Review: Cool Runnings – The Club Night that Cares?
Article published: Friday, November 27th 2009
For the past few months The Corner, a new bar in Fallowfield, has played host to an interesting club night experiment. Cool Runnings is a free dub and reggae night which seeks to combine politics and partying within a single space.
Cool RunningsEvery Wednesday night is hosted by a different campaigning group with a Manchester connection, given the opportunity to raise awareness for their cause, through films and pre-party meetings, as well as raising money from donations taken on the door. Between £75-£200 has been raised each week for good causes. Since its inception in March, groups such as the Gardening and Permaculture Society (GAPS), Manchester Climate Action and Manchester No Borders have each hosted the event.
Cool Runnings was set up by Tom Barlow, an activist and promoter living in Manchester, as a way of mixing politics and clubbing in a complementary fashion. He sees Cool Runnings as a response and alternative to a clubbing scene “co-opted by crass commercialism”. Pointing to punk in the eighties and bands like Rage Against the Machine, he argues that music and radical politics have a historically healthy relationship and should continue to work together. At The Corner this fusion is already working well, says Barlow:
“The Love Music Hate Racism night, just before the EDL came to town, helped spur people to go out and protest. I also know it has helped Manchester Climate Action encourage people to go to the Swoop event and Oxfam to get people signed up for the Copenhagen Climate Talks protest.”
Running the night is cost-free for the campaigning groups themselves, with Barlow, The Corner and all DJs providing their services free of charge, ensuring that the campaigners can keep all the money they raise. Of course the night isn’t just about the politics. Although the DJs vary from week to week, Cool Runnings also offers clubbers the chance to get to know up-and-coming DJs such as Dub Conductor and DJ King.
While The Corner’s attempt at transplanting a slice of Berlin into the heart of Fallowfield isn’t wholly convincing, the venue manages to create an atmosphere of intimacy and Cool Runnings fills the 120 person capacity quickly. The beer is cheap and the sound-system does a good job of dealing with the mix of familiar and not so familiar dub, reggae and dancehall tunes booming out. Compared to the vigorous moneymaking agenda of the Warehouse Project and other vaunted ‘superclubs’, Cool Runnings offers a positive alternative club experience, which aims to give back to the community at large. It has achieved an interesting and successful model of integrating serious issues into the Manchester nightlife and upcoming events should cater well for both politics and partying.
The Corner, Wimslow Road, Fallowfield
Wednesday nights from 8pm – late.
Free entry, donations appreciated (different cause each week)