Forget Boddingtons. In Sankeys you can celebrate the real pride of Manchester. And just like the finest ale, it's getting better with age. Celebrating 15 years in June, the former mill in the industrial terracotta estates of Ancoats broke all records back in January when 10,500 ravers spilled through its door. In a month when other venues were busy collecting tumbleweed, Sankeys was as electric as ever - but don't expect promoter Dave Vincent to rest on his laurels.
"We are building the best club in the universe… failure is not an option" reads the sign that hangs in the Sankeys office, and year on year they are getting closer to their goal.
Blending the raw, rugged architecture of its historical dwelling with a styled and refined modernism, Sankeys is a monument to Vincent's global clubbing escapades. The outdoor cinema harks back to Ministry of Sound's courtyard circa 1992, the main room's futuristic lighting system was inspired by Brazil's D-Edge, whilst the upstairs boutique - refurbished and renamed as Spektrum last year- blends Cielo's comfort and intimacy with Watergate's LED installations and Pacha's effortlessly elegant style.
Aiming to offer a retreat for "clubbers that used to go to Sankeys six years ago but can't take six hours of madness anymore", Spektrum exists as a standalone venue for this more mature breed of clubber and as a chilled second room for the Sankeys faithful - much like The End's AKA did.
But while all this comfort and attention to detail is welcome, the true charm of Sankeys lies right in the youthful hedonistic abandon of that bricked-out basement main room.
"It's just a total sweatbox - rave central," confirms James Zabiela. "The ceilings are low, the crowd are right with you and the music is totally in your face - there's no escape but in the best possible way. 'Intense' is the only word to describe it and my last gig there was my best yet."
Musically, Sankeys is covering more ground than ever with DJs from Boys Noize and Digitalism to Steve Angello and Laidback Luke now joining old Sankeys favourites like Sasha, Danny Tenaglia and Steve Lawler.
Residencies include Circo Loco, Bugged Out!'s monthly mutant techno/punk-disco mash-up, the nu-rave mentalism of Kissy Sell Out's Kissy & Co, Dave Spoon's electro-house sessions and the deep tech of OD Muzique's Disco Electronica. Even d&b DJs like Fabio and Grooverider are now getting a look in with nights like Religion. But whatever the sound, we challenge anyone to go to Sankeys and have anything less than a belting time - on any given night.
A Mancunian in spirit at least, Vincent is adamant that the electric vibe and welcoming atmosphere is not only unique to the venue but the city as a whole.
"You're nothing without a good crowd - that will always be 50% of your success," explains Vincent, "and we're lucky to be in Manchester. I have been clubbing all around the world and Manchester has always been one of the craziest and friendliest places to go out."