‘Red Bull Unlocked’ is the global experience-event series from the worlds leading energy drink supplier which saw Manchester’s top brands join forces to transform a historical listed building, into an adult playground. Taking place on the 26th and 27th of February, the Victoria Baths of Manchester played host to a handful of the city’s favourite food, drink, and party brands in the first of its kind collaboration event.
Setting the scene for this fantastic spectacle was the grade II listed Victoria Baths, a stunning Edwardian bathhouse that has been standing since 1906. Described as a ‘water palace’ by the Lord Mayor, the building houses three swimming baths, private baths and laundry rooms. Decorated with stain glass windows and glazed brickwork throughout, the building now hosts film sets, tours and cultural events.
For one weekend only, the grand building was transformed into an adult playground packed with activities lurking around every corner. Local food and drink companies hosted individual rooms throughout the bathhouse giving each a unique and special flair.
The Victoria Baths were kitted out with all the essentials for any event. A cloakroom was available near the entrance for attendees to store belongings. There was also an easy to locate medical room close to the entrance. The far side of the site was a large outdoors area that consisted of a sectioned off smoking area and lots of very clean portaloos, no queues and no smell which is always a bonus.
Being a Red Bull event it is to be expected that the drink menu’s main offering was the energy drink itself. Red Bull original, watermelon and tropical were available on their own for £2.50, with a single shot for £6.50 and a double shot for £8. Water was also available for £2. One addition that made the Red Bull drinks so special was a small led in the bottom of the cups, meaning each drink had its own light up colour when it was full.
The Red Bull Hub
Upon entering the event, guests are greeted with their first dose of Red Bull energy. Smiling faces from actors in fancy dress welcome attendees in walking through an LED tunnel with the help of a megaphone and the occasional free drink or food token.
Stepping into the first of the 3 larger rooms, the Red Bull Unlocked Hub was a grand hall area packed with activities, bars and a large stage at one end. The banisters surrounding the upper levels coupled with the mix of beams and stain glass windows forced your eyes upwards as ravers took in the beauty of the building whilst they dancing around the room.
On one side of the room was a 360 degree camera booth. A new device being used for popular fashion and music videos, this gave attendees the chance to take the spotlight and create their own video. The dance floor not only featured plenty of ravers but also had servers and dancers equipped with roller skates flying around the space offering a red bull based beverage.
Shining bright at the far end of the room was a well lit stage decorated with LED screens displaying a variety of artwork synced in harmony to the DJ performing. This stage played host to acts spinning mostly a variety of electro, funk and synth-filled beats. Tarzsa, SNO and Ruf Dug performed throughout the evening before the multi-genre master Mr Scruff took control for the closing set.
Dusk Till Pawn
Tucked away in the depths of the city is an old fashioned pawn shop and prohibition themed bar named Dusk Till Pawn. This ominous company took full control of one of the swimming bath rooms transforming a breathtaking pool area into an underground rave. Along the side of the walls are private changing rooms that acted like hiding spots for some of the brands actors. Fortune tellers and mystical shamans wandered around the dance floor offering readings to those they caught the attention of.
The sunken swimming pool acted as a dance floor for the large dark room. With a raised stage in the centre that allowed for dancing all around, providing a unique and immersive spectacle to the room. Situated at one end of the pool were steps either side of a small bar, allowing ravers to get into the pool. This operated with a one way system that made it easy to move around the room.
Acts on this stage dived into the darker side of techno and breaks. A back to back set from Tom Boogizm and Finn opened up the night, setting the energy levels high from the offset. The evening then saw Gina Breeze, Annabel Fraser, and Blasha & Allart keep the tunes pumping all before the eccentric AFRODEUTSCHE shut the room down in emphatic fashion for the final set.
Taking full control of the other swimming bath was one of Manchester’s hottest venues; YES. Normally occupying their four floored home on Charles Street, YES hosts a range of music and dining events, basement club nights and roof terrace parties. Bringing their signature style to the bath house saw a room packed with bright and colourful lights, energetic dancers and a collection of inflatable flamingos, bananas, unicorns and much more.
Entering this pool took you down into a lucid groove-fuelled dance floor. The hanging lights created a pink glow effect in this room, giving it a bright and uplifting energy. A small bar was located at the entrance to the pool and the opposite end found a stage decorated with a large YES projection and neon lights.
Showcasing all things house and disco, YES set up shop in the large bright swimming pool with plenty of smiling faces locked in to an evening full of bouncy kicks and soulful melodies. An energetic groove-filled opening set from A Guy Called Gerald got people moving. Following this was more funk from DJ Paulette before Luke Una finished the night for the room with an eclectic disco house set.
One of Manchester’s rising underground events venues who are growing in popularity for their underground basement style raves, laid claim to one of the pump rooms. Maintaining the XLR fashion, the room was dark with a minimalistic lighting setup which flickered green and blue beams in between the bath house’s boilers.
This room played host to a mixture of acts diving into the world of underground music to set a perfect mood for this dim dance floor. Actors would run around this smaller space dressed in futuristic costumes with faceless masks, challenging attendees to dance offs and maintaining a high level of energy. Following through the end of this room was also a tattoo stall which offered a selection of small stencils for a permanent Red Bull unlocked memory.
Staying true to XLR’s sound it seemed only right they supplied the room with a range of breakbeat, techno, jungle, breaks, garage and house throughout the night. Acts included: Daisu, Preacher, and the up and coming THTGRL all before a high energy closing back to back set from Matti and Hardwick.
Twenty Twenty Two
A room that all good events need. Tucked at the end of a brightly lit stained glass corridor was a room hosted by the city’s unique bar and games venue. Ping pong tables, a small bar and a whole wall of old school games consoles. From joystick Atari styled computers running Soul Calibre to modified PlayStations with classic games, this was an exciting addition to the unique event.
Junior Jacksons / El Capo
Known for their mouth watering hotdogs and loud music, Junior Jacksons teamed up with El Capo; one of the city’s best Mexican food and drinks joints to create a stylish chill out area. Serving a selection of drinks in a fiesta themed room including cocktails costing £8 each.
Escape To Freight Island
Offering up their culinary expertise at Red Bull Unlocked was a handful of the team from Escape To Freight Island. Situated in the grounds of the Depot Mayfield, Freight Island is a permanent food and drink market offering gourmet meals and delicious drinks. Throughout the night they supplied guests with burgers, fries, chicken strips and vegan options also.
VIP guests were greeted with complimentary drinks and food tokens before entering the fun house. Upstairs was off limits without a VIP band, allowing for VIP ticket holders to explore the upper levels and gain private views looking over the larger rooms.
This is the first event of its kind in the UK, with Manchester being the perfect city to host this unique night out. Constantly pushing boundaries, Red Bull curated a special collection of proud, local brands, allowing visitors to experience the greatness Manchester has to offer under one immensely gorgeous historical roof. Fantastic music, activities that touched all the senses, fabulous decor and friendly staff throughout made for an epic night. Following this, we really hope there are more Unlocked events coming to the UK!