Last updated: 13th Jan 2019.
Originally published: 8th Jan 2019
Talk to Mancunian ravers of a certain vintage - and a certain musical persuasion - and two words are guaranteed to get them frothing at the mouth; Electric Chair.
Up until its end in 2008 if you liked your music left of centre and punctured with soul this was the place to be, a sweaty archetypal northern institution which had the greatest of music policies, enabling the likes of Laurent Garnier, Theo Parrish, Bugz in the Attic and more to completely indulge their full musical sensibilities.
At the heart of it all was djing duo the Unabombers, who since disbanding EC have continued to have a hand in shaping Manchester's nightlife both in and beyond the city. Electricks and the Refuge have been their homegrown babies, with Electric Elephant transporting their musical genius for a dizzying run in Croatia.
But for once a year they bring the party back for an annual furlong, eschewing any of the other milestones dates in the festive calendar to make 27th December their own (a tradition well established when the night was still at its peak) for the End of Year riot.
For 2018's edition, Hidden was the scene, the home of Luke's, one half of the djing duo, other clubnight project, Homoelectric. The snaking staircases of the graffiti plastered warehouse make for the perfect three roomed extravaganza, enabling a triple-pronged musical treat which cavorted through just some of the genres and sounds which made the party such an oddball delight when it was romping away.
It was the perfect environ for the music we witnessed over the course of the evening. We were first greeted to Donna Peake in the middle floor (renamed for one night only in honour of EC's former home, the Music Box), the NTS darling dropping a typically left of centre selection.
It's the first, and arguably last, time we'll ever hear Snoop's 'Doggy Dogg World' in all its glory at a rave, the sumptuous g-funk sounding on the system. And it's definitely the only occasion we'll hear it mixed into title theme from 1983 Bollywood film Shubh Kaamna.
It set the tone perfectly for one of the evening's headliners Mr Scruff, assisted as ever by his chattering companion MC Kwasi. In control for four hours, Peake's slow and swaggering warm up enabled him to start off a little deeper, bringing a reggae tip with Material's 'reality' and the aptly named 'Electric Chair' from Anthony Red Rose. That laid the foundation for him to deliver a trademark set pogoing between genres.
Moving on to the basement, we found the room reverberating to Benji B's bass-led excursions, the staccato broken beats of the beginning eventually making way for much looser and party drenched garage and house, Stanton Warriors 'Bring Me Down' and MD X-Spress's 'God made me Phunky' two particular favourites.
And following on from him was Sheffield acid master Chris Duckenfield, who flitted between groovier disco sounds to more gnarly 303 drenched numbers. The latter being perfectly encapsulated by the Jerome Hill edit of Dancer's 'Boom Boom'.
It's not just the music that covered all bases in the club. Naturally, the club's history leant itself to a more mature audience, but this really was a gorgeously far-ranging crowd, the dancefloor populated by well to do middle aged gents, savvier club kids and Manchester's more leftfield characters. And all were open minded enough to be embracing the
The loft though was where it was at, Hidden's uppermost space throbbing all night. The guest was a selector associated more with a different space by the same name, David Mancuso's legendary Loft, and her selections lived up to her mentor's wide-ranging standards.
But she was simply the accompaniment to the evening's star attraction. The Unabombers were in typically fine form, whipping the crowd up with a pulsating ensemble of screeching disco euphoria, the gloriously throbbing 'Somewhere Beyond' from Hi Voltage dancing alongside Jackie Moore's effervescent 'This Time Baby'. Some of it was obscure, some more obvious, but the energetic blends and enthusiastic crowd respones made it the perfect end to another masterclass from the Chair.
The sweating, grinning throng stayed rooted to their individual spots for the entirety of their set, each saddened by the fact it'll be a whole year till this rabble gets together again. But much like the tradition that takes places forty eight hours previously, this is a family tradition well worth the twelve month wait.