Where do we start to round up the wettest, wildest and loudest weekend Manchester has seen this year?
Well from the beginning is always a good place and last Friday marked the opening of Manchester Pride 2011 colliding impeccably with the official ‘We Love Manchester Day’.
The launch event was bitter sweet as patrons and committee members reflected on Director Jackie Crozier’s resignation and the recent riots that rocked the city and the country.
Each wearing an ‘I love (heart) Manchester’ t-shirt, they said in their own way why they were proud of Manchester and why the weekend was so significant.
DEDICATED: Ex-Chairman Drew Stokes underlines the importance of Pride this year following the riots
“This year feels more important than usual because after the recent disturbances that we felt across the city Manchester as ever has shown great resilience and tried very hard to paint our city with the love that it truly deserves,” said Ex-Chairman Drew Stokes.
A dedicated love of Manchester was definitely a key ingredient this weekend as only Mancunians1 could instigate 4 days of partying in what was basically autumnal weather.
Angie Brown did an excellent job of breaking in the main Gaydar stage as her booming voice filled The Village not forgetting her trademark bark.
The highlight for most on Friday though was everyone’s favourite air hostess, the unmissable, unforgettable and uncompromising Pam Ann.
The sharp tongued hostess was a perfect Pride appetiser and on Saturday led the essential Parade accompanied by fellow flight staff with her usual zest and charm.
Day two and the rain continued, sodden and dishevelled parade floats were very much on the cards until five minutes before when the sun appeared, gloriously ushering the parade from Castlefield to Canal Street.
The most celebrated aspect of Pride once gain brought three generations of revellers and onlookers together around the streets of Manchester.
Among them were Jeanette Bamber with five-year-old Corey and friend Lynsey Shelvey who have been visiting the parade for three years now.
“We’ve done this for years, it’s a party for the gay community but everyone’s invited. We love to cheer on and get involved,” said Jeanette.
EVERYONE INVITED: Jeanette Bamber with five-year-old Corey and friend Lynsey Shelvey
One group of paraders, Handbags and Harmonies, later entertained on the Village Square Stage with some great upbeat covers proving the over 30s can still rock.
The same group also won ‘Best Overall Entry’ for their pink umbrella wielding song and dance medley in the Saturday celebration.
Later on the volume of people swarming around The Village had definitely doubled and the buzz from the earlier frivolities was still going.
Relatively unknown act Lucy Spraggan provided a needed contrast to the chaos of Canal Street with her ‘Fop’ music (Folk and Pop), providing some beautifully original melodies.
As night hit, partiers descended on the Gaydar stage for a taste of Pixie Lott and her short shorts but half were turned away as the area quickly reached capacity.
Most were redirected to Sackville Gardens where MM reporters were already enjoying the creative sounds and lyrics of Cosmo Jarvis.
Pixie appeared on stage opening her set with a moving acoustic cover of Coldplay’s ‘Fix You’ to the echo of the watching crowds.
She said of Pride: “It’s an event where everyone can be themselves and just have fun and celebrate their individuality.”
The set was disappointingly short but sweet adding to the build-up of the exciting Sunday night extravaganza to follow.
Hair of the dog was the name of the game Sunday morning as the whole of Canal Street looked just a little hung over.
We took the chance to wander around the Lifestyle Expo area and chatted to many of the stalls that had set up in order to raise awareness of many things but mainly illness related charities.
The rain poured for another day and Hurricane Irene’s little sister, Maureen, made a brief appearance at one point in the afternoon but the show went on.
Pride revellers were still out in their masses resuming position along the canal with drink in one hand and over-priced burger in the other.
Despite the atrocious summer weather Gaydar Main Arena was packed with good time gals and boys ready for a third night of partying.
Rubika faced the storm head on with an enthusiastic performance producing a very edgy electro noise through funky beats and solid vocals.
Santiago Street Machine, a Manchester-based band on the up, arrived to a damp but defiant audience with a set which quickly got crowds bouncing again.
LOCAL TALENT: Santiago Street Machine rocked the main arena despite the rain
Once again, the amalgamation of strong electro beats combined with pop choruses or ‘pop sensibility’ as drummer, Chris, calls it.
Their set was just the right cure to get everyone buzzing again and ready for the big night ahead.
The beats could probably be felt in Salford and songs such as ‘Breaking Bones’ really hooked you in with a chart-worthy riffs and lyrics.
Patrick Wolf was the last to appear before star attractions Sugababes and Alexandra Burke and as ever he did not disappoint.
His unusual but fun humour matches his music perfectly as he blends classical music with both emotive and up-beat lyrics.
Sugababes came on stage with gusto and to great applause despite a recent absence from the pop scene and the loss of their rights to their group name.
Classics like ‘Red Dress’, ‘Push the Button’, ‘Get Sexy’ and ‘Girls’ were belted out from the three diminutive babes in sparkly short dresses.
Just like them the music was fun and up-beat and a fantastic prelude for Ms Burke’s entrance.
Alexandra strutted on stage in what looked like a skimpy swim suit and some scantily clad male dancers to her famous ‘Broken Heels’.
The crowd by this point was in full swing and with no dance moves spared.
The popstress also sang Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’, the X-Factor song which pushed her to the top of the charts, to swaying lighters and hands.
Finally, the night ended on an exuberant rendition of ‘Bad Boys’ to a sea of applause and some very happy pride-goers.
After the drunken shenanigans of many of the party goers on Sunday night it was a surprise to see anybody in The Village on Monday.
The rain continued to pour and it started to feel more like October than August but the party goers continued to file into the main arena for the final day of fun filled madness.
Rowetta wowed the audience with her rainbow feathered costume dramatically opening her set with Shirley Bassey’s version of Get the Party Started.
FESTIVAL FAVOURITE: Rowetta rocks in her rainbow dress
The Manchester born singer was on stage for twenty minutes and continually declared her love for the city throughout her set.
She brought her mum on for a dance to her final song Manchester Rain which she dedicated to Jackie Crozier, who is stepping down as festival director.
Toyah Willcox made an impact entering the stage in a black Aztec-like dress and a bright pink sideways Mohawk, but none the less attracted a group of hardcore fans.
4 Poofs & Piano were their usual hilariously naughty selves with an equally cheeky deaf interpreter to boot.
Original songs like, do you take it up the arse and football’s coming out were big hits with the Pride crowd.
Blue took to the stage to end the festivities on the main stage and bring the 21st Manchester Pride to a close.
They performed a string of their best known hits and had the whole crowd singing and swaying along and an apt chorus of One Love ended their set.
The Candlelit Vigil was a poignant end to our hectic weekend and brought a tear to many an eye in Sackville Gardens whilst they remembered those they had lost.
On the train home it was a time for reflection not only on the Vigil in the gardens but what had been a very wet, tiring but most definitely eventful and fun filled weekend.
More related stories: