Happy New Year
Next night: Saturday 4th February 2017 Birthday Special
What now seems a lifetime ago, on one of my visits to Manchester from the North East where I was living, I sat down with my best friend, Malcolm ‘Squaddie’ Wiltshire and we sketched out a plan for a monthly fetish night to be held in the much missed Legends. The night was originally called Barracks (a nod to Mal’s army background) and I think on the first event we had about 30 people. We grew the night over the following months to the point where it had some momentum and a reasonable following.
Sadly, devastatingly, Malcolm took ill and died of a condition he had been secretly living with all his life. For a number of reasons, David (my partner at the time) and I made a few changes (many which we had planned with Malcolm to make) and relaunched under the ‘Alert!’ brand – a name which we felt gave us greater flexibility and was more neutral than ‘Barracks’ and indeed it did. We went on to spawn Alert! DEFCON ONE, Red Alert!, Alert! Brief Encounter, Alert! Retro and Alert! The White Party.
We moved to Manchester, largely because of Alert! and the wonderful community of friends we had developed, because of the gay village, because it felt like coming home.
The main club night continued to grow and with numbers often exceeding 500. In the midst of all of that I was diagnosed with cancer and became very ill, leaving David to manage the club pretty much on his own. Thanks to our amazing NHS, I pulled through (against the odds it seems and counter to the doctors’ expectations). David nursed me back to reasonable health but the toll of doing so was great and the cost in the end was our relationship. I was left with nerve damage and constant pain, which I still live with today but that wasn’t going to stop me. I survived and Alert! survived. I fell into caring for it myself. Then we were hit with some more dreadful news: Legends was due to close and be demolished. The last night in the club was Christmas 2012 and you did us proud, we packed the place.
We were lucky to be welcomed by Alter Ego – there are few venues in the Village which will tolerate nights like Alert! Not everyone likes change, and nowhere was ever going to be Legends but you continued to support the club and we survived the move. Throughout we have tried to help, encourage and nurture other groups in the city, Manchester Gay Skinheads, Manchester Rubbermen, Manchester Leathermen and the puppy community to name but a few. I hope our influence has been positive. Nothing gives me greater pleasure than the tales of ‘I met my partner at Alert!’, ‘I can be myself when I come to Alert!’ and ‘It is because of Alert! that I really got into my fetish’.Last year I was approached by Bangkok Bar who offered us more capacity and the chance to create a play space to rival those in continental Europe. I didn’t make the decision to move lightly but I felt that I had to take the chance if it meant that Alert! could grow and become the event that such potential offered. It took a lot of time, energy, work and money to convert the disused cellars but I was proud of what was achieved. None of it would have been possible without help – I have not done it alone. David, Ian, Allan, Dean, Paul and many, many more. And of course my wonderful DJs, John Aggy, Lawrence Clark, Jim ‘Dusty’, Brett Denning, Tom Langley, Pete ‘Freerunner’ Simpson, even Zack Hadley and Nik Denton. You guys are the best.
I don’t need to reiterate the story of what happened at Bangkok. The venue was in dire straits, the owner in hundreds of
thousands of pounds of debt. Julia happened. We lost the venue and a large amount of money.
Once again Alter Ego welcomed us back and here we are today, about to celebrate our 12th birthday.
And what of the future, the next 12 years? As many of you know our hope and plan is to find a venue of our own, where we can do what we want, when we want, as often as we want. Finding the ‘Goldilocks’ property is not easy. It has to be just the right size in just the right location at just the right price. Those plans are moving forward and we remain resolute in our determination to own our own space.
But NONE of this would have been possible without you, our customers, our friends and supporters. Without you, we are just a name. Without you we have no reason to exist. Without your support we would have closed our doors many years ago. I have always said that Alert! is not about me, or the venue or the brand, it is, one hundred percent you. So thank you for your twelve years of support. Thank you for the fun. Thank you for the fetish, the fucks and the fornication! And as someone better than me once said, thank you for the music.
See you all to celebrate our birthday on the 4th of February. There will be cake!
Pre- and post-Alert! parties
Remember that The Eagle, Company Bar and the Rem are great places forl pre- and post-Alert! drinks. They are open until late and are still within very easy walking distance of Alert! And of course there is The Eagle’s remounted Sunday Service which brings some great acts and entertainment to the city so why not come to Sunday Cellar and then head to The Eagle?
Phones and Photos
Please respect the privacy of others and keep your mobile phone in your bag or pocket. Nobody wants to hear your conversation and there may be people there who don’t want to appear in your selfie. If you need to take a call please do so in Reception or outside the building. Thanks
We’ve added some new photos from Alert! in our gallery section. This batch is from Manchester Rubbermen Weekend in April 2016.