In this challenging time it’s easy to forget our normal lives, the places we used to go and the things we loved doing. We thought it was time to reminisce over and support the venues that will no doubt be struggling in the face of the COVID-19 crisis, by writing them love letters. With the aim of staying sane in the present, we’ll delve into our past experiences at Manchester’s finest clubs, creating hope for the future by making sure they’re still there when we come out the other side of this crazy period. Up next… The Carlton Club.

While most of the clubs covered in this column have been in the city-centre or the more industrial parts of north Manchester, there’s a wealth of small venues and hidden gems further off the beaten track to be championed. Tucked away in residential area Whalley Range lies The Carlton Club, a community based spot focused on providing the local area with somewhere to meet. Isn’t that all a club is supposed to be?

A refreshingly humble joint in an increasingly noisily marketed clubbing world, the Carlton achieves so much by doing so little. It’s effectively a pub in a massive old house, so if you pop in for a pint in the week it feels more like your front room, except it’s massive – and there’s also a few locals, the women’s darts club, and a snooker table. There’s cabaret nights, art classes and jazz nights. There’s rooms you can hire out for your birthday. In lockdown they’ve opened the big garden with its football pitch to members, creating a much needed safe green space in the area.

But it’s at the club-nights and gigs when the club really comes into its own. You could have caught Irfan Rainy and Bakk Heia resident Bitzer Maloney for free on a Wednesday, playing through the Partisan’s immaculate high fidelity sound system. Then there the Cosmic Dub Odyssey night – also midweek – featuring Jamaican dub legend Dennis Bovell, alongside Manchester mainstays like Ruf Dug and Moodymanc. At the weekends long running monthly club-nights like Home on the Range and Psychedelic Disco Tech fill the place with regulars of all ages, including a load of middle aged punters reliving their Hacienda days.

Memories are coming back to us – there was the Werkha x Shunya show back in November at the height of the general election, which saw all profits go towards Labour Party offshoot Manchester Momentum. It felt like an intensely Manc event. Berry Blacc appeared for his songs with Werkha wearing a massive parka, despite the place being packed and sweaty. On returning for the encore parka-less, he said “I was really hot in my parka, if you were wondering. But I’m from Manchester, so I had to wear a parka, you know?” When quarantine ends we’ll be straight down the Carlton to check out their lockdown refurb. Let’s hope that’s not in the too distant future.

The Carlton Club,
Rowan Lodge, 113 Carlton Road, Whalley Range, Manchester, M16 8BE
, Tel: 0161 881 3042
Leo Burrell
Published on:
Wed 24 Jun 2020