Friday 17th October
Having been out on Saturdays over the last month or so, I decided on changing the night out to Friday. The idea came about when I was having a conversation with Alex K two weeks ago, about how me and Chris (a friend from school days) used to go out in Manchester. Me and Chris noticed there was a big difference between Friday and Saturday in terms of the type of people that go out.
We worked out that on a Friday there are more people who finished work for the week, put their smart clothes on and go out for a good night – to them it's leisure time. These people then spend Saturdays shopping or with friends and relatives, and Sunday having a traditional Sunday meal and maybe a trip out somewhere.
However, on Saturday there are more of the type of people who go out to drink heavily and sleep in Sunday. Chris calls these people ‘weekend warriors'. Saturday also seems to attract more troublemakers who sleep most of the morning and go to pubs or bars until late many nights a week. They can be people on benefits or self employed odd-jobbers who do just enough work to pay rent and go out.
So the point overall is that we're trying Friday instead of Saturday, going for a fun, enjoyable night out which is leisure time.
Since we've been all around the city in the last few months, we've found venues we're starting to prefer. As a result everything is more organised tonight. Also, I've arranged to meet up with a lady called Vivien at 10:30pm at Kro Bar in Piccadilly Gardens. It's a good venue and has the benefit of seating outside and a nice view. I know Vivien from about 2 years ago when we met by chance – I had parked my car in the street, got out of the car and saw her walking past. I took the opportunity to start a conversation, we got on very well and had lots in common – At first we were going out quite a lot then later went our separate ways because of travelling, different working hours, and so on. The reason we're meeting at 10:30pm is because she works at a bank on the lateshift until 10pm tonight. When we spoke on the phone the other day – as she'd just got back from America – I decided me and Alex K will probably be at Kro Bar at around 10:30pm anyway so I invited her along.
So I meet Alex K in Didsbury outside the Slug and Lettuce. We decide to go out in Didsbury for a while so we go inside the bar. It's a good venue – nice décor, clean, quick service, and there's a really good atmosphere tonight. We get some drinks and find seats on the opposite side of the restaurant area. It's those high seats and tables but they're ok. Everyone in the place is in a good mood having conversations, laughing, and so on.
We're having a good time discussing business and what we've been doing during the week. Also, Alex K is saying about the recession:
Alex K: "You know all this new about the recession. Every day predictions how the economy is going to be affected?"
Alex K: "The news is going to make people stop spending as much and cause a recession, even if there wasn't going to be one in the first place."
Me: "That's funny, and probably true as well. It's because otherwise people wouldn't read it. Chris is a reporter and he was saying how people say they don't like that news is always sensationalised. But if it wasn't made dramatic then no-one would buy it or read it. At the end of the day most of it's entertainment."
Alex K:" Yes, but people believe it."
Me: "It's like Jeremy Clarkson, he says controversial things because he knows it will annoy people who don't get jokes. He winds them up. He does go too far as well sometimes which is why he gets more complaints. To be fair. I haven't watched much TV over the last year, or read many newspapers so it doesn't bother me. Do you know when I decided there was no point watching news?"
Alex K: "When?"
Me: "I went on holiday for two weeks, came back and realised nothing had changed. The news was still the same. I had 20 emails in the inbox of no real use or interest. In the post all I had was sales letters."
Alex K laughs
Alex K: "That's the way it is. We check every day because we're bored."
Me: "If anything really important happens, someone will tell me. Or I'll notice on the headlines when I pick up petrol, you know, the newspapers on the racks outside the petrol station."
Then we notice two guys in suits, they're in their 20's and standing with a group of 3 ladies
Me: "Look at those guys."
Alex K: "Yes, they came in earlier on their own. Must be after work crowd. They're chatting up those 3 ladies."
Me: "They're doing ok."
Alex K: "Yes. She's laughing, and the others are interested."
Me: "What do you think she's saying now?"
Alex K: "Nothing now, look, she's pretending to not be interested."
Me: "He's falling for it.
Alex K: "He's trying too hard now."
Me: "He's leaning in. Don't lean in! He's saying anything now to get her attention. It's all over!"
Me: "Fair play to them for trying though."
The ladies are now talking among themselves and the guys leave and go to another area of the bar.
Me: " He should have gone back to the guys then restarted the conversation in a minute."
The lights in the place dim, blaring music turns on and the atmosphere is ruined – it's not a big deal since we're leaving in 5 minutes anyway. It was when I went to Didsbury a year ago with a friend called Brian we realised this. Every weekend up until 9:30pm the Slug and Lettuce, as well as some other bars, are great places to chat, be with friends and so on. Then at 9:30pm they turn it into a nightclub and there's an exodus. About half the people in the venue get up and walk out. Then at 9:45pm the heavy drinkers – or as Chris calls them ‘weekend warriors' start coming in. it's amazing how by 10pm the happy diners and groups of friends are replaced by guys in sportswear tops and jeans boozing away. Which if that's what they like to do is ok. But it's not the kind of place we're looking for now. After the fiasco last time we went out at Fab Café, and although in the past we have enjoyed visiting the more trouble venues in the city, we've reviewed what we want from a night out. We're going for a certain type of venue now. If we're going to start inviting people along to get to know and become friends, we need to visit places where they can feel safe which is one reason we've planned to go to Kro Bar later on – a professionally run venue where we also know members of the door staff.
I remember having a discussion with Chris about when we went out in school days. He was saying
Chris: "Remember how we used to go to the Lazy Pig?"
The Lazy Pig was a place where we'd get cheap drinks before going to the clubs.
Then Chris says
Chris: "I once went with a friend who came to visit from a nice area up north, like a village, and he was saying ‘this place is so rough'. It was then I was seeing it through his eyes, from his point of view, and to be fair we did go to some quite rough places in those days. We didn't see them as rough though because we went every week"
So on that note we're going to make sure the places we go feel safe to everyone. At 18 years old and while still at school we were going to bars and clubs in what really is a big city. And we don't realise it's something most people don't do, until we meet someone who grew up in the Lake District or East Anglia, for who going to the local pub in a small town was their night out.
So, back to what's happening now. We leave the Didsbury bars area and go to the car parked on the sidestreet. We take Alex K's car and drive through Fallowfield and along the curry mile to the city. We park the car in Chinatown
Alex K: "I want something to eat."
Me: "Go to the International Buffet."
Alex K: "I don't want to go in a restaurant. It'll be £8 and I only want a snack."
Me: "The International Buffet has a takeaway box. It's good value for this time of night. Only £3.95."
Alex K: "Can you take whatever you want?"
Me: "Yes. You just take the box and fill it up. Then come and eat it outside."
Alex K: "Sounds good, where is it?"
Me: "Just over there."
We go to the International Buffet.
Takeaway Guy: "Can I help you?"
Alex K: "Do you do the takeaway?"
International Buffet Guy: "Which would you like?" and he holds up two takeaway boxes, one larger than the other.
Alex K looks at the boxes and the guy says
International Buffet Guy: "This one is £5.95 and this one is £3.95."
Alex K: "The £3.95 one."
International Buffet Guy: "And you sir?"
Me: "I'm not getting anything thanks. I'll wait here."
Alex K goes over to fill up the box with food. Halfway through he comes over and says
Alex K: "Do you want anything?"
Me: "Get me a few of those chicken pieces."
The service is good, the staff are polite. Then we go outside onto the street, open the car door and sit half in the car eating the takeaway.
Me: "This is better than buying chocolate bars."
Alex K: "Yes. Much better."
Then we go to Kro Bar Piccadilly Gardens. The atmosphere here again is lively and fun, it's turning out Friday is a much better night out. We go inside and get drinks, recognise someone we know from visiting Kro Bar before and say hi. Then I say
Me: "Let's go outside to meet Vivien."
Alex K: "Why?"
Me: "She doesn't know the venue that well and it's busy. Anyway. It's nicer outside."
Alex K: "Ok."
I'm looking forward to meeting her because we always have a good time. While we're standing outside Alex K gets a few text messages from an actress he's considering going out with.
Earlier in the week Alex K sent an arty text he composed to everyone in his address book, he came up with it inspired by all the stories and scripts he'd been reading for his acting classes. It was quite long, so to summarise it was like a philosophical ‘seize the day' type statement. Among those who received it was an actress and she was very impressed with it. What's funny is that she assumed he'd written it especially for her (not to everyone in his address book). So now she's texting him arty message in a roundabout way implying that they will get together.
Alex K is having a dilemma here.
Alex K: "What should I do?"
Me: "Speak to her the next time you meet her. You'll be with her in acting class in a few days."
Alex K: "Shall I invite her out now?"
Me: "Where is she?"
Alex K: "Coming out of work in a bit."
Me: "Invite her along if you like."
Alex K: "I just realised she works in Heaton Mersey"
Me: "That's a long way. Best meet here another day."
Alex K: "I don't know."
Me: "When you see her, you'll have an understanding, you'll both have texted each other and can smile to her, and take it from there."
Alex K: "Maybe you're right. Although waiting until next week is too long. She might think I'm not interested."
Me: "Then call her tomorrow and arrange to meet up properly. She'll come out on a date so it's no problem. Go to a nice place."
Alex K: "I'll do that."
Me: "Anyway. Isn't she the one with the ex-boyfriend?"
Alex K: "Yes. They've broken up though."
Me: "I wouldn't bother with her. Go find someone else. We'll find someone tonight."
Alex K: "I like her."
Me: "Do whatever you want."
There's more to it though. She comes across as a nice enough person to most people but she likes dramas – which is likely why she's an actress. The impression I got when I met them once is that her ex-boyfriend is friends with her and still really likes her. They look as if they could be still dating He's an ok guy but he's protective over her. She makes it worse by still meeting up with him.
At the end of the day it's the way she manages her relationships that makes her bad news. From what I noticed when meeting them and what I've been told, she dates one guy, and will stick around until another guy comes along and is tough enough to beat up or generally scare off the guy she is with at the moment. In the texts she's sending to Alex K it becomes obvious she expects him to scare off her ex boyfriend as she keeps texting "take the risk" and so on. I tell Alex K that even though they've known he's known her for 6 months, been making films together, and might get on well, that she's not worth it and there are plenty other people to date. Those games are just the start, she'll have more dramas when he dates her. He could easily find another girlfriend and should cut his losses, delete her number, and never see her again.
Vivien turns up on time. It's good to have reliable friends. Let everyone else be stood up, wait around for friends to turn up late, and so on. We sit outside the front of Kro Bar and chat. It's turning out to be a really good night.
Alex K recognises someone – Katja a Polish lady who is out celebrating her birthday tonight with a few friends. So with me, Vivien, Alex K, the birthday girl and her friends, there's 7 of us outside Kro Bar having a conversation.
At 12:30 Viven goes home – she manages to get a friend to drive her to Didsbury because she starts work early on Saturday morning – she's working overtime at the bank as much as she can. The birthday crowd are going to a nightclub on the other side of the city but me and Alex K want to go somewhere else instead, and we've had a good chat anyway.
We say bye to the group and go across Chinatown to Oxford Road to Odder – the place I checked out on the 6th September that used to be called Zumebar. We go inside and find some seats. There's a real party vibe in here tonight with people dancing to the music in any available space. It's a fun venue.
Me: "We've been so busy tonight we haven't met anyone new".
Alex K: "You're right, but we've had a good night."
Me: "Yes. It's because we've been going out regularly we're building a lifestyle and it's going well. We're getting to know people from going to the same place and we're finding our favourite places to go."
Alex K: "It's good. What did you think of Katja?"
Me: "She seemed nice. Anyway. Even if we already have people to invite out, we should still keep it so we meet new people. We've got people to meet up with in the day, but we still haven't got a regular night out."
The result of going out every week meant we had people wanting to go for coffees in the daytime. Which is good but we can only meet up with one or two a week. We have to start meeting more with people that will come out on Friday night like we have done tonight.
Me: "We could go out with people we know for the first few hours, then approach and meet new people for an hour."
Alex K: "It's maybe better not to plan it. To keep it random and see what happens."
Me: "But we've still got to approach, or we'll lose our edge."
Alex K: "You're right."
Me: "Go and approach her over there".
Alex K: "In a bit"
He'd got into the comfort zone, it's time to take action.
Me: "Ok, I'll do it then"
So I take the initiative and start a conversation with the nearest person. She's leaning with her back against a kind of balcony at the side of the dancefloor. She turns to her friend to whisper what I just said, then the friend – a blonde lady in her mid 20's looks up, stands up and comes straight over to me, smiles, and introduces herself.
She says "Hi, I'm Rachel" and holds out her hand to shake hands, which comes across as comedy.
We get on well and have a conversation for about half an hour. We have a lot of laughs. It's like that night in Fab Café where we met the lady we got on really well with. Sometimes by chance it happens.
Then she says "We might be going somewhere next, do you want to come?"
I say "No it's ok. What's your number, we can meet up next week." And we swap numbers. It's near closing time for nightclubs and I don't want to be looking for a venue that will let us in now.
Rachel : "Where are you going next?" as if asking if they could join us.
Me: "Wherever we feel like" I say this because I don't know where we're going next. We'll probably go to a place to get food.
Rachel: "Ok, nice meeting you, see you later." We hug because we felt like it – we got on so well during our conversation. Then Me and Alex K go downstairs and out into the street on Oxford Road.
It generally depends on the situation whether it's worth going along when someone invites you to join them on a night out. It shows you've got on well. But when it's getting towards closing time, it's ok to go for the contact details and meet up in future. In this case it could have ended up at her place but I prefer to date and get to know them first. I go with how I feel, if I've had a good night and don't feel like going to another venue I won't. The way I see it is, if it's meant to happen the contact details and telephone will work.
We go to the car and drive to Fallowfield, parking on one of the narrow terraced sidestreets off Wilmslow Road. We get out of the car and walk over to one of the takeaways. Some srudents are riding in a shopping trolley.
Alex K: "That's original, stealing shopping trolleys. You think that thay'd be able to come up with something else."
As we pass Sofa (a bar on Wilmslow Road) Alex K thinks he notices the actress who was texting him all night.
Alex K says "It's Holly."
Me: "It can't be."
Alex K: "What's she doing in Fallowfield? I assumed she'd gone home after work."
Me: "You're obsessed with her now, you're starting to see her face superimposed on every lady you pass!"
But then it turns out it is her, she notices us and comes outside throwing her arms around Alex K, then she gets him to go inside Sofa where she's drinking with her ex-boyfriend, his brothers, and a few friends. Her ex-boyfriend and his brothers are well muscled, have shaved haircuts and are wearing vests and jeans.
It's always a problem when a lady stays good friends with an ex boyfriend who she dated for a year or more. There's always a history there and sometimes a chance they might get back together. The guy's two brothers come outside and say hi to me, I greet them, they're ok. Alex K comes outside and we go to the kebab shop to get some food. Holly starts coming with us trying to be nice to me and make friends, but I ignore her and she says to Alex K "I'll see you in a bit" and she goes back to the bar while we go to the Sangam takeaway. We order chips, take them outside to eat them and discuss the situation.
Me: "She's still with her ex boyfriend, it's a game, forget about her and find someone else." I say in a way as if it's no big deal and don't bother with it.
Alex K "But she's broken up with him a year ago, they're just friends."
Me: "So what. It shows what type of person she is, and you saw how they looked together. There are so many other women you could date instead."
Alex K "But we've got to know each other and like each other. We've been in short films together, go to acting classes together, and are working on a future production."
Me: "Ok, do what you want. Drop me off in Didsbury".
Alex K: "Yeah, that's ok. You know I'll give you a lift. It's cool."
Her ex boyfriend is also an ex-con. He did time for getting in a street fight. Alex K and him might be evenly matched but with his brothers there it could get dangerous.
I've had a good night, we had a lot of laughs, and am not getting involved in any Ricki Lake style drama. So I get a lift to my car in Didsbury. And really it has been a good night. Friday has more of a party feel to it. We're starting to build a lifestyle within a month and a half of going out to the city once a week. We're enjoying the city entertainments, we have people who will come out and join us on our nights out. Also we have found nice venues, and I'm looking forward to going out in future.
Reviews: Friday 17th October
Click here for Season 1 Index
By going out regularly we're seeing people around at the same venues and people we know from work. We've made the night out more appealing to others we invite along by choosing safer venues.
Slug and Lettuce Didsbury
Medium busy. Clientele: smart casual and couples. Décor: 7/10. Music: chart music.
Notes: A pleasant venue to be with friends and talk until 9:30pm. After 9:30pm the music turns up too loud.
Slug and Lettuce Didsbury
International Buffet in Chinatown
Not busy. Clientele: smart casual. Décor: 6/10.
Notes: The International Buffet is open until around 11pm and has the option of buying takeaway boxes of Chinese food. It's useful for a snack when on a night out.
International Buffet Manchester
Kro Bar Piccadilly Gardens
Very busy. Clientele: smart casual, trendy. Décor: 6/10. Music: R&B, pop.
Notes: A venue that's suitable to meet friends who avoid most city venues because of the violence.
Kro Bar Piccadilly Gardens
Very busy. Clientele: smart casual, casual. Décor: 6/10. Music: indie, pop.
Notes: A social place where it's possible to have conversations with the people there. A party atmosphere with lots of indie types dancing on a Friday night.
Odder Bar Manchester
Notes: During term time the area is busy with students going out.
Sangam takeaway in Fallowfield
Clientele: students. Décor: 10/10.