In the late 1980’s during the onslaught of club culture into the UK, illegal acid house parties were a haven for thousands of clubbers who flocked to these gatherings on a weekly basis in order to immerse themselves in electronic music, all whilst losing themselves in the atmosphere that these events created. During this period, these parties were thrown in off the cuff spaces that were converted from bare, damp warehouses into musical getaways for the masses that were part of this wave. As the law started to clamp down on these parties over the following years, nightclubs began to adopt nightlong licences to keep these raves under control. Whilst there is now a plethora of clubs around the UK that can hold some undoubtedly incredible parties, there is nothing like pumping your fists in between the four brick walls of a warehouse in some remote location. In the UK, this experience is taken care of thoroughly by a brand that have perfected parties in this environment. Giving a nostalgic feeling to some and simply a taste as to what late 80’s club culture was maybe like for the younger generation, The Warehouse Project have made this their mission.
Beginning in 2006, The Warehouse Project (WHP) has held home in Manchester since its first season. The home of iconic clubs such as The Haçienda and The Twisted Wheel, Manchester seemed like the perfect place for a venture like this to take place. The first venue that WHP found themselves in was The Boddingtons Brewery, however as the venue was too close to Strangeways Prison, this was provoking raving prisoners who were dancing in their cells due to being so close to the venue, and after almost losing their licence it was definitely time to move somewhere a little different. The year after saw the move to the now famous arches under Piccadilly Station that has been revived once more in 2014, Store Street. For 5 years between 2007 and 2011, Store Street was the home of WHP and it was here that the legend grew. Through a singular door under a bridge that lies beneath the train tracks, you are taken to a subterranean tube that bleeds a real underground vibe. Raw brickwork, an air vent that crosses the room in the centre and exposed pipes make up the look of what is the most loved WHP venue by the majority of the brand’s fans.
Here the likes of Richie Hawtin, Basement Jaxx, Sasha, Sven Väth, Carl Cox, Rhadoo, Eric Prydz, Justice, The Happy Mondays and Erick Morillo have all played during 12 weeks of events that continued for 5 years, a who’s who of electronic dance music if you will.
If you consider the scale of a WHP event, it shows how committed, hard working and passionate the team must be for putting on great parties. In my experience of the brand, everyone from the bar staff to the security, the artist liaison team to the box office have never carried any qualms and helped everyone enjoy their time whilst they’re with them. The many DJs who have played at WHP over the years are also big fans of the club, including Heidi who – in an interview with XYST – describes Manchester as her ‘second home’ and that the crowds at WHP are constantly ‘the best’. After a great 5 years at Store Street, the team announced that there would be no more events here, which sparked rumours and thoughts as to where WHP would be moving next…
Later came the announcement that WHP’s new home would be in Trafford Park at Victoria Warehouse. Joint founder Sam Kandel commented that the move would allow “clubbers to see their favourite artists in a new setting”, and that this move would mean the brand could introduce things they could have never done before. With the move came a large increase in capacity, and there were now 3 rooms with innately different vibes surrounding them. The main room was a towering, elongated expanse of steel and a hard floor. The production in this room was rather incredible what with a large light show and a central rig. The second room at the opposite end of the building was a bricked out dungeon that stretched far back from the booth, again with Funktion One sound and a special lighting panel behind the DJ to ensure a multi sensory experience, not too dissimilar to that at Store Street. The third and smallest room was located between the two, providing a more intimate atmosphere that was concealed behind hanging PVC strips.
Victoria Warehouse has been the stage for every WHP for the past two years, but now the organisers have gone back to their roots and this year are opening Store Street back up for a year of more debauchery, music and mayhem. Despite a reduction in lineup size, due to the reduced capacity and size of the old venue, featuring on the calendar this year are all the biggest names across the underground spectrum including Ricardo Villalobos, Seth Troxler, Kerri Chandler, Joris Voorn, Recondite, East Everything, Jamie Jones, Davide Squillace, Gorgon City, James Blake, Caribou, Andy C, MK, Bonobo, Dixon and many more. The list is endless.
For 12 weeks, the city will once again, be theirs.
Words by Josh Plews
Images courtesy of Vice, Pippa Rankin and The Warehouse Project.