Downtex Mill is a former textiles factory on Mary Street in Manchester, just off Bury New Road. The old workspace is now home to Hidden, a nightclub which hosts events from some of the cities’ most prolific promoters. The space has become integral to the local underground scene since it opened in 2015, with the multi-story venue hosting acclaimed DJs and low-key art exhibitions.
After bemoaning our driver’s lack directional skills (he had one job and ironically couldn't find the club), we joined the back of swelling queue outside. It seems local university exams had just ended and a couple of hundred eager students, all in big groups, huddled and chatted in a line which snaked its way around a cold, empty car park.
The area around Strangeways is navigating a transition as new, creative projects displace traditional tenants, with Hidden, along with the White Hotel, utilising buildings where the businesses of yesteryear used to operate.
Manchester is a city where electronic music and industrial heritage clash. But unlike the purpose-built Phonox down in Brixton or Mint Club in Leeds, for instance, the city hasn’t got many well-programmed, purpose-built club spaces.
Hidden is anything but well-furnished and it has transformed a once neglected building. That’s its charm. The bare breezeblocks, makeshift woodchip drinks bars, rustic steel caging in the stairwells and various gaping holes in the walls, give the club a similar feel to the Warehouse Project — in that although it works as a venue, it shouldn’t be there.
The heaving venue meant the Blue Room upstairs was best avoided. The less rowdy basement room, The Den, soundtracked by Swiss DJ Sassy J playing an extended set, was the place to camp out. It’s a shame as Leon Vynehall was soundtracking the Blue Room, a producer and DJ who makes and plays genre-spanning, textured music layered with gorgeous sonic samples. But it wasn’t to be.
Sassy J, though, journeyed through a breadth of genres — from classic house and disco cuts to harmonic gospel and intricate African rhythms. Between spinning Larry Heard’s ‘Missing You’ and Greg Henderson’s 1982 disco classic, ‘Dreamin’, the basement grew to a friendly — but not too busy — level of intimacy under the ferns and foliage decorating the DJ booth.
Her passions, apart from her musical endeavours, lie in homemade crafts, and she transfers this creative vision into diverse technicolour sets as vibrant as the clothing pieces she makes and sells online. Self-described as a “DJ, Music Lover, Handcrafting Artist,” her warm and heartfelt sets resonate as she relishes in sharing her eclectic tastes with dancefloors the world over.
Repeatedly avoiding the glances of the overzealous bouncers to enjoy a crafty cigarette or two in the booth, she bobbed and beamed, and served up four hours of feel-good soulful selections before the Ossia residents took things through to closing at 4 am.