“We do things differently here” – four iconic Manchester moments

In the past few weeks we’ve witnessed just how much pride Manchester has in its culture and its homegrown talent. As Vue Manchester Printworks opens its doors, local writer Helen Nugent picks four cultural moments that made the city such a trailblazer.

Mancunians describe their home as a “city that thinks a table is for dancing on”. It’s the perfect way to sum up this Northern powerhouse and its vibrant culture. From the world’s most famous nightclub to the moment that rock music was born, here are four of its biggest cultural moments.


“This is Manchester. We do things differently here.” The late Tony Wilson hit the nail on the head with these now immortal lines – and as the founder of Factory Records, he had a lot to do with this entrepreneurial spirit.

The “Madchester” era of the 80s describes a time when bands like Happy Mondays, The Stone Roses, Inspiral Carpets, Oasis and The Charlatans dominated the charts. Manchester’s Haçienda was where it was at – no wonder, given the brains behind it included Wilson, Factory Records and the group New Order. Long since converted into flats, this legendary nightclub will remain in the hearts and minds of Mancunians for years to come.

Bob Dylan goes electric

Another iconic venue now all poshed up (this time into a five-star hotel), the Free Trade Hall was where Bob Dylan “went electric”, prompting one of the most famous heckles in music history.

It was 1966 and Dylan had already courted controversy with his electric sets. His folkie fans were not happy about the move away from acoustic, in particular one chap in the Manchester audience on 17th May of that year. “Judas” rang out across the auditorium and, in the blink of eye, folk music became rock music. Magic.

HOME and The Factory

Where else but Manchester would a city decide, in the middle of a recession, to build brand spanking new arts venues? It began with HOME, a £25 million complex which opened in the city centre in 2015. With an ambitious programme of bold contemporary visual art, theatre and independent film, HOME merged two of Manchester’s best-loved cultural organisations, Cornerhouse and the Library Theatre.

Hot on HOME’s heels is The Factory. With planning permission granted earlier this year, this proposed £110 million arts centre will rival anything the big smoke has to offer. The building will be operated by Manchester International Festival, itself a shining example of Manchester’s standing on the world stage when it comes to the arts.

24 Hour Party People

We love our cinema in Manchester – and we like it even more when we see our fair city on the big screen. From the classic film noir Hell is a City and Ken Loach’s Looking for Eric to the ground-breaking A Taste of Honey and East is East (although strictly speaking, the latter two are set in Salford), Manchester is itself a film star. And that’s before we even get to the numerous TV shows shot here.

But it’s the iconic 24 Hour Party People that really stands out when thinking of Manchester and film. Loosely based on the life of the aforementioned Tony Wilson (played with consummate ease by Steve Coogan), 24 Hour Party People is a veritable who’s who of Manchester celebs and a must-see for both film and music fans alike.

See what’s on at Vue Manchester Printworks.