Sankeys Soap opened its doors in June 1994 to humble beginnings in Beehive Mill on Jersey Street, a Victorian Mill responsible for kicking off the industrial revolution. It was the brainchild of Andy Spiro and Rupert Campell, who quite freely admit – it was a crazy idea.
However, they cite their naivety as the driving force behind the project taking shape. Lets face it, they were trying to open a club / live music venue in the heart of the most rundown area in Manchester. There were no random punters wandering past stumbling in on the off chance.
Sankeys was well off the beaten track. After nearly going bankrupt just 6 months after opening, things started to take shape, BuggedOut! was born, and became the regular Friday night. Golden was every Saturday, but one particular weekend stood out as the real turning point. Carl Cox came and spent the weekend at Sankeys Soap.
The club was sold out the whole weekend, and the big man rocked the joint. Everyone started talking. During this first golden period at the club it not only saw debut performances from the likes of Daft Punk and The Chemical Brothers, but also live shows from luminaries such as Bjork, Gill Scott Heron, Jurassic 5 and Moby.
It seems that Sankeys Soap had struck gold – during the week Sankeys Soap became all about showcasing awesome talent, and with the weekend providing the ultimate hedonists party.
Things were looking good. However dance music’s much publicised problems was steadily creeping out of control and clubs felt it through dwindling numbers. In 1998 Sankeys Soap closed and customers and authorities alike assumed that it was the way it was going to stay.
Between 1998 and 2000 several people tried to re-open Sankeys Soap, but to no avail. The Manchester authorities saw no sense in opening a relic of the ‘old Manchester’ that they had worked so hard to finally stamp out.
In 2000, David Vincent came along with his business partner to try and re-kindle the Sankeys magic. David had masterminded huge events in the UK including events at the MEN, London Arena and promoted previously at World renowned clubs like the Hacienda, Pacha (Ibiza) and Ministry of Sound (London) and of course Sankeys Soap. Their proposal was granted and in September 2000 they re-opened Sankeys Soap with the slogan – ‘Don’t worry we’ve found the keys’.
Sankeys Soap took some months to find its feet again, but everyone was determined to make it the hallowed turf that it had been once before. Tribal Sessions, the new Friday night slowly created a whole new scene in the city. The dance scene had been rather neglected since the big clubs had closed, and there was a whole generation of music lovers gagging to get involved.
By Easter 2001, the music policy was encompassing the best of everything. That April saw Tribal Sessions announce some very special lines ups. Laurent Garnier, Frankie Knuckles and Richie Hawtin were all going to be there…. Sankeys Soap was back. Exactly a year later Sankeys Soap started promoting Saturdays too and The Redlight was born.
In 2001, David Vincent decided to bring back his ace in the hole – Tribal Gathering. Another name that many thought had been in the history books. Slowly through the weekly Tribal Sessions, the community at the club was growing strong. The Sankeys Soap crowd were (and still are) the most passionate anywhere, and the Sankeys Soap team brought Tribal Gathering back with a huge thump.
First with a weekend in Southport and then with the most impressive party Manchester had ever seen. A massive warehouse party for 11,000 people in two colossal adjoining warehouses situated just 100 yards from Sankeys Soap. This was seen by many as the best UK event in over a decade, it won countless awards and won Event of the Year 2003, and the next year was heralded by Mixmag as the second best dance event of all time.
In 2004 Sankeys Soap celebrated its 10th Anniversary with 10 weeks of parties plus the release of their one and only ever Sankeys Soap compilation to celebrate the occasion. Greg Vickers and Krysko mixed this live at Sankeys Soap with the crowd applauding in the background. As you would expect tits too rough round the edges and the album is not a huge money making affair. Just a memento of 10 very special years. To top this off Sankeys Soap wins best UK Mixmag club, could it get any better.
In 2005, a rift between management causes David Vincent to leave Sankeys Soap. Rumours are rife around the city, as Vincent is forced to promote a show outside his beloved Sankeys Soap for the first time away for over 5 years.
With dwindling numbers and a dying club, David Vincent is asked by management to come back to help the club out, but it is too late. A deal is struck for David to take full control of Sankeys Soap. In May 2006 David announces Sankeys Soap will close once and for all.
Sankeys Soap is officially dead. Manchester mourns.
Later that summer David Vincent decides to open a new space in the Beehive Mill on Radium Street. The first thing he does is bring back original owner, founder and good friend Andrew Spiro to work alongside him. Greg Vickers is also asked to return to the club after being 24 months on the DJ circuit worldwide.
David drops the word soap and re-opens the space as Sankeys as they use the Soap to clean up the club. The space gets a completely stripped out and starts from scratch again.
The new Sankeys takes a whole new look taking inspiration from some of the best clubs around the world that he and Greg had worked at. Gone are the Mad Graham and the old Par Cans and toilets, and in come brand new LED lighting techniques, the Basement, a white inspired Boutique and a Peruvian inspired Terrace. Not to everyones liking we must add.
The only pieces that remain are the original bar and the legendary Phazon Sound System on the insistence of David Vincent that designers build the new club around these two striking features. This year the first ever DJ Mag Top Club Poll takes place – Sankeys Soap was officially number 38 at the time it closed.
In September 2006 a new Sankeys opens with the catchphrase ‘A New Beginning’ heralding a new era in the Sankey chapter. David installs an ideology that he wants the new Sankeys to be ‘The best club in the Universe, Failure is not an option’.
The ethos of the club has returned with their policy of breaking new talent and cutting edge sounds. Saturdays break DJs such as Laidback Luke, Steve Angello, Axwell, Seb Leger, Fedde Le Grande, Mark Knight, and D Ramirez. Tribal Sessions brings DJs to their decks such as Luciano, Bookashade, M.A.N.D.Y, Steve Bug, Thomas Schumacher and Trentemoller.
David Vincent and Andrew Spiro are officially national heritage and the only club ever to be recognised by a national museum, for being culturally significant to a UK city…..the collection was exhibited in 2006 + 2008 and the museum promises to exhibit parts of the collection donated by Sankeys to the musuem for future generations to read 200 years in advance of now. WOW. To see some of the collections, click here to hear David and Andrew’s Sankeys Soap / Manchester stories.
Danny Tenaglia plays the new Sankeys on its first birthday and announces on the microphone that the new Sankeys is like the WMC meets Studio 54, the ultimate compliment from the ultimate DJ. Sankeys also throws 2 parties internationally – in Pacha Ibiza and Pacha NYC.
2008 sees more changes at Sankeys – this time by way of the Boutique. It goes and instead, Spektrum emerges with its own alien language, lush cocktails designed by Socio Rehab, first Phazon Funktion one system and killer LED inspired by Berlin and New York clubs. DJ Mag Top Club Poll, number 17.
The club celebrates its 15th Anniversary in 2009 with 15 weeks of parties and 15 new changes to the club. This momentous milestone is a very proud moment for the club and David Vincent. He invites DJs such as Armin Van Burren, 2 Many DJs, Roger Sanchez amongst others to play – taking the club to the 15th dimension. They even build a beach with Habitat.
The Chemical Brothers return as well citing the new Sankeys as one of the 5 best gigs they have ever played. Simliar testimonies are recalled by a Carl Cox and a magical LIVE show from Laurent Garnier.
So this brings us to 2010, and what a year this shaped up to be. Sankeys wins DJ Mag Top 100 Club – NUMBER 1! No mean feat for this Manchester club in Ancoats.
Since discovering we had won, the Sankeys crew has been on a wild ride. There is not enough space to even begin writing what it means to those people who have been part of it… There are SO many memories!
David Vincent says, “Firstly we want to thank our fans for voting for us and supporting the club…… Thankyou, it means so much to us I cannot explain. We will added a few nice touches to improve the club further for everyone in 2010.”
“While things have progressed and the music continues to twist and turn things – Sankeys remains special because of its history. Its not all been plain sailing – for two of those fifteen years she lay dormant as a sleeping giant, but that’s all just part of the story. Sankeys won’t ever be a big corporate player, its too rough round the edges.”
So, Sankeys is Numero Uno! There is now a Sankeys template, which has taken 15 years to organically develop that we know works, so why not let other peoples around the world experience what we have in Manchester?
There are 6 cities around the world that have given us inspiration to make Sankeys what it is today. We are currently working on developing 6 future Sankeys clubs in these cities to give something back to what we have taken from then. It will be the 7 Sankeys of the World (when you include Manchester).
Where the other cities are going to be who knows……… it is just another twist in a long soap story………..watch this space.