To get a feel for what 80s Manchester would have been like for the lead characters in “Slur”, here are a few of my own recollections.
I can remember that it was a time of big change on the music scene. On the one hand you had clubs that played mainly soul and disco music, and then were those that catered to the alternative music scene. My preferences were mainly soul and disco with Luther Vandross, George Benson and Whitney Houston amongst my favourites. However, I also remember listening to 80s Bowie, the Human League, Brian Ferry and the 12” version of Tainted Love in my friend’s house or mine while we experimented with make-up. We found some shiny purple eye shadow that my mother had discarded years previously and adopted it as lipstick. Bang on trend!
As we got towards the end of the 80s and into the 90s, Manchester started to develop its own music scene, known as Madchester. The emergence of groups like the Stone Roses, the Happy Mondays and the Inspiral Carpets are linked to the Hacienda nightclub. At one point ‘Stone Roses’ was scrawled on virtually every wall in the city centre.
As for the clubs I used to frequent, I started in my late teens with Rotters, a converted cinema with a beautiful interior, and occasionally Tiffanys, which later became the Tropicana. At that time Pips and Placemate 7 were the places where the cool kids went. Placemate 7 was so called because of the 7 different dance floors, with each dedicated to a different style of music, so you got a real mix of people including New Romantics and Punk Rockers. In my 20s I moved onto Saturdays, Fridays and Sachas.
Out of all the clubs, Rotters and Saturdays were my favourites, mainly because they played a good mix of music – usually soul and disco but with some other genres thrown in, which suited my eclectic tastes. Another club I enjoyed was Legends. This was one that my brothers introduced me to and we were fascinated by the laser beams and strobe lighting. Occasionally we also went to the Ritz in the 80s and 90s. It had a bit of a bad reputation and the dance floor used to bounce if there was any particularly energetic dancing taking place.
One of the alternative venues I visited was Corbieres. This was a wine bar that hosted live bands and I went there with someone I was seeing who was into alternative music and dress. In an attempt to fit in I wore the trendiest outfit I could find. Acid Brights were really big that season so I turned up in my bright orange dress complete with matching white accessories. I was mortified when I descended into a dark cellar full of people dressed in black. I also went to The Venue, which I found a bit weird, and the famous Hacienda. The Hacienda was quite casual and full of student types who tended to dress down.
There were so many fashions that came and went throughout the 80s and often what you wore would be linked to the type of music you preferred. I can remember feeling really daring going out dressed in mini-skirts and white stilettos. It seems that the mini-skirt re-emerges every decade. And yes, I did wear leggings the first time round; the original ones didn’t even have Lycra and they used to sag around the knees and bum by the end of the day. We also used to dance around our handbags in nightclubs – cringe!
Manchester also had its fair share of drugs and violence, as many major cities still do today. These are both evident in my book. In fact, it was due to drug problems that the popular Hacienda had to shut down. Because of this connection I have chosen to feature it in my novel.
The 80s were a great time for me as it was the time of my youth and I can honestly say that I never witnessed any of the crime that is featured in my book. I once saw a handbag snatched and I’ve seen a few nightclub brawls, but I’ve never witnessed a murder. I could go on reminiscing but that alone wouldn’t make a good novel. That’s why I decided to write a crime thriller. I’m hoping that readers will, like me, prefer something gritty and hard-hitting. I’ll be following up with an excerpt chapter from the novel in the coming weeks.
If you remember the 80s please feel free to share your memories in the comments box below. If you’re too young to remember the 80s, I hope you’ve been entertained by the reminiscences of an old dinosaur.