I went clubbing for the first time last Friday night because winter break had started and I had nothing to do anyway so what the hell, I’m finally granted the opportunity to be reasonably reckless by my standards and agreed to it under Ernie’s invitation despite not knowing what to expect and having a strong dislike for crowds of strangers and physical contact with unfamiliar people.
In the end it wasn’t really my thing, but it was definitely An Experience ™, and I spent more time spectating than actually, I don’t know, dancing and gyrating with random people. All I could deduce at the end of the night was there was a lot of hair in my face, spit in my face, I’d lost count of how many times I’d stepped on shoes and had mine stepped on and all the jumping was such a workout for a leisure activity. The dancefloor was so crowded (obviously) that entering the room felt like I was stepping into a furnace. But still, I didn’t regret going because honestly I only went for the EXP points and that I did get.
The next night, a bunch of us gathered at Evelyn’s house to have dinner and handmade tang yuan for winter solstice, and after having a really warm and filling meal (with black sesame tang yuan of different shapes and sizes [mostly thanks to CC and Faris] as dessert), we sat around in a circle and played games that had eating lemons and drinking a whole cup of water in one go as punishments. I was already so full from the good food and the laughter made my stomach hurt even more. It was a really, really good night.
On Monday, after spending the whole of Sunday shut in my room in the dark watching the entire first season of Love Live, I decided to go to Northern Quarter for Christmas shopping. Forbidden Planet was the first place I headed to, and then after that I was struck by a sudden impulse to find Afflecks, a quirky shopping district Dan and Phil went to in their Day in the Life in Manchester video, despite my initial plan being just going to Arndale and then going home.
Google maps wasn’t being very helpful that day, and from Forbidden Planet, I somehow ended up at a deserted street and had to walk up and down different streets multiple times, although that in itself was a blessing in disguise because I chanced upon a shop called Travelling Man, its tagline on the signboard saying “comics, games, DVDs, manga, anime” and I was already sold. I will probably never be able to afford the luxury of a physical copy manga but I was still very excited when I saw One Punch Man and Shokugeki no Souma mangas on display.
After getting lost a few more times trying to locate where Afflecks actually was, I almost gave up until the blue dot on Google maps was finally on the Afflecks dot. I looked up and realised…I’d actually been here before. I’d actually been in Afflecks before. The anime shop I found when I was here with Rumin a week ago was in Afflecks. There were stairs leading upstairs that we noticed during our previous visit but it looked a bit shady so we didn’t go up. Armed with brand new information and realisation, I went upstairs and it was like a whole new world opened up right in front of me.
This place was like Sungei Wang, but even better. I’d never seen the likes of anything like it before in Manchester. The first floor sold mostly band T-shirts and posters and art prints and there was also a small shop that did tattoos and at first I thought this was it, oh, Afflecks is just these two floors but then I realised there were more stairs and got giddy with excitement.
At the second floor, I was greeted by a small café called Black Milk and after further observation, I got the idea that it was a café that served, uh, cereal.
The floor branched off into left and right and the entrance to the left premises was boasting accessories and clothing with really loud colours so that was my natural selection. It took me quite a while to figure out how the entire floor plan worked. There were no distinctive borders between shops and they were all connected so it was very easy to wander from shop to shop without even realising it. There were also doors where you wouldn’t have predicted them to be, and also narrow corridors filled with graffitied walls that led from one end of the floor to the other. So as you can see, I got lost way too many times for such a building of such miniature size.
There were a lot of shops which, after I set my foot in, realised I was entirely out of place and should probably leave but what the hell, I was a tourist that day and the place was so intriguing I had to explore every nook and cranny. It felt like I was in a maze of sorts.
There was quite a number of animanga shops inside as well and there was even a Ghibli shop and the shopkeeper was so friendly, too friendly in fact but surprisingly, I didn’t get intimidated like I normally would. Probably running on high fumes of excitement from this discovery of this place.
I literally got chased out (more specifically, asked to leave the building) by a guard when all the shops started closing at 6PM, but I still felt like I hadn’t visited everything Afflecks had to offer yet (how could I feel otherwise when the entire floor plan was a mess). I left the place feeling triumphant though, happy that I found somewhere so interesting and appealing. Interesting and appealing enough that I immediately started to formulate writing a blogpost in my mind on the way back.
I still went to Arndale after that to finish my Christmas shopping and the entire place was so packed with people whom I assumed were there for the same purpose as I was.
I didn’t even realise I’d spent four hours alone in the city until my limbs started aching and my stomach started growling. It was a great day spent with good company of myself.