When I moved Alert! from Alter Ego to Bangkok Bar I knew there were some risks involved but I was promised a safe, secure home for the club in a venue that had enormous potential. What I didn’t know at the time was that the Bangkok Bar business was struggling and owed large sums of money. Since before Christmas I have had to inject money to keep the business afloat. Before the Hardon weekend I had to pay money to stop the electricity from being cut off. On the Friday before Manchester Rubbermen I had to pay money to keep the bailiffs from repossessing the fixtures and fittings. Before Manchester Gay Skinhead Weekend I paid money to stop the rates bailiff closing down the venue. I did this because I committed to provide a space for MRM, MGS, Hardon etc. Alert! has been one of the few nights that has brought in money and without us they would have closed at Christmas.
You now know that Julia Grant signed a contract to take on the premises and turn it around. She projected ‘600 people every Friday and Saturday’. Sadly, that didn’t happen, with some nights struggling to bring in 6 people, let alone 600. Again, I found myself being asked to inject more money to keep the building open and trading. Julia resigned as a Director and removed her equipment from the building some time after Sunday Cellar on 26th June and before the mid-afternoon of Monday 28th.
Almost as soon as Julia handed in her resignation I received a phone call from the Thai leaseholder, Krin, telling me that Julia had “done a runner” and I met him on site shortly afterwards. The building had been ransacked. A lot of damage had been done and equipment stolen. It is impossible to say whether damage to one of the doors was created in an attempt to break into the building or whether it had just been left unlocked and made to look like a break-in had occurred. This matter is in the hands of the police to investigate.
Julia had talked to suppliers and creditors to put in place plans to pay them back, but many of them saw no money while she was there and some even provided services or goods based on these promises which has now left them owed even more money. I cannot say with certainty who was paid or what, but I know of several suppliers who have contacted me directly asking when they will be paid for work that Julia commissioned. The staff were not paid for several shifts. The security team is owed money for work they did during Julia’s four weeks at the helm. These are all facts. I urge you to not speculate beyond these facts.
With your help, the aid of some amazing friends, generosity from the staff who worked for free and a lot of hard work, we got the club up and running for the Alert! night at the start of July. We emptied and cleaned the flooded cellar. We brought in sound and lighting. We replaced missing or ruined stock. We put in a CCTV system to meet the licence requirements. We fixed the beer lines which had been cut. We repaired damage to the building. We did this in the space of five days. We fought back and you were all magnificent in your support for Alert!
Then last week I turned up at the venue to find that the locks had been changed. The landlord wanted to seize back the building. I was given no firm indication about what this meant to Alert! until yesterday when I met the Landlord’s agent on site. I had hoped to be able to negotiate a continued place for us there but the new owners were having none of it. Sadly, I was asked to remove all of my equipment from the venue. I was told that Selfridges now own the building and that we do not fit with their plans for the space.
So, with only a few hours and a lot of help, I managed to remove my property from the building and much of it is currently stored at Alter Ego. I am indebted to Carl and Sarah there for offering storage space at almost no notice.
So it is with a very heavy heart, a great deal of frustration, sadness and anger that I have had to cancel Red Alert! (16 June)and also the main club night on August 6th. On a happier note, Alter Ego are keen for us to run our event there over Pride and will, for the time being, provide us a home. We have some ideas about how we can improve on the offering we provided when we were there before and whilst I know the venue doesn’t offer us what we had at Bangkok Bar, sadly the new owners there have already started to rip out what we created so that space is no longer a possibility. I am so sorry about this. Sorry to those of you who have planned your weekend around Red Alert! Sorry to anyone who planned to visit on August 6th. Sorry that things at Bangkok didn’t work out. I promise you I did everything in my power to keep the venue going.
I am looking at longer term options; I still think there is a need for a good fetish club in the city which offers more than a place to drink. We had that at Bangkok. We can have it again somewhere else, I am sure. My longer-term hope is that I can find a venue which I can lease myself, rather than just being a promoter there. There are other promoters and businesses which would happily come on board if I found such a place. But I will only be able to do that with your continued support and patronage over the next few months. I need a firm, viable, sustainable business plan based on excellent customer numbers. Alert! as a business lost a lot of money bailing out Bangkok Bar – money I doubt I will see returned. We all worked our hardest to make the venue a success but that has been stripped from us. You rallied for the last Alert! and I would hope that you would put aside any reservations that you may have about this temporary change of venue and keep supporting me by attending my forthcoming events in Alter Ego. If I can raise enough capital to secure us our own venue then this may turn out to be a blessing in disguise. Sometimes you have to retreat and marshal your forces before you can move forward stronger than before.
I will let you know other ways you can help when I have formulated a clearer plan. Everything has been very rushed but I wanted to give you as much factual information as I could as soon as possible so that you can make alternative plans for this weekend and the start of August.
Alert! will go ahead on 26th August as advertised, but in Alter Ego. Pride will go ahead. I will confirm other dates as soon as I can. I have not and will not be beaten.
Our next event will take place on the FRIDAY of the Pride weekendat Alter Ego. Doors open at 10pm and we will not be ticketing this event to some early as once the venue is full it will be a one-on-one-out door policy. We have more planned for Alter Ego than we’ve ever done there before and we will make the very best of the space, with a few new things up our sleeves!
You will also see we have and extra weekend scheduled for Pride this year so the diary so far looks like this:
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
Safer sex packs, condoms and lube are available at the venue and for you to take home. These are kindly provided to us by the LGBT Foundation, who also offer support and advice to gay people. They run special rapid HIV testing clinics and can provide counselling, advice and support to anyone with a positive diagnosis or who may be worried or have questions about safer sex. LGBT Foundation contact details are available here.
Representatives from LGBT Foundation will be at various Alert! events to offer special information sessions and to introduce you to their new Play Packs, developed specially for men who have sex with men who are either hosting or engaging in group sex activities or chemsex. The packs include lube, condoms, antibacterial wipes, gloves and so on. You can find out more at their Play packs website or of course at the March Alert!
We’ve added some new photos from Alert! in our gallery section. This batch is from Manchester Rubbermen Weekend in April 2016.
Check the Full gallery here for all of the images!
Thanks to RopeWolf Photography
Alert! starts the Manchester Pride weekend at Alter Ego. Doors open at 10pm and we will not be ticketing this event to some early as once the venue is full it will be a one-on-one-out door policy. We have more planned for Alter Ego than we’ve ever done there before and we will make the very best of the space, with a few new things up our sleeves!