I'll never forget the first time I went to the Star & Garter. I was really dubious about what my friends had planned for me, considering we were heading in a direction that seemed to be slighty outside the city and more than slightly IN to Manchester's Red Light district. 'Guys...' I found myself saying ominously in the way the first dingbat of a bimbo to get killed in a horror movie always does.
Then when we arrived, I was confused. 'Why are we at what looks like one of those run down burnt out old hotels on Chapel Street?' my brain was asking me. But I pressed on. I was accompanied by indie expert Mr Bateman, his lovely girlfriend and the Bambi-eyed Jess X, all of whom seemed to have the lowdown on what's cool these days.
And upon entering all my woes disappeared. For here is a pub-cum-club almost as famous in the city as Night and Day, with something to offer every poetic soul with a floppy haircut and a love for Morrissey. (That includes myself, and you'll hear more Smiths songs in here than you can shake a stick at.) The Star and Garter is a great venue, with a pub downstairs and seats comfy enough to think you're in the Crescent, and a club upstairs where you can dance your socks off to the best of Manchester's music scene.
The Smile clubnight, held every Saturday, is always filled to capacity and something of a phenomenon. Live bands often appear on Thursdays and Fridays, but one Friday each month is reserved for the worship of the miserablist with the quiff, the legendary Morrissey, and The Smiths. Yes, it's an actual Smiths disco. Where else would you find a disco dedicated to one man/band? Not only does this speak volumes about how important Morrissey is to Mancunians, it says a lot about Star & Garter's knack for pleasing their public.
I've never had a bad night here. Brave it through the brothels and find your way to this gem of a place - you won't be disappointed.
Housed on Fairfield Street, behind Piccadilly Station, the Star & Garter is a red brick pub that looks like a crime scene from a Hitchcock thriller. It was featured in the 50s film noir Hell is A City and since then, seems to have gone from chic to shabby with little investment or TLC. The carpets are frayed, the seats are grubby and the walls upstairs are painted chocolate.
Endearingly, none of this seems to bother the students and regulars who flock there for the monthly Smiths nights and occasional rock and punk gigs. The gigs are housed upstairs on the first floor - where there's a small stage and bar - whilst the club nights straddle the ground and first floor. Drinks are cheap and cheerful and there's a long-running indie night every Saturday called Smile. You might hear the odd Brian Wilson song but you're more likely to hear everything from Pulp and Placebo to Belle and Sebastian.
In short, the Star & Garter is a venue that's more about the music and the people than the ambience or the interior. Which takes us right back to Pulp and..... A Little Soul: youtube.com/watch?v=3XMD…
The Star and Garter is a traditional northern pub located very close to the centre of Manchester near Ardwick Park, but still far removed from the shopping and clubbing centres of town.
From the exterior it looks a quite unwelcoming place, with very little indication that the pub is still running and vending alcohol, excepting a tiny blackboard sometimes placed outside.
Once you enter though, you will discover that you can never judge a pub by its cover, as everything about the place is perfectly welcoming. Its got traditional pub décor with a predominantly wooden finish and old-style tables and chairs. Pints are not cheap but neither are they expensive, and they even serve food. This is a limited menu but its very decent pub grub from around four quid, so no complaints whatsoever.
It makes a good place to stop for a beer after playing football at the nearby 5-a-side Power League centre.
Remember that old man from Home Alone who looked like a tramp and lurked around glaring at things and scaring Macaulay Culkin, but who actually went to church and beat burglars over the head with shovels? This is him if he was a pub in a scummy part of Manchester.
Crack-den-tacular from the outside, inside it radiates earthy, crusty, laid-back charm that sucks students in like disenchanted moths. Indeed, it sets the blueprint for the perfect undergraduate haunt: buy a pub, get furniture from the tip and allow everything to gather a shifting layer of grime to give it that vaguely sticky quality. The stroke of genius came in placing 1980's arcade machines inside, so you can relive childhood memories playing Pacman until your girlfriend leaves in tears.
The bar isn't that cheap, especially since they serve some beers from cans, which ends up feeling a little like you're being charged to use your own fridge. Then again it's still alcohol, so few of the clientele care. Speaking of the clientele it's mostly a mixture of bohemian types, lounging around flicking their fringes at each other and gazing soulfully from hooded eyes, but it's friendly enough.
Upstairs is the dance floor, with another bar thrown in for good measure. The grit and grime theme persists, with shadowy alcoves fit for a child-snatcher, so it's all thematically consistent. They do a variety of different nights, including a monthly Smith's disco for those people with a disturbing level of love for one band, as well as live music, so it's likely you'll find something you'll enjoy.
It is situated in a less salubrious part of town so I'd advise getting a taxi back to civilisation at the end of the night. It's better than running the gauntlet of Gutter's Ginnel.
The Star and Garter is something of an alternative music institution in Manchester. It's located in the centre but far enough away from the main drag to not attract too many tourists and rowdy students. Downstairs this place still maintains its pub status and is relaxed and always busy. Upstairs the pub becomes a club, with the DJs playing great music on the weekends (including the cult 'Smile' night on Saturdays and the monthly Morissey/Smiths extravaganza on Fridays) and up and coming acts being showcased during the week.
The drinks are reasonably priced compared to the other late night clubs in town but if you want to take advantage of this then I'd get there early - either you won't get in once it's full or you'll be waiting at the bar all evening for your first drink! One thing to note is this place is only open in the evenings.
Upon approaching the Star and Garter you will be absolutely confused as to why you are going in this direction. There is literally nothing anywhere near this pub apart from scary train bridges and dodgy corners of Manchester's red light district
Downstairs is a pub that has nothing to do with the pomp and ponce of the Northern Quarter. Nope, this one is down to earth and a bit more of a traditional Manchester pub.
Upstairs is the venue. It's a good sized room with a nice and high stage so you can see the bands. Venues like Night and Day and the Deaf Institute are leading the way in terms of booking the best up-and-coming NME-hyped bands coming through Manchester, but the Star and Garter is carving a little niche of its own that allows it to get along just fine.
Indie nights here are amongst the best in the city. This is because the building itself feels quasi-listed and so provides a unique alternative to the usual box-like attics and cellars. Also, the playlists extend beyond the 42nd Street standards - you'll actually get stuff that was released a) within the last twelve months and b) did not feature in the NME! Music which is often described as "cool" and "hip" - whatever's cool and hip at the moment, then - last time I was there it was Foals - it's been a while.
They also host gigs, though most will probably best remember the place for the Smiths disco which takes place from time to time. Then, and only then, does it feel as though Morrissey and Marr represent the Mancunian equivalent of Lennon and McCartney - that is, required listening for all natives and adopted-natives. It feels special.
I just love the feel of the place. The downstairs bar area feels virtually unchanged from the days of the building's heyday. There is, however, the option to sit on barrels. Up those stairs, though, the walls are painted dark and the lights are bright and colourful - stairway to hedonism, indeed.
The Star and Garter is well kept in a quite secluded, perhaps dodgier end of town near Piccadilly station. There's nothing wrong with that though, as The Star and Garter proves. People still come flocking despite it's dubious location.
A grade two listed building, it's quite a beauty on the outside and one on the inside. Pub downstairs, club upstairs, Smiths disco once a month, Smile every Saturday, the Star and Garter amazes. What's more, it's welll cheap. Indie disco heaven. Love the Star and Garter, need to frequent soon.
Every city needs its own scummy danceteria - and the young people of Manchester have been having fantastic nights out at The Star and Garter for too many years to count now.
Yes, the dancefloor may be so grimy that only a fool would wear a new pair of shoes on a night out there, and the toilets are indeed a sight to behold (mainly because there's always one sink in there that someone has vomited in), but if you're looking for fun (and more importantly) cheap entertainment of a weekend, I could think of no better place.
The stand out night is definitely the legendary "Smile" which has been held every Saturday night for the past twenty years or so now. Whilst the clientele may have changed over the years, the playlist certainly hasn't - and there's been many a night when I've turned up there to find a Morrissey lookalike humping one of the speaker stacks in the corner.
And if that wasn't enough to wet your appetite for the place - they also serve mind bendingly large measures of spirits for the low low price of £2.50 - meaning that you can often get pissed there for the price of a tenner. Recession friendly entertainment, who could ask for anything more?
Excellent venue away from the usual touristy haunts and popular with students and arty crowd. The friday night 'Smiths' disco and Saturday long-timer 'Smile' are always packed and a great place to dance away the evening with a great mix of indie and alternative tunes.
Drinks are a lot better priced than most of the clubs in town and the atmosphere is relaxed and friendly.
The Star and Garter is a superb no-frills venue. It's a large converted house that just plays great music, serves reasonably priced drinks and has a fantastic atmosphere. Everyone that attends seems to be content with dancing the night away and enjoying themselves.
Situated a little out of town near Piccadilly Station it's about a £3 taxi ride from the Northern Quarter. There are two main floors. Downstairs is more of a place to relax, with a circular bar and a pool table. The DJ's play upstairs in the larger room where there is a smaller bar.
Fridays tend to alternate between club nights such as The Morrissey Smiths Disco, Keys Money Lipstick and Shake it, Shake it. Every Saturday is a club night called Smile that seems to be a popular choice as it is always packed and can often be difficult to get in round about Midnight.
Although each night has a different name/theme, the crowd and music is generally the same genres consisting of indie/electro/pop/alternative.
Every time I've been to the Star and Garter, whether it was a Friday or Saturday, I've always had a great night. All the staff that work there are friendly and all the people that attend just want to have a good time! With great music and cheap-ish booze, it is an excellent night out!
The Star and Garter is delightfully cheap and wonderfully grimy. The lower floor is a traditional pub setting (and cloakroom) and the upper floor is a large room, not disimilar to that of a church hall or primary school, where club nights and gigs are held. Smile is the most legendary of all and a queue can often be found snaking out of the door on a Satuday night. Get there early to avoid disappointment.
The clientele are a mixed bunch. Students, ageing Morrissey-a-likes, girls in entirely 80s attire and a whole wealth of others can be found sweating the night away and dancing on the benches to a wide-ranging selection of music. Heaven 17, Fischerspooner, Morrissey (obv)... anything goes at Smile.
Quite simply the Star and Garter is a Manchester institution and, hopefully, one that won't ever change.
The Star and Garter is something of an institution in Manchester. That means it'll invariably close down in the coming years leaving hoardes of Smiths fans weeping into their weak tea and wondering what they'd ever done to deserve such a thing.
The irony is, that the most horrendous thing anyone ever did to another human is to subject them to the lavatories in there.
Honestly. Once I found Chris Packham writing a book about the animals he'd found scurrying around the toilet bowls.
However, there's a certain brand of indie fan who loves a dive like this. It's not inhuman as such, but rather, lived in and you don't mind strolling in with beat-up trainers on.
There the perennially popular 'Smile' night on at 'The Star' and the absolutely unforgivable 'Smiths Disco' which should've been rounded up and shot years ago.
There is also beer to be swilled.
Friday nights alternates and includes "The Morrissey Smiths Disco," and Saturday nights is the "Smile" which has built up a super-strong following with those in-the-know cool cats and bottom-shakers of Manchester, playing what I am lazily going to describe as "obscure, danceable indie" mainly because I had no idea what it was at the time.
Mid-week has various bands / nights so best to check the website.
Not open during the daytime.
Can be a very student muso sort of crowd, although not unfriendly, I have danced several weeks over not recognising one song but on the whole a good selection often based on requests.
Drinks are very cheap especially double spirits, plenty of dancing upstairs with a dj and dance floor, with a more tradional pub feel downstairs.
Get there super-early, there is no admittance after 12.30am or once capacity is filled which is guaranteed every Saturday, most definitely not a venue where over-filling beyond capacity is the done thing and much appreciated for those inside... or a pain in the arse if you miss the boat.
I've only ever been here once and i found it to be a really nice and friendly place. I wa there to see The Construct support Ufomammut last year and im hoping a few more bands i like play there 'cause i really wanna go back....maybe i will just for a piss up : )
The building looks like its going to fall down but that's parts of the fun here, Everyone that attends seems to be content with dancing the night away and enjoying themselves. Situated near Piccadilly Station, you can get a £3 taxi ride from the Northern Quarter. There are two main floors to this venue. Downstairs is very chilled, with a large round bar and pool table. The DJ's play upstairs, the space is larger but the bar is smaller. Each night has a different theme, the crowd and music is generally the same genres consisting of indie/electro/pop/alternative.
It's so punk rock. basic venue, great bands play here every week, close to Manchester Piccadilly train station, close to red light district.
This is the venue which inspired the Great DJ song by Indie Pop Boppers Ting Tings. Great venue, great music, great people!
The Star and Garter is a venue where once you know of it and have tried it out you simultaneously want to tell everyone you know about it whilst also keeping it as much of a secret as possible. Yes, The Star and Garter is probably not the most well known or acclaimed venues in Manchester but the fact that it operates on a in-the-know basis works in its favour. If you happen to be in-the-know of course. Drinks are priced fairly evenly and you won't find any trouble there. However, the slight imbalance towards student numbers may be a little off putting to some.
Its the picadilly princess of clubs in manchester. The building looks like its going to fall down but thats parts of the fun. Great music, live bands and cheapish drinks
If you like your pubs both dive-y and historically significant, this is one for you. A listed building which was moved to make way for Piccadilly Station extensions, the Star & Garter has been host to the less-mainstream (yes, really) side of indie and alternative music in Manchester for the last 20 years or more. Two of the longest running nights here, Smile and The Morrissey/Smiths Disco are very much Manchester institutions. The place always has something interesting happening on a Friday and Saturday is host to the resident night Smile. By 2am the dancefloor will typically be so full you'll struggle to find a space on it. The place might be a little dark and dingy, but that somehow adds to the experience, and when you wake up in the morning trying to remember how you got home and wondering where that small animal in your skull came from, you'll rue the £2.50ness of the house doubles. But, in the end, you'll still go back the next week.
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