10 years ago

Ten years ago today, I had what I generally consider to be the best night out in a nightclub of my entire life ™. The truth is probably that the 21st July 1997 wasn’t a particularly exceptional night out, it was just representative of a most enjoyable entire summer of clubbing, spur of the moment adventures and music festivals.

It was the summer between leaving sixth form college and starting university. After being largely depressed for most of the previous two years, I’d finally settled down with a good group of friends and was feeling more confident about myself than I had done in a long time. Andrew and I had become friends in April and on a steady diet of gossip and nights-out, we became best buddies by the time the summer properly kicked in.

Every Monday and Thursday night, pretty much without fail, from the end of our A levels in June to after I started university in September, we trod our regular path from the Corrie pub, to Manhattans (for the “indie room”), then skipped down Back Bath Street to Stanley’s Keg. After the Keg shut, we’d sit in the street with our regular Keg crew until people drifted off to get taxis home, and we’d head to the phone box outside WH Smith to call 547000 and get our ride home.

We’d usually go out on Friday and Saturday nights too – usually to just the Corrie and the Keg (since Manhattans was just full-on cheese then), but maybe to one of the lesser pubs too – the Fox and Goose or the Vic. And we’d sometimes go out on the other nights too – when we weren’t catching up on sleep, contemplating eight hours of selling health food supplements the next day (me) or going to the cinema. I drank a lot of pub/club cola that summer – it’s amazing that my teeth didn’t all fall out.

The 21st of July stands out because it was my 18th birthday night out. My birthday itself was the day before – a Sunday. My dad, who was in hospital after eating a McDonalds cheeseburger, had been allowed out for the day to celebrate my birthday (aka sunbath while I did other things) and I remember coming and going a lot during the day – I forget what I was doing exactly and can’t be bothered going to get my diary to find out – but after he went back into the hospital in the evening, I went out to Stanley’s Keg with Andrew and the usual Keg crew, proudly wearing my “18 today” badge (after going there for perhaps three years).

But the 21st was what I considered to be my proper celebrations. It was also the 19th birthday of a then long-time friend Spyder so we had a joint night-out which involved many strange little noteworthy incidents which I’m not going to bother noting here. The night started – with Spyder, Wayne and someone else – drinking weak, cheap beer outside Mothercare (them not me, obviously), then there was flitting back and forth and around and around the three pubs mentioned above trying to meet up with people we’d half arranged to meet – how things worked in the age before mobile phones.

We gathered mass (including Andrew by this point) eventually, and headed to Manhattans to take up our usual places in the little room. We walked with a bob (the usual version of dancing performed in there) to various popular music compositions from the era and meeted & greeted all the usual people hanging out in the room. By that point in the summer, I’d come to know, at least casually, a variety of people from the various cliches in the room and that night it seemed that EVERYONE was there. Most importantly for me, my two top crushes of the moment were there and after weeks furtive glances and somewhat awkward conversations, they both seemed to decide to make their “move” that night. Neither really came to anything in the end but it was fun being “fought” over momentarily, and it certainly made the evening more memorable.

We finished up with the usual skip, then Keg (where the crushes’ “moves” actually took place but as I said, nothing came of it for a number of reasons), then sitting in the street outside the Keg (since it was warm and dry back then, not like the constant rain of this summer, we used to do this quite a lot. I had lots of good chats and kung-fu movie style fake fights on that back street).

All in all, the night wasn’t completely perfect but it’s still special to me because it represents that summer of fun as a whole. I can’t believe it was ten whole years ago – I remember it like it was, well, not yesterday but a couple of months ago or something.

In honour of the occasion-stroke-entire-summer, Andrew and I have also been working on a collaborative “ultimate Manhattans indie room” playlist and we’re pretty shocked by the music we enjoyed back then (admittedly I *was* just coming out of my long Bon Jovi phase so anything non-poodle was a huge step up).

We also had a spontaneous “role-play” of a night out at Manhattans in instant messenger this evening which was as fun and geeky as it sounds :) There was lots of name checking, frequent-event-referencing and some amazingly accurate/inaccurate predictions for the “future” [*]. I don’t think the floor was sticky enough in our make-believe Manhattans though – but the post-club food (in my case, yummy Baan Thai with John) was far, far superior :)

[*] “10 years from now we’ll spend all day on the internet … i’ll like make my living from it or something”; “anyway it’ll never happen. it’s like the pier being done up and them pedestrianising Chapel St – just not likely”; “but that would be crazy. it’d be like princess di being killed in a car crash in paris next month… | that’ll never happen, she’s going to live forever and ever | exactly”. We’re like the illegitimate children of Nostradamus and Marty McFly.


  1. Wow.. Stanley´s Keg! Many a good night (I think) had there when I was at Edge Hill College and living in Southport. Good to hear it remembered. Thanks.

  2. I’ve just read your e-mail, and it’s just brought back sooo many memories! lol. Near the top of your letter you say about meeting spyder, wayne and someone else?, that someone else was me!! lol. Mark, or neary as everyone called me at the time! :). Did you marry spyder or me ( jokin of course!). I’m not sure if your on myspace.com, if you are go onto search a friend and type in neary07 thats my user name. Or email me back on MarkNear_@hotmail.co.uk

    Speek to you soon x x

  3. It was you! I remembered the Neary bit but not the Mark bit. Hello!

  4. 1997 was the summer of love for southport, it’ll never been the same again. It was one of the happiest years of my life

  5. steve mcqueen known as queenie

    23/3/2010 at 3:59 pm

    yes that year was the happiest year of my life…it was the summer of love! I used to hang round with andy day and jake burrel and i was in a band called pollen, we’d always be at manhattens then the keg after…of course it would all start at the corrie haha. Remember those beer kegs you could look at through the glass panel windows?? Amazing times, great memories i wil treasure forever and ever

    love steve


  6. I remember a band called Pollen. I think I saw you guys play one time, although I can’t remember a specific gig. I’ll have to check my diaries and see if I’m telling the truth :)

  7. Must be about 18 years since I went there. Rockers pub, not so much for the trendies. Remarkably approachable place filled with cigarette ash, which of course is more or less done a way with in these squeaky clean, health conscious times. But even there I managed to make a tit of myself, I couldn’t fit in. I thought the golden age was before me, well it might be ahead for not for the past 18 years as William Shakespeare said (his birthday today!).

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