An interview with Ali, Manchester’s new king of the go-go boys

Adam Lowe

Headline image: Kelvin Gray for AllSorts @ Cruz 101

As Manchester’s new king of the go-go boys, Ali has taken the scene by storm. Vada Magazine got to chat with him about his work, the switch from drag queen to go-go dancer, and the evolution of Manchester’s queer club scene.

For the people at home, can you tell us what do you do, and where can we find you?

I’m a go-go dancer at the weekends but I’m a treasury analyst in accounting by day. They’re the total opposite ends of the spectrum but I enjoy both jobs thoroughly. I love working with numbers, and I love dancing and creating looks. I need that balance in my life!

Recently, I have started to host and be the face of a new night downstairs at Cruz 101 every Saturday called AllSorts – which has bouncy house and techno vibes. I’m trying to give it a queer rave twist, which is otherwise missing from the Village at the moment.

Against blue lighting, Ali dances dressed as a winged white cowboy, as tinsel falls from above
Photographer: Jody Hartley for Homobloc @ Mayfield Depot

How did you get where you are now?

I’ve always loved dancing and used to perform as my drag persona Yassica Skreams. But I quit before lockdown.

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I actually decided to start dancing around the same time. I spent a lot of time with my best friend during lockdown, because we didn’t want to be alone.

One time I was dancing on a chair at his apartment  – because why not – and he said, ‘You should be a go-go boy!’ And I thought, ‘You know what? I’m going to!’

So I used all my free time in quarantine to work on my body, watch my diet and research other dancers to see if there was a space in the market for me.

What is the Manchester club scene like these days? Has it changed?

The Manchester club scene now, compared to pre-lockdown, has done a 180. It’s so different – with new people and new nights and new music.

I’ve been going to the Village for about 14 years now and have seen it go through some changes. Clubs like Essential, Manto and AXM, and nights like Cha Cha Boudoir – which were all legendary – have come and gone, and I was lucky to experience it and meet legends like Chrissy Darling, Anna Phylactic, Tilly Skreams, Rhoda Horse and many more.

So the scene is very precious to me. I remember Essential and Queer used to have go-go boys and I always wanted to be one of them, but never felt confident enough in myself or my body to do so.

I noticed that these dancers and personalities in the Village had largely disappeared, so I contacted some friends and used my connections post-lockdown to get myself out there.

What opportunities and challenges has this created?

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The name makes it clear that I want the night to be welcome to all sorts of people.

I want to push for more visibility for minority groups, including people of colour such as myself, Shaquille and Harry; and trans or non binary performers, such as Gert and Alexa. All of Manchester’s tribes can feel included.

What I’ve noticed and love is how the standards of beauty have changed over time. A go-go dancer doesn’t necessarily have to be a buff guy anymore.

Photographer: Kelvin Gray for AllSorts @ Cruz 101. Editor: Stephen Snicho
Photographer: Ali Saeedian for AllSorts @ Cruz 101Editor: Stephen Snicho

There are so many go-go dancers now who are female, non-binary, trans, older or bear types with both large and slim bodies, who are all doing their thing at alt-queer events but none are actually in the Village.

So I want to bring that energy and attitude to the Village with AllSorts – and there are other nights which I’m planning but are still in the early stages.

Photographer: Miriam Vaughn for AllSorts @ Cruz 101

As a creative person, I don’t get to use my creativity in my day job, so I put all of that into my looks and go all out for the themes and designs, such as the White Cowboy for Homobloc or the Pink Look for On Bar or the Rhinestone Denim for the launch of AllSorts.

Photographer: Gert Dixon for AllSorts @ Cruz 101

Sometimes I don’t know if it’s the dancing or creating the looks that I love more.

What are you doing next?

I have been so fortune in meeting the best people in this line of work. People like Nik Denton, Sophie Bee, Joe Spencer and Christopher Dresden Styles – who genuinely know their stuff and have worked so much and so hard to get to where they are – are truly inspiring.

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I am currently in talks with some of these legends about my own queer rave night and have actually finalised the date and name – so you are the first to know this – but keep Saturday 24 September free.

I want it to be authentic and very Mancunian and to have that Hacienda or 90s underground New York vibe. To stay true to that, I need to find the right venue in or very close to the Village.

There are some locally big, recognised and talented names involved so I am hoping it will be a success and become a regular event. I shall update you on the venue and where to get tickets but I can reveal the name is Your Dad Sells Avon! – or YDSA Queer Rave.

I’ll be revealing more details, such as dancers, DJs and guests, over time on Instagram at @YDSA.MCR.

Photographer & Model: Alexa Allana. Editor: Ali Saeedian

I’m also in talks with George House Trust to organise and design their float for the pride parade in Manchester as I have been doing for the past four years. So watch out for me and my crew in the GHT float.

For now you can find me at AllSorts every Saturday, On Bar and Albert Schloss every Friday and the odd nights like Homobloc and Jock.

Photographer: Kelvin Gray for On Bar

More information

Find out more about Your Dad Sells Avon on Instagram at @YDSA.MCR.

Find out more about AllSorts on Instagram at @allsorts.mcr.

Find out more about Ali on Instagram at @alistopit.

About Adam Lowe

Adam Lowe is an award-winning author, editor and publisher from Leeds, now based in Manchester. He runs Dog Horn Publishing and is Director and Writing Coordinator for Young Enigma, a writer development programme for LGBT young people. He sometimes performs as Beyonce Holes.