Sacha Lord: the Warehouse Project founder and Manchester’s Night Time Economy Adviser on the future of the city’s club scene

As The Warehouse Project closes its doors on its Store Street venue, Lord is acting as an advisor to "the suits"

The Warehouse Project has been attracting ravers to England’s clubbing capital for over 12 years; 10 of those years were spent in the iconic Store Street venue which has welcomed the likes of New Order and The Chemical Brothers to its subterranean music mecca. But when the time is right, you have to move on, as Sacha Lord, Manchester’s Night-Time Economy Adviser and founder of Warehouse Project and Parklife, told NME.

“We’ve announced it’s our last year at Store Street and a lot of people have incorrectly presumed it’s because we have to move out – we don’t,” he says. “Every year we try to better it and have found that this year we can’t get it any better than what it has been.”

The Warehouse Project started when Sacha and co-founder Sam Kendall left Sankey’s Soap, another nightclub in Manchester, to create their own club. The pair occupied a disused brewery next to Strangeways prison and in 2006 attracted 100,000 ravers in their first year. “Nobody thought it would work but it did and that was the birth of the Warehouse Project. There was no business plan, we thought it would be one season and that was it but because of the success we carried on.”

“There’s a formula to the success of Warehouse” explained Sacha. “There’s all the different genres and then there’s spinoffs for those who like different types of house and then we have the retro crowd who like the old Hacienda style stuff.”

Unlike typical club nights, Warehouse Project runs a payment plan for customers who wish to pay off their ticket to the club night in instalments. “I despise touts,” says Lord. “They’re leaches and they thrive off people who can’t afford a ticket straight away or before pay day so they can’t grab one. The people who didn’t have money in the first place are being penalised with more expensive. We put payment plans in place to protect those people and make it more affordable. I wouldn’t say it’s future of clubbing but it helps people a lot.”

Over half of Warehouse Projects events for the 12 weeks have sold out, which just goes to show that Manchester’s music scene isn’t just hospitable to indie music.

“Running parallel to Madchester was the most famous club in the World, The Hacienda. Mike Pickering (a DJ at the night club) wanted to play house music at the same time ecstasy arrived and this mental thing happened. House music has aways been here. “

Being the founder of the biggest metropolitan festival in the UK, Sacha Lord has made sure that house music stays in Manchester. Parklife attracts 80,000 visitors to Heaton Park during the weekend festival that praises the sounds of house, techno, indie and everything inbetween. “Techno music and other genres at festivals are getting stronger, five years ago who would have thought grime would be a big seller at festivals? You have to grow and adapt to different sounds and some festival organisers are too stuck in their ways and if you are stuck in your ways you’re just going to sink.”

Being a festival founder, Sacha has acknowledged the importance of back of house drug testing at festivals which involves confiscated drugs being tested at the festival, allowing alerts to be put out during the festival warning attenders of what the drugs actually are.

“At Parklife this year a girl was really ill and she was in hospital, we managed to get one of the tablets from a batch that this girl’s friend had to the back of house and it was tested and told the doctors what was inside her and it saved her life. There’s no negative to back of house drug testing.”

Sacha’s knowledge of night life in Manchester reflects on over 25 years in the business which sees him fit for his newly appointed role as Night-Time Economy Adviser for the city.

“Night-time economy is the fifth biggest industry in the UK and employs just under 10 percent of UK workforce,” he says. “The suits don’t regard the night time economy as important but when it employs that many people and it’s such a big industry, it’s vital.”

“Some cities in the UK suppress night-time economy but you look at [famous club] Berghain in Berlin and it’s been given cultural recognition [by the city].”

Lord also praised London’s authorities for allowing 24-hour club, FOLD, to open. The club, which is set to open on August 18, will honour electronic music above a print factory on an industrial estate in East London. “I think it’s amazing, London has had bad press over the past two weeks, so it’s good that the authorities have recognised that a 24 hour club would be a good thing. Night-Time Advisers should fight to save night life. You need venues that are up and coming because that’s where the new generation is beginning, everybody starts off somewhere.”

As for his own city, Lord is keen to not been seen as prioritising the city centre. “I’m spending my time going round the ten boroughs of Manchester, meeting with operators and the councillors and finding out what works for them and what doesn’t and what they want to see happen,” he says. “When you’re talking about going on a night out, don’t always think of the city centre. You should think about supporting your local area too.”

Warehouse Project opens for it’s final 12 weeks at Store Street on September 22 and closes on January 1. “God knows what the last track will be,” says Lord. “If I had it my way it would be The Smiths or David Bowie but I very much doubt it will be that!”