After the sad news of Sankeys Manchester closing, we remember its infamous disco bus



Since the sad news broke that Manchester nightlife mainstay Sankeys is soon to shut its doors for the final time, the latest victim of luxury property development, every former student raver has been sharing their memories on social media of messy Manc nights in the notorious sweatbox.

But while the club itself was undoubtedly the shiny neon heart of Manchester, this wasn’t what set the venue apart from its competitors. See, as any X Factor contestant or Uber driver can tell you, sometimes it’s the journey that’s more important than the destination. I’m talking, of course, about the Sankeys disco bus.

Yes, Sankeys was the only club in the North of England (and maybe the world?) to boast its very own bespoke mode of transport; a spray-painted double decker complete with tinted windows, a dance floor, stripper pole, flashy lights, blaring speakers and, if my drunken memory serves me correctly, a smoke machine. In short, this ride had been well and truly pimped.

That combination of features should have proved disastrous or, at the very least, a magnet for stag party wankers, pub golfers with very low handicaps and rugby socials daring each other to drink piss out of a shoe. And yet, somehow, the arseholes stayed away and the bus belonged to the dance heads only; our personalised taxi service into the night.

To the students of Fallowfield, another area of town suddenly suffering a dance floor drought, the bus seemed impossibly glamorous, rolling up next to Pizza Champion, a gloriously gaudy chariot ready to whisk away any budding Cinderella on a budget to the ball happening on the opposite side of town.

Until Fresher’s Week, we had all presumed private buses were the kind of exclusive luxury only available to football teams and the Vengaboys. But now, we could spice up any random Wednesday night, defy all common sense and strap ourselves in for a wild ride so bumpy it made Harry Potter’s Knight Bus feel like a pedalo trip with an old age pensioner.

And I say “strap in”, but seat belts were few and far between. It’s a miracle the owners never had to pay injury costs or appear on Judge Rinder.

Thanks to the painstakingly blacked out windows, you would be dropped off at the other end of your journey with little to no clue as to how you got there. But, hey, getting home was a problem for the future, much more intoxicated version of you to figure out.

Once you’d heard the DJ blast out that first disco siren, you’d long forgotten about the multipack of bruises running up your leg from when you fell as you turned onto Deansgate and got told off for distracting the driver.

That was the beauty of Sankeys – whether you were hazily blinded by the lights in the Spektrum room, indulging in some al fresco patio dancing or impaling yourself on a stripper pole that had been installed inside a bus for some reason, it had an ability to make you feel like you had left Manchester for a far off, exotic, colourful party land. Many clubs will try to fill the void left in its wake. They will all undoubtedly fail.


RIP Sankeys and your beautiful disco bus – one day, may you ride again!


While Sankeys Manchester may be gone, all is not lost, visit Do You Wanna Sankeys, to vote for your town to become the next home for Sankeys.


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