Manchester Music Scene: Insider interview with Dave Haslam

By: Ruth Rosselson

October 28, 2013

Dave Haslam has been part of the Manchester music scene for more than 25 years. Famous for DJing over 450 times at the legendary Hacienda during its heyday, he’s also the author of a book on Manchester’s radical and musical history, Manchester, England: The Story of the Pop Cult City. We quizzed him about the best Manchester music venues and the city’s thriving club scene.

Manchester | Interview with Dave Haslam

Dave Haslam © S. Matthes/Manox

How does Manchester’s “˜scene’ of today compare to the days of the Hacienda?

Nowadays, Manchester has more venues, especially for live music. They’re better run, with better DJs and there are a lot more bands than at the end of the eighties. You’re never more than half a mile away from something interesting happening. It could just be in a little bar, such as Fuel in Withington. Their upstairs room holds just 50 people but that doesn’t stop them from putting on great things: live music, poetry or spoken word events.

Manchester, Folk | Interview with Dave Haslam

Folk is always popular – whatever time of day you visit © Kate Astbury


How would you describe Manchester’s personality?

Manchester’s the sort of city where people feel empowered and encouraged to do stuff. It’s got a “˜can do’ attitude – whether that’s starting a club night, a magazine, or opening a new venue. It’s a supportive and enthusiastic city for all sorts of cultural activities.

Manchester, Band on the wall | interview with Dave Haslam

Up close and personal with the Ultramagnetic MCs at Band on the Wall © MartinBarratt


If you could sum up Manchester with one record, what would it be?

There is a Light that Never Goes Out by the Smiths. It’s a great record. It’s quirky, and although the Smiths were a very Mancunian band, they have fans all over the world. It couldn’t have been made anywhere but Manchester, but makes sense everywhere.

Manchester, Gorilla | Interview with Dave Haslam

Gorilla is a great venue for club nights and gigs © Manox


What about new music? Who do you rate? And how do you find music?

Right now, I think the best band around is Everything Everything. They’re a great live band. In the old days, I would spend 3 or 4 hours a week in a record shop. Now I spend the same amount of time per day online just following my instincts, visiting favourite websites, producers or record labels.

Manchester, The Rose Garden | Interview with Dave Haslam

Rose Garden in Didsbury is a quality restaurant in the suburb of East Didsbury © Emma Caress


What’s your insider tip for a great Manchester night out?

Smaller venues tend to have more life and energy to them than bigger venues; you feel part of a scene, a sense of community. Band on the Wall has that feeling, and I’d also recommend Gorilla. It’s a great, well run venue with a nice bar and a good strong sound system in the back room.

Manchester, Folk | Interview with Dave Haslam

Beer garden at Folk © Kate Astbury


How about outside of the city centre?

I’d recommend venturing to suburbs such as West Didsbury or Chorlton for a flavour of neighbourhood Manchester. They both have some great independently owned bars and businesses. You might end up wanting to move there! I like Folk on Burton Road. You can start the morning with a coffee, have a nice lunch, then treat yourself to a couple of beers and before you know where you are, it’ll be 9 o clock and the DJ has turned up with a box of vinyl. For food, I’d recommend The Rose Garden, also on Burton Road. It’s a great neighbourhood restaurant, with a really high standard of food.

Written by Ruth Rosselson

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Ruth Rosselson

Ruth Rosselson is a writer, researcher and community facilitator based in Manchester. A city-lover through and through, Ruth loves going to gigs and eating out at her favourite Manchester restaurants and cafes. A keen scuba-diver, she’s still in search of the elusive (but very large) whale shark, and also loves country breaks in the UK. Her favourite UK spots include Grasmere in the Lake District and Harris in the Outer Hebrides.

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