The alternative Manchester freshers guide

For many, freshers is code for forgotten nights of blackout boozing, followed by ill thought out takeaways – inevitably chucked up behind a Fallowfield bin – leaving that bitter taste of regret and poor life choices the morning after

For many, freshers is code for forgotten nights of blackout boozing, followed by ill thought out takeaways – inevitably chucked up behind a Fallowfield bin – leaving that bitter taste of regret and poor life choices the morning after.

If this isn’t your cup of tea (or pint of vodka), or you’d rather spend your time sampling more of a cultural cocktail check out TUP’s recommendations for making the most of your September in Manchester, the cultural melting pot of the north.

Music

Manchester is world-renowned for its vibrant and eclectic music scene, with an impressive hall of fame boasting the likes of Joy Division, The Smiths and The Stone Roses. However, if your tight student budget is forcing you into tricky moral dilemmas between course books and pub sessions, catching the latest big name might not be within your reach, however rest assured Fallowfield has much to offer and is right on your doorstep.

Fallow Café is known for serving up some truly delectable music treats (as well as an outstanding, hangover-curing breakfast) Make sure you don’t miss Crushed Beaks on September 17 from 8pm. For only £5, feast your ears on this noise-pop London trio as they blend horror film-inspired sounds with energetic and bouncy melodies. The band will be joined by special guests including Oxford’s Beta Blocker and the Body Clock, playing lo-fi Indie noise-pop such as their latest tracks Sweet Home Hysteria and Medieval Rope. Miss this at your peril.

Another one of Manchester’s coolest venues is situated just minutes away from university, hosting some of the best parties the city has to offer. Get on your dancing shoes for Friday, September 25 as Trof and The Skinny take over the Deaf Institute from 7-10.30pm with a special secret headliner, not to be announced until a few weeks before the show. If this isn’t tempting enough, support will be provided from Fruit Bomb, Leeds’ band Weirds and Manchester-based grunge-infused pop band, False Advertising. What’s more, tickets are only £3… it would be rude not to.

Film

Manchester is the perfect place for film fanatics and movie moguls, with a variety of showcases from small independents to this season’s biggest and best blockbusters. Whether you’re a raging Guillermo del Toro fan or keep it classic with Hitchcock and Tarantino, Manchester has more than enough on offer to satiate even the most voracious voyeur’s appetite.

One screening that must definitely be penned into your diaries is Hercules Production’s Chasing Dreams on Saturday, September 19, starting at 7pm at Contact Theatre. Contact, offering student-friendly prices (as well as the best veggie café in town), is just a stone’s throw away from your students’ union and supports many independent productions, catering for a wide range of tastes. Chasing Dreams in particular is essential viewing for anyone who claims they know Manchester, immerse yourselves in the city’s abundant heritage, focusing on oral histories collected in Hulme and Moss Side. It’s a free event so there are no excuses… who knows, you might even learn something.

Or, if you fancy something based further afield, you may want to check out HOME’s screening of A Syrian Love Story, directed by Sean McAllister. The recently opened HOME combines The Corner House and Library Theatre, creating Manchester’s new, and very exciting, central cultural hub, boasting a cinema, theatre, art gallery, restaurant and bar. Here Manchester’s trendiest residents hang out, sipping on ice-cold glasses of pure culture. A Syrian Love Story, which will be screened on Tuesday,September 22, follows the romantic trials of Amer and Raghda, who meet in prison and attempt to start a family only to be repeatedly torn apart by Assad’s aggressive regime. The screening will be followed by a Q&A session with McAllister, making it both an emotional and educational evening well worth your time.

Theatre

The Royal Exchange has a legendary reputation for putting on classic works with new and inventive staging. Whether its Shakespeare, Webster, Ayckbourn or Bennett, The Royal Exchange is sure to deliver an evening of tasty theatrical treats to rival any major theatre the world over. The theatre’s Autumn Season kicks off with a hotly anticipated production of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, from Friday, September 18 to Saturday, October 24, including Thursday and Saturday matinees. The play is truly a classic, exploring the personal price of cruelty, oppression and revenge, woven round a tale of witchcraft and religion. To explore this further, the theatre is holding a Between the Lines workshop from 11am until 1pm on Wednesday, October 7 for those of you who want to delve further into the layers and depth of Miller’s writing. Despite not being so easy on the wallet, this is a night sure not to disappoint.

If you wish to stretch your cultural reach into Manchester’s independent theatre scene, I would recommend Three Minute Theatre, based in the edgy Northern Quarter’s Afflecks Arcade, the home of indie fashion and shrine of hipsterdom. In their unique and intimate theatre space, the company is staging Chris Leicester’s Hurricane Hill on Friday 25th September at 7:30pm, telling the story of Paul Glover and his experiences serving in Afghanistan. It’s for one night only, so be sure to keep the date free.

Art

Whether you enjoy wandering around galleries or simply appreciate a free day out, The Whitworth Gallery is your one-stop destination to more than satisfy your artistic appetite. Bedwyr Williams’ exploration of amateur astrology and hobby culture is exhibited through sculpture from Saturday, August 8 until Sunday, January 10. The installation, named Starry Night after a translation of the title of Galileo’s 1610 text Sidereus Nuncius, uses light and sound to immerse its audience in space exploration, reconnecting a world lost to Saturday night trash TV and mundane office jobs with the joys of losing yourself in the night sky. Take a break from the bustle of Oxford Road and intense keyboard bashing of the library and revive yourself with a spot of art-gazing.

Cornelia Parker’s exhibition at the Whitworth, Magna Carta (An Embroidery), offers something a little more political: an embroidered replica of the entire Wikipedia article on Magna Carta on the document’s 799th anniversary. The piece was a mammoth joint effort, hand stitched by a diverse range of contributors, from long-term prisoners to barons, human rights activists, lawyers and MPs, even Jarvis Cocker lent a hand, stitching the words ‘common people’. The collective effort is incredibly moving, reemphasising the modern day importance and influence of the text.

Spoken Word

Oxford Road is flowing with the rhythm and rhyme of fantastic spoken word artists, making sense of modern life through metaphor and the art of poetic verse.

As part of the Wellcome Collection’s Sexology Season, Contact Theatre is hosting a poetry performance, Sex in the Afternoon, with live readings from inaugural Royal Shakespeare Company Poet in residence Malika Booker, Rachel Mars and Yusra Warsama, followed by a Q&A with sexology researcher Dr Jana Funke on Wednesday, September 23 at 8pm. The beauty and controversies of sex are celebrated and examined through the art of writing, ultimately getting to the core of what makes us sexual beings. Booker, Mars and Miller are all at the forefront of new writing, more than worth the £6 a student ticket would set you back.

If this literary delight leaves you hungry for more, why not check out Fallow Café’s free regular open mic night of prose and poetry? Verbose runs from 7.30pm on every fourth Monday of the month, hosting guest performances from professional authors, as well as an open stage for local talent. You might catch the next hot young thing on Manchester’s ever-growing writing scene.

Whatever you get up to during freshers, whether you hit the clubs, the cinemas or the art galleries, make sure to get all that you want out of one of Britain’s most exciting cities and universities.

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