The Star and Garter
18-20 Fairfield Street, Manchester, Greater Manchester M1 2QF
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Only open for gigs or club nights. Not open during the day.
Friday/Saturday from 9pm
Sunday-Thursday from 7pm
13 reviews of The Star and Garter in English
The Star and Garter is is fully independent of brewery or private company investment. It’s located in an area of Manchester City Centre which the local council likes to pretend doesn’t exist, hence the lack of investment for 25 years in anything which is beyond the boundaries of Piccadilly Railway Station.
The toilets are basic, pub toilets in that they are clean and functional until people ruin them over the course of an evening, but that’s unwashed students for you – too used to Mummy cleaning up after them.
Smile and The Morrissey Smiths Disco have already been mentioned, so all I’ll say is that they are 18 and 17 years old respectively, which pretty much says it all.
An institution, a film location (Cracker, Band of Gold, Prime Suspect, The Body Farm and more), a dive, a hidden gem, Manchester’s best kept secret, it’s had it’s praise and it’s criticism. It’s also seen early, unsigned performances from The Courteeners, Low, At The Drive In, The Ting Tings, Badly Drawn Boy and Hurts as well as gigs to long established bands like Status Quo, Half Man Half Biscuit, UK Subs, Vice Squad, The Cockney Rejects and more.
Built in 1803, moved in 1849 (a century before they claimed to have “done it first” when they moved a building after the IRA bomb) and reopened in 1877 it, like most Victorian pubs, brewed it’s own beer. It’s been a hotel, a MOD training facility during WW2, an outpost for Royal Mail and British Rail workers and, finally, it’s never been a house that got converted into what it is today – Manchester’s only remaining truly independent venue.
The Star and Garter is something of an institution in Manchester. That means it'll invariably close down in the coming years leaving hoardes of Smiths fans weeping into their weak tea and wondering what they'd ever done to deserve such a thing.
The irony is, that the most horrendous thing anyone ever did to another human is to subject them to the lavatories in there.
Honestly. Once I found Chris Packham writing a book about the animals he'd found scurrying around the toilet bowls.
However, there's a certain brand of indie fan who loves a dive like this. It's not inhuman as such, but rather, lived in and you don't mind strolling in with beat-up trainers on.
There the perennially popular 'Smile' night on at 'The Star' and the absolutely unforgivable 'Smiths Disco' which should've been rounded up and shot years ago.
There is also beer to be swilled.
If you like your pubs both dive-y and historically significant, this is one for you. A listed building which was moved to make way for Piccadilly Station extensions, the Star & Garter has been host to the less-mainstream (yes, really) side of indie and alternative music in Manchester for the last 20 years or more. Two of the longest running nights here, Smile and The Morrissey/Smiths Disco are very much Manchester institutions. The place always has something interesting happening on a Friday and Saturday is host to the resident night Smile. By 2am the dancefloor will typically be so full you'll struggle to find a space on it. The place might be a little dark and dingy, but that somehow adds to the experience, and when you wake up in the morning trying to remember how you got home and wondering where that small animal in your skull came from, you'll rue the £2.50ness of the house doubles. But, in the end, you'll still go back the next week.
The Star and Garter is delightfully cheap and wonderfully grimy. The lower floor is a traditional pub setting (and cloakroom) and the upper floor is a large room, not disimilar to that of a church hall or primary school, where club nights and gigs are held. Smile is the most legendary of all and a queue can often be found snaking out of the door on a Satuday night. Get there early to avoid disappointment.
The clientele are a mixed bunch. Students, ageing Morrissey-a-likes, girls in entirely 80s attire and a whole wealth of others can be found sweating the night away and dancing on the benches to a wide-ranging selection of music. Heaven 17, Fischerspooner, Morrissey (obv)... anything goes at Smile.
Quite simply the Star and Garter is a Manchester institution and, hopefully, one that won't ever change.
Every city needs its own scummy danceteria - and the young people of Manchester have been having fantastic nights out at The Star and Garter for too many years to count now.
Yes, the dancefloor may be so grimy that only a fool would wear a new pair of shoes on a night out there, and the toilets are indeed a sight to behold (mainly because there's always one sink in there that someone has vomited in), but if you're looking for fun (and more importantly) cheap entertainment of a weekend, I could think of no better place.
The stand out night is definitely the legendary "Smile" which has been held every Saturday night for the past twenty years or so now. Whilst the clientele may have changed over the years, the playlist certainly hasn't - and there's been many a night when I've turned up there to find a Morrissey lookalike humping one of the speaker stacks in the corner.
And if that wasn't enough to wet your appetite for the place - they also serve mind bendingly large measures of spirits for the low low price of £2.50 - meaning that you can often get pissed there for the price of a tenner. Recession friendly entertainment, who could ask for anything more?
The Star and Garter is a superb no-frills venue. It’s a large converted house that just plays great music, serves reasonably priced drinks and has a fantastic atmosphere. Everyone that attends seems to be content with dancing the night away and enjoying themselves.
Situated a little out of town near Piccadilly Station it’s about a £3 taxi ride from the Northern Quarter. There are two main floors. Downstairs is more of a place to relax, with a circular bar and a pool table. The DJ’s play upstairs in the larger room where there is a smaller bar.
Fridays tend to alternate between club nights such as The Morrissey Smiths Disco, Keys Money Lipstick and Shake it, Shake it. Every Saturday is a club night called Smile that seems to be a popular choice as it is always packed and can often be difficult to get in round about Midnight.
Although each night has a different name/theme, the crowd and music is generally the same genres consisting of indie/electro/pop/alternative.
Every time I’ve been to the Star and Garter, whether it was a Friday or Saturday, I’ve always had a great night. All the staff that work there are friendly and all the people that attend just want to have a good time! With great music and cheap-ish booze, it is an excellent night out!
Excellent venue away from the usual touristy haunts and popular with students and arty crowd. The friday night 'Smiths’ disco and Saturday long-timer 'Smile’ are always packed and a great place to dance away the evening with a great mix of indie and alternative tunes.
Drinks are a lot better priced than most of the clubs in town and the atmosphere is relaxed and friendly.
The Star and Garter is a venue where once you know of it and have tried it out you simultaneously want to tell everyone you know about it whilst also keeping it as much of a secret as possible. Yes, The Star and Garter is probably not the most well known or acclaimed venues in Manchester but the fact that it operates on a in-the-know basis works in its favour. If you happen to be in-the-know of course. Drinks are priced fairly evenly and you won’t find any trouble there. However, the slight imbalance towards student numbers may be a little off putting to some.
Friday nights alternates and includes "The Morrissey Smiths Disco," and Saturday nights is the "Smile" which has built up a super-strong following with those in-the-know cool cats and bottom-shakers of Manchester, playing what I am lazily going to describe as "obscure, danceable indie" mainly because I had no idea what it was at the time.
Mid-week has various bands / nights so best to check the website.
Not open during the daytime.
Can be a very student muso sort of crowd, although not unfriendly, I have danced several weeks over not recognising one song but on the whole a good selection often based on requests.
Drinks are very cheap especially double spirits, plenty of dancing upstairs with a dj and dance floor, with a more tradional pub feel downstairs.
Get there super-early, there is no admittance after 12.30am or once capacity is filled which is guaranteed every Saturday, most definitely not a venue where over-filling beyond capacity is the done thing and much appreciated for those inside... or a pain in the arse if you miss the boat.
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