Last week I experienced one of the best nights of my entire life, let alone my short "UrbEx career" - Having met up at 4pm on the Friday afternoon, I didn't get home until midday on the Saturday.
It was a warm, balmy afternoon when the first lot of us met. The first of the year. An early one too seeing as it was early April. Not bothered by ascending rooftops, my suggestion of exploring a beer garden fell on deaf ears and we were on the roof of the Ramada hotel in Piccadilly Gardens before I knew it.
This was a bizarre rooftop. As you overlook Piccadilly Gardens watching the hundreds of people below getting on with their lives you feel God-like. It's only when you turn to your left and realize that another fourteen storeys of the City Tower overlook you do you decide to hurry up, get your pictures, and disappear.
After this we headed over to the Labyrinthine Sacha's. A smaller hotel, but with a great rooftop. Having waited a decade for the most ridiculous of antique lifts to arrive, it took us forever to reach the top floor as it stopped on every floor that had called it regardless of wether people were going up or down. The non-linear floorplan of this hotel made it difficult to plot a route to the roof around a locked door. After finding our way into a noisy, hot plant room, we dashed past an engineer's tools and got to the roof.
This is where I stopped taking pictures as after this we were showing a number of tourists around some of our well-known spots (from which I've already taken plenty of photographs). At the time, I thought that getting six of us onto one particular rooftop under darkness would be tricky. Especially when a security guard got into the same lift as us. It was tense. Was he onto us? nckt broke the silence: "Do I know you?" he asked the hi-vis clad walkie talkie-user. Panic erupted on our entire party's faces, exacerbated by the confined space as we couldn't believe how far nckt was willing to push our luck. Having identified each other as former work-colleagues, the sense of relief was unrivalled. As we got to our floor we all waited in the lift with the security guard as nckt insisted we stick with him "to get some pussy".
Pic by Dan Helsing. ISO be high on this.
There were now six of us on this darkened rooftop overlooking the entire city. I didn't think our actions would get bolder than that. I was to be proven wrong at sunrise the following morning.
After decamping from the city centre to the outskirts for a rave in the woods, we made our way back to urbanity. We decided to get a move on and get to a rooftop to watch the sunrise. The MEN Arena's rooftop is not one that you'd immediately think of climbing for views seeing as it's quite low. But the view of the sun appearing over the Pennines, not to mention the view of every tall building in the city made this place the perfect vantage point. The corrugated steel beneath our feet bent slightly with each footstep. There were nine of us stood there, illuminated by the bright morning sun savouring every moment of it.
Pic by nckt.
After a swing and a miss at The Edge apartments, some tomfoolery ensued at Blackfriars Bridge - resulting in the new picture at the top of this blog. I had a newspaper and I wanted to read it. What better place than perched on a six-inch ledge 50ft above the Irwell?
It wasn't long after this that we headed to the roof of No. 1 Deansgate. A recent favourite of ours, its sloped roof made it perfect for lying back, relaxing, and getting the sun on one's face. The morning sun was baking hot. Looking out from such a high place, so close to the city centre is always fun. Particularly when the morning sun hasn't yet cleared the haze lying over the city.
Pic by Eotech.
From up here, we could watch the city wake up. As Market Street got busier, the sun got higher. It felt like we had been watching the city overnight (That's not to say that we were the pervy uncle watching it sleep), and now that morning had broken it would take care of itself and we were relieved of our duties. We disappeared back into anonymity.
Huge respect to the following people for being there:
Fisher Price & Mendez soundsystems
Dahmer et al
And of course to anyone else that I may have forgotten.