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  • Ginny Koppenhol

Café Mambo Classics - Albert Hall, Manchester

Updated: May 2, 2022

I mean yep, I could just enjoy a good rave up when I get the chance, but why not also set myself a photography challenge while I'm partying?

This wasn't a paid photography gig. If it was, I would have certainly brought more than just my smartphone, but I love a chance to practise in low light situations and the Albert Hall is a bloody gorgeous space in which to do just that!

I'd never been to this Grade II listed building, and former Wesleyan chapel, before.

My bestie Sue chose the Café Mambo Classics night for her birthday celebrations, with Roger Sanchez and Todd Terry bringing their best balearic beats. (When I say 'balaeric beats', I'm referring to the tunes that have become synonymous with this iconic Sunset Strip bar in more recent years, often commercially successful house music from around the world, rather than the distinctly more eclectic and often chilled style, created and played by the likes of José Padilla, Alfredo and John Sa Trinxa. The music geek in me just wanted to clarify that.).

I was expecting an opulant venue (I was probably thinking 'Royal Albert Hall'). I was even thinking it might be light in there. But I was pleasantly surprised to find a) that it was dark b) it felt like a nightclub c) it was super easy to get served at the little bar upstairs. Admittedly it's a nightclub with amazing baroque and gothic features such as the incredible arched windows and glass roof panels.

I decided to see how many different shots I could get from my position in the gallery, and using my phone. My zoom was pushed to its max on occasions. Here are a few of them.

I realised afterwards that the DJ was absent for this image, but at least the lighting was on my side.

A lucky shot when stuff aligns compositionally.

Waving at Roger.

To be fair, we couldn't actually see much of Mr Sanchez but it definitely looked like his silhouette.

Gotta get the pyrotechnics.

Todd Terry.

My thighs got a mega workout trying to dance / balance in heels on the gallery steps, but it was a superb night surrounded by lovely people (although one bloke stood in front of us the whole night, not dancing. Not even a bit?! Obviously not his thing).

I think that someone once said that nightclubs were becoming the new places of worship - a weekly congregation of thousands, idolising the DJ, the beats, the hedonsim. I couldn't find the source online so maybe it was an old RE teacher of mine. Or maybe I am thinking of the Faithless track 'God is a DJ'. Anyway, I'm not sure that whoever did say it, meant it so literally though. The above image isn't the best, but reveals some of the building's former life as a chapel - and the fact that most people made appropriate footwear choices.

That's another Manchester venue ticked off my clubbing bucket list and I look forward to returning.

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