Thanks to the “We’re all going to die” Coronavirus lockdown, the Sparkle 2020 annual Sparkle Event for Trans, Non-binary/Genderfluid and Intersex festival, was cancelled. However, because we all isolated and put our sad little lives on hold and didnt die, we’re here to tell the tale.
On 4th July (so, very apt this being Independance day, maybe Will Smith and Jeff Goldbloom will come save us from Corona-aliens?) and now lockdown restrictions have been lifted a little. This has meant many of the bar owners in Manchester have said a collected “Thank fuck!” and opened for business. This has meant that many who would have attended the Sparkle event put on their best frocks, painted their nails and applied their make up and headed down to the village in Manchester. Myself included.
Rules, rules and more f**king rules.
However, all is not peachy and rosey in pub and bar land, and because of Coronavirus said bars everywhere have been asked to deal with a shit load of additional rules if they want to open and stay open. Lots of rules and regulations imposed on said bars means a night out in Manchester was a very different experience from the norm. I don’t think anyone can even pick the rule book up anymore let alone throw it out! It must be HUUUUGE!
Instead of “knees up Mother Brown” it was “Stop your dancing Mother Brown and sit the fuck down!”
I’m not going to complain though, (who am I kidding), but as at least I could go out and mingle with my girly friends. However, lets just discuss what its like in the village at the moment.
For a start to get into most of the bars in the village you have to either booked in advance to gain entry or join a free membership scheme. Those that have a membership scheme I say, big thumbs up as you have got your shit together. You turn up and they ask, “Are you a member?”, Yes – Yes I am, “OK, Whats your membership number?”
Provide them with that info and you’re in and shown to a table. No messing about. Bar Pop, You rock as we came inside your humble abode twice on Saturday and we were inside in minutes. Door staff very professional. Concierge staff, fantastic and bar staff were amazeballs. Big shout to the girls serving outside. Amazing service and you looked bloody amazing!
Those bars that don’t have a membership scheme you have to fill in a form at the door, and provide name, phone no and some ask for your address. (Thankfully bodily fluid samples aren’t needed)
One of the bars, which I wont mention its name but its on BLOOM street, had a “Scan a QR code” which then took you to a website where you filled in your details. It should have been the perfect solution but unless you have your camera already setup to scan QR codes (Thighphones do, Android phones don’t!) So, you either have to change the settings in your camera or use a QR code reader. Took me about 2 minutes to find a QR reader then enter my details. I’d also say the bouncers at this club didnt have a bloody clue as there were two QR codes and they made us scan both despite them taking you to the same fucking website. I did point this out and got “You need to do both!”.
Ultimately the QR code system was more of a faff than many of the other simpler schemes and was reflected in the confusion I saw on Friday evening when I went out for a ciggie. Many people not social distancing so they could crowd round to use the QR codes.
All this registration of visitors and booking scheme is all for track and trace. So, if there is a Covid-19 outbreak they can contact you and you can self isolate for 14 days. Thats the theory and i’m sure in the mind of some civil servants somewhere, its a well thought out plan!
Anyway, enough with the track and trace bollocks, and back to the Sparkle event, that isnt really Sparkle, Sparkle event. I say “event” but it was more a meeting of likeminded people. The official Sparkle event had been cancelled but lots of Trans folk turned up to the village anyway. Too, either see whats happening but more likely to show moral support for the bars, dress up and have a night out in Manchester. When you think about it who wouldnt want a night out and support those bars which have provided amazing fun and entertainment over the years and who have been closed since March.
Lots of people also attended this weekend because they already had hotel bookings and wanted to be in the heart of the LGBTQ+ community, this was why I went. My companion on this weekends jolly jaunt, Wendy, had bookings already and invited me down and I am so glad i went with her and Julieanne, as we had an absolute scream. My face actually ached on Sunday morning from all the laughing we did and I havent laughed that much for a very, very long time. Sometimes my life is SOOOO serious 🙁
It was very noticable at weekend how many Trans people where in the village. Many more than on a normal weekend i’d say. Well pretty much more than every weekend since March!
There was also protest on Saturday to stop changes to the Gender Reassignment Act. meaning plans put forward by Therasa May’s government would be “ditched”, which allow trans people to change their birth certificates without medical diagnosis. This bag of shit government want to put in place safeguards to protect safe spaces for women which would mean amendments to the Equality Act. I wont voice my personal views about this here today. I was aiming to attend the event but alas because everything takes 10 times as long now because everywhere has extra rule, I missed the event as I was stood in a series of never ending queues!
Just a quick note! People of Manchester, Primark is not that amazing, really its not but it didn’t stop some of you queuing right down the street! One look at the queue and the words “Fuck that” may have been shouted quite loudly by both Wendy and myself!
Anyway, on to the night out on the weekend that was supposed to be Sparkle weekend, but wasnt, but then kind of was, 2020.
Amazeballs food at the Molly House.
Because we had to book into everywhere, especially if you wanted to eat, then i’d booked us into the Molly House on Richmond street for Friday night. If you dont know the Molly House, go. The food is great and its located inbetween Canal Street and Bloom Street.
I’m pretty sure i’d booked us in for food, but we were shown to a settee on arrival. Yeah, a settee! “Its very comfy” Not being funny love but i’m sure it is but i’m not eating food sat on that! They moved us downstairs to a table.
Drinks ordered, food ordered and what amazing food. 5 Tapas dishes for £20. I know some folk might be thinking, 5 Tapas is nowt. The food was fantastic, and we ordered 10 Tapas between Julieanne and myself, while Wendy chose the Chicken Burger with *cough* Salad. Molly house, great Chicken Burger but the salad is a bit stingy. Just saying.
Question just to answer my curiosity. If you order fries with the Chicken burger do they come in the same size dish as the salad? Just curious?
Back to the Tapas. Yes, I ordered all the fish dishes and Julianne went for the meat dishes. Calamari was spot on, Chorizo (oh! my god) and the Cheese balls. Dont normally like cheesy balls but these. Oh, My God!!!!
Prices are great as well.
Onwards to drunken oblivion!
Food and several drinks later and we go across the way to Iconic Bar and can’t fault the staff in there either. Friendly, quick service and great hospitality. I will be going in there again soon, maybe after another meal at the Molly.
Onwards and onto Canal Street and Via and this is where things get a little disappointing.
Not Via itself, NO!
Via itself was amazing as always as were the bar staff and serving staff. They are always lovely and very helpful.
This was the point where we realised just how different things are, with the Coronavirus rules and regulations at the moment.
Normally in Via you cant hear yourself speak, which isnt a bad thing sometimes, but tonight the music is so quiet I can hear myself walk across the wooden floor, this is despite being shown to a table right underneath one of the speakers. There was music on but it was so quiet. I look round and everyones sat down, the tables are spaced out at the requisite government approved distance in accordance to current guidelines and staff are busy wiping down recently vacated tables with generous amounts of sanitiser and paper towels.
Yes, this is all well and good but its so fucking quiet in here. I ask and am told “Well we cant have the music loud, and theres no dancing”. This as we found out was in all bars and is screwed up, IMHO. I’ll explain why later!
We enjoy quite a few drinks in Via before closing hours force us out onto the street. We did try to go back in on Saturday night but where denied access as they wouldnt let anyone in after 10pm!
Oh, theres lots of other establishments closing as well at 11pm. This does not bode well for a night out but we see CentreStage is still open and they have music playing outside. This looks like a winner, winner. For those who dont know where CentreStage is its opposide New York, New York on Bloom Street. Yes, next door to “The Docs”.
Drinks are cheap, staff are very happy, chatty and efficient but inside there’s no music. WTF?
So, outside I go to have a ciggie and find myself dancing on my own in the middle of Bloom street. Much to the amusement of the door staff at CentreStage and New York, New York. The hostess at New York, New York, Nicole (drop dead gorgeous) “Oh, my god!!!” and i’ll say it again “After myself, you were the most beautiful woman I saw all weekend” but I digress.
Before long i’m told to stop dancing by the fun police. Wendy and Julieanne eventually come outside and join me in a little dance before the tables and chairs are tidied away and Bloom street is yet again given over to the motor car. So, we proceed to the last place we can find open which is Bloom.
What a transformation now that this place has social distancing. Because there is about 1/4 of the people in there that there normally is, I can actually see how dark and drab the place is.
I’d never noticed before that all the walls downstairs are painted black. Now, either i’m the least observant person on planet earth (and yes sometime because of my own vanity, I dont wear my glasses) or because of lack of the colours of people, lights and TV screen’s, it makes you really notice the black. There is music on but its so quiet you can here people talking over it. All the TV screens are displaying Covid-19 public information information, no doubt needed so they can get a license to open again.
Two drinks and we’re out of there and I cant believe i’m saying this but here goes.
A night out in the village, in central Manchester and i’m going back to my hotel at 1:15am!
What the a c t u a l f u c k?
We stagger into the Village Chippy and then back to our hotel.
That was Friday night.
Here’s why I think the no dancing rule is bollocks
A few places in the village over the weekend had music on, albiet very quiet and folk were trying to dance. I also think most people were also trying to still socially isolate as well. So the groups who were out were smaller groups and those attempting to dance were dancing together. Maybe in other parts of the city or other cities this isnt the case, but out side Centre Stage those dancing with me weren’t dancing next to me there were probably more than 6 foot away! Again on Saturday night we were in Churchills and there were people attempting to dance when the bouncers weren’t around but they were doing this in the groups they were sat with at the tables they were sat at. I know the venues have been told “No dancing” but honestly it was possible. I saw it, several times.
Personally I need to dance soon and I think for a lot of people its an outlet. Let us dance. Please!
A rude awakening
Saturday morning, 9am on the dot, I am rudely awoken by music coming from somewhere. No, Covid restriction bollocks with this crap thats being played. Seriously shit music and the guy singing doesnt even know the words to the songs he’s singing. I found out later it was a group of street entertainer (and I use those words extremely loosely). They were shit!
New Order’s, True Faith is one of my favourite tunes and when you’re hung over at 9am, and your listening to someone attempting to sing it but they dont know the words. Well, just the first first few lines then the singer just mumbles the rest. It made me want to jump out of bed and go sing it myself!
I’ve heard drunken Japanese business men sing that song. Japanese business men who were extremely drunk and who do not speak a single word of English. They did a more convincing job of singing that song than this bunch of clowns.
Next song up is Morriseys, “Heaven knows i’m miserable now!” – If Morrisey heard this i’m sure he’d write the sequal “Heaven knows I’ve heard it all now”
By this time my hangover is kicking in and theres a little monkey inside my head bashing two cymbals together and your making it worse with your shit music and shit vocals.
They stop at 9:15 as they seem to have either exhausted their repertoire or they’ve collected enough for a pint each in Wetherspoons? Who knows but they’ve stopped singing and I drift off back to sleep.
10am I am dragged screaming and kicking from my drunken slumber by the same clowns playing exactly the same songs in the same order!!!!!
Same shit different hour. Exactly the same songs in the same order with the same piss poor singing and feedback from amps. 10:15 and they stop again.
I should also point out that I must have been rather drunk because although I am in bed, I am fully clothed and am still wearing everything, even my heels!
- I recall leaving the village, we had a chippy supper.
- I dont recall walking back. Honestly, which way we walked I have no idea.
- I recall getting back to the hotel door because they asked for my name.
- I also don’t recall getting to my room.
I think all the mixes of different drinks finally caught up with me and POW! I passed out. At least it was in a bed.
I get up, take off my heels and start to make the bed. Oops! there’s a makeup face on the pillow. Hahahaha!
I decide to get up and got hunt for food. Luckily room service has delivered my food to outside my room and I nearly fall over the Covid regulation paper bag as I exit my room. I pick it up, retreat inside and sit like Golum in Lord of the Rings eating my continental, ie: awful, breakfast. The hunt or proper food will have to wait.
That was my Friday night on what would have been the Sparkle 2020 weekend, which wasnt Sparkle weekend but kinda was.
Saturday night was much the same as Friday but just Wendy and I and we drank lots, laughed even more and had a bloody great time.
Roll on the next weekend out, out.