Listen in and love.

Just under a fortnight ago I appeared as a guest on a local radio station in Salford. You can listen to it here.

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Factory251 OR A practical guide to distressing your Chucks with Ecstasy

The nightlife in Salford is terrible. Oh, there’s the Crescent, with its plethora of Real Ales to choose from, and Bar Yours, the Union bar, which has regular entertainment provided by the various societies around the University. Some of it is even entertaining.

My point in saying this is that if you want to go for a night out, you have to go into nearby Manchester. The nightlife situation here is understandably much better, with all the major chain clubs like Tiger Tiger and Baa Bar making an appearance, and independent bars like 5th Avenue, which is full of hipsters*, and the delectable Font, where brightly-coloured cocktails flow like water. However, with every Yin must come a Yang, and Manchester serves one up on a golden plate. Factory251 is the name of this dish, and it’s stone cold and two hours late.

At a glance, Factory251 doesn’t seem any different to any other club in Manchester, except perhaps a little smaller. The club is split into three floors, with each its own DJ and genre of music. The ground and first floor change with each night of the week, but from my experience the second and top floor is always dubstep. You enter on the ground floor, confusingly named the first floor by the club’s advertisers**.

* My derision against hipsters from a couple of months back has evaporated.

** This isn’t unique to Factory251. It seems a lot of people like to call the ground floor of a building the first floor. Yes, this would be correct in America, but here in Britain it’s always the ground floor. Textspeak is one thing, but when spoken language degrades to the point where the location of, say, a room in a building is ambiguous then something is clearly badly wrong. But I digress.

The second thing you’ll notice about Factory251, subsequent to the lightened pocket and anal soreness after paying the entrance fee, is that you can’t see a damn thing. Most clubs will have some form of ambient lighting alongside the spotlights and strobes in order to provide visibility, however limited. Factory251 dispenses with this, and in case the dizzying array of rotating lamps gave you enough visibility, there’s a fog machine that is never switched off. That’ll teach you to try and walk around.

The only static lights on each floor are on the bar, to which the extremely numerous clientele are attracted rather like moths*. Did I mention how long it takes to get a drink? Put a schoolboy at the back of the crush for the bar, and by the time he gets to the front he’ll be old enough to get served**. Due to a curious combination of this and the sweltering humidity, I usually feel completely sober within 15 minutes of entering the place.

After making your choice between a Jagerbomb, which is comparatively cheap*** but consists of barely 150ml of booze, or a pint of lager which costs £158, you have to join the dance floor. Again, in most clubs, joining the dance floor is voluntary, with at least half of the club dedicated to tables, booths, benches, seats, or at the very least an area you can stand away from the hive and where the music is a little quieter. This means the area is suitable (loud) talking, enjoying a drink, or mingling with attractive ladies****. This is a good thing. It’s something you want in a club.

* Or probably a taxic response to smelling Stella Artois.

** Although in total fairness this is a problem in any busy club. There was an idea floated in the newspapers a few years back for an arrangement where customers queue and go to numbered stations on the bar when called forward, like in the Post Office. It was a great idea. Why has nobody done this?

*** Ish.

**** Font is very good for this, especially because the girls in there tend to have higher brain function.

Factory251 has no such area, and the jostling is relentless. Enjoying a pint of Stella would be impossible under the best of circumstances, but I’m sure even Hobgoblin would be terrible in Factory251 if they sold it. Some beers recommend on the bottle being drunk with a fine meal or in the warm rays of a summer sunset. None recommend being drunk whilst crushed between a hooting Burger King shift manager in a muscle shirt and a woman who looks like a bison that’s been shaved and hurled through Primark.

Ducking into the toilet provides little respite from this. Always present in there, as much of a fixture of the gents toilet as the actual fixtures, is the staple of Manchunian nightclubs: the man who sells squirts from his huge stock of cologne. Actually, that’s not quite true, as the term selling implies some choice in the matter. It’s more that he accosts you with the spray when you least expect it, and then demands a pound, usually when you have no change. I consider it a Hugo Boss branded mugging.

Anyway, the man in Factory251’s gents has a unique selling technique involving shouting crude sexual puns in broken English, much to the amusement of the patrons of the toilet. I won’t judge the clientele of Factory251 because, in fairness, they’re very, very drunk* by the time they get there. Therefore I can forgive conversations as perennially inane as this, usually conducted between two peers on either side of me at the urinal:

Drunkard #1: Arrr yeah, kid, gonna get fuckin’ clunge** tonight, lad!
Drunkard #2: YEAH LAD! Gonna get us some fuckin’ birds, Wooo!
Drunkard #1: Fuckin’ Hi-Five, lad!
They Hi-Five, awkwardly leaning around behind me to do this.
Drunkard #1: Wahurr, Hey Spray Guy, what d’ya think of this, hurr?
Cologne Seller: NO ARMANI NO PUNANI

* A situation in which I’m hardly close to godliness. Think staggering around my shared kitchen whilst bellowing the lyrics to The Girl from Ipanema.

** I hate this word. Of all the slang for lady bits, “clunge” is the least sexy and “sausage wallet” the funniest.

So in Factory251, ducking into the toilet for a moment of peace is clearly not an option. And where would I be ducking from, you would ask if this was a conversation and not a blog post? The second floor, of course, where the music is dubstep and the street drug of the night is ecstasy, which as far as I can tell makes you lie on the floor periodically springing up to give a stranger a big hug. A very, very tight hug. An airless hug. The kind of hug where their full weight presses the broken glass and dirt from the soles of their boots into the toecaps of your brand new Chucks. This kind of hug doesn’t exist in the realm of sobriety, and the world is a better place because of that.

So there you are. Factory251 in Manchester. I’ve a few loose ideas to wrap up here, so here’s a big list of disordered advice to fool you into thinking this post has a point:

  • Don’t go if you’re entranced by the idea of a floor of indie music, as there sometimes is. The much superior 5th Avenue is practically next door.
  • Go if you like air that has had all the oxygen removed and replaced with BO.
  • Go drunk. Very drunk.
  • Have pocket change for the cologne guy. I’m serious, this guy has incredible spraying reflexes and does not take no for an answer.
  • I once saw a guy walk into the middle of the gents and piss on the spot. Classy.

I will give one plus point, though. If you’re drunk, the cologne guy is an absolute riot. And that’s just about the only thing I like about the place. Cologne guy, for brightening up many a poor clubbing experience, I hand it to you.

Sorry, Factory251, it could have been beautiful, but it just wasn’t to be. Avoid.