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… Partisan Collective.
One of the newest clubs on our list of venues we needed to champion is also one of the most unique. “A largely volunteer run space for independent, community-led DIY and cultural projects” reads Partisan’s website. ‘Community-led’ is a more and more common phrase these days, but one that rarely is used as fittingly as it is in this case. Partisan is a not-for-profit collective and cooperative organisation, run largely by and for its supporters, who pay a monthly fee for membership. It’s proudly sat on Cheetham Hill, just the other side of Victoria station in a Grade II listed building.
You will probably have heard of Partisan first and foremost as a dance music venue, where intimate parties see the likes of Ben UFO, Peverelist and Objekt play (we assume for free), often just for club members. And while this may certainly catch your attention, this is very much the cherry on top on what is a thoroughly impassioned project, a cherry which comes as a reward for all the wonderful activism Partisan do. The upstairs space acts primarily as a collection of offices for a host of charities, whose aims are spread across social justice, housing associations, women’s art and music, anti-austerity, anti-Brexit, helping those with disability, prison abolition, preventing domestic violence and much, much more. The central space between these offices serves as a communal area where events of all kind are hosted, from drone yoga to poetry nights and film screenings.
Last year I saw Tim Lawrence, writer of the acclaimed Love Saves the Day: A History of American Dance Music, 1970-79 host an open discussion with Tom Smith, founder of Leeds based charity MAP, and hi-fidelity “party with a purpose”, Cosmic Slop. Many discussions were had about the power of club culture and how it can inspire positive action. Partisan remains one of the only clubs in Manchester, and further afield, that is using music and its accessibility to bring people closer to activism. At a Mafalda party back in September I was surrounded by like minded people, all drawn in by the fact that one of the most eclectic DJs around was playing on a flawless sound-system, while all the profits from the party went towards Partisan.
But the majority of parties are run by local DJs and promoters, often in the more clubby feeling basement. Partisan isn’t there to uphold famous DJs’ success. Horticulture is one of the many regular events which sees the venue filled to brim with plants while the residents spin weird and wonderful records. All Hands on Deck host DJ workshops for womxn & non-binary people. There’s also the All Day Parties on Saturdays which sees local heroes like Jon K and Annabel Fraser take the reins alongside cheap vegan food. There’s a super strong sense of community amongst everything, and from what I hear everyone there is a familiar face. Members get a healthy discount on the bar too.
The COVID-19 crisis is almost certainly going to give the current clubbing dynamic a big kick up the arse. In the past most people would only head out if their favourite DJ was playing. Who most of the time was probably getting paid extortionately while the promoters and clubs struggled. This needs to change, and places like Partisan are flying the flag for how local and independent venues can be more like clubs. You know, like, a club, for people who are part of a club. Support your local clubs, not your favourite DJs and you might find yourself doing charitable stuff along the way.
- Leo Burrell
- Published on:
- Thu 2 Jul 2020