One of the best nights out I had in Manchester was New Year's Eve in 1997. I was back from Germany for a few weeks and was kipping for a couple of nights on the sofa in the place that my ex-housemates were now sharing with my ex-girlfriend (we're still friendly so it wasn't a problem). There were quite a number of us staying there plus a few more staying elsewhere so there was getting on for twenty of us going out in all.
We started off the evening at the house, drinking and making merry before we went out for the night. We'd each paid a fiver, which doesn't seem like a lot now but back then we thought it a bit steep, to get into a pub called Hardy's Well in Rusholme. If you know South Manchester at all then you may well know Hardy's. It's on Wilmslow Road at the southern end of the Curry Mile and it has a huge poem covering almost the whole of one of the side walls. You can't miss it if you're heading up Wilmslow Road towards the university. When we got in there, the pool table was miraculously free and we commandeered it, and the surrounding area, for the night.
At about nine o'clock there were a couple of stand-up routines. The first was some guy from Key 103 and was largely unmemorable. The second, though, was the legendary Frank Sidebottom. Him of the giant papier-mache head and squeaky voice. Absolutely mad but absolutely brilliant.
The night moved on towards midnight and we were having a great time. The music (cheesy disco tunes) was just about right for the mood we were all in, the beer was flowing well and we had almost exclusive use of the pool table. After the bells had rung to signify the new year had begun and we'd sung the obligatory round of Auld Lang Syne, the music started right back up again with that all-time cheese classic, YMCA. Amazingly, we were pretty much the only people in the pub who knew the dance so we took it upon ourselves to teach everyone else. And we did, even if it meant having to repeat the track three times.
Eventually we were chucked out of the pub and made our way, drunk and happy back to the house to carry on until we passed out wherever we stood.
At another time, a night like that could quite easily have fallen quite flat but the combination of people, music, entertainment and alcohol that night was such that we all had a fantastic time and we still talk about it from time to time even now.