Sacha Lord Tales from the Dancefloor review: Nightlife supremo's new book is about as Manchester as it gets

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If Sacha Lord’s new book is turned into a movie - expect Guy Ritchie to get the gig.

You can’t talk about Manchester’s nightlife scene without mentioning Sacha Lord. As the founder of Warehouse Project and Parklife festival, he has been responsible for some of the biggest events the city has ever seen and now works alongside Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham to preserve the region’s reputation as a go-to destination for music, clubs and parties.

The story of how he got here is chronicled in his new memoir Tales from the Dancefloor, written in collaboration with music writer and journalist Luke Bainbridge and now a Sunday Times bestseller. It follows his trajectory from aimless sixth-former to Manchester’s leading promoter and vocal public figure, featuring a string of eye-opening anecdotes and famous name drops along the way. 

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Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) night-time economy advisor, Sacha LordGreater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) night-time economy advisor, Sacha Lord
Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) night-time economy advisor, Sacha Lord

It begins with a candid overview of his childhood, in which he writes openly about his troubled relationship with his dad and struggling to thrive at Manchester’s top private boys’ school. But it was in these early years when he first dipped his toes into the world he would come to dominate and like many stories of music legends in Manchester, it all starts at the Hacienda. 

The opening chapters lean heavily into the legacy of the much mythologised nightclub, the venue where he put on his first big student night, and this section is also bolstered by some second-hand stories from people at the centre of it all. People often position Warehouse Project as the natural successor to the Hacienda, and Sacha Lord as the 21st century Tony Wilson – whom the book mentions with great affection. As Sacha says in the book: “No Tony Wilson, no Factory Records, no Hacienda, no Home, no Sankeys, no Warehouse Project, no Parklife.” 

A large majority of the book covers the growth of his portfolio, starting with his student nights, through to his takeover of Sankeys nightclub and then on to Parklife and Warehouse Project in all its iterations. This is where you will find the grittier side of Sacha’s story, with episodes that include an armed robbery by Romanian gangsters, an infestation of cocaine-fuelled rats and his dealings with Manchester’s most notorious crime family. If this book gets made into a film, my money is on Guy Ritchie to direct. 

Despite these wilder moments, the book shows Sacha for what he is – an astute and slick businessman, who knows how to spot an opportunity and can problem solve his way out of the stickiest of situations. There isn’t even that much ‘dancefloor’ in Tales from the Dancefloor, as the book describes how Sacha does not drink on the job (apart from one occasion backstage with a big Parklife headliner), choosing to spend his time on the door, DJ booth or coordinating things from HQ. 

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The book is also brimming with Mancunian pride and declares that his success would not have happened in any other city. The pages are peppered with historical facts about Manchester, which is hard to avoid when you have hosted events at some of the area’s most iconic buildings and public spaces – from the old Boddingtons brewery to Jodrell Bank. More than that, the book is also complementary to Mayor Andy Burnham, the city council and even Greater Manchester Police, which may speak to Sacha’s future career goals more than anything else. 

Warehouse Project. Photo: Stefan JajecznykWarehouse Project. Photo: Stefan Jajecznyk
Warehouse Project. Photo: Stefan Jajecznyk

I am one of the thousands of people from all over the world who have been to Warehouse Project and I get it. It’s an extraordinary feat to pull off events of that scale, securing some of the biggest names in the industry. At the same time, Sacha’s critics say that Warehouse Project’s dominance on the Manchester club scene has been detrimental to the smaller venues and club nights, which are struggling more and more these days. Those venues are the training ground for the future Warehouse Project headliners and probably worth a mention from Manchester’s Night Time Economy Advisor. 

Nevertheless, anyone who has partied in Manchester will connect with this book in some way, especially for millennials like me. A lot has been written about Madchester, acid house and the Hacienda, but there’s less out there on what happened next. This book fills that gap in the history of Manchester nightlife and tells the story of the most popular clubs of my generation. Looking to the future, Manchester is changing, so is the way we party, and you can bet that whatever the future does have in store for our nightlife industry, Sacha Lord will continue to be at the heart of it. 

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