Living in the Sprawl: Intro to the Cities

Alright la? 'Ay up cocker! Now that you've learned how to say hey, you'll want to acclimatise yourself to this land of superlambananas and superlative arts scenes. Ultimately, though, we recommend you just crack on

Feature by Laura Swift | 08 Sep 2014

Welcome to the Northwest, where everything happens in a mill. Mills are really cool. No seriously, ventilation was really key in many of the processes of the Industrial Rev... okay, okay. But if you can bear to carry on reading, it's true that you will probably find yourself at an art exhibition in an old warehouse, being chased through some underground irrigation system as part of an immersive 'promenade' theatre performance, or out of your mind on the third storey of a disused factory at some point before 2018. Liverpool, Manchester and Preston are part of a wider arts and music scene in the North that has, over the last few years, seen a huge surge in ambition and daring on the part of curators, promoters and people who are just generally doing stuff.

Of course, that pioneering spirit has always been part of the fabric of the Northwest – the birthplace of the aforementioned Industrial Revolution; a region with a history of strongly left-leaning political sentiment; the ideological breeding ground for some of the greatest thinkers of times past and present… It’s just that perhaps now more than ever, it feels like there are a ton of ways to get involved – and we hope the proceeding pages will help inspire you to do so, whatever your forte, whether you want to get up on stage and read a poem or brew up the next gamechanging invention or start a clubnight. Or y’know, just go out a lot.

Some practical tips: Liverpool's Baltic Triangle isn't really a Triangle. Manchester you will think is laid out in a rigid grid shape for at least three years before finally understanding that it's not. This will have a revolutionary impact on both your sense of geographical prowess and your ability to meet friends at designated points at stated times. Preston has the biggest, most beautiful Brutalist bus station in pretty much the world, which recently triumphed over demolition plans; go and give it some love. Despite Liverpool and Manchester's famed rivalry (something to do with... football?), the two cities enjoy lots of fruitful cultural connections, which will hopefully one day be matched by the, uh, trains

But listen, it’s impossible to describe the character of a place without making vast generalisations, falling into stereotype or just getting pointless – Liverpool is less, um, obsessed with the dirty burger than Manchester? Preston has more, er... leafy green bits? (In it, not in its burgers.) What's more important – and exhilarating! – than someone trying to define it before you've even got stuck in is that your new home will mean something different to each and every one o' yer. We'll concede: if there's one thing these cities do have in common, it's that they want you to come along and shake things up. Hey look! You're right on time.