Friday, 10 February 2012

Twisting the night away

The future of the famous Twisted Wheel club in Manchester is under threat.

The Twisted Wheel was a leading soul and R&B club whose stage in the 60's hosted, among others, Arthur Conley, Edwin Starr, Junior Walker and Solomon Burke.  Along with other clubs like Blackpool Mecca and the Wigan Casino, it helped launch Northern Soul, the movement that revived the careers of dozens of obscure, bemused but highly delighted US Southern souls artists who now found themselves playing to massive audiences in the industrial towns of North West England. It closed in 1971 (a victim of the drive by "God's Copper" James Anderton to close down late night clubs that also wiped out Manchester modern jazz scene). Now a gay club, Legends, it still hosts a soul night a couple of times a month, run by a promoter from the original Twisted Wheel, which attracts hundreds of people, some of them travelling from abroad.

The building is now in danger of being knocked by a developer who wants to build yet another hotel.  Manchester City Council's whole redevelopment of the city centre in the last decade or so has involved allowing the building of dozens of indentical hotels and upmarket flats, many of them now empty as a result of the economic downturn.  It is a policy that has seen the Hacienda nightclub turned into apartments and developers threatening to knock down the early nineteenth century Briton's Protection pub.

What the council and developers who want to knock down historic pubs and clubs in the city centre and replace them with a swathe of apartments and hotels ignore is that the people who move into or stay in them might just want to go out for a drink or a dance at night.

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