city centre meant it had a discrete visit from Manchester Council to make sure it was complying with requirements, which meant that, playwise, nothing remotely pushing boundaries was allowed - sexual or BDSM-wise.  It was a good night, but without close friends to play with and spend time with it could have been a bit flat.  I'd certainly look at the music policy and dress-code policy if it was my club, though - the music can help with overall mood of the night, and as I said earlier, the dress-code could do with being a little more refined.  I know club-organisers have one eye on getting people (money) through the door, but it can be short-sighted to welcome all and sundry at the risk of losing the scene's real adherents... and those are the ones that will feed a club for years, if it is good.

The following day I headed back to the city centre - this time Castlefield for the fetish fair.  Intending to only spend on hour at the venue, I actually went home after six hours and many, many cocktails.  It was a great event, with stalls selling lots of quality goods - well worth a visit the next time it comes to the city.  I would have liked to have seen a few more clothing stalls amongst the BDSM stalls, but I couldn't dispute the quality, range and craftsmanship on display.  It was a friendly crowd, too, so any new explorers in the BDSM scene were made welcome and informed.  Not only that, but the venue, Revolution, offered some good food upstairs, too, which helped soaking up some of those cocktails I'd consumed.  Whilst walking around I did notice a little massage chair, with a lovely young lady offering neck/shoulder massages for a small fee.  Having had a bit of pain in my neck for a few days, I though I'd take advantage of the offer.  I asked a few questions about the lady's very expensive chair, and she answered my queries then asked one of her own - "Are you in the massage business?"  "Only when it involved happy endings," I replied sitting down in the chair.  I didn't see her face, but my waiting friends told me she looked a little shocked.  I think the cocktails may have loosened my tongue a little...

It was definitely a great end to the weekend.  One to be repeated?  Well, we'll see...

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