Manchester clubbers are riding the crest of an Eighties revival - on skateboards. Authentic clothing optional, assures Matthew Sweet
It's more exciting than a bubble machine, more politically correct than nudie cage dancing and it's the biggest event on the Manchester club scene since Rotters Nitespot was bulldozed to a heap of pineapple clips and corrugated iron. On Tuesday Board nights at King Street's South club you can tweak the nose of terror by rattling your skateboard, engaging in some BMX banditry or - most dangerously - asserting that Breakdance 2: Electric Boogaloo is a misunderstood movie classic. Eighties street culture rides again, and for those who like grazed elbows with their hip- hop, the club is a Manc mecca.

Despite the retro tag, there's no sea of ra-ra skirts and white towelling socks: mercifully, South's Eighties retro-activity stops short of a dress code, and the Limahl-and-Rubik's cube aspect of the decade has been policed off the premises. However, a night at the club is still a sobering experience for anyone who thought that skateboarding and BMX banditry had gone the way of the airbrushed Athena print and trade union rights.

At midnight, the management rolls out the mobile quarterpipe and the skateboarders take over to grind axle, ride the vert and show off their unfeasibly big trousers. ("Fanf***ingtastic" was the considered opinion of Mixmag.) And if you think unleashing a flood of skaters on to a dance floor packed with beered-up B-boys sounds like a sure-fire recipe for carnage, you'd be right. Promoter Paul Cons admits that "the opening night was complete mayhem, but the skateboarding now goes on in a more controlled fashion so it's not so hairy". It might be a good idea to take your kneepads anyway, especially if you're a gang of Bronx-boy wannabes from Cheadle Hulme shouting "Hey, you, the Rock Steady Crew".

Manchester didn't have much time for this stuff the first time round: it was too busy hyperventilating in its dungarees to pay much attention to the hip-hoppy end of Eighties culture. Lifelong aficionado and board regular Phil Ward charts the history of Mancunian skateboarding: "The culture fluctuates - after its peak in the late Eighties, it took a bit of a dive and was the uncoolest thing to do. But now it's getting back into popularity, everyone wants to have a bit of it". The city's skater boys are enjoying the attention - they usually have to make do with trundling around the gasworks near the Hacienda. "Or Albert Square," asserts Phil. But isn't Albert Square cobbled? "Yes, but there are some good slidy bits around the monuments. The police don't appreciate it very much".

Comments