Friday 6th February
I arrive home and there's a message on the answerphone.
Message: "Hi, this is Baz. There's an event on tonight, can you give me a call back as soon as possible."
I phone Baz.
Me: "Hi how's it going."
Baz: "Hi, I'm good thanks. Are you doing anything tonight?"
Me: "No. I've been out Wednesday and Thursday so was staying in tonight."
Baz: "There's an event at the casino tonight. It's a James Bond theme and kind of singles event too. I've got a spare ticket if you want to come."
Me: "Ok, I'll have to get some sleep on Saturday then."
Baz: "Great. It's at the G Casino over the bridge from Deansgate."
Me: "Is there a dress code?"
Baz: "It's a James Bond theme but as long as you dress smart you'll be ok, you're always smart anyway."
Me: "What time does it start?"
Baz: "7:30 but that's just to make sure people arrive for 8 when it starts. I think they want you to bring some ID to get in the casino as well."
Me: "What sort of ID?"
Baz: "I'm not sure. I'll find out and phone you back."
Baz: "Speak to you in a minute."
We sort out the details. Now it's 7:45pm and I'm waiting in the car on a sidestreet in the suburbs in Urmston. Baz arrives and gets in. I start the engine and do a wheelspinning U-turn in the road, press the accelerator and speed towards the city.
We arrive at the casino at 8pm and go inside to the event. It's the G casino which is just outside the city centre of Manchester. It's one of the nicest casinos I've been to. The staff are very polite and there's more of an entertaining feel to the place than the dark atmosphere of casinos in the city centre.
Baz: "Do I look alright?" says Baz referring to his clothes.
Me: "Yes you look like James Bond."
Baz: "I wasn't sure about not having a bow tie."
Me: "It looks like you're meant to not have the bow tie. Like you're in one of the action scenes where he's not wearing it."
Baz is wearing black trousers, shoes, jacket and a white shirt with the collar open. I'm wearing black trousers, shoes, white shirt, gold tie and a light linen jacket. Rather than go for the classic James Bond look I decided to go smart with a James Bond inspired style.
The event is very professionally run and enjoyable for all. The great thing about it is that although it's a singles night, it feels more like a making friends evening. The people attending are all nice with manners, polite, it's a world apart from the nightclubs and bars in the city. The conversations I have are all about getting to know people. Here's a rundown of the type of people here:
New to the city people who recently moved to Manchester and want to make friends and so on.
Residents of Manchester people who lived here a while but don't meet any people through work or friends.
People outside Manchester there is a group of 3 ladies from Shrewsbury and another 3 from Leeds who came for the adventure. They give the impression they want guys to come back to their hotels with them later.
They are all honest about what they want out of friends and relationships. Except for one lady who is a dancer, all she wanted to do when she arrived was take lots of photos of people in different poses, then she left when no-one wanted any photos taken of them. She had a big professional looking camera, probably sells photos on the internet.
The event was a lot of fun, not so much for meeting people to date, but for the light hearted fun conversations and atmosphere. The event finishes after 11pm and there's the opportunity for free entry to the Circle Club which is an exclusive members club in the city centre.
Me and Baz leave the casino and go to the drive through McDonalds which is next to the casino. We drive to the city and park on a sidestreet off Deansgate. I'm wearing a light coloured linen jacket which isn't suitable for busy nightclubs so I change to a dark navy suit jacket. I'm putting it on as we stand at by back of the car with the boot open.
Me: "Do you think this is too long?"
Baz: "A bit, but it fits so well people won't notice."
Me: "With styles changing so often a slightly longer suit jacket could become the fashion anyway. What with skinny jeans and now I saw in Topman the other day skinny jackets."
Baz: "It does fit really well."
Me: "I bought it in the sale and didn't bother it was a bit long. In meetings and offices it always ends up on the back of a chair anyway."
Baz: "It looks good."
I consider whether it could start a trend. A slightly longer than usual suit jacket in a dark colour. Like a cross between a tuxedo, normal suit jacket and a quarter length coat. It's formality, class and outdoor clothing all in one!
I often have a spare suit jacket and jumper in the boot of my car. They've come in useful on many occasions. I used to buy a lot of clothes in the sales specifically for going out. Ones that it wouldn't matter so much if a drink was spilled on them or a cigarette burn. It's women unaware of cigarettes or their red wine / blackcurrant drinks. They don't realise that it doesn't wash out of a pure new wool, linen jacket or cotton shirt like it does out of 100% polyester black dresses.
Me and Baz walk over to the Circle Club. Now we're inside. The people have lots of style and few weekend warriors. It's a classy place and I'm enjoying it until I buy half a pint of shandy for £3.50 this place is more expensive than London. I only have a few sips, it tastes like the cheapest own brand lemonade. I order a glass of tap water.
Me and Baz walk around the club. We're enjoying it here with the music, trendy clientele, dιcor. I notice a lady and she notices me. I go over to her, take hold of her hand and we kiss on the cheek. It's so cool. She's wearing smart dress, red lipstick and make-up in dark areas around the eyes in a stylish way. The style wasn't the reason I noticed her. There are lots of stylish people in here, it's just one of those things where when you go to a club you notice people you're compatible with. We chat and she asks me for my number, she texts my phone. 6 telephone numbers so far tonight.
The music is getting way too loud to the point where people have to shout to each other. Me and Baz decide to leave it's a good opportunity to leave. She's with a friend and her sister. During the conversation I find out she's a teacher at a private school, a dancer and only lives a few minutes from my place.
Now we're out on the street walking to the car.
Baz: "That's one of the only places in Manchester where you get people like that dressed like that. And it's useless. The music is too loud to talk so you can't meet anyone!"
We agree at the situation of clubbing in Manchester.
It's as if nightclubs are places you go to suffer, in the hope of meeting someone and getting out of there.
Me: "I'm considering going south to places like Wilmslow, Knutsford or Alderley Edge. They could be an alternative to the city for going out."
As we approach the car we notice a place called the Press Club. Chris who is a friend from school once told me about this venue.
There are 4 ladies sitting on the wall smoking outside. They're dressed like characters from the film Fame.
Me: "Hi, is the press club any good?"
Her: "It's different. There's no trouble. There's karaoke on until 3 then a DJ until 6. You should come inside. We're here every week."
Me: "Is it fancy dress?"
Her: "No we've been to the Fame musical earlier. We all made the effort to dress up but very few others in the audience did."
We talk a while then they finish smoking and say "Hope to see you inside."
Baz: "Shall we go in?"
Me: "I'm here now and if we have a look tonight, if it's good we can come back in future."
We go through the entrance doors, downstairs into the basement and into the Press Club. We go to the bar and order drinks. The bar staff are very polite and friendly. There's a fun atmosphere in here.
20 minutes later we're leaving. There's drunk people slurring to karaoke songs. Everyone is so drunk they're dancing to it.
Baz: "This is a place celebrities and media types are meant to go. I don't see any here."
Me: "It probably was 5 years ago."
I've not seen celebrities in Manchester at night. I've seen celebrities in the daytime Ryan Giggs, Roy Keane and Coronation Street stars in Altrincham. Paul Arthurs from Oasis in Starbucks in St. Ann's Square. David Gest in the casino. At one point I used to often see Roy Keane either in pubs, driving his car or walking his dog.
With cameras on mobile phones as well. Man Utd players used to be seen going out for drinks. They don't want to be photographed and reported about everywhere.
I'm driving along Deansgate. 5 taxis get in the way and block up the road. A few police cars with sirens and lights drive past. We're still stationary. On the left is a group of people smoking outside a nightclub. We're not far from where Peter Street starts. Suddenly two guys outside the club start fighting. One is on the floor crouching to protect himself while the other is kicking him. Two police officers arrive and drag off the guy. They need another 3 officers to hold him. There's 5 officers altogether and he's being arrested. Well done to the police who arrived on the scene and stopped it so quickly. It's a tough job for them getting involved in street fights all night.
The traffic clears and we drive out of the city. It was a good night at the James Bond event.
Summary and venue reviews: Friday 6th February
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Notes: A suburb south of Manchester.
Medium busy. Clientele: singles and gamblers. Decor: 7/10.
Notes: A modern casino with a nice bar and eating area. The singles event is held at G Casino.
Drive through McDonalds
Notes: In the car park near G Casino.
Drive through Mcdonalds
Busy. Clientele: trendy. Decor: 8/10.
Notes: On of the few places in Manchester where people dress smart to go out. Very expensive low quality drinks.
Busy. Clientele: smart casual, ladies dressed in fame costumes. Decor: 3/10.
Notes: Karaoke and a friendly atmosphere.