It was hard to know what to expect of NCSCs 31st Wigan Anniversary All-Niter. How could it possibly compete with the shenanigans of the 100 Clubs 25th Party? i mean whens the last time you saw a grown man almost choke himself on a giant silver no. 2 balloon whilst swinging a microphone stand like an entrant to a freddie mercury karaoke competition. Or seen youngsters scamping about with freaky teeth masks or seen so many punters drunk as skittles & happy as hell?
And how could NCSC hope to recapture the spirit of 73 so many years on? Most of us travelling from Dublin had high hopes but never went to Wigan & were a bit concerned that the tunes might be too daft even for us.
Well the evening had to start somewhere - so we traipsed up the steep & narrow staircase of The Ducie Bridge to a room full of excited soul fans, knocking back pints, greeting friends & making plans. Ducie Bridge is an ideal warm-up bar, a slightly shabby & cosy living room bar. As usual we turned up late but thankfully caught most of Danny Duggans set. One of the nice things about the Ducie Lounge is that its quite well lit so it was a change to hang out & successfully identify people we knew. The sound system was impressive too for such a small venue though the speakers fell over when Danny whacked up the volume. The place thinned out pretty quick when it came near 10pm & as I stood outside waiting for everyone to finish their pints i was asked if i was the stripper for the 21st party going on downstairs. Bloody hell! My skirt wasnt that short! Manchester is a funny place.
After some drunken confusion over whether or not we were going to the Hideout it was decided to skip it & head straight for the main event. The biggest line up of Wigan djs since...well, since the glory days of Wigan.
Walking into the NCSC foyer we flashed our membership cards thinking we were tops for being organised to get them in the 1st place (thanks to Carl & Marie for getting them for us). On up the stairs & past the tempting NCSC flag (how come noones tried to nick that yet) it was a surprise to realise we were in a plush venue. NCSC boasts a series of incredible & possibly previously unheard of delights for a northern venue, carpet with underlay, air conditioning (to avoid the sweaty 7 a side football team changing room stench), large round tables with clean white covers, tasteful contemporary 70s style wood paneling, a bar that also served a 3 course meal of crisps, sandwiches & tea or coffee, spacious ladies toilets (with well light mirrors, ideal for shoveling on the concealer in the morning to avoid that soul hag look) and, causing temporary blindness, was a fully light record bar! Ye gods! Heaven knows what the electricity bill must be like for the venue as the ceiling of the main room was covered with lights that - gasp - changed colour! Finally! A soul venue that looked like it was from 2004.
The main room in New Century House is an ideal northern venue - the stage had a pretty backdrop that looked like a constellation of stars & there were big screens with visuals of record labels, flyers & sundries. Quite mesmerising they were too. The soundsystem is ace pumping out the drums, bass, brass & orchestration with the utmost clarity . Joy! In addition to that the dancefloor was perfect. It was the first time Ive managed to dance in runners without assistance of talc. And it was an even surface all the way across so no fear of the bumps (unless its your birthday). Though the floor was busy throughout the night there was still plenty of room for whirling dervishes & kung fu kickers.
As for the music, well it was Wigan all the way. And if anyone got tired of hearing the stompers upstairs there was a 2nd room downstairs, also playing a heady mix of stompers. There was a let up in the stomp when The Flirtations took the stage. I hate live acts but the girls were charming & sweet & busted some fly moves so it wasnt too horrible waiting for them to finish their set. The highlight of the night for me was laughing & dancing to the Joker in public - a once in a lifetime opportunity which couldnt be passed up (if that revelation doesnt discredit everything Ive just said then nothing will). The atmosphere wasnt quite up there in the rafters but that can be attributed to the fact that the New Century crowd seem to be a quite discerning lot & it must be kinda difficult to be excited about hearing the Move On Up or the 3 Before 8 for the 520th time. It certainly wasnt a bad night, it was a blast & some of us have already booked our flights for the 1st anniversary in November. If the club can be that good on an arguably average night its got to be incredible on a typical night. Roll on November!
check out the New Century Soul Web Site for all NCSC occurances and more