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Excavating the Reno

Excavating The Reno uses oral history and archaeology to explore the story of a Manchester soul and funk club that became a sanctuary from racism for 50s born mixed heritage people in the 1970s.

The project was led by playwright Linda Brogan who first visited the Reno over four decades ago aged 16-years-old.

"The Reno was a cellar club in Moss Side. Heyday 1971 to 1981. Soundtrack, imported soul and funk. Predominantly populated by 50s born 'half-caste' stigmatised by the 1930 Fletcher Report: Offspring of interracial alliances suffer inherent physical and mental defects. Demolished 1987. Crossing the poppy filled site, I sat to remember our civilisation, black market, social structure, king and queen, all frustrated artists. A play couldn’t capture the nuances.

"Instead, in 2016, I filmed Reno memoirs. Blacks and whites talk about the music and dancing. We talk about our mums' family excommunication for shagging a darkie; not knowing her family; being spat at in our pram; mum's roast - dad's yam; the clash of cultures told hilariously at times; the Reno's wall-to-wall 'half-caste' being our true family. Where we strutted our stuff in our theatre. Like we were somebody. October 2017, we excavated the Reno with Salford University Archaeology. Over 3 weeks every brick, bottle, tile, crisp packet was charged with our saga. Finished, we professionally lit its beautiful remains. Held a marquee covered all-night party on site. And buried a time capsule at its heart. November 1500 colonised the Whitworth Art Gallery. Obliterated their art with our memoirs, exhibited our artefacts in their museum cases, and danced to Reno DJs in their main hall."

This and other stories have been archived with photos, videos and memorabilia on the project website www.thereno.live.

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