Down a side street on the Salford side of Bury New Road, opposite Strangeways, there's a massive indiscriminate old warehouse with Downtex printed on its corrugated wall. Step inside and it's like `Fuck me! Where did this come from?'
Over the two floors that are open, there's completely trippy, festie graffiti art, ranging from moons to mushrooms, decoring the walls; while the outside courtyard has an enchanted forest theme, complete with chameleon, staring trees and a psyched out tribesman. It's like an escaped Amsterdam coffeeshop that's come to Salford to get a grip.
The place is the well titled Hidden. And it's the ideal venue for Swing and Shout's Knights and Unicorns Party on November 20th....
"We always move to new venues and always look for interesting spaces" explains Rachele Evaroa, co-director of Galivantes which is putting on the night "We'd already heard about Hidden and done an event in Salford at First Chop Brewery which went down really well. We are looking for big spaces, high ceilings and decent people to work with. We got here and everything was perfect."
The place is set to be transformed even further for the party, described as a `Gypsy Ska Punk Balkan Live Music Festival Style Club Night' that will have an installation on the stairwell leading to the basement `dungeon', real knights staging a fight in the courtyard, circus acts, magicians, the ubiquitous chill out zone and, hopefully, a giant castle.
Early on, from 7pm, there's going to be a raunchy Blues Dance workshop with teachers Esme Tulsi Walker and Mike Birks, Hoop lessons with Julie `Hoops' Brown, Interactive Games with Playfuel Mcr, a vintage stall from O Frabjous and a make your own sword/unicorn horn/cape with art therapist Kolet von Curio.
As the night gets going there's live hip hop gypsy music from Gypsy Unit; frenetic vibes from the seven piece Balkan band Rubber Duck Orchestra; the `plaintive cries' of the jazzy, brassy Biscuithead and The Biscuit Badgers; acoustic dance music from the Hedge Gods; modern blues from Clare Kelly of Black and Blue; and Mancunicorn gypsy-skank sounds and `lots of lyrics about how politicians should be doing better things than fucking pigs heads' from Galivantes the band, of which Rachele is a member.
"It's really eclectic and we want it to be" she laughs "People can either come early and have a more relaxed night, do the dance lessons, see the bands and go home by midnight, or if you want a club night you can come a bit later and we'll have DJs 'til 4am and the Satellite State Disko who do everything from Balkan to Bhangra dance. No-one is too old to come and everyone over 18 is invited."
Fellow Galivantes director, Craig Thomas, underlines the point... "It's not aimed just at students, we want to mix age ranges and it's a space where everyone can get together. The oldest person to come to one of our nights was in their sixties. We're disabled friendly too, just contact us and we'll sort out any access issues*."
They've put tickets aside for people on low income*, and, in spirit, are coming from the political free party movement from which bands like The Levellers came...
"Our goal is just to bring live music back into clubs again and get people dancing and enjoying live music" Rachele explains "We've got DJs but the focus is on live music, and it costs a lot to put on, that's why the venues are shutting down. But we don't care about making profits, we just want to see live music."
Live music, unicorns and lots more in a warehouse that's already wacky...
"We've been trying to find places like this and bring people to new venues, that's part of the enjoyment of doing it" says Craig "People follow nights rather than venues now. And it's very difficult to find venues where you can play live music and get a few hundred people in – they're all being shut down."
Hidden is very much open, as Salford prepares for a Gypsy Ska Punk Balkan Live Music Festival Style Club Night, with added unicorns, enchantment and excitement. With a dress code of `anything unbelievable and mythical' Swing and Shout's party is not to be missed. Seriously not to be missed...
Swing and Shout
Knights and Unicorns Party
Friday 20th November 8pm-4am (last entry midnight)
17 DownTex Mill
Mary Street, M31DZ
Tickets £10 – to book click here
* To contact Craig and Rachele email email@example.com
For a map and full details see the Swing and Shout Knights and Unicorns Party Facebook page – click here
For further details on Galavantes see the website www.galivantes.co.uk