January 2016. Luke Unabomber is stood outside Hidden, a peripheral club space on a skanky industrial estate just outside Manchester city-centre. It is raining. It is cold. It is 10pm. The forbidding outline of nearby Strangeways prison dominates the night skyline. Luke, the creator of Homoelectric, one of the city’s longest-running and most subversive club events (“for homos, lesbos, heteros, don’t knows”) is panicking. Will anyone come? Is this off-grid location a step too far?
“That night,” says Luke, “literally the first person in was a drag queen from San Francisco and, it sounds trite but, immediately, I knew we’d found our home again. People came in droves: from 45 year-old transvestites from Blackburn to young gay kids who go to Berlin and love house and techno militantly. They never go to [Manchester’s] Gay Village. It means nothing to them. But in Homoelectric they’ve found a home. Every time the night moves we lose people, we pick new people up and it regenerates. But this felt as much our crowd as it ever did at the first Follies nights. It was bubbling.”