Images courtesy of Girl Gang MCR
Girl Gang are here – and they’re shaking up Manchester’s social life. Their female-orientated events provide a safe space for women to socialise and forge long-lasting friendships- but they emphasise all genders are welcome. Past attendees say there is a “lovely atmosphere” and that they “felt less alone” after taking part. With events such as ‘Galentine’s Day Disco,’ ‘Speed Mate-ing,’ which is described as “Tinder for friends,” and an upcoming ‘Slumber Party’ at the end of this month, they’re striving to unite and empower the women of Manchester. I spoke to Kirsty Morrissey from Girl Gang Manchester to find out more.
So many amazing women were born in Manchester, from Emmeline Pankhurst to Victoria Wood. What makes the women of Manchester so special?
Manchester has a fiercely independent spirit, it’s a city made up of doers, so it’s not surprising that its women tend to be trailblazers. Whether it’s in politics, comedy or sport, Mancunian women aren’t going to be put in a corner, and we’re really proud of our city’s rebellious heritage.
How important are safe spaces for women, particularly in Manchester?
All genders are welcome at our events, but there is something really nurturing and powerful about spaces that are dominated by women and events that are organisationally and artistically led by women. It’s massively important that women have these spaces where they can collaborate, create and thrive. All our events have a welcoming atmosphere with beautiful, hand-made décor which helps them feel like a retreat from the real world and the sometimes aggressive environments we’re forced to engage with. But as well as being a safe space, our events also have a strong focus on skill-sharing and workshops that empower women with tools to flourish when they leave our mini-oasis.
A huge proportion of women report they are regularly sexually harassed or even assaulted during nights out. How do you think other event organisers could make women feel safer?
Sexual harassment on nights out is a huge problem for women in Manchester and event organisers have a duty to take that seriously. Venues should have a clear policy which outlines expected behaviour in the space and be proactive in enforcing that. They should ensure all their staff are trained to handle complaints sensitively. A poster on the back of a toilet is no good to anyone if women don’t feel they’ll be taken seriously by staff. If venues aren’t sure where to start, there are lots of brilliant campaigns like ‘Good Night Out’ who offer training on how to make safe spaces for women.
Many of your events promote building friendships and inspiring a sense of community. How important is this, considering how daunting it can seem to meet new people in a big city like Manchester?
We’re all about celebrating female friendship, encouraging people to place a real value on it and building safe spaces where existing friendships can flourish, and new ones can form. We know how isolating big cities can be and once you leave the structures of education and extra-curricular activities, there are limited opportunities to expand your squad. We tried to tackle that need by creating ‘a Tinder for friends’ through our ‘Speed Mate-ing’ event, and the response we’ve had proves that need. We take inspiration from dating shows, bad business meetings and teenage sleepovers to design activities that let people get to know each other. The atmosphere is always incredibly friendly, it’s always heart-warming to see how many people come on their own and that lots of people stay in touch afterwards. One group who met at a Speed Mate-ing event are even planning a holiday! Our next Speed Mate-ing event is in August and there will be more later in the year.
The next Girl Gang Manchester event is a Slumber Party at Texture tonight. Could you tell us more about the event, and why you decided to go with a slumber party theme?
We’re a bit obsessed with teen girl culture and all the fun activities with your mates that seem to get lost when you grow up. All our club nights are about bringing creativity and silliness back to the dance floor, and slumber parties were some of our most creative and silly memories. We’re so excited for a night of games, dancing and pampering – with old friends and new. PJ’s are optional, and there’ll be tickets on the door so come on down!