The Proto Northern Quarter

Eastern Bloc, Dry 201, & Afflecks Palace

Eastern Bloc

“Well Eastern Bloc started as a stall in Affleck’s Palace and they were a very anarchistic bunch from Bolton. I think if you talked to all the record shops in Manchester there was a huge rivalry going on that energised it all. Eastern Bloc were arch rivals with Spin Inn, arch rivals with Piccadilly Records. There was a classic Eastern Bloc story when one of the Smiths albums came out. They went and superglued Piccadilly Records’ doors together. It coincided with a Smiths convention in Manchester and somebody was sent out to superglue their doors. They’d ordered about twice the stock in.” Graham Massey

“They did it when the Roses’ “Sally Cinnamon” came out as well. Don’t forget there were people involved in Eastern Bloc who were borderline psychopathic. They should have been on the Burmese border in the 50’s and 60’s them lot.” Darren Partington

“They were from quite an anarchistic background. Eastern Bloc wasn’t an unfriendly place though, in spite of all the madness.” Graham Massey

“Hostile maybe.” Darren Partington

“Eastern Bloc had attitude, a very Mancunian attitude but Spin Inn also had it in spades. You could be shamed out of Spin Inn for not knowing your onions. I never used to shop in Spin Inn because it felt intimidating and I’m sure a lot of people used to feel the same way about Eastern Bloc.” Graham Massey

“Eastern Bloc was a very important shop. If you were “in” there, you got the hot records and if you weren’t, you kind of got scoffed at. It was a bit like that. Some of the characters in there though. Justin Robertson was working there at the time, Nick Grayson, Mike E Bloc, Moonboots famously laughing at people asking for records that they had no chance of getting. I think that was part of the shop’s mystique, some people daren’t go in there. It was one of those places where you could lose all your street cred by asking for the wrong record.” Kelvin Andrews

“Eastern Bloc was a massive eye opener for us, we bought amazing records from there from Moonboots and everyone. Then we just became friends with a lot of people and then when Most Excellent came along we felt very much a part of that and we were just hearing good music all the time.” Tom, The Chemical Brothers

“Eastern Bloc did become the place, mainly cos it was the best record shop in town. It was the only one that had the right attitude, the only one that wasn’t sneering at you for not liking indie. Eastern Bloc was quieter at the time because it wasn’t cool to a lot of people and you could spend the time in there and you could play what you want. They also held a huge back catalogue and you could pick out stuff. That’s where I found that bootleg The Virgo Mechanically Replayed, Siedah Garrett “Kissing” and SLY “I Need A Freak” which all went on to become huge Hot tunes. I wouldn’t have found them otherwise but they had a policy of keeping things in stock. With Dry Bar it just became the perfect circuit for any DJ. Bar, Record Shop, taxi rank, there you go, life is sweet.” Jon Dasilva

“Eastern Bloc was really my place. I did a little bit at Manchester Underground but I had a closer relationship with the guys at Eastern Bloc. I actually had a credit card ripped up in front of me once in Manchester Underground and it sort of put me off from ever going back there again. I used to be a right pest at Eastern Bloc, if there was a certain record I was after I would go in there every single fucking day and I’d pester them until I could get hold of it. Things would come into Eastern Bloc in very limited quantities, like test pressings, there would be only ten copies and they wouldn’t be pressing them up for another three months.” Sasha

Dry 201 – The Factory Records / Hacienda Owned Bar

“The catalyst for the Northern Quarter was Dry, there was nothing else there before there. With Dry, Rob decided that we weren’t able to drink enough at the club so we needed somewhere with a bit more sociable hours so we opened somewhere where we could drink all day. Stupid, why did we open a fucking bar when we couldn’t make a club work. They seemed to think that they could make a bar work cos it was open longer hours, it was the most ridiculous concept. At least the Hacienda made a profit at one point, Dry as an entity never made a profit. Dry never made any money whatsoever. I think it made a hundred pounds profit one week and we all nearly fell off our chairs.” Peter Hook

“During the summer of 88, until Dry was built there wasn’t really a focus point for the scene. The whole scene became galvanised with the opening of Dry Bar the following year Dry made a huge difference, giving Manchester a sense of identity, having such a well designed, beautiful hang out.” Jon Dasilva

“Y’know what. I was never a fan of Dry. I never saw the point of opening a bar on the other side of town to the club. It didn’t click with me, I never saw the point. If they’d done it over by the arches which I think was the original idea. It was the beginning of that fucking awful bar culture.” Mike Pickering

Afflecks Palace

“I think that maybe the fashion thing in London was slightly earlier where from 88 onwards you could see Smiley T-shirts on Kensington Street Market but Leo Stanley who had Identity, On The Eighth Day… was the one who really jumped on the fashion bandwagon, the street clothes which then in turn drove Afflecks, people going in there.” Gary McLarnan

“Yeah the Oldham Street scene was definitely the catalyst for what became the Northern Quarter. I remember Leo at Identity, that was the big place, that was the place cos that drove the whole fashion for The Hacienda. Y’know on the seventh day, on the eight day god created Manchester. Jesus had long hair, Manchester, all that kind of stuff. It was very much a big part of the scene. “ Mike Pickering

“Musically, I think that’s where it propagates. People were going into Afflecks, hanging out in the hairdressers, hearing about all these parties, all of which tended to be more illegal than the last.” Gary McLarnan

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